Meet the UK's first unicorn with a Black founder 🙌

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Hi there Sifted Reader,

Today marks a new milestone in the UK tech scene. Marshmallow, the insurtech startup, has just become the country's first unicorn with a Black founder. In other news:
  • European startups raise a record amount of debt funding
  • Fintechs slam UK regulator for licensing delays
  • Why every healthtech should hire a doctor


Meet the UK’s first unicorn with a Black founder

Amid an insurtech boom in Europe, the digital-first car insurance provider Marshmallow has just announced an $83m Series B round.

It's also reached a hefty valuation of $1.25bn, making it the first UK unicorn with a Black founder. Now, the company's paving the way for a more accessible tech sector, by making a “conscious effort to open up more” and encouraging a diverse pool of talent to apply to work there. 

What else is on Marshmallow's roadmap?

\A message from our sponsor McKinsey & Company 

A podcast all about scaling, without the fluff

Can gamification help patients take better care of themselves? What obstacles are holding Latin America’s startup ecosystem back? McKinsey’s podcast covers all this and more, cutting through the noise with expert growth advice.

Listen to McKinsey on startups here. 

\Venture Capital

Europe raises record amount of debt funding

Debt is no longer a dirty word in European tech. 

European startups have raised €8.3bn of it so far in 2021 — topping the previous record of 2017. But while debt financing is on an upward trajectory in Europe, it’s not yet reached its peak.

So what’s next for debt funding on the continent?

\For Members Fintech 

Fintechs slam UK regulator for licensing delays

Fintechs hoping to get approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are in for a long wait.

Fuelled by Brexit rule changes and a flurry of cash-rich startups, the FCA is struggling to cope with an influx of applications for payment licences.

And burdened by bureaucratic fatigue, motivation is running low at the regulator. 

Could the FCA’s holdup spell trouble for the UK’s fintech community?

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Why every healthtech should hire a doctor

If healthtechs want to survive and thrive, they should hire doctors — according to Dr Abeyna Bubbers-Jones, founder of Medic Footprints.

From their credibility to their granular understanding of the patient health journey, most doctors are ready for leadership roles. 

Here are some tips on how to hire them.

\In partnership with Purina Accelerator Lab

Welcome to the Unleashed pet tech newsletter

We’re beginning our new series of pet tech email newsletters, running from September 2021 to March 2022. Every month we’ll be sharing:
  1. A roundup of the best stories on Europe’s pet startups
  2. Not-to-miss news
  3. Interviews with industry leaders
  4. Great reads from elsewhere
 ... and much more. 

Not a subscriber? Fear not, sign up here to get it straight to your inbox.

News that Matters

💰 P2P startup Plend raises £700k pre-seed. The London-based fintech is the first to introduce the concept of a social lending platform to the UK. The round was led by Tomahawk VC. Now, Plend will tackle longer-term, goal-oriented lending.

🐕 PetMedix raises £27m Series B. Now, dogs can get cutting-edge immunotherapy. Cambridge-based startup PetMedix has attracted serious money in a round led by existing investors Parkwalk Advisors and Digitalis, and new investors Tencent and Kyoritsu Holdings.

🚀 E-Estonia launches Digital Testbed Framework. The Estonian government announced the global launch of its digital government innovation model. It gives startups access to the tech and experience of the world-leading digital government of Estonia — in return for free use of the resulting novel solution.

🌍 Glovo eyes Africa expansion. Spanish on-demand delivery platform Glovo announced plans to double its investment in Africa and expand its operations on the continent. It’s invested up to €25m to bring its food delivery service to six African countries — Morocco, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

Sifted Suggests

👔 14 corporate seed-stage investors you need to know. Most corporates don’t invest in startup seed rounds, as the companies are usually still pre-revenue at this stage. But rapid advances in AI and sustainability have meant that companies are having to get involved with startups earlier to hone in on more disruptive technologies. Here are some of these investors.

👀 The status of open source in Europe. EU companies invested around €1bn in open source during 2018. This study looks into its current role, position and potential for the European economy. An increase of 10% of open source software contributions would annually generate an additional 0.4% to 0.6% GDP — penning it as a valuable tool.

🤔 Why startups need more customer insights. When startup founders fail, they usually blame a lack of funding. But, according to three recent studies, most startups don’t necessarily need more money. They need more customer insights, argues Denise Lee Yohn in this Forbes article.
Michael Stothard

Get in touch with him at
Or find him tweeting @MStothard
Riddhi Kanetkar
Editorial Intern

Get in touch with her at
Or find her tweeting @r1ddhi
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