Interesting propositions I discovered in 2019

Glyn Britton
Dec 9, 2019 · 4 min read
The Arrival ‘green white van’

For the last couple of Decembers I’ve published a list of the most interesting business ideas I discovered that year, so it’s nearly a tradition. Here then is my list for 2019.

As always it’s in no way exhaustive or complete (or in any kind of sensible order), it’s just some ideas that I’ve subjectively found interesting or inspiring. Last year Tom pointed out that it’s very UK/US focussed, and it still is, sorry. It’s also possibly even less complete this year as I left the agency world, so I’ve had less time to spend on social media(!)

This year again the focus is companies who are re-engineering categories around customers and disappearing products inside services. But this year there’s a real focus on ethics — I don’t know if that reflects what’s being created or what I’m noticing?


SME

  • Clearbanc — small business finance, based on algorithmically-predicted marketing performance
  • Uncapped — small business finance, based on algorithmically-predicted revenues
  • Stripe Capital — small business finance, based on eCommerce payment volume and history
  • Swoop — one-stop shop for lending providers, equity funds and grant agencies
  • Reducer — analyses what a business buys and if it could be cheaper
  • Project Pulse — simple cashflow app for small businesses
  • Hammock — current account for landlords
  • Bionic — tech-enabled human experts help SMEs sort their business energy, insurance and connectivity. (I may have had something to do with this…)

Investment

  • Orca — p2p investment portfolio in an ISA wrapper
  • Ark — ETFs focused on disruptive innovation
  • Tickr — ETFs focussed on climate change, equality etc
  • Goodments — matches you with ETFs that fit your values
  • Fossil Free Funds — find mutual funds and ETFs that avoid fossil fuel investments

Home & property

  • Plykea — beautiful plywood doors and worktops for IKEA kitchens AKA IKEA as a platform
  • Grain — sustainable flatpack furniture
  • Blokable — platform for new housing developments
  • Oakfield — Nationwide building society’s new community-led housing development

d2c brands & subscriptions services

  • War Paint — d2c brand for men’s make-up
  • Daye — CBD-infused soothing tampons
  • Gerrard Street — subscribe to headphones
  • Buzzbike — subscribe to a bicycle
  • Playdate — Gameboy’s spiritual successor, a little yellow handheld console with a crank and a surprise new game delivered every month

Retail

  • Storr — people curate online stores (instead of retailers), brands take care of shipping
  • Loop — online groceries with a zero-waste delivery system
  • Threads — messaging-based luxury fashion retail
  • Faire — wholesaling retail products in a consumer-grade software platform

Cars

  • Drover — a new car as a service
  • Cazoo — the new way to buy a used car
  • Motorway — comparison site to sell your car
  • Arrival — best in class electric vehicles at the price of a fossil fuel one

Energy

  • Tokamak Energy—trying to make nuclear fusion work as a power source
  • Offset Earth — making carbon offsetting a bit more consumery
  • Agile Octopus — energy tariff with ‘plunge pricing’ that pays you to use electricity when there’s a surplus being generated

Work, and new ways of working

  • Navigator — teamwork assistant for busy leaders, starting with running meaningful, effective team meetings and 1-on-1’s
  • Meddo — aligns everyone and all their effort to one shared purpose (project management software that links projects to strategic objectives)
  • AndCo — bookable hot-desks in the best hotels, bars & restaurants
  • Hub House — crowdfunding a worldwide network of shared live+work spaces
  • Evolve — communal (but separate) workspaces
  • Remote Year — provides the logistics and services so you can work remotely while travelling the world

Agencies

  • Pattern Brands — venture studio for d2c brands (used to be the agency Gin Lane)
  • Concreates — a creative agency powered by currently and formerly incarcerated individuals
  • The Unmistakables — ‘culture and comms, made by minorities’

Mental health

  • Spill — chat-based therapy for frontline staff
  • Frazzled Cafe — a safe, anonymous and non-judgemental environment where people can meet to talk and share their personal stories (supported by Marks & Spencer)
  • Wavepaths — ‘secular sanctuaries’ in spaces created by Jon Hopkins and Brian Eno
  • Hello Self — find and talk to a therapist on your phone

Ethics, privacy, post-truth, third age

  • Ethical — Directory of ethical software and web services
  • Ethos — scan products to understand their ethics
  • Digi.me — share your personal data on a per use case basis
  • Tortoise — slower news
  • Factmata — fact checking API
  • /e/ — refurbished smartphones with a privacy-enabled “unGoogled” version of Android
  • Restless — jobsite for over 50's
  • Beam — a crowdfunding platform built to support homeless people through training and into stable, paid work
  • Safe Car Wash — crowdsourcing info on which carwashes are using modern slavery

Man alive, I feel old


Any gooduns I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments. And please give me some applause if you find this interesting or useful (or are just full of festive cheer).

I’m the Chief Customer Officer at Bionic, where we’re making it radically easier to operate an SME, starting with energy, insurance and connectivity.

Glyn Britton

Written by

Leading a customer-led transformation at a PE-backed #SMEtech. Previously CSO at Albion, a business innovation consultancy.

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