Ones to watch: our pick of Wired’s 100 hottest startups

Wired’s annual 100 hottest startups in Europe showcases rising innovators from Helsinki and Tel Aviv to Stockholm and Berlin. While London still accounts for the largest monetary investment, securing $10.5bn of venture capital in 2020 (Paris is a close second with $3.4bn), the innovation bubbling across the continent is palpable. It’s the list that every startup wants to be on; an indicator of either rapid growth or a revolutionary business concept. 

In their 2021 list, there are repeating themes of deep tech, sustainability, connectivity, breaking down geographical borders and adoption of a remote-first working model. A lot of the startups featured were propelled forward as a result of the pandemic, tapping into opening gaps in the market due to behavioural changes. Remote-first working practices particularly seem to have driven a lot of additional demand for some startups on the list.

Whilst we loved carbon management system, Planetly and the work Infinited Fibre are doing to reduce textile waste, as a growing creative agency, we’ve picked our favourite 5 that are creating waves across Digital, Tech and Creative.

Artlist

Launched in 2016 and hailing from Tel Aviv, Artlist offers unlimited access to royalty-free sound effects and music. Wired notes that it’s equally as popular with the likes of Nike and Netflix as it is with rising Youtube stars and fledgling Video Production Companies.

Since starting out in 2016, Artlist was mostly bootstrapped until 2020 when it raised $48 million in a growth round led by KKR. This enabled it to improve its tech, grow the team and focus on refining its UX and UI design.

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TechCrunch notes that Artlist’s growth is a byproduct of a change in the way we digest content. Artlist has successfully tapped into a market gap that has developed as a result of changing online behaviours; more and more people are accessing video content, with video, social and gaming now accounting for 80% of all online traffic. 

Meero

Meero market itself as “a place where freedom, community and creativity come together”. Headquartered in Paris, and founded by Thomas Rebaud, Meero offers a platform for professional freelance photographers to match with clients.

Rebaud has grown the company to a whopping 700 employees and 31,000 customers in just 4 years. The appeal? They take all of the faff away from being a photographer – the billing, sorting, post-production – and leave you to the important bit, the creativity.

Wired highlights that Meero is used by the likes of L’Oréal, Uber and Sotheby’s.

CodeSandbox

An online editor designed to simplify remote web application development, CodeSandbox was the brainchild of Ives van Hoorne and Bas Buursma. Van Hoorne only finished secondary school in 2015 and was still an intern at Facebook just three years ago, while Buursma only gained his BSc in 2020. In the early days, they ran CodeSandbox alongside school and work commitments. Just 2.5 years after starting out they’d raised a $12.7 million Series A round. It’s no surprise that Van Hoorne was featured in the T500; a shortlist of the 500 most ambitious, people in the Dutch digital scene.

Identifying that the world of web development was lacking in a remote-first usable solution, they developed CodeSandbox to “enable any creator to build and share their ideas”. They state that “by removing complexity and simplifying collaboration, we want to allow everyone to create things with code.” Their solution is run from your browser in the cloud environment.

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Factorial

Based out of Barcelona, Factorial is a tech startup that recently closed an $80m Series B funding round, just one year after raising a $16 million Series A. As a startup or SME grows, HR tasks can become arduous. Factorial aims to reduce the time spent, by automating HR processes and people management in a more strategic, statistically-driven way. TechCrunch describes them as ‘Workday for SMBs’ and a one-stop-shop for ‘hiring, onboarding, payroll management, time off, performance management, internal communications and more.’ 

Anyone

The opening statement alone on Anyone’s website is enough to captivate you: ‘Imagine if you could call anyone in the world to ask for advice and they would pick up.’

Anyone enables you to purchase a call with, in theory….anyone. Founded in Stockholm, the app offers one-to-one 5-minute phone calls with anyone of your choosing. Coined on the premise that “advice is best delivered verbally, concisely and one-to-one, in a time-limited format”. From business support to mental health guidance to leaving the rat race. Anyone isn’t going to solve deep-rooted anxiety issues, nor will it give you the solution to your latest marketing strategy, but it may just give you the trigger that you need to initiate change. The founders developed it when identifying that most of their important life decisions were sparked from brief 5-minute conversations. It exposes you to networks and contacts that you couldn’t previously access. Their CEO, David Orlic, found that they’re currently mostly serving creators, founders and investors, but the marketplace is huge; from first-time parents to campaigners in civic society. Anyone has the potential to appeal to….well….just about anyone.

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