Why London’s Old Street is the hub of new ideas

Craig E Ryder
Aug 6, 2018 · 4 min read
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London’s Old Street continues to be the hub of a potent mix of new startups. Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

The government might be off on their summer holidays but the London tech startup scene continues apace. Indeed, the August edition of the evergreen Tech Startups and New Ideas Night features six incredibly diverse and ambitious startups. Covering anything from short films to pollution to robotics, the entrepreneurs seen here reflect the rich variety of innovation happening around London’s Old Street today.

So without further ado, here’s a quick summary of those sixes pitches…

Qualis Flow

Qualis Flow is the B2B startup we should be grateful that they are in existence. QFlow use IoT technology to help the construction industry better manage their environmental impact. Sound boring? Not when they’re saving precious newts from extinction in major railway builds.

And given the amount of construction the average Londoner has to duck and cover on any given day, it’s not just the UK’s dwindling amphibian pollution that is at stake. Civil engineer and CEO/Co-Founder Brittany Harris explains that air quality and noise pollution, while currently monitored on construction site, is reported via a PDF, at the end each of month! Meaning the damage is already done before someone can react. QFlow, on the other hand, offer real time analytics.

Brittney is a seriously impressive young CEO, and is currently a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering. Hat’s off to her important work.


Paid Spotify and Netflix subscriptions aren’t so much a choice, they’re a necessity. Minuteapp is hoping to rival these cultural movements in the short doc space. Sounds ambitious, but founder and documentary filmmaker, Janvier Wete, is definitely onto something. That was evident from the volley of audience questions that followed his casual pitch: What’s your subscription model? Have you raised funds? Who’s accessing the quality of what’s uploaded? Why don’t we just use youtube instead?

And herein lies the crux. Every filmmaker starts out in short films, and every one of us has a silent ambition to watch better quality content (someone save us from the sneezing baby panda!). Minute app, or the “cinema in your pocket”, vows to only stream high quality short films — anything from 1 min long — to make make even your next wait for a cuppa-tea-to-brew, a novel, enlightening experience. It will probably improve our commutes too!


The truth hurts, but London can be a lonely place. That’s what Italian Marco Gentili, experienced when he moved to the city. And that’s what makes friendrequest a potentially vital development in the social networking space.

For starters, Marco reminds us, this is not a dating app. And friendrequest are also acutely aware that meeting people online/offline can be dangerous. However, they believe that by deploying smart algorithms to make every user’s profile smart, their platform will help people meet other like minded people, safely, so they can enjoy the best the city has to offer, together. The smart profile means a user’s profile is in a constant state of flux–much like a real person — and appears slightly different to every user who views it.

friendrequest already has 2,000 users and hundreds activities and experiences. Proof of concept — check.


GIGSTR is a startup’s dream: they fix up young startups with young upstarts, and take all the risk out of hiring by actually employing the young person on their own payroll, guaranteeing a workers’ minimum wage. They also handle the tax, insurance and leave entitlement that startups can’t always manage.

Pitcher, Head of Partnerships, Emma Blackmore, told the crowd, that GIGSTER is an ethical business model that boomed in its native Sweden, and moved to London nine months ago. Taking its name from the gig economy, GIGSTR allows young companies to not overcommit precious investment, and for young employees to see if there’s a good culture fit with their ambitions, before long term engagement.

Why wasn’t GIGSTR around when I graduated?

Metier Digital

Led by Ghanaian Londoner, Metier Digital is run by Nana Parry who previously raised over £150,000 in seed funding from angel investors for his music and social media analytics platform, Dubzoo. Metier Digital help entrepreneurs build their most viable product (MVP) and bring their ideas to market.

Perceptual Robots

The ball, like robotics, goes way over my head.

All the same, best of luck, doc!

Clearly, it’s an incredibly potent mix of startups and London’s Old Street continues to be the hub of new ideas.

A special thanks should go to Irfan Khalil at Heptagon Events for organising such a well drilled bunch.

I’m looking forward to next time already.

Craig writes for Calcey Technologies, a boutique software product engineering agency with roots in the Silicon Valley, that lends its software development muscle to start-ups and scale-ups around the world. Calcey’s team of 100+ engineers, based at its development centre in Sri Lanka, serve multiple startups in London and are keen to engage with more. Calcey’s clients also use it as an R&D centre. Calcey’s client portfolio includes well known names such as PayPal and Stanford University as well as exciting startups in London such as Nutrifix.

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