By Jos White Monday, 14 November 2011

The top five hottest internet start-ups

Jos White, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of venture capital firm Notion Capital, sifts through today's rising stars of the web to present his pick of today's internet start-ups.

As a VC focusing on the B2B internet space I get to see a lot of new companies. Not all the companies I find are impressive, but I’m lucky enough to see my share of really exciting businesses.

What really gets me is to see a team completely obsessed with their product and how it is going to make customers' lives better in some way. You can’t really beat that intersection between innovation and solving a real problem – that’s what leads to growth and becomes the kind of business that can really make an impact on the UK’s business landscape.

Here are some of the most exciting internet businesses that I have either invested in or come across lately.

Brightpearl

Brightpearl is a great example of an emerging business helping other small firms to overcome daily operational challenges. Chris Tanner, one of the founders, used to run a skateboard shop. He needed a piece of software to help him with those day-to-day chores: stock management, point of sale, CRM, accounting, purchase orders, and ecommerce etc.

Commercial systems, like Sage, were limited and expensive. So, rather than stick with pen and paper or Excel, he developed his own solution, based it in the cloud to keep costs down and accessibility high, and turned it into a business.

Since inception in 2007, Brightpearl has grown rapidly, expansing overseas and attracting a heavyweight board including ex-Dragon Doug Richard and Salman Malik. It's a great British company that really is filling a business need for the world’s fast-growing SME market.

GoSquared

Web analytics are a huge area for businesses trying to maximise their on-line presence, but most of the products only look at the historical picture. GoSquared puts analytics into real–time, giving its customers a clear competitive advantage. With trends like big data and mobile on the rise and the immediate nature of the web, real-time analytics are going to be huge.

Rangespan

Founded by a group of former Amazon execs, Rangespan is a technology company that hooks up online retailers with millions of new and complementary products. It's an automated supply chain, so it allows its customer to grow extremely fast without taking on any risk. Smart, huh? This helps to solve a big problem for smaller retailers who want to compete on a more level playing field with larger competitors.

Struq

If you haven't heard of Struq yet, you've definitely seen it at work while browsing online. Struq analyses data about internet users and matches them up with the online display advertising that is most relevant to them. Have you noticed that ads for things you liked or were tempted to buy follow you around? That's probably these guys. The company has proven that its customers make £14 for every £1 spent, which is a great ROI.

Sam Barnett is the driving force behind Struq, which he built up with no investment and no debt. He is one of the real up and coming young entrepreneurs in London today.

Tradeshift

At the heart of Tradeshift is a free eInvoicing platform, central to the most important element of a business – getting paid. Invoicing is one of the last bastions of paper-based processes in many offices and is incredibly inefficient. Tradeshift changes all of that with a cloud-based eInvoicing platform. But that’s not where it ends. Tradeshift can also pay invoices delivered over its platform immediately, solving the cashflow problems that impact businesses of all sizes.

This is the start of a huge shift away from conventional bank funding models, making Tradeshift a company to watch. Founded by Christian Lanng and based in Copenhagen, Tradeshift is a melting pot of international talent that is helping the company grow by around 30% per month – phenomenal for a company that’s only just celebrated its first birthday.

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