Top 20 London Start-Up and SME Employers


London has one of the largest and most thriving start-up communities in the world. It is a world-renowned centre, becoming well developed in pretty much every sector. So it’s no surprise that London outshines its competitors when it comes to new, ambitious, and innovative young businesses.

We’ve decided to create our own definitive list of the top 20 start-ups and SMEs to work for; a small selection of the extraordinary number of fantastic companies that are growing exponentially. These start-ups are doing an amazing job at breaking boundaries and providing a fantastic work environment, so we think that you should know more about them.

1. Brainlabs - Marketing and PR

Brainlabs provides their clients with in paid search, programmatic, and paid social. Powered by data and automation, they provide PPC technology and strategy consultancy for in-house teams, automating manual tasks so that companies can excel creatively. Brainlabs encourages staff to collaborate, organising company-wide ceilidhs in the office auditorium during work hours, followed by haka sessions and swing classes. The company encourages employees to start up their own clubs, so this company has great social opportunities and chances to really integrate as a team.

2. Softwire - Software Development

Softwire is a dynamic and successful software development company with offices in London, Cambridge and Manchester. They deliver innovative, high quality software solutions to clients including the BBC and Google DeepMind. The working environment is very relaxed and friendly, and there are opportunities to engage in pro bono and charitable work. Half of the company’s profits are distributed to staff as bonuses.

3. Monzo - Banking and Finance

Monzo wants to make banking smarter. Founded in 2015, it offers pre-paid cards connected to an app that tracks spending and lets its customers analyse their financial activity. Recently, Monzo has developed even further as, in April 2017, the company was granted a full banking licence. The future of this company looks bright so would be a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in Banking and Finance, whilst still being able to maintain a social life, as Monzo values their employees satisfaction too.

4. ThirdWay Group - Design

This small enterprise prides itself on a great team spirit and community atmosphere. A fast-growing office design and build specialist, this company takes a customer-focussed approach to design and building, producing unique office spaces. So this would be a great placement for young, innovative designers looking for responsibility within large projects. This is a fantastic company to launch your design career and gain a vast amount of experience, all whilst working in a fun, young company.

5. MyTutor - Tutoring/Teaching

MyTutor are a company specialising in online tutoring, with the intent of matching each student with a personal tutor, in an easy and affordable way. Providing a great service for customers and employees alike, this company prides itself on keeping its team motivated, energetic and engaged. The company has regular away days and socials to help the team bond. All department meetings are open invitation and there’s even a ‘bring-a-burrito’ session to Friday lunchtimes. The company also makes sure all employees are on board with decisions made, with a ‘crown-rota’, so every week someone is involved with choices that affect the future of the business and the clients. MyTutor also hosts birthday parties for members of the staff, demonstrating just how great this company culture is!

Man typing on a laptop in an office

6. Alpha Financial Markets Consulting - Consultancy

Supplying perspective, strategy, and technical expertise to asset and wealth managers, this consultancy firm is great for candidates interested in both consultancy and finance. At the heart of the company lies a large dedicated team and there’s even opportunities to travel internationally across different offices. The team is close knit and accommodating, so any young consultant is sure to fit in!

7. Q5 Partners - Consultancy

Q5 was founded in 2009 and has always attempted to provide clients with expert analysis and innovative strategies. The firm has overhauled struggling operations, and improved recruitment strategies. There are opportunities to work across different sectors and locations as well. All the team have biannual team building meetings as well as every member of staff receiving a £500 ‘wellbeing’ budget, for them to spend as they choose.

8. Lucky Generals - Advertising and Marketing

This advertising agency delivers a wide range of creative services across a range of campaigns. With a keen focus on creativity and innovation, this enterprise has gone on to win awards for some of their campaigns. The company also ranked highly in terms of employee satisfaction. The company has even started an initiative to mentor women and help them to progress in this historically male dominated field.

9. Assael Architecture - Architects

Assael Architecture are a small team of architects working across a range of different projects including urban design, masterplanning, and architectural services. Operating in modern, sleek studios, the firm works both nationally and internationally in a variety of sectors. The firm has a strong social conscience, hosting an annual green week and charity events throughout the year. The business also has a ‘no lunch at desks’ policy, and the the Christmas and New Year period is a paid holiday. There’s also little perks like early finishes on Friday and office drinks.

10. Beauhurst - Data

Beauhurst is one of the biggest and fastest growing searchable database of the UK’s start-ups and scale-ups. A company that has featured some of the best known brands, the firm is the new innovative way to understand high-growth business. Beauhurst offers the best way of tracking SME growth in the UK. It's currently one of the most utilised databases. The company is  a fast growing SME themselves, with brand new offices in Brixton. The team are close-knit and get along well. The company organises regular socials, emphasising the importance of a work-life balance, making time spent at Beauhurst thoroughly enjoyable.

Two people talking sat by a desk

11. Nested - Technology/Sales

One of a growing number of UK property, or property technology, start-ups. An online/technological real estate agent, Nested promises to sell your house/flat within 90 days or they buy it themselves. Launched in 2016, the company guarantees house owners 95 per cent of market value, making commission off a % of houses over value. Although still at a very early growth stage, it looks like this start-up could go very far. It also highly values employee satisfaction, and hosts many social events for its team throughout the year.

12. Adaptavist - Tech/Software and Consultancy

Adaptavist is one of the largest service providers of Atlassian software worldwide. The company offers professional services, support, and hosting and licensing software products. Employees forge great relationships through regular team-building events culminating in a week of festivities each year, where the company flies international colleagues over. Adaptavist encourages flexibility as a healthy work-life balance for its employees is a top priority. The company also provides an interest-free season ticket loan to help reduce travel costs.

13. Oktra - Design

Oktra prides themself on innovative, creative, and practical interior design and fitting. The company’s belief rests on producing spaces that inspire, motivate, and stimulate productivity. The team regularly visits art galleries around London, and even further afield, to gain inspiration for their designs. There is a well-being programme which allows for flexible hours and working from home if necessary. Yoga classes and company football matches take place, so it’s clear that Oktra encourages their employees to relax.

14. Carwow - Retail/Sales and Customer Services

This online marketplace has a real focus on team building and inclusivity. Team spirit and high morale is clear to see, as the company boasts a number of events throughout the year. These range from a party inspired by the Notting Hill Carnival, to an event celebrating Eid. Employees can also own shares of the company. And there is a large precedent of people feeling valued within the company. The company has gone from strength to strength, so you would gain valuable experience working with Carlow.

15. Citywire - Financial Publishing and Information

Citywire has grown consistently since its foundation in 1999 and it now has over 200 employees. This established SME has offices around the world, including in London, Hong Kong, Milan, Munich, and New York. The company holds 60 events each year that bring together managers and asset managers across the world, making them a very significant firm in their sector and it now even hosts its own set of awards!

16. Ravelin - Technology

Founded in 2015, Ravelin analyses online behaviour in real time to reduce payment-related fraud. According to its clients, its technology reduces fraud incidence by more than 50 per cent. A rapidly growing company, this start-up provides a real solution to a genuine issue and is at the cutting edge of technology.

17. Seenit - Content and Social Media

The app was launched in 2014, and is founded on a simple premise. The footage that everyone films on their smartphone can be utilised ever increasingly. Seenit is an invite-only app, ensuring high-quality footage from up-loaders which is then bought. Users can commission footage and edit in the cloud, and then use it for their own website/individual purposes. Seenit is growing quickly and looks to be the new way to commission video content.

18. MuleSoft - Software Development

MuleSoft provides integration software for businesses to connect applications and data and devices. Every member of junior staff is paired with an executive as part of a mentor programme with support and advice sessions. Employees can also buy discounted shares. There's also subsidised gym memberships and healthy food available in the office. MuleSoft values its employees and the wider community, with health insurance, charity schemes, and opportunities to develop outside of the working environment.

19. Incite Marketing Planning - Market Research

At this firm, there are ample opportunities to develop and gain more experience. Incite provides strategic market research on consumer goods in many sectors. Senior managers offer role mentoring for their younger colleagues ensuring that employees can build their career. The company has a notable sabbatical scheme which is a big plus. There's also other perks like health insurance, a great pension scheme, a shareholder system for employees, and a well-being initiative.

20. Rostrum - PR and Marketing

Rostrum focuses on developing a strong team and fostering a positive company culture. It does this through applying 5 key targets for development in the team and also with great socials that have recently included watching Polo, going to see cricket at Lord's and going to a Justin Timberlake concert! This year the company was also ranked in the top 100 PR firms, showing that all that work on their team is paying off!

team enjoying drinks

Check out these 20 great smaller companies to get a flavour of the opportunities available at start-ups and SMEs!