Investing in startups used to be for the rich, but this is starting to change. Angel investment networks like Venture Giant seek to match angel investors with budding entrepreneurs looking for funding. Crowdcube is even more user-friendly: it clearly spells out the investment needs of each venture, how much has been invested so far and by how many investors.
It's often simple ideas that turn out to be the best. Fancy gourmet food for the price of a pizza delivered to your door? Or cut-price pay-as-you-go gym passes? We have looked at a number of exciting new startups in the UK that could make it big one day.
Housebites, based in Shoreditch in east London, launched last September. A posh version of the traditional takeaway, it allows you to order gourmet food from professional chefs in your local area (who cook in their own kitchens). All food is taste-tested and can be delivered to your door for the price of a takeaway pizza, the site claims. It's for those bored of greasy curries who fancy restaurant-quality food - in the comfort of their own home.
The venture is backed by investors Paul & Michael Birch, who sold Bebo for $890 million. So far the venture only covers London, with three main clusters around Highbury, Westbourne Grove and Clapham. They stretch quite far, though: company founder Simon Prockter says Stephen Fry orders from the Highbury cluster even though he lives in Mayfair.
Pay As U Gym
Remember signing up to that expensive annual gym contract only to let it lapse a few weeks later? This website allows you to buy discounted pay-as-you-go gym passes - 1-day, 30-day and 90-day and even swim passes. You only pay for what you use and you can go to a different gym every time if you fancy a change of scenery. It's a simple idea but it looks like it's starting to take off. Originally launched in London at the beginning of last year, Pay As U Gym now covers hundreds of gyms across the country and does away with joining and membership fees.
Rightster intends to make distributing, marketing and monetising digital video content easier, especially from live events. ITN, the news broadcaster, is one of Rightster's biggest clients. ITN Productions recently ran a live stream from the Leveson inquiry into press ethics, which was delivered by Rightster across publisher sites including Mail Online, Guardian.co.uk, ITN.co.uk and Facebook. When Rupert and James Murdoch appeared, more than 2m people were watching live worldwide.
Rightster was also involved in livestreaming London Fashion Week onto Facebook and iPads as the British Fashion Council's official video distribution & monetisation partner. It is now talking to cities around the world to do something similar for their fashion weeks.
Reading-based DataSift, one of few UK startups involved in Big Data, has just done another round of funding. It describes itself as a platform for managing large volumes of information from a variety of social data sources. Founder Nik Halstead says the ability to handle vast amounts of data from multiple sources allows companies to monitor social data in new ways.
He told the Wall Street Journal: "Most [companies] are based on scraping Twitter and are purely keyword based-give me everything on my company name. But we are turning that upside down. Give me everything that is mentioning health and marriage together. Give me everyone who is following Lady Gaga and is talking about fashion."
The controversial lender is cashing in on demand for instant loans - which may be convenient but come at a high price (it typically charges an exorbitant 4,214% APR for consumer loans). The company has gone from strength to strength and is now branching out into business loans, pledging to make funds available within 15 minutes of an application. This is of course a clever move at a time when small firms are struggling to raise money. Wonga started just over four years ago with a short-term loan for consumers that could be approved within 15 minutes and delivered into your bank account within half an hour.