What do Bio&Me, SRSLY Low Carb, Fearne & Rosie and Olly's have in common to make the 2024 Startups 100 Index?

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Four of the startups that made the 2024 Index all share a dedication, thinking outside the box and perseverance in building their brands. Pic: GettyImages/scyther5
Four of the startups that made the 2024 Index all share a dedication, thinking outside the box and perseverance in building their brands. Pic: GettyImages/scyther5

Related tags startups SRSLY Low Carb Olly's Fern & Rosie Bio&Me low carb bread better for you Snacks Granola Business development

Startups has revealed its 16th Startups 100 Index, which celebrates the UK’s most disruptive new businesses founded in the past five years.

The Index comprises 100 of the fastest-growth UK startups for 2024​ that have demonstrated heavy-duty market potential. According to the organisers, despite a particularly challenging landscape in 2023, the group collectively managed to secure £186m in funding, proving their long-term potential to positively transform lives.

“The ingenuity and innovation of the brands featuring in our annual Startups 100 index never ceases to amaze and this year is no exception,” said Richard Parris, editor of Startups.

“Our highest ranking business, Unitary, is truly a brand of the future, and we’re excited to crown it as our top UK startup for 2024.”

Founded in 2019 by a black hole physicist (Sasha Haco) and a content moderator at Facebook and Reddit, Unity tackles the growing problem of content moderation (hate speech, abuse) by using advanced context-aware AI to spot harmful images at scale. Unitary raised £19m in 2023 and is reportedly pulling in seven figures of annual recurring revenue.

Added Parris, “Despite the crises of the past couple of years, we’ve seen some incredible businesses from every corner of the UK in our rankings. There’s a shared mood of opportunity and an optimism for the year ahead that’s invigorating to see as we begin 2024.”

Several outstanding F&B startups​ made this year’s Index, all noted for their dedication, thinking outside the box​ and perseverance in building their brands.

Credible gut health claims

BioMe Granola Range (002)

Cheerios-challenger Bio&Me – founded by Dr Megan Rossi (aka the Gut Health Doctor) and food industry veteran Jon Walsh – nabbed 18th​ spot.

In just over three years on the market, Bio&Me’s gut-loving granolas, porridges and live yoghurts are stocked in major grocery stores across the country, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Bio&Me doubled its sales in 2023 and secured £1.6m in an oversubscribed funding round, testament of the popularity its consumer-centric offerings.

“The demand for credible ‘good for you’ gut health products continues to grow as more consumers reap the benefits of good gut health,” Walsh told Bakery&Snacks.

“As a founder/co-founder, you don’t often get a chance to look back at how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved, so this recognition is a real boost and to be included alongside other amazing businesses is validation that we’re heading in the right direction.

“We delivered a record 2023 with revenues more than doubling versus 2022, and we’re now seeing another record January sales as well.

“Bio&Me has had amazing support from retailer buyers across the board, as well as from a number of key investors, and we are incredibly grateful to them all for helping get the business to where it is today.”

Going forward, Walsh said the aim is to grow market share in Cereals and Yoghurts and launch into two new markets.

“We’re all about making gut healthy food that’s authentic, tasty and accessible to all. And there's really no end to that to that mission.”

Next best thing to sliced bread

SRSLY Start Ups (002)

In 42nd​ position is SRSLY Low Carb.

FTSE-250-consultant-turned-low-carb-innovator Andy Welch started the keto-friendly brand in 2019, subsequently garnering a slew of accomplishments from awards to securing an NHS central contract,​ a distribution deal in North America and £500,000 in funding.

“We are standing tall next to some of tomorrow’s giants,” Welch told Bakery&Snacks

“Being recognised within a highly competitive food & drink sector is hard enough, so to be recognised in the same breath as leading players from a number of the UK's most dynamic product sectors is quite humbling.”

He added it’s validation that the company must be doing things right.

“Clearly there are sectors where we would like to have made a more lasting impression than we have so far managed but to be recognised by the NHS, to be exporting to the US, to have raised sizeable funds in a very risk adverse marketplace whilst securing a prestigious Growing Business award in the same year suggests that the highs have outweighed the lows.

As such, Welch plans to boost the brand’s mission to make low carb the new free from guilt hero and boost its B2C footprint both at home and abroad.

“We also plan to become a must stock within the NHS, fighting ever harder to tackle spiralling obesity and diabetes, while making breakthroughs in high profile bread environments, such as sandwich chains, coffee shops, university campuses and  foodservice military barracks.

“Pasta and nan bread are high priority launches in 2024, plus the addition of a high profile doctor to our team so that we can do yet more for our loyalists,” he said, giving the examples of meal schedules and online consultations.

No other brand like us

Fearne  Rosie - lifestyle line-up (002)

Fearne & Rosie (at no. 53) is on a mission to disrupt the UK jam category.

“2023 was such an amazing year for Fearne & Rosie, and to secure this award right at the beginning of 2024 is the cherry (or should I say, berry) on top,” founder Rachel Kettlewell told this site.

Although she admitted “being recognised out of hundreds of businesses is just brilliant in terms of helping raise the profile,” Fearne & Rosie today is the fastest growing jam in the UK, last year growing 150% YOY in grocery, while the total business grew 300%.

“Why make jam the traditional way – with each jar typically containing around 70% sugar – when you can produce a healthier jam made up of 70% fruit and 40% less sugar, with all-natural ingredients and absolutely no nasties? There is no other brand like us on the market.

“We are uniquely placed to effect change, helping families make healthier choices and reducing unnecessary sugar intake.”

The B Corp company has a strong emphasis on giving back, partnering with BBC Children in Need to raise £500,000 over the next three years to support kids’ charities and projects across the UK.

This year, a fresh new look for the brand is landing on shelves.

“We are also in talks with several major supermarkets and have confirmed wider retail distribution, so watch this space,” said Kettlewell.

New sense of love and feeling good


Like many other snack​ startups, Olly’s was founded on the back of disappointment … with the lack of inspiring and imaginative treats available on shelf.

Olly Hiscocks started his venture (no. 65 on the Index) in 2021 with a mission to do something about that and his dedication to crafting snacks with a healthy twist, along with the brand’s impressive growth, earned it a coveted spot on the Index for the second time.

Over the past 18 months, Olly’s has expanded its product range (from three to 14); its UK retail presence; added Easyjet, Ryanair and BA to the mix; its international footprint (now in 15 countries); and raised over £1m on the Seedrs platform, which pushed the business value to £10m.

“It's always an honour to receive recognition for the incredible work that both our team – and our snacks – do, and to be sat on that list alongside some very exciting and impressive challenger brands is an extra bonus,” marketing director Sam Hiscocks told Bakery&Snacks.

“This doubles down on all the positive energy and action that goes on inside Olly’s. We'll be pushing in an even bigger and broader way this year to get more snacks on shelves, and ultimately to our fam-olly around the world.

“From a brand perspective, everything we create and do is with a view to making people feel good – and with that as a currency, we hope to enrich the world with a whole new sense of love and feel good.”

Looking long term, Hiscocks said, “we, of course, want to continue to grow our range of snacks, in line with our healthier delicious philosophy. In doing so, we intend to open up more relationships with customers around the world and make our snacks as accessible as they can be to our snacking community.”

He also hinted at new launches this year, “no doubt accompanied by some outrageous marketing activations.”

Related news

Follow us


View more