My company, as one of a class of 12 firms, graduated from the Future Fifty at the end of last year, making room for a new class of 12. Future Fifty, a programme run by Tech City that aims to accelerate the development of growth-stage digital companies, has by now assisted many businesses well known to the readers of this paper, including the likes of Zoopla and Just-Eat.
My company Neomobile is not yet the UK household name these firms have become (though we aim to be better known here), but we have had the benefit of a year’s support and advice, and can give our perspective on why Future Fifty is part of something exciting happening in London and the UK.
Neomobile is a global integrated mobile commerce business, focused on digital goods and direct carrier billing, and this puts us at the intersection of the increasingly exciting m-commerce and fintech markets. We are a European company with origins in Italy, but are also international and have global aspirations. We have a brand new HQ in Rome with everything you’d expect from a tech company (agile methodology embodied in a 2,400 square metre workplace and, yes, we have a ping-pong table). But we also have offices in a further 10 countries, including one in London, where I have spent most of my time since 2012.
Our London office made us eligible for the support of Future Fifty, and we have found the programme’s advice and its networks helpful as we’ve continued to grow. Future Fifty has allowed me to step into the UK business and tech communities, giving me access to the exciting technology ecosystem that London and the UK is becoming. I have attended uniquely creative Future Fifty events at which I have met the chief executives and employees of many innovative companies, as well as experts who have helped us get the most out of the technology investment and advisory community.
The value of these events comes from the wealth of the entrepreneurial environment in London. For us, merchant partners with strong London links, like Badoo, are an important part of the ecosystem, as are advertising partners such as Amobee and Crossrider. The UK is also becoming a natural hub for carrier billing, as shown by the presence of Cambridge-based Bango (which provides technology that allows people to make payments on their mobiles). Our business benefits from being well-connected, as we provide monetisation services to a range of online players.
The opportunities for the exchange of ideas this environment creates is exciting, and it makes London much more than just a place from which my business can access the wider world. The capital is becoming a place where Neomobile is likely to do even more business in the future, contributing further to the UK’s tech ecosystem and economy. This might take the form of commercial partnerships or investment in individuals, teams or whole innovation labs.
Through Future Fifty, we have also benefitted from access to government. I recently joined the Prime Minister on a foreign visit, for example, again in the company of other business leaders, and the experience gave me insights which helped me to make decisions about Neomobile’s future strategy.
We now look forward to a new phase in our relationship with the Future Fifty programme as an alumnus. This means we have graduated but, when we need it, we will still be able to tap into the network and get help suitable for a company at our stage of growth. We’ve grown fast organically and by acquisition since our foundation in 2007, and we’re always looking for opportunities to fuel our future development. I’m looking forward to meeting more businesses – from startups to more established players – to work out how we can do more together.
As the next 12 Future Fifty companies start to work with the programme, I’d like to encourage them to take as much advantage of its support as possible. And I hope they enjoy every minute of Future Fifty, just as I intend to keep on doing.
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