Our UKTN host sits down with some of the UK's most influential business founders. Take a journey through their experiences in building from scratch, facing social and economic challenges in an ever evolving digital world, and what failures became motivation to grow and succeed in an unpredictable climate.
Tackling ‘relentless’ rubbish with computer vision – Greyparrot co-founder Mikela Druckman
28:45Mikela Druckman, CEO and co-founder of Greyparrot, explains how her company uses AI to identify and sort through “mountains” of waste, why legislation is key to reducing the volume of rubbish, and discusses the crackdown on greenwashing in the packaging supply chain. London-headquartered Greyparrot was co-founded by Druckman in 2019. The company uses computer vision technology to analyse and sort rubbish into the right categories at waste facilities. It has raised more than $17m in funding and counts waste management companies such as Suez and Biffa among its customers. Druckman is a Global Future Council member at the World Economic Forum and was previously chief commercial officer at Blippar, where she worked on computer vision and augmented reality products.
‘You don’t expect your bank to fail’: Surviving SVB chaos & the future of edtech – Lingumi co-founder Toby Mather
24:17Toby Mather, CEO of Lingumi, shares his first-hand account as a startup founder who scrambled to withdraw company funds from Silicon Valley Bank UK as the crisis unfolded. The edtech startup held most of its funds with SVB UK. Like thousands of other startups, Lingumi worried whether it would be able to pay staff and invoices. Mather recounts his rollercoaster experience of the weekend that rocked UK tech, and his amazement at the "Dunkirk-style effort" in government to save the country’s tech startups. Elsewhere on the show, Mather talks about the impact of ChatGPT in education and the “healthy” discipline the tech downturn is creating for startups. Lingumi is a smart tutoring platform that uses AI to create interactive courses for young learners. It has more than two million users, mostly in Asia, using the platform to learn how to read and speak languages. Prior to founding Lingumi, Mather studied modern languages at the University of Oxford, and worked as an EFL teacher, during which time he began developing the idea for Lingumi.
Gå ikke glip af nogen episoder af “UKTN | The Podcast” - abonnér på podcasten med gratisapp GetPodcast.
Mapping climate risk with AI & how a ‘marriage’ between VCs and policy can support net zero – Cervest founder Iggy Bassi
30:49Iggy Bassi, founder and CEO of Cervest, talks about launching a startup to provide climate intelligence for the world’s assets, how smart industrial policy can work hand in hand with the private sector to reach net zero, the power and limits of data in combatting global warming, and why climate tech investors need to be in for the long haul. Bassi, a serial entrepreneur, founded London-based Cervest in 2016 after his sustainable farm in West Africa was flattened by strong winds, causing millions of dollars in damage. Cervest’s platform uses AI to bring together disparate climate data and provide businesses and governments with insights about the climate risk to their physical assets. It has secured more than £32m in VC funding and went to market last year. Bassi has advised Fortune 500 companies and has been a featured speaker at Harvard University, COP26, World Bank and Tech Nation.
ChatGPT in robots? Disrupting autonomous delivery & the ‘year of AI’ – Academy of Robotics founder William Sachiti
28:26William Sachiti, the CEO and founder of the Academy of Robotics, explains whether ChatGPT will be integrated into companion robots, why mass-market autonomous cars won’t be on the road any time soon and how his company is disrupting package delivery with AI. Sachiti is a serial entrepreneur and inventor who moved to the UK from Zimbabwe in the early 2000s. By his mid 30s he had set up and successfully exited three companies. He founded the Academy of Robotics in 2017, which has gone on to develop Europe’s first autonomous delivery vehicle for the road, Kar-go. The Academy of Robotics has also created self-driving technology used by the RAF and indoor helper robots for hospitals, currently being trialled at the NHS. Sachiti was named Disruptor of the Year by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2021.
Building a satellite ‘taxi service’, defending Ukraine & cleaning space junk – Skyrora founder Volodymyr Levykin
29:30Volodymyr Levykin, the CEO and founder of Skyrora, talks about building a satellite “taxi service”, how space tech has become an asset in defending Ukraine, the potential of space tourism and the challenges surrounding commercial space travel. Levykin, a Ukrainian-born tech entrepreneur, spent time working in IT in Silicon Valley before moving to Edinburgh to found rocket company Skyrora. Levykin used private funds to launch the company in 2017, which is building launch services for small satellites. Skyrora became the first company to complete a successful integrated rocket stage test in the UK since the 1970s, and has completed four suborbital rocket launches.
Semiconductor strategy, a green silicon alternative & women in STEM – Cambridge GaN Devices founder Giorgia Longobardi
28:36Dr Giorgia Longobardi, the co-founder and CEO of Cambridge GaN Devices, shares her experience spinning out a startup from the University of Cambridge, being a woman in STEM, developing energy-efficient microchips and why the UK government urgently needs to develop a semiconductor strategy. Longobardi co-founded CGD, a fabless semiconductor company, in 2016. It is developing transistors that use gallium nitride (GaN) instead of silicon to power electronics, with the goal of making devices such as data centres more energy efficient. The Cambridge-headquartered company has raised more than $28m in funding.
Taking on the big banks, VC bias & being the ‘odd one out’ – Starling Bank founder Anne Boden
26:11Anne Boden, CEO and founder of digital bank Starling, talks about her journey taking on the big banks, being the “odd one out” in the world of finance, why VCs are overlooking female founders and why crypto is “lacking sufficient practical and moral purpose”. Boden founded Starling Bank in 2014 after decades of working for some of the world’s biggest banks. Starling, which is an online-only bank, provides both business and current accounts. The unicorn fintech company has been profitable since 2021 and has 500,000 small business accounts. In 2018, Boden was awarded an MBE for services to financial technology.
Chip-making robots, microchip geopolitics & AI misconceptions – Karakuri founder Barney Wragg
34:18Barney Wragg, CEO and founder of robotic kitchen automation startup Karakuri, talks about his time at chip giant Arm, the danger of semiconductor trade barriers, finding product-market fit, and how AI is creating more – not less – jobs. Wragg founded Karakuri, a London-based robotics startup, in 2018. Its two main products are a robotic arm that serves personalised sushi dishes, and an automated fryer for chips. The London-based company has raised more than £13.5m in funding. Wragg spent time at Arm during the 1990s and has a background in physics and music, working at studios such as Universal and EMI.
Dangers of AI in cyber, learning from layoffs & fixing the skills shortage - Immersive Labs CEO & founder James Hadley
25:54Immersive Labs CEO and founder James Hadley discusses the dangers of generative AI like ChatGPT in cybersecurity, the lessons learned from laying off 10% of staff, and cracking the cyber skills shortage. Hadley founded Immersive Labs, a Bristol-based cybersecurity training platform, in 2017. The company’s platform creates cyberattack simulations to teach organisations practical IT security skills. The company has raised $189m in funding. Prior to founding Immersive Labs, Hadley worked as an analyst and security consultant for British intelligence agency GCHQ.
Double unicorn, scaling America & everything in-between - Philip Belamant, CEO & Co-founder of Zilch
47:36Zilch co-founder and CEO, Philip Belamant, gets candid on disrupting the fintech sector, catapulting Zilch to double unicorn status and being the fastest growing company out of Europe and the UK. He gets into their American takeover, with a preregistration of over 150,000 customers ahead of their stateside launch based out of Miami. Belamant delves on the astounding growth of their customer base, going from 20,000 to 2.2 million customers in just 18 months. He gets honest on the difficult decisions they faced when deciding between the rapid onboarding of new customers versus quality of service of existing - something they now use AI for as they have expanded. Having lost out on funding at the beginning of the pandemic, Belamant talks in depth on what impact this had on the company and how they came back from that loss to now stand at a total of $339.3M in funding and a company value of more than $2bn. Belamant is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and Co-founder of the double unicorn fintech Zilch, recently valued at over $2bn. Before Zilch, Belamant founded, developed, and sold two other successful fintech ventures. The first provided value-added mobile payment services that grew to over 20 million users in 15 different countries across India, Africa, and Europe, which led Belamant to conceive and launch South Africa’s first cash-to-Mastercard system for Uber that became a top 40 fintech company. Belamant was named Entrepreneur of the Year for 2021 by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards for leading Zilch to the forefront of the changing payments landscape.