As part of a research project on data-driven startups in the UK, I’ve been using information from two databases, Crunchbase and Beauhurst. They both provide valuable insights into small, high-growth companies combining data on funding sources, revenue, product offerings and growth rates.
As I work at the University of Brighton, I thought it would be interesting to see what is going on around the Brighton and Hove area in terms of business startups. I know that Brighton has its fair share of dynamic small companies and a thriving support ecosystem from organisations like Wired Sussex, the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce as well as the Universities of Brighton and Sussex. However, I was interested to see the scale of investments going into new companies and the range of sectors they cover.
Of the 188 companies identified by Beauhurst as being in either a seed fund, growth or venture stage of development the figure below shows which sectors they belong to:
Within the Business and Professional Services category, marketing and analytics services are among the most important, reflecting the success of companies such as Brandwatch and Intelligent Positioning. Brandwatch has been particularly successful in breaking out of its local and national markets and forging an international reputation and presence. The company has also raised the most funding over the last few years of all the Brighton startups I have looked at with almost £40 million of venture investments.
Perhaps more interesting is the importance of technology and software companies to the Brighton startup scene ( see chart above). Almost 30 companies are building business models around internet platforms, mobile applications or software services. Interesting companies to follow in this sector include MPB, Pure360, Wedding Planner, Learning People, Crunch Accounting, Emteq and Madgex. Each of these companies has the potential to scale significantly and build platforms that could become highly profitable.
I thought it would be interesting to perform a similar search for companies in a comparable area to Brighton and Hove so looked at Bournemouth/Poole/Christchurch. Although this covers a larger population than Brighton and Hove there were only 75 companies which Beauhurst were tracking. There seemed a distinct difference in the sectors these companies were from with industrials being far more significant than Brighton and Hove. The figure below illustrates this.
There is clearly more of a manufacturing / industrial base in the Bournemouth area than in Brighton with a particular focus on the food and drinks industry. This is reflected in the companies which have attracted the highest investments across the 2 areas as can be seen from the figures below. There is a greater focus on software and internet platform-based companies in Brighton than Bournemouth where more traditional food and manufacturing companies have taken most of the largest investments.
It will be interesting to see over the coming 3 to 5 years which of the Brighton startups manage to gain traction, particularly those building platforms where the exploitation of network effects and complementary innovations from third party players can lead to rapid scaling. I shall certainly be keeping an eye on them and will report back in due course.