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The Knights of the Roundabout – the famous names of London’s Tech City

Mind Candy founder: Michael Acton Smith

Part 1 of The Silicon 60: a who’s who of London’s tech start-up scene

The Knights of the Roundabout, these are the famous names of Tech City.

Some were there first; all are right at the centre, right now.

Michael Acton Smith, OBE, 39 Founder, Mind Candy

The most well-known face of Tech City was awarded an OBE in the New Year honours. His first business was online gadget store Firebox. His big success is Moshi Monsters, the web game for children, launched in 2008. As well as being the father of Katsumas and Super Zommer (Moshi characters) he is known for his love of embellished jackets, face paint and parties. @acton

Kathryn Parsons, 32

Co-founder, Decoded

People would give up major shareholdings in their own companies to get hold of this woman’s contact book. As well as teaching the world to code (heads of Google and Virgin are among many who have attended Decoded courses), Parsons knows everyone who is anyone in tech. She also dates Michael Acton Smith. Together they are Tech City royalty. @KathrynParsons

Kathryn Parsons

Kathryn Parsons (Picture: Rebecca Reid)

Kam Star, 39

Founder, Playgen and Digital Shoreditch

As well as gamification company Playgen (which works on “serious gaming” projects for the likes of Unesco and the Ministry of Defence), Star has made it his job to connect up London’s tech scene with Digital Shoreditch, a festival of talks and workshops that is designed to be the SXSW of London. @playgen

James Layfield, 40

Founder, Central Working

Layfield started transforming life for start-ups in 2011 when he opened his collaborative working spaces — first in Bloomsbury, then operating the café space at Google Campus and now with a new space in Mile End. With companies such as Citymapper, Rovio (Angry Birds developer) and Taskrabbit all using his hubs, Layfield always has his eye on the next wave of game-changing start-ups. @layfield

Pete Smith, 31

Co-founder, Songkick and Silicon Milkroundabout

His first success was gig-tracking site  Songkick, but his influence has grown with Silicon Milkroundabout — a tech jobs fair he started in 2011. It is now London’s definitive biannual tech talent search. He and co-founder Cristiana Camisotti ran a bootstrapped start-up campaign to offer a subsidised stand at the fair for small and short-of-cash companies. @petesmithy

Eze Vidra, 35

Head of Campus

His job is to run the European arm of Google that supports entrepreneurs and start-ups. He is in charge of Campus — Google’s east London tech hub that is only two years old but has 200 companies working there on a daily basis. This can only mean one thing — that if a start-up is about to go big, Vidra knows, is watching and is helping it happen.@ediggs

Richard Moross, 36

Founder and CEO,

Moross has been there from the start. The start-up he founded in 2004 was one of the first to settle in Old Street. It was from a shared desk-space in the business card and print company’s offices that Matt Biddulph of Dopplr first tweeted (and thereby coined) the term Silicon Roundabout. Now Moross has 260 employees. Moo summer parties are still a thing of silicon legend. @richardmoross

Joanna Shields, 51

Chairman, Tech City Investment Organisation and non-executive director, London Stock Exchange

This tech legend went from being at the top of Bebo, Google and then Facebook to being CEO of Tech City — the Government’s link to London’s 1,400 tech companies. She was replaced as CEO by Gerard Grech (formerly of BlackBerry) in February  but remains chairman, providing policy advice to the Government to support entrepreneurship. She is now non-executive director of the London Stock Exchange, trying to get more tech companies to list in London. @joannashields

Michael Acton Smith

Mind Candy founder: Michael Acton Smith

Elizabeth Varley, 37

Co-founder and CEO, TechHub

Before Campus came TechHub — the reasonably priced, collaborative workspace in Old Street that gave tiny start-ups the chance to move into the area. It was Varley’s idea and has since expanded to Manchester, Bucharest and Riga. The Government sought her advice on building Tech City in the model of Silicon Valley. @evarley

Greg Marsh, 35

Co-founder, OneFineStay

With the success of his “unhotel” that lets holidaymakers rent from a curated list of fancy homes in big cities, Marsh has become, literally, a household name. He co-founded OneFineStay in 2010 with Tim Davey and Demetrios Zoppos in London. Now it has expanded to New York, LA and Paris. @gregmarsh


You would have a hard time keeping up with the rate at which these SME stars are growing — and changing the face of London’s tech scene.

Joshua March, 28

Co-founder and CEO, Conversocial

He now spends a lot of time in New York but in 2009 March founded his business in London. It helps firms such as Tesco and Net-A-Porter use social media as a customer service tool. This is his second start-up with co-founder Dan Lester. The pair sold Facebook marketing agency iPlatform in 2012. March also set up ICE — a network of founders who share knowledge and make international trips together —  and Silicon Christmas, a massive annual bash for the start-ups. Some 900 people attended the 2013 event. @joshuamarch

Nikhil Shah, 31

Co-founder, Mixcloud

Everybody seems to want to be in on the music-streaming business. Shah and co-founder Nico Perez got in relatively early, founding an on-demand, cloud-based radio service in 2008. It was inspired by Shah and Perez wishing to legally upload their own DJ sets. Now the site has around 10 million visitors and 500,000 users uploading content each month. Shah still DJs and runs a club night and record label. @nikhilshah

James Layfield

Tech head: James Layfield (Picture: Marte Lundby Rekaa)

Chris Morton, 31

Co-founder and CEO, Lyst

Morton started out working for an investor in web businesses, with a plan to come up with his own idea. He started Lyst in 2010 — a Pinterest-style fashion shopping list. The business just raised $14 million of investment led by Morton’s former employer, Balderton Capital, has been selected as a Future Fifty company and has taken over the old White Cube gallery space in Hoxton Square. @chrismorton

Rytis Vitkauskas, 28

Co-founder and CEO, YPlan

The success of this last-minute, event-booking app — 500,000 downloads, $12 million in investment, a New York expansion and celebrity involvement (Pharrell Williams is an adviser, Ashton Kutcher an investor) — in year one means someone savvy is at the helm. A Harvard Business School graduate, Vitkauskas co-founded the site with fellow Lithuanian Viktoras Jucikas. Both have financial backgrounds, Jucikas with Goldman Sachs and Vitkauskas a former VC. @rytisvit

Samir Desai, 30

Co-founder and CEO, Funding Circle

Challenging the banks with peer-to-peer lending, loans of more than £200 million have been provided through Funding Circle since 2012. It’s on the Future Fifty list and last year the Government began using it to lend to small businesses. Desai met co-founders James Meekings and Andrew Mullinger at Oxford University. Funding Circle is also champion of tech table tennis competition, Ping Pong Fight Club. @samirdesai01

Azmat Yusuf, 33

Founder and CEO, Citymapper

Has anyone in London or New York not yet downloaded Citymapper? It has become the definitive journey planning app and is now taking over Paris. The catapult and rampaging Android functions (featuring Boris) are particularly handy. Yusuf is a former Googler. At the Silicon Milkroundabout, talented young techies were queuing up at the Citymapper stall for a chance to work for him. @citymapper

Andy Puddicombe, 41

Co-founder, Headspace

He’s the circus artist, former Buddhist monk and meditation coach for footballers, actors and Cabinet ministers that everyone is talking about. In 2010 he joined with Richard Pierson to bring meditation to working Londoners (and across Europe and the US, since it opened an LA office), through this mindfulness app and site. @andy_headspace

Divinia Knowles, 34

COO, CFO and director, Mind Candy

Knowles has made an incredible climb up the tech ranks. With a background in antiques she joined Mind Candy as Michael Acton Smith’s PA and quit after two days. He persuaded her to stay and she has recently been appointed to the board. He says,“she is the closest person the Moshi Monsters have to a mother.” She also runs a round-table group for COOs of fast-growing companies to share ideas. @diviniaknowles

Sarah Wood, 40

Co-founder and COO, Unruly

Unruly makes videos go viral. It’s behind the success of ads such as T-Mobile’s Heathrow airport singing flashmob and Coca-Cola’s happiness vending machine. Wood founded Unruly with Matt Cooke and Scott Button in 2006. It has been selected for the Government’s Future Fifty initiative, which offers support to “high-potential, high-growth” companies. Wood also teaches the Screen Media MPhil at Cambridge University, was voted female entrepreneur of the year in 2011 and has three children. No wonder she’s considered an inspiration to women in tech. @sarahfwood


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