What makes a company cool in 2016?
Is it the number of employees with quinoa stuck in their beards? Or how easily your marketing team won that '1970s Russian Cinema' pub quiz last Thursday? Or is it the fact that you're not really a company at all but a 'pseudo-hierarchy of economically-like-minded individuals with complementary skill-sets'?
Maybe. But then again, maybe not.
Each of the brands that made it into our definitive list of London's Coolest Companies have done so on their own terms. Whether it's creating an indispensable product, carving out an adorable niche, or ensuring a quirky atmosphere at work, these eight companies have marked themselves out by doing something truly unique - and we love them for it!
Appear Here - Coolest Website
Appear Here is an innovative online brand that specialises in making people’s dreams a reality. By helping people find and rent short term retail space, Appear Here connects landlords to businesses looking for space in which to realise their big ideas.
Whether you’re looking for a market stall or a space in a luxury destination, Appear Here have distilled a process that once took months into a quick and easy digital transaction – one that can be confirmed within 48-hours.
Having run his own pop-up shops, founder Ross totally understands the need for mobility in 21st century shopping. It’s for this reason that his company have no pretensions and have worked with everyone from global brands to independent designers and aspiring start-ups. Appear Here provide the space; it’s up to the individual to fill it with ideas.
The company’s responsive HTML5 website is a thing of beauty, encapsulating the sleek simplicity of Appear Here’s value to their target clientele. Video backgrounds create a sense of immersive dynamism and reinforce on-going success stories before your eyes, whilst a clear and concise landing page means prospective shop owners can quickly find what they need.
Smith & Sinclair - Coolest Product
Doing everything in their power to encourage us to eat, drink and be merry, cocktail confectioners Smith & Sinclair definitely have the coolest product around with their sweet and delicious, alcoholic cocktail pastilles.
Initially created as an exciting centre piece for the dating nights they were running, founders Melanie and Emile quickly realised that rather each other’s personalities it was the small, alcoholic sweets that seemed to be catching everyone’s attention – and for all the right reasons.
In a little over 12-months, Smith & Sinclair pastilles have shaken up the alcohol industry and now retail in some of London’s premier stores including Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. The innovators of intoxication have gone on to create edible cocktails for more than 30 alcoholic brands and are well on their way to redefining drinking rituals that they claim have “stagnated” over the last century.
As the first people to solidify alcohol at an ambient temperature – and ensure a shelf life of 12 months – Smith & Sinclair’s unique, patent-pending processes are something even Willy Wonka would be proud of. Just make sure you don’t get their alcoholic pastilles mixed up with your kids’ fruit ones!
Seenit - Coolest Media Innovation
What if, instead of advertising to your target community, you got them to create the advertisements themselves? That’s the plan from video collaboration platform, Seenit.
In a world saturated with ubiquitous Instagram accounts, Snapchats, Periscopes, Vines, yadda, yadda, etc, you might be forgiven for thinking that user generated content is already beyond harnessing. But not so, at least according to Seenit. By helping brands directly interact and work with their customers, Seenit encourages a distillation of user generated content that results in high-quality, highly-relatable and highly-targeted content.
Upon signing up, clients are given their own private online studio, to which they can grant access to as few or as many people as they like. Collaborators shoot their visceral, ‘on the ground’ footage on smartphones or similar media, then upload it for editing and just like that, consumers are not the end goal, they’re part of the process itself.
As a platform for consumer expression, Seenit opens doors for the stars of tomorrow to be found by brands today. It’s an ingenious process that helps brands create engaging content and can turn any aspiring filmmaker into the next Smartphone Spielberg.
Innocent Drinks - Coolest Culture
Innocent’s mission is to produce drinks that make you live well and die old. With that kind of mantra it should come as no surprise that the company’s employees enjoy the sort of culture that most office workers can only dream of.
Whether you’re taking lunch at a picnic bench on an astroturf covered floor, playing table tennis surrounded by trees, or sipping smoothies whilst creating a masterpiece on the LEGO walls, Innocent really do offer a wonderfully unique working experience.
Appropriately based just off of the eclectic stalls of Portobello Road, Innocent’s offices are home to around 250 employees. Nobody sits in teams, which helps promote the fact that people work for Innocent rather than ‘The Finance Department’ or ‘The Marketing Team’. It also encourages cross company innovation and a culture where people work with their friends instead of their colleagues.
Office angels are dedicated to maintaining this fruit-based utopia and, just in case you’re wondering, yes, you will be required to bring along a baby picture on your first day of work so that it can take pride of place on the towering – and humbling - baby photo wall.
Pizza Pilgrims - Coolest Origin Story
Take two acolytes of that most famous of circular Italian dishes, add in a few beers down the pub and some plane tickets and what do you get? Pizza Pilgrims of course.
As famous for their legendary origin story as they are for the delicious food they produce, Pizza Pilgrims is a start up like no other. Dreamt up as a portable street food venture involving an oven in the back of a van, the cost of importing such a vehicle quickly put paid to any mozzarella covered daydreams co-founders James and Thom Elliot might have had.
Or it might have done if it was anyone else. Instead, the brothers flew to Italy, bought a 3-wheeled Piaggio Ape van, named it ‘Concetti’, installed an oven and then drove the entire way back to Britain. Eventually, that is. En route, the intrepid foodie explorers made frequent stops throughout the limbs of Italy to collect ingredients, recipes and advice from the masters of their craft.
The result of this pizza pilgrimage? A lifetime of memories, a bulging waistline and two pizzerias in the heart of Soho. With 3-years experience behind them, the Elliot brothers continue to move from strength to strength promoting their ‘good pizza, good times’ manifesto. Better book in advance though if you’re feeling a bit peckish.
Lyst - Coolest Consumer Concept
Do you remember the Great British Shopping Centre, or as our American cousins refer to it, The Mall (pronounced ‘maul’)? Wasn’t it amazing having so many shops all under one roof? But in a world where you can order t-shirts from the other side of the world via a computer screen, it kind of seems a bit pointless to even go outside.
Thankfully, Lyst has got you covered. Housing stock from more than 11,000 different retailers, Lyst is the 21st century equivalent of a super-shopping centre. Add to that some ingenious technology and, before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a curated and personalised shopping experience like no other.
This ‘smart shopping’ makes it easy to subscribe and follow ‘Lysts’ from celebrities, brands and designers to make sure you never miss a piece that might take your fancy. And when you’re done, you can pay in just a few clicks thanks to the fashion industry’s first universal checkout – meaning even if you’ve ordered clothes from multiple retailers, you can enjoy the time-saving convenience of making just one, single payment.
With a company mentality of disruption, Lyst are changing the fashion industry and how people shop for fashion one click at a time.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – Coolest Day Job
It’s early in the morning and you’re the first one at work. You switch the lights on, start warming the coffee machines and then fill and boil the kettle. You feed the cat, then feed another cat, then a third cat, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, seventh and eighth. You feed a ninth cat and then flip the sign from ‘closed’ to ‘open’. That’s pretty much the way things go every single day in Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s first ever cat café.
Based in the heart of trendy Shoreditch, Lady Dinah’s offers a tranquil retreat from the hectic outside world. Just kick back with a Cattucino or a Moggiato (all the drinks have feline inspired names), enjoy a slice of cake and let one of the many fluffy felines nestle in your lap for the next 90 minutes or so. Thanks to a combination of great food and drink, adorable moggies and lovely ambience, Lady Dinah’s is often booked solid, especially for High Tea.
Thanks to her holistic approach and crowd-funded backing, founder Lauren Pears describes her business as less like a room in which tea and coffee are served with cats, but more a social movement. The small, independent café has even been known to quickly mobilise its on and offline fanbase to help raise funds for injured cats.
So, that’s delicious grub, feline themed beverages, a social conscience and kittens galore – all in a single package. Don’t mind us, we’re just going to submit our CV…
YPlan – Coolest App
With a mission statement to be your little black book on the go, YPlan makes sure that you’ve always got something to do – wherever you are in the world. Thanks to their innovative technology and an entire team of culture junkies, YPlan offers suggestions based on your preferences and an intimate knowledge of your local area.
“Why plan anything?” asks COO Peter Briffett upon announcing that the company lists almost 2,500 events in London per day. With that much going on, it’s hard to argue with him. At three years old, YPlan has become the go-to app for a generation of bored 20 and 30-somethings. With listings ranging from live wrestling to ice skating, theatrical nights out to edible exhibits, YPlan will have you up and out on the town in a few simple clicks.
YPlan is the ultimate app for discovering your city. Add in great perks like access to sold out and shows and invite-only events, and it’s easy to see why there has been an explosion in similar event listing apps in recent years.
Keep your eyes peeled for the daily top picks and you’ll always have something to do. Or, have a little flick through the app and discover something yourself, all you have to do is click to book and you’re good to go. Just don’t feel too sorry for your sofa if it starts to feel a little lonely back at home.
Think your company's cool? If you enjoy free frogurt fridays, unbelievable team trips, or offer a totally unique service then we want to hear from you!