The startups we’re excited about in 2022
It was a typical Hubbub team lunch to celebrate being back at the office – sitting by the beach down at Barceloneta, sipping margaritas while the palm trees waved overhead. The team got talking about the different products or services that we’re interested in. A lot of them exist in the same space – market disruptors who are shaking things up and bringing a new perspective and a fresh energy to different fields.
So here are team Hubbub’s top picks of the startups to watch in 2022 which reflect our passions; education, parenthood, food and sustainability!
Exciting edtech companies
- Hybrid teaching with Edpuzzle
With a background in education, our co-founder Dan is keeping a close eye on innovations in that field. As well as his work running Hubbub, Dan also teaches Pearson Live Classes, an online initiative which connects English learners from around the world. “From teaching Live Classes, I’ve seen first hand how important it is for online lessons to be dynamic and interesting,” he says. “Learning is going to become more and more hybrid. So it’s exciting to see edtech companies move into these digital spaces with the aim of giving learners the best experience possible.”
His top pick for 2022? Edpuzzle, which is a platform to help teachers to create engaging video lessons. “Videos are a great resource,” Dan says. “So, a platform which allows you to build trackable lessons around videos is a fantastic teaching tool. Edpuzzle is such an exciting platform – a great example of technology promoting teacher creativity and supporting student engagement.”
- ELSA: AI for language teaching
Writer Charlotte also has a background in education: specifically, English teaching. “The last few years have been an exciting time in edtech. All the pandemic-related upheaval created space for lots of experimentation and innovation,” she says. “There are so many tools now that students can use to improve their language skills outside of a language course, with no need for a teacher. ELSA is a great example of that.”
ELSA is an AI powered app which gives immediate, detailed feedback on pronunciation and fluency to help users improve their spoken English. 90% of users saw an improvement in their pronunciation – and 95% felt more confident when speaking English.
In 2021, ELSA grew to be a community of over 25 million users around the world. They partnered with the Oxford University Press to help learners improve their business English. They also created mock IELTS speaking assignments to help students prepare to prove their level of English. In 2022, they’ll be adding material from more language tests to the platform.
“For many people, learning English isn’t just intellectual stimulation,” explains Charlotte. “In a very real way, English opens doors and gives people access to opportunities all over the world. So I think it’s fabulous that ELSA is democratising language learning, and helping people to change their lives.”
Startups designed for parents
- LactApp: femtech which empowers and informs mothers
Shifting from edtech to femtech; one of our writers, Maria, has two children under the age of three, so the startup that she’s chosen is related to her experience of parenting. “Breastfeeding is very much part of the culture here in Barcelona,” she says. “In fact, I’m still feeding my 12 month old.” But, Maria’s breastfeeding journey hasn’t been completely straightforward. “I was so sleep deprived and struggling to ask for the right information, in a second language, with no time to do my own research online,” she explains.
LactApp is an app which is designed to support new mothers on their breastfeeding journey. “Every mother should have a breastfeeding and motherhood expert in her pocket to guide her with information, professional support and a sense of community,” says founder María Berruezo.
This year will see a continued focus on research and training at LactApp. “We are holding our first international medical congress to be held in May with more than 40 top-level speakers,” says Maria. “We are also in the midst of a pioneering study that seeks to speed up the detection of mastitis, a breast condition that is one of the main causes of unwanted abandonment of breastfeeding.”
The LactApp app already has more than 600,000 downloads in 177 countries and answers more than 100,000 consultations per week in Spanish, English and Portuguese. So, 2022 is shaping up to be a big year for this femtech company!
- Planning meals with Mini Mealtimes
Along with running a company, our creative director George is also a hands-on dad to Santi, who’s two years old. “Having a toddler has definitely given me a lot more awareness of the different issues that parents face. There are startups out there offering interesting solutions,” he says. One of his top picks of 2022 is Mini Mealtimes, a website and app which helps busy parents make sure that their kids are eating nutritionally balanced meals. “You can do the research yourself,” George says. “But with so much information out there, it’s hard to find advice tailored to the right age.”
This issue is exactly what Marie Farmer, the founder of Mini Mealtimes, experienced herself. “Mealtimes can be a universal struggle but Mini Mealtimes is here to help,” she explains. She created the company after her son started weaning on to solid foods. “I created a platform so parents can be reassured that their children are getting just the right amount of food, and are healthy no matter how much time they have.” In 2022, they’ll be expanding into new markets and revamping their app. So, it’ll be an exciting year at Mini Mealtimes!
- Embracing the circular economy with Toy Box Club
Another of George’s passions is sustainability. “My partner and I are mindful of the environmental impact of having a child, and we actively look for ways to reduce that – buying secondhand, eating less meat, using public transport,” he explains. “So, subscription services for toys are a fantastic option for environmentally-minded families!”
Toy Box Club is a UK-based toy subscription service. It was set up by Jessica Green and Sheela Berry to try to reduce the environmental impact of the toy market. “The current state-of-affairs is literally unsustainable and desperately needs to be disrupted,” says Jessica. “So we set up Toy Box Club in order to give discriminating and busy parents the opportunity to provide their children with the very best entertainment whilst keeping their consciences clear.”
Greening the way we cook
- Heura: a plant-based alternatives to meat for guilt-free cooking
Beth is Head of Creative Content at Hubbub Labs. In her free time, her favourite hobby is cooking. But in the last few years, she’s been cooking less and less meat. Sustainability is something she’s very aware of, like the rest of the team. “I followed Cop26 with a lot of interest,” she says. “I realised that, in order to create a more sustainable society, we need to make small but significant changes to our everyday habits. And I just haven’t felt good about cooking meat for the last few years.”
So, the companies that Beth is excited about this year are making huge strides forward in creating delicious alternatives to meat. Heura is a Barcelona-based company, set up by friends Bernat Ananos and Marc Coloma. Their plant-based proteins are 100% natural and have an incredible texture and taste, thanks to a process which combines innovative techniques with a Mediterranean approach to marinating and using herbs and spices.
“We are committed to not just creating meat alternatives but meat successors – foods that are superior for the planet, people and animals,” explains Marc. “For about four and a half years, we’ve been working to build a community of Good Rebels who are out to accelerate positive change in the world.”
Heura have big things planned for 2022. There will be lots of delicious new products coming out and a continued focus on R&D. “Our goal is to empower people to change the food system into one that’s both sustainable and ethical,” says Marc. That sounds like something we can all get on board with!
- How Let’s Cook Now helps to reduce food waste
Account executive Carley’s top pick for 2022 is another local company aiming to create a more sustainable culture when it comes to cooking. “I love cooking,” Carley says. “I find it really relaxing. Being able to shop every few days is an important way to cut down food waste. But it can be hard to find time during the week.”
Globally, we throw away a third of the food produced for human consumption. So, food delivery services are a way of reducing that food waste on an individual level. “It’s just a mind-blowing statistic. Now, I’m very aware of trying to get our food waste to zero,” says Carley. “And, I’m trying to shop more locally, to reduce our food kilometres.”
Carley’s top pick this year is Let’s Cook. They are a local company aiming to make food preparation as sustainable as possible with their meal kits. Every week, they send out meal kits with healthy recipes and all the ingredients you need; pre-portioned, locally produced and in sustainable packaging. The business grew almost 300% in 2020, and in 2021 Let’s Cook received funding from ENISA and streamlined their website. “We’ve enjoyed sustainable and organic growth in Barcelona and Catalonia. In great part, that’s thanks to our clients serving as our ambassadors. They’ve recommended the service to friends and family,” says Nicolas Escasany, one of the cofounders. In 2022, Let’s Cook will be focusing on expanding their offering across the country.
Society is changing. There has been a massive shift in how people view consumption. There is a new sense of urgency for a more informed, sustainable approach. People want to live greener, more connected lives, on a path of continual growth and education. So, we’re excited about following the journey of these companies as they help people to live more sustainable and community-focused lives in 2022 and beyond.