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Plated Blaze Nigel Vaz

Nigel Vaz's people worth knowing: SapientNitro's MD reveals which entrepreneurs are pushing the boundaries of the tech industry


By The Drum Team | Editorial

July 1, 2014 | 4 min read

They may not be household names yet, but there's a whole new league of entrepreneurs taking the tech industry by storm.

Thanks to the dawn of a new digital era, groundbreaking ideas can now be transformed into products and services very quickly.

Nigel Vaz, SapientNitro's European MD and guest-editor of The Drum's 25 June issue, reveals which innovative entrepreneurs are worth watching.

Emily Brooke, CEO and founder, Blaze

A cycling enthusiast, Emily Brooke has created the ultimate product for urban cyclists in the Blaze Laserlight, a front light that projects a symbol of a bike down on to the road ahead.She came up with the idea for this radical innovation to drastically improve cyclists’ safety when she quit reading physics at Oxford University to pursue a more creative career studying product design at Brighton University.The light, which allows a cyclist to be seen easily when they could otherwise be invisible, was her final year product.

Ross Fobian, CEO and co-founder, ResponseTap

Inspired by the ‘Million Dollar Homepage’ idea, Ross Fobian, who was studying for a Masters in electronic engineering at the time, decided to start an online auction site for newspapers and magazines to sell their leftover ad space.Moving swiftly on, he started thinking about the possibility of analysing phone calls in the same way as web clicks. With his business partner Richard Hamnett, Ross founded ResponseTap, which helps businesses track and analyse their in-bound customer calls. This year it secured £4m of funding to help it expand in the US and launch in the rest of Europe.

Nick Taranto and Josh Hix, co-CEOs, Plated

Nick Taranto, formerly at Goldman Sachs, and Josh Hix came up with the idea of a dinner kit when they realised that their busy schedules directly influenced their diet. Plated is a national subscription service in the US delivering fresh, healthy ingredients for meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes. Built on the back of social media, Plated is not just another home delivery service – it targets aspirational foodies who want a plate of nutritious food but have little time to prepare from scratch.Plated, which has had $400,000 investment from Silicon Valley angel investors, has centres in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, with more set to open.

Katie Finnegan and Erica Bell, co-founders, Hukkster

The one-time J.Crew Group colleagues reunited in AT Kearney’s retail consulting practice and gave up the corporate world to launch a digital personal shopping concierge. They raised $250,000 in seed funding to make Hukkster a fully fledged start-up. The personal shopping tool helps users to ‘huck’ – to track products on websites you love and get notified when items go on sale, and also offers the ability to buy when the price and time are right.

Chris Le Breton, co-founder and CEO, RolePoint

While working for a large investment bank in London, Chris Le Breton realised that big companies were not effectively utilising their own networks of people to fill job openings.He came up with the idea of a new referral system that would help businesses find fresh talent through recommendations. RolePoint is a social recruitment platform designed to tap into a company’s employee base to find the right candidates within their professional networks.This feature was first published as part of The Drum’s 25 June issue, available for purchase in The Drum store or for subscribers to download here.

Plated Blaze Nigel Vaz

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