If the Welsh economy is to thrive then it needs a continuous flow of new businesses being established.
And here we look at 30 promising start-ups , in a wide variety of sectors, with the ambition and drive to become the next big success stories in the Welsh economy.
Brushbox is an oral hygiene subscription box that launched in January and was founded by former financial advisor Mike Donovan, from Cardiff.
It is the UK’s first subscription box service that delivers toothbrushes and toothpaste to your door every other month, with prices starting from just £2.50 per month.
The boxes include eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes, two months’ supply of toothpaste and extras such as floss and mouthwash and has been created to help the nation take better care of their teeth.
With Brushbox, Mike also intends to implement a change for future generations by making sure that people in deprived areas have access to replacement brushes, as well as those who subscribe to the boxes. For every toothbrush sold, Brushbox will be gifting another to someone who really needs one in the UK.
Paperclip is a marketplace app and website where users can buy, sell, swap and freecycle their items with people locally. Last year, it became the first UK marketplace where users can create private groups for trading – for example, a private group for parents at the same school where you can buy, sell and swap only with people you know and trust.
The idea behind the Paperclip platform is to innovate within the marketplace industry and create a more trusting, safe environment than we are used to, and to encourage consumers to save money by swapping or buying second-hand rather than new.
Paperclip was co-founded in 2016 by Rich Woolley and Alan Small. The pair met at university in London but decided to bring the business to Wales because of its growing tech culture, and are now based in Cardiff.
The platform is attracting thousands of users every week from across the UK, and has just closed its second round of investments.
Sorbet is a Cardiff-based property app that allows landlords and agents to manage appointments, reports and maintenance easily and efficiently.
The app allows tenants to report a problem like a broken boiler or a leaky tap, and it has a database of registered contractors (eg plumbers and meter readers) who are alerted to the problem and can accept the job depending on availability and location.
It means that the tenant can quickly and easily report problems, contractors can pick and choose local jobs offered, and landlords don’t have to spend time finding service providers and keeping on top of audit trails.
The app also auto-schedules regular occurrences such as maintenance checks and meter reads so that the landlord doesn’t have to worry about remembering them and calling in contractors each time.
Credas, a Cardiff-based technology start-up, is using real-time facial recognition technology to help companies speed up and simplify the process of identity verification. It is enabling businesses to easily comply with current legislation including Right to Work, Modern Slavery, Right to Rent and Anti-Money Laundering.
Credas was set up in March 2017 by Rhys David, a former executive at GoCompare, who has more than 15 years’ experience in technology and innovation. The business has developed a suite of products and services that cut the time and cost it takes to verify customers and new employees.
The first of its kind in the UK, Credas enables clients and users to verify themselves in real-time, anywhere and at a time that suits them via a simple to use mobile app.
Doze is a new app which helps prevent London Underground travellers from missing their designated stops. The app was created by 17-year old entrepreneur Dafydd Jones who is based in Cardiff, and is aimed at people who fall asleep on the tube, who get distracted with listening to music or for those who have difficulties with their sight and who might not be able to read the tube maps clearly.
Because GPS isn’t strong underground, Dafydd has been working closely with Transport for London (TfL) to create something innovative and as a result the app syncs up with the wifi hotspots at each tube station on the network to account for delays and pinpoint exactly where you are.
In the last few months, Dafydd has also been speaking with potential investors to help expand the Doze concept overseas, with New York and Paris identified as key markets in the future.
Pedalcover is a specialist insurance provider dedicated to cyclists and triathletes.
Traditionally, home insurers will not cover high value or multiple bikes and or cyclists and triathletes when they want to compete in time trials or triathlons. With a cycling background, the founder of Pedalcover has developed a home insurance policy for cyclists and triathletes.
Pedalcover doesn’t charge per bike like some of the bike-only insurers. Rather than restrict cyclists to insuring their best bike due to cost, Pedalcover covers them all. Pedalcover provides the convenience of one policy instead of a limited or multiple policies.
Launched in August 2014 in Ewenny, Vale of Glamorgan, by experienced insurance broker and keen cyclist Darren Thomas, the business has amassed thousands of clients all over the UK.
7. She Moves
Donna Evans’ female-run removal, courier and handyman business is one of the first of its type in the country.
As well as the straightforward woman and van service She Moves offers a full packing and dismantling service.
The Pontypridd-based business is going from strength to strength after being set up for those who might feel more comfortable having a woman than a man in their home carrying out jobs like these.
The business, which offers both commercial and domestic services, is gaining traction after starting last year thanks to having identified a niche in the market.
Already operating across many parts of Wales including Gwent, Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Pembrokeshire, it is hoping to take on new employees and expand into new geographical areas.
Smart building solutions company enModus recently implemented a project with Virgin Media to radically reduce energy consumption at one of the telecom giant’s major UK technical facilities.
From initial installation, the switch to the smart connected lighting solution combined with the addition of high-quality LED lighting produced a total energy saving of 99%.
As well as Virgin Media, Chepstow-based enModus is working with major UK customers including retail supply-chain business Catalyst and Volvo-owned Scottish manufacturer Terex Trucks.
Andy Heaton, CEO and co-founder of enModus, said: “It’s a coup for a start-up to be chosen as a partner of a leading UK business like Virgin Media on such an important project. Energy efficiency improvements are at the top of the agenda for companies as they strive to not only reduce costs but improve their environmental impact and meet increasingly strict regulations on building efficiencies.”
9. Anything for Hire
New Cardiff-based tech start-up Anything for Hire is aiming to follow in the footsteps of success stories like Uber and Airbnb by shaking up the UK hire industry.
The idea behind Anything for Hire came to technology entrepreneur Tej Randeva when he noticed there was no easy way to compare different quotes from various hire companies during the hiring process.
Whether it’s hiring a limousine for a night out or a bouncy castle for a children’s party, Anything for Hire not only connect consumers to their chosen hire company but gives them the ability to look at different quotes and compare real-time prices.
It also give local businesses a chance to reach new customers along with a free, easy to use booking system.
Technology company Codeherent provides development and operations (DevOps) software.
The Newport-based firm has developed a suite of products that allow customers to better control the development and deployment of the software that performs a central function in their organisation’s activities.
Having benefited from seed round funding it is now scaling up its operations to address the financial services market. It recently announced the successful delivery and installation of its software suite to insurance giant Admiral Group.
Codeherent is a product of the Alacrity Foundation’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Programme and is located at the Wesley Clover Innovation Centre where it benefits from access to direction and mentorship from members of Sir Terry Matthews’ Wesley Clover team.
11. SOS Athletic Excellence
Overseen by the three founding directors Sam O’Sullivan, Rebecca Edwards and Gavin Attore, SOS offers personal training, group personal training and fitness classes at its 5,000 sq ft fitness facility off Lamby Way in Cardiff.
Unlike other gyms, SOS is not stacked full of cardio machines such as runners or cross trainers. The directors focus on running structured group bootcamps and personal training classes aimed at helping clients drop body fat and build lean muscle sustainably.
SOS also runs body composition weekends and bi-annual weekly retreats to Marbella to provide clients with additional training opportunities in a different environment.
12. University Cribs
University Cribs is an online student property searching platform where students can look for homes from trusted providers.
The company has experienced significant growth since its inception in 2016 and currently has more than 500,000 users, with 45,000 fully registered.
It is now looking to expand its geographic network to university cities and towns in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.
In September 2017, University Cribs secured £450,000 from angel investors in its first seed funding round, two months after the company’s participation in the Digital Dozen accelerator programme launched by Innovation Point.
Being in business working with your partner can introduce its own set of challenges, but that didn’t stop Elaine and TJ Amas starting QuoteOnSite.
The Swansea-based fintech company QuoteOnSite offers a cloud-based platform to produce quotes and invoices quickly, creating a transparent process in agreeing work schedules and pricing.
The couple initially started the business at home, but a desire to create a separation from work and home, plus the opportunity to share ideas and network-led them to Swansea’s TechHub.
14. What’s It Like?
Want to see what a restaurant, shopping centre or bar is really like? What’s it Like is a social media app that specialises in helping businesses leverage video to market and promote themselves.
Launched by entrepreneur and technology lecturer Paul Davies when he moved back to Swansea after 12 years working in blue chip corporates, the app aims to give people information in a visual and fun way so they can go out and discover where to go and what to do by using their phone.
The app provides an affordable and easily accessible platform for small businesses. After an initial outlay of anything from £100 for a promo video, the service costs £9.99 per month.
It recently launched a smart phone loyalty scheme which operates via the What’s It Like? app, allowing individual businesses to launch reward schemes or offers without the outlay and practical difficulties of having to get cards printed or creating other promotional materials.
It now has more than 300 clients spread across Wales from Tenby to Cardiff across a wide range of sectors, including bars,
15. POW! Virtual Running
POW! Virtual Running is a comic book-themed, virtual race company.
Launched by Swansea primary school teacher Stuart James, it was set up in response to a gap in the market for people who are unable to travel to races, people who are training for their first competitive race or for seasoned runners who are looking for a ‘stop-gap’ between organised races.
The races are a parody of certain comic book characters. Each month’s race is either a set distance, or punters can choose their own distance. An impressive 20% of the profit goes to charity.
16. JOT S
Johnny on the Spot, or JOTS, as it is affectionately known, is re-writing the rules of the app world – taking a tough stance on privacy and requiring a one-off payment of £3.99.
The brainchild of surfer and Swansea university English skills lecturer Ben Martin, JOTS launched in December 2016.
Thanks to partnerships with Quiver Surfboard in Cornwall, and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), it was floated in front of thousands of surf afficianados.
But even before its official launch, the app had attracted users worldwide, keen to harness its power as a resource that helps them track the perfect, or not-so-perfect, surfing conditions.
The app goes into more detail than other surf apps – which mostly forecast, whereas JOTS charts past conditions. Potentially it could be extended to tap into other outdoor sports markets, so it has potentially remarkable growth.
17. Ginhaus Deli
Kate and Tracey Kindred run one of Llandeilo’s most popular food businesses in the Ginhaus Deli. The Market Street establishment stocks more than 400 different gins as well as cheese and meats.
Recently they won two awards at the Wales Start-up Awards 2017, taking home the prizes for Food & Drink Start-up of the Year and Rural Start-up of the Year.
They were not planning a gin bar. In fact it wasn’t until they had actually taken over the properties that were to become their business did they decide on the gin focus.
“While we were working with our design guy, before we had actually opened, we were thinking about a name for the business and a logo and we discovered that there had been a gin distillery at one time along market street, so this is where the name Ginhaus developed from and all the gin.
“Now we currently stock more than 400 different gins from around the world.” explains Kate.
BIBaDO is on a mission to allow busy, stressed-out parents to become the super-parent they want to be by making their day-to-day lives easier.
The company produces a fully waterproof and stain-resistant wraparound bib, designed by founder and mother of two Rachel Wood, that can be wiped clean after use ready the next feed.
As well as covering the baby the new ‘catch-all’ BIBaDO is designed to bridge the gap between baby and tray and stops food ruining clothes and furniture while they’re learning to eat.
Designed to grow with baby, it has adjustable-length sleeves and a collar which fits snugly around a wide range of child neck sizes and tucks over highchair trays and tables. It even folds into a handy internal pocket, so parents can carry it with them when eating out.
19. Aspire2Be, Swansea
This innovative education tech company was founded by a team of experienced educationalists and now works with schools in UK and overseas. It essentially uses Bluetooth-powered technology to take learning out of the classroom.
The technology uses ‘beacon technology’ that transmits learning materials, visual aids, revision guides and other resources to pupils via their own devices.
Using the technology, a school can bring together websites, videos, interactive quizzes and opportunities for students to record their own audio-visual resources – alongside more traditional methods of learning.
Aspire2Be offers a growing range of programmes across a number of different disciplines, all ultimately designed to improve digital skills and boost the digital economy.
Designed and built by a Swansea-based team led by Adam Curtis, Hoowla was founded in Swansea’s TechHub. It is a full case management system which allows legal professionals to manage their case loads more efficiently and automatically generate legal documents, submitting information to third parties such as HMRC and the Land Registry.
It was initially launched in response to the often lengthy and protracted traditional conveyancing process, but it has now broadened its scope – and family law, wills and probate, personal injury and a variety of other legal cases can be supported with its case management software.
As well as speeding up the conveyancing process, it enables greater transparency. Hoowla is accessed via an easy-to-use website, which lets all parties involved in a house purchase keep up-to-date with the property transaction.
21. Clydach Farm Group
Describing himself as a “self-taught” entrepreneur, Callum Griffiths, director of Clydach Farm Group, first established his business venture with two chickens owned by his family, breeding them and selling the poultry to buy his first incubator.
The Ynysbwl teenager steadily grew his business while studying for his GCSEs, and the company now boasts more than 1,500 chickens and a nutritional pet food division which is exporting to countries including France, Romania and Spain.
Callum now employs a small team of 12 people, including members of his family who head up the poultry division of his company. This has allowed him to focus on the nutritional pet food side, which has quickly become the businesses biggest seller.
22. Get Wonky
The duo behind the budding sustainable juice brand Get Wonky, Maciek Kacprzyk and Karina Sudenyte who are originally from Poland and Lithuania respectively, both attended the University of South Wales and decided to stay in Wales at the culmination of their studies to launch their natural juice business.
Their business idea was shaped by what they believe to be a growing problem of waste and inefficiency in food and drink production.
After launching in 2016 they started out supplying catering events with five litre boxes, which helped reduce waste by 70% compared to plastic bottles.
However, they have started producing bottles for more than 40 venues across Wales, they supply KIN + ILK and Milk & Sugar venues, as well as the shelves of Filco supermarkets.
Ellen Picton makes delicious chocolate truffles in her small shop in Milford Haven Marina – and there’s hardly any sugar in any of them.
Diagnosed with coeliac disease and endometriosis, she went onto a gluten free diet and then became a teacher of real food nutrition, including the Harcombe diet developed by Newport nutritionist Zoe Harcombe, which she follows herself.
Trwffl began as a spin-off from her Healthaspire business, but has now outgrown its parent with bigger premises, more staff and an ever expanding range of chocolate products all made with minimal sugar, dark chocolate< Pembrokeshire cream and delicious flavourings. There’s also a dairy free range for vegans.
24. Eco Home & Commercial Clean
Kate Richards and Ceri Maunder started Eco Home & Commercial Clean in April 2016 after seeing a gap in the market for an eco cleaning service.
An idea over lunch sparked some serious discussions and a business plan. Not long afterwards, they had 60 clients.
As the business has grown so has the range of clients – they have domestic clients as well as offices holding staff numbering from 10 to 2,000. They do location cleans for the BBC and film studios, estate agents and the Milk & Sugar cafe chain.
They employ dedicated managers to run their commercial contracts, but remain heavily involved themselves to keep their finger on the pulse.
25. Banter Cards
The team at Banter Cards spend their days creating cards and merchandise emblazoned with obscene language.
The swearing is a unique selling point of the products handmade by this Cardiff-based business, founded by former British Gas employee Toni Leigh Hall.
While the swearing may not suit some, it has proven extremely popular with hen parties and baby showers, and Ms Leigh Hall says 82% of its customers are women.
The company has gone from Ms Leigh Hall working alone in a bedroom in her Barry home to a unit on Penarth Road in Cardiff with five employees.
Banter Cards turned over a quarter of a million pounds in its first year and was on course to double that in its second year. Its success is in large part down to Ms Leigh Hall’s determination to keep the company focused on what its customers want, providing excellent customer service and finding the right suppliers for its needs.
Two young entrepreneurs are taking up the ecological challenge of recycling the old mobile phones and other devices that most households have tucked away in a drawer.
James Seear and Tom Williams have been friends since their schooldays and have tried a number of different business ventures.
They started Recyclabox in 2014 while Mr Seear was still at Cardiff University, and the first recylaboxes were placed in a supermarket in south Wales.
There are now 13 recyclaboxes in Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in the region and the company has so far bought more than 15,000 products. The machines are the UK’s first self-service kiosks for reselling electronics.
Recyclabox allows users to drop off unwanted goods – such as phones, DVDs, CDs, and games – and within two days a payment goes straight into the seller’s account.
27. Fightwear Store UK
Daniel Huxtable, a third dan black belt from Swansea who has three world titles to his name, established Fightwear Store UK in early 2016, alongside his design studies at University of Wales Trinity St David and his role as an instructor at G&K Martial Arts Academy, his family’s martial arts school, which has locations in Gorseinon and Dunvant.
Fightwear Store UK offers custom designed martial arts and boxing gear which feature Daniel’s exclusive Points Fighter branding.
Customers can choose from a large selection of clothing, kick boots and gloves, which feature designs including Welsh flags, Japanese anime and camo prints.
Daniel’s T-shirt designs are already being worn by some of the world’s top martial artists including Krisztián Jároszkievicz, Chris Aston, Elijah Everil, Natasha Baldwin and Roland Veres.
Swansea university student Jackson Pickard is making waves in the drinks industry with a healthy drink which combines fruit juice with pure oxygen.
The concept behind OxyOse was initially devised by Jackson’s business partner Julieta Ose Ahmedze when the pair were 18 years old.
The idea had never before been developed commercially in the UK and the two were keen to explore its potential.
Jackson ordered a specialist mixing machine which froths fruit juice and injects pure oxygen into the mixture. The result is a low calorie fruit juice energy drink that doesn’t lose flavour.
Jackson and Julieta have been travelling the length and breadth of the country raising the profile of the brand and hosting pop-up stalls at large business events for the likes of Barclays, PwC and the Financial Times.
They have even set up links with a business associate in Bulgaria, who is managing events and sales of OxyOse overseas.
Jessica Blackler is a qualified make-up artist who honed her craft at the prestigious Delamar Academy in London where she studied make-up, hair and prosthetics for film, TV and fashion.
On her return to Cardiff in 2015 she launched Jecca, pursuing freelance work within film, TV and the fashion industry. However, she soon started to explore what make-up services were available for the transgender community and began working with a number of trans clients, providing them with makeovers and tutorials.
To better understand the needs of her clients she frequently meets with LGBTQ charities, speaking with potential clients and building her reputation within the trans community.
She has also launched a make-up product designed specifically for transgender customers. The colour corrector and concealer palette is a unisex product that has been uniquely formulated to offer fuller coverage in order to tackle issues such as beard shadow that many transgender women and cross dressers can experience.
30. The Tidy Kitchen Co
Set up by Zimbabwe-born Laura Graham, The Tidy Kitchen Co designs food for individual events and occasions across the UK and further afield, focusing on local, seasonal British ingredients, specifically Welsh.
It has worked for a number of celebrity clients ranging from key members of Formula 1 to chart topping celebrities and rock stars. It creates a range of varied menus catering for all dietary requirements including vegetarians and vegans, covering all food allergies.
Laura was professionally trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine. After six years of working on super yachts she moved back to south Wales to operate high-end catering for corporate entertainment both in London and Wales.
The business is committed to the future sustainability of the food world and is constantly considering the need to minimise environmental impact and reduce wastage. Its drop off boxes and platters are sustainable and recyclable.
It minimises the use of plastic in every area from food preparation to display and shows transparency in how it sources its produce. The way in which the meat has been reared and the vegetables have been grown needs to reflect the Tidy Kitchen Co’s forward-thinking respect for its environment.