40 UNDER 40: BUSINESS VISIONARIES
We want spotlight the business owners and entrepreneurs from across the UK who have managed to reach the level where they can be called a visionary before they’ve reached the age of 40.
We are looking to highlight rather than rank these people so they have been listed in alphabetical order.
Ardian Mula co-founded Foodhub with his school friend Mohammed Shakil in 2017, working side by side until Mohammed left the business in January 2022.
In just a few years, the online food ordering platform, Foodhub has 22,000 restaurants on its books and trades in countries including the US, Mexico, Guatemala, New Zealand and Ireland.
The Stoke-on-Trent company employs more than 700 people across the globe and boasts an annual turnover in excess of £30 million. Foodhub now plan to raise £100 million in private equity funds to supercharge worldwide expansion.
Aneeqa started Eporta after noticing a lack of quick and easy places to source furniture when renovating her flat. She soon realised that she wasn’t the only one having this probably.
Eporta brings together high quality furniture suppliers with potential buyers through an exclusive B2B marketplace. It provides a platform for them to communicate directly with each other, source products of interest and streamline the overall process.
They now boost 10,000 buyers in 85 countries with more than a 1000 sellers.
Becca is the founder of smartphone app TapSOS which ensures emergency services are more accessible by using non verbal tools to create alerts. Initially designed for the deaf, they’ve expanded the app to allow abuse victims to discreetly contact 999 when they don’t feel safe.
The app has been in development since 2016 and is the first UK smartphone app to receive full accreditation and approval from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for integration with BT 999.
Ben founded sportswear brand Boxraw in 2017 from his childhood bedroom in Coventry four years ago. The brand has gone on to see a turnover of £5 million as of 202 and currently employs around 40 staff.
Boxraw allows Ben to combine his passion of boxing with his passion for business. The brand sells a range of sports clothing and casual wear themed around boxing and now counts actor Michael B Jordan and boxer and Love Island star Tommy Fury among its fans.
Ben wanted to find an outlet that would combined his two passions: computing and fitness. In 2011 he created two apps (iPhysique and Fat Loss Abs Guide) which helped users find the best tips for a workout that would help them achieve their fitness goals. Both apps went to the top of the UK charts
The following year Gymshark a fitness apparel and accessories brand was launched. Initially the site shipped some of the most well known brands before beginning to manufacture its own apparel in 2013.
As of 2020 the company is valued at an excess of £1 billion and in October of 2022 opened its first retail store in London’s Regent Street. Ben was awarded an MBE for services to Business sector as part of the Kings’s New Years Honours list.
Fischer is the co-founder of Mobkoi, taking it from a startup to a $35m-turnover mobile advertising firm, creating a diverse and inclusive culture along the way.
Mobkoi has won Campaign magazine’s ‘Best Places to Work’ three years in a row. Working in a service business with a human-centric approach, her soft skills have played a huge role in creating a healthy company culture of fun and excellence.
It’s hard for a business to remain successful during a global pandemic but it’s even harder to launch a successful during a global pandemic.
That’s exactly what Bruce did turning a lifelong passion for gin into a business that won London Dry Gin of the Year at the Scottish Gin Awards just 6 months after launching. He wanted to create something that would stand out from the other diluted flavoured gins on the market.
Purist Gin does this by adding only water after distillation allowing for a clean and smooth drinking experience.
Cally Russell is the co-founder of sustainable clothing brand This Is Unfolded, an eco-focused company that creates affordable, sustainable fashion and cuts the waste from clothes production, and then reinvests the savings back into the communities who are creating the sustainable clothes. He is working to create long term change in fashion retail through data, community and a factory-to-consumer model.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, brands cancelled over $2 billion dollars worth of clothes orders with factories that were mainly in developing countries. This left workers without jobs or livelihoods and an estimated hundreds of millions of pieces of clothing destined for landfill.
In response, Cally and his team launched Lost Stock – selling the clothes cancelled by big brands and retailers to consumers to help garment workers impacted by these cancellations. In 7 months they had125,000 orders and supported over 113,000 people for a month in Bangladesh.
This computer science graduate co-founded Current Health while in medical school before leaving so he could help grow the business full time.
The company started with a focus on how technology could help the sickest patients receive care at home and avoid hospital admissions. This led to the creation of an all-in-one device that continuously and passively monitors patient health with the same accuracy as an ICU monitor.
It uses data from biosensors, such as wearable devices, to give a doctor insight into a person’s medical condition and to flag if they need attention. The company’s platform is used by many of the world’s leading health systems and by major pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, to move delivery of complex therapy into the home and support home-based drug trials
The business was bought by American firm Best Buy in 2021 but Chris still remains involved.
Chris started his own business from his bedroom when he was 13, printing bike stickers and selling them over Ebay. He saved up all the money he made so that when he turned 16 he had the funds to buy GK Signs for £10,000 while taking the position of Managing Director.
Before this GK had primarily made real estate signs but Chris brought a new approach to the technical side of the business. Today, the business produces vehicle livery for national fleets, signage, and hoardings for large building companies, and counts industry-leading names such as Hertz, Persimmon Homes and B&Q among its clients.
Chef Cleo Morris is the founder of Caribbean food delivery website and caterer MyDine. She launched the meal prep arm in 2017 and expanded into event and corporate catering the following year with help from her father Errol, also a professional chef.
The company aims to sell healthy meals and supplies thousands of customers across the country including celebrities such as ITV presenter Alison Hammond and Olympian Perri Shakes Drayton.
In addition, Cleo launched Mission Diverse last year, a not-for-profit organisation working to improve diversity in the world of business and entrepreneurship, particularly aimed at giving young people real-world business and employability skills.
Diana Peralta is the founder of DP Global, an international business development consultancy that works with chambers of commerce and governments, in Scotland and overseas, to unlock opportunities for Scottish businesses internationally.
She is also the founder of LATAC Scotland Network, a newly-created social enterprise that promotes Scotland in Latin America and the Caribbean region, helping create cultural connections and trade opportunities.
The sisters started their first business, catering firm Karma Cans, in 2014 when Gini was 21 and Eccie was 23. It now delivers 1000 meals a day and is a business that has been built on revenue, without investment.
Moving kitchens three times in one year in the early days of the business, they finally decided to build their own space, which eventually led to the creation of their second business: Karma Kitchens.
Karma Kitchens builds ready to go private kitchens for food delivery and food production brands.
Claire and Emily are the co-founders of Reath; an Edinburgh start-up using digital passports for physical items in an effort to tackle the global pollution crisis.
These items are often reusable ones with these digital ideas acting as physical passport would for a person. Reath’s software then tracks the item through its lifecycle. Claire & Emily came up with the idea after seeing the hurdles businesses were hitting when attempting to implement more sustainable practices.
Together, they authored the first Open Data Standard for reusable packaging, providing a blueprint for how single-use items could be transitioned to reusable, with the help of digital technology. They have been backed by organisations such as Innovate UK, The Open Data Institute, and funded by investors such as Techstart VC and CVC Philanthropy.
The duo saw a gap in the market for an independent rainwear brand to create fun and practical rainwear with great designs. Market research showed that due to the amount of rainfall not only in Britain but globally that umbrellas were a necessary product but also make a great gift.
The company creates colour changing umbrellas, shower curtains and rainwear. Including their Squidarellas (innovative umbrellas that change colour as soon as the panels come into contact with rain) which are stocked in 13 countries worldwide by retailers including the MoMA, TATE and the British Museum.
Fraser became one of the youngest self made millionaires in the country. The source of his success is simple: his grandmother’s jam recipe.
She had been refining the recipe for years so Fraser already had a readymade product he just had to figure out how to sell it. At just fifteen, dressed in his father’s suit he went to a local buyer to pitch his product.
Soon multiple supermarkets were showcasing this jam on their shelves which helped the business gain international attention. This led to them importing thousands of jars over to South Korea.
Fraser has gone on to co-found Beer 52 with James Brown travelling to various breweries discovering different craft beers.
Freha is leading the way in an industry with few female role models: cyber security. She has worked with the police force, central government and co-founded ‘Women in Security Scotland. With over a decade of experience, she is a powerful advocate of sharing her experiences and lessons with the next generation.
Freha is passionate about all matters inclusion and diversity (I&D) and helps mentor a number of colleagues and is a driving a range of I&D initiatives within Accenture.
Grace started an Instagram account to make her more accountable, recording how well or how badly, her quest for fitness was going each day.
Her unique blend of workout videos and refreshingly honest posts about her journey under the handle ‘GracefitUK’ struck a chord with many and she quickly built a massive audience on Instagram – today she’s followed by over a million people.
It led to her spotting a gap in the market and setting up TALA which produces sustainable yet affordable activewear in the UK. It has been so successful that last year the company secured more than £4m in investment and Grace, now 26, she has just launched the brand in America.
Guy is an experienced entrepreneur having started his first business when he was 13 and developed it over several years before selling it.
Up Learn uses cognitive science research to provide a world class learning experience to bring out the best in students. Guy used these similar techniques to get straight A’s in his A levels and the business currently has a 97% success rate.
Helena Murphy founded investing firm Raising Partners in 2017 after she struggled with £100,000 of personal debt from a business venture that failed.
The growth of the business led her to create an angel syndicate to invest in start-ups that she has helped nurture through Raising Partners.
Murphy says her team has helped raise $41m. Its angel syndicate lets active investors’ access high-quality investment opportunities that have been through rigorous fundraising processes.
Establishing the business in 2013, James discovered his love for craft beer while on a motorcycle holiday from Scotland to Portugal with his father. He was frustrated that people were unaware of so many great breweries.
Learning from his passed business failings, he set up Beer52 an online subscription platform to help people discover their love for craft beer. Members are sent a case of different craft beers allowing them to try different flavours and beer form different regions.
James travels to different breweries every month sampling different beers to find new brands to bring to Beer52’s over 200,000 subscribers. He has visited 213 breweries in 49 countries and has discovered over 700 new beers.
James spent summers in California & Hawaii as his father who was from America. It was there that he was introduced to the dish that he would base his whole franchise around: Poke.
Poke is a popular Hawaiian dish of diced raw fish served either as an appetizer or a main course. The word Poke comes from the Hawaiian word “to slice” or “cut crosswise.”
James realised here that there was a gap in London’s food scene for healthy lunchtime alternatives that also packed in a lot of flavour. In 2016 the first Island Poke opened in Soho and has since gone on to open over 20 stores across London.
In 2007 James co-founded the Ellon based craft beer company Brewdog with his friend Martin Dickie. After some initial struggles the company signed a deal with Tesco to have their product on the shelves and things took off from there.
Brewdog’s first bar would open in Aberdeen in 2009 with over 111 now in circulation today as Brewdog has become one of the most recognisable names in craft beer. James has become the public face of Brewdog helping guide the company through good times and bad times.
Jarred founded Fleet to utilise his passion & knowledge of sustainable alternatives, wanting to ensure that his company made a positive impact. Recognising the importance of switching to electric vehicles to the environment, Fleet aims to help people and businesses understand how easily they can switch
Fleet also noticed how many households and gone from two cars to one during lockdown. If a household had a second car Jarred’s team aimed to show them the benefits of having it be electric.
The London Jewellery School (LJS) was founded by jewellery lover and award-winning business woman Jessica Rose back in 2009. It started with just a few classes a month run from a community hall and within 3 years it grew to win 6 business awards, with a three-studio space in Hatton Garden, running 100 plus different types of classes, with 20-30 tutors and thousands of students every year.
LJS grew to over £500,000 turnover within a few years. Jessica has run 5 different jewellery businesses, written jewellery books and won some great business awards, helped over a million people to learn jewellery making through face-to-face classes and online tutorials.
Jodie Cook founded digital marketing and training agency JC Social Media in her spare bedroom in 2011 at a time when the audience and commercial potential for businesses using these platforms was still emerging.
She wanted to make accounts on platforms like Facebook & Twitter effective, now JC represents business of all sizes from around the globe. Just three years after founding her business Jodie won the prestigious Birmingham Young Professional of the Year Award.
She started the process of selling her business in 2022 but has agreed to stay on as an ambassador for the new owner
After a short career as a footballer Kieran launched Premiership Experience in 2010 at only 19 years old. The business was set up to provide children with once in a lifetime an experience at the world’s best sporting organisations.
This allows kids to meet their idols and get involved with training at some of the world’s best training facilities. They started focusing exclusively working premier league football clubs before focusing on Basketball, dance and performing arts.
Kieran has grown the business from an initial concept in 2010 to become a global brand that works in partnership with the most prestigious names in the sporting and entertainment world, with offices in the UK, China, the Middle East and Australia.
Lizzie discovered a gap in the UK beauty sector in 2016 while trying to find a solution for her own hair. She had recently moved back to the UK after some time in America working as a fashion designer for brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Nordstrom.
Having natural curly hair she noticed the products she’d been using hadn’t changed in over 20 years. She set up Onlycurls to encourage other women with naturally curly hair to embrace it and ditch chemicals or straighteners.
They have products designed around helping women maintain their curls quickly becoming one of the most disruptive hair care brands on the market. Their repeat customer base is a result of their strong Instagram and TikTok following.
In 2016 Mario opened the first store of new pizza brand called Fireaway taking inspiration from his Italian heritage to create an authentic pizza experience.
Fast forward 6 years and Fireaway has become the UK’s fastest growing pizza chain with the number of stores totalling 140. In 2022 Fireaway opened their first store in Northern Ireland and their first international branch in Amsterdam.
Much of Fireaway’s growth came during the pandemic through perseverance and an initiative to open 25 branches in 25 weeks. Today Fireaway has continued to open one new branch a week with eyes on more international stores in not too distant future.
Inspired by the drive for sustainability, Mark (30) turned his farming hobby into a vertical farm business. Green Shed Organic produces year round yields of high nutrition crops that will be made into health foods with less impact on the environment.
Selling them onto restaurants and other households which led Mark to move production from his garden shed to a larger premise. This business practice lead to Mark being among the winners in last year’s UK Young Innovator Awards.
Matilda is the biology and cleaner fish coordinator at The Scottish Salmon Company, who has overhauled its cleaner fish strategy.
Cleaner fish can be used to naturally and sustainably manage sea lice, reducing reliance on medicinal or physical removal. Cleaner fish feed on sea lice present on the surface of salmon without causing harm and have proven highly effective in controlling sea lice numbers.
Matilda’s success at Loch Striven and the revised strategy is being deployed across the business.
Mathilda Strom is the Co-Founder, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director for Africa & Pakistan for BIMA. Established in London and aimed at developing markets, BIMA provides insurance and accessible healthcare via their proprietary app. The company is founded on the belief every family should be protected from life’s greatest health and financial risks, regardless of where they were born.
Strom gained a BSc in International Management from Manchester Business School and before, her time at BIMA, worked at Value Partners (formerly Spectrum Strategy Consultants) gaining knowledge of complex project management in Media & Telecoms.
BIMA has accumulated over £87m from six rounds of fundraising from several top investors.
Nicholas Langley is the managing director of Stafford software firm Langley Foxall. He started the business, using money from his overdraft, in 2013 and today leads a team of almost 30 employees.
Langley Foxall specialises in the development of bespoke software to help improve the efficiency of its clients’ businesses and reduce time and costs.
Following a trip to California, Hugh made it her mission to bring tasty vegan food to the streets of London and make veganism mainstream. The brand has gone from a popular market stall where High cooked and served every burger herself to a multi site restaurant company in just four years.
Each site serves 100% vegan food and only using environmentally friendly plant based packaging. In 2019 Vurger Co. raised £1.4m and Hugh was named on the Forward Fooding Top 10 Women in Food Tech.
Jones used to work in the marketing department for Red Bull but became increasingly passionate about finding a way to make people have more control over what their data was being used for, and share in the wealth being created from it. This passion led him to leave his role at Red Bull and launch Gener8 in January 2018.
Gener8 builds digital tools that enable people to control and make money from their data. Its core product is a browser extension that enables people to be rewarded from their data. Users are earning on average between £5 to £25 in value and rewards per month simply by going about their regular online routines.
Gener8 works by tailoring all of the banner ads that a person sees online, so they are based on the preferences they’ve given, for example, sports, fashion, and television, etc. Users receive points every time they see an advert on any web page they visit, or any time their data is used by a third party. The points can be exchanged for products, gift cards, or donations to charity.
Investment in Gener8 increased following Sam’s appearance on Dragon’s Den including British rap star Tinie Tempah and Harry Redknapp who invested as part of an angel funding round of £2.1 million in June 2021.
After dropping out of university Steven founded Social Chain, a social media marketing agency from his bedroom. He took the company public when he was just 27 years old with a market value of over $600 million.
He has invested and joined the board of the UK’s fastest growing e-commerce company internationally Huel as well as being an investor and advisor to bio tech company Atai Life Sciences. Atai works towards curing mental health disorders.
He has gone on to launch one of Europe’s biggest podcasts “The Diary of a CEO” and was the youngest panellist on BBC’s Dragons Den.
Vanessa Fuller and Emily Precious started Premier Tax Solutions in 2013 when they were just 26 with the shared vision to reinvent the way the accountancy industry was perceived.
Since then, they have built a growing firm of approachable chartered tax advisers which specialise in everything from accounts processing and payroll to VAT and tax returns. Premier Tax Solutions, which has two offices in Staffordshire, has also gained Xero Gold Partner status and today boasts a portfolio of more than 600 clients.
Bajela is a founding member and principal at Impact X, a venture capital fund set up to invest in companies led by underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. Prior to Impact X Capital, Bajela was a senior investment manager at Mitsui & Co. where she led investments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
She is a board member and most recently had exposure to FTSE 250 listed board of HarbourVest Global Private Equity. Bajela is also an advocate for female entrepreneurship and a Shaper for the World Economic
The idea for Zoey’s business was initially born out of her and her husband wanting to cut down on their alcohol intake. With her 15 years experience in the food and drink industry she spotted that the increasing number of people trying low or no alcohol beers had correlated with people looking to utilise the positive benefits of mushrooms.
Launching in November 2020, Functional Brewing uses Myco adaptogen which are a unique class of medicinal mushrooms that have been used in functional medicine and wellness for thousands of years.
Blending them with Functional Brewing’s unique range of beers allows customers to experience the benefits of these mushrooms in a modern context. Brewed at 0.5% they remove the risk of a hangover, expand your beer pallet and most importantly keep the mind and body in good form.