Here’s why London has the most important start-up scene outside of Silicon Valley

We met, and over yet another beer, as he explained his business to me I started to realise how little I knew and how much he knew. But I knew what he was doing had huge implications for anyone wanting to grow their media business. So I invited him to come and speak at a future FIPP Conference, which he did a year ago – our first FIPP Innovation Forum – where he was quite brilliant.

On 16 September this year, he was in the news when it was announced that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was acquiring his business for £114m (approximately US$176m). Not bad for a company of fewer than 200 people. The company is Unruly and the founder and CEO is Scott Button. The market sector Unruly operates in, video advertising, is according to pretty much every advertising forecast I’ve seen in the past year or so, set to be the fastest growing form of advertising, particularly on mobile devices. So I’m delighted that Scott will be speaking at the FIPP World Congress in Toronto next week given that Unruly truly are at the cutting-edge of understanding how video advertising works  for the ‘watch-first, mobile’ generation. It promises to be an instructive and valuable session.

So that’s my plug for the Congress. But what the meeting with Scott also triggered in me was a desire to know what else was happening in the depths of the start-up scene in London. It wasn’t easy. According to a recent report carried on the Whiteboard website, London has the most successful start-up ecosystem in Europe with an estimated 2,000 start-ups and 30 accelerators alone. A mixture of UK government funding, an estimated workforce of 155,000 digital tech professionals and the close proximity of London’s financial services industry have made London the most important start-up centre outside of Silicon Valley. All exciting stuff but with so much happening, the problem I have is how am I able to focus upon those start-ups that have the potential to impact on the magazine media industry? And if I had that problem I was sure that others in the magazine media industry who wanted access to know where the next Unruly was coming from, would too.

So the FIPP London Start-up Tour was born. Running from the 16-18 November, we have partnered with The Accelerator Network, an agency deeply involved in providing support services in the London start-up scene and have arranged a programme of close-up, hands-on, meet the founders visits to 15 or so of the most interesting emerging new digital businesses in London. 

Companies that will be visited include: 

Adoreboard – a social analytics business that helps brands to measure and optimise audience sentiment and that a former Chairman of Intel voted a ‘Best Start-up’; 

Touchcast – a new medium that looks like video but feels like the web; 

Sharethrough – helping publishers manage their native advertising strategy; 

AppMojo – an ad-tech platform for optimising in-app advertising that maximises mobile ad revenues for publishers while preserving the user experience; 

Email Switchboard  – developing a trusted marketplace for email marketing and numbering Group M as one of its clients. 

Click here for a full list of companies or take a look at the programme below.

Some of these companies will change fundamentally either the behaviour of consumers and how they engage with content, or the behaviour of advertisers and how they will work with their agencies and media platforms. Who’s not to say that one of these may well be the next company to be valued at £100m. The FIPP London Start up Tour really does offer a unique opportunity to learn, and perhaps even partner, or invest.

Finally, though hardly a start-up now, but certainly a fascinating business to visit, we shall use the opportunity during the Tour to call on Unruly – which is where all this started. Try and come along, it will be quite an experience. 

London Start-up Tour Programme

Book your place today.

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