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Our top 5 start-ups of the month: November 2017

From (EU-certified, no less) digital contraceptives to flying taxis, November’s breakthrough start-ups are definitely worth getting excited about.

They’ll change your approach to contraception, give you a lift home (quite literally) in record time and, if you really want, make your floor ‘smart’. Why would you want your floor to be ‘smart’? Don’t worry, we’ll get to it.

These, dear reader, are the start-ups that caught our eye in November… 

5. Swag.com 

“We’ve attended a ridiculous number of events and received our fair share of promotional products; some good but most bad,” say Swag.com founders Jeremy Parker and Joshua Orbach. So 15 months ago, the New York-based pair decided to do something about it…

They set up Swag.com, which offers brands personalised jackets, shirts, water bottles, bags, umbrellas and other items. Its mantra of “custom promo products that people actually want to keep” has helped the start-up attract around 1,000 clients, including Facebook, WeWork and Google.

4. Uber Elevate

Security breaches, revoked licences, employment tribunals – the last few months haven’t been great for Uber. Which may be why it wants to impress us again. Step forward, then, Uber Elevate – a project that’s aiming to launch flying taxis in Dubai, Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth by 2020.

Announced earlier this month, the project – which will use UberAir vertical takeoff and landing aircraft – obviously has a long way to go in a short space of time. And that’s why Uber has signed a Space Act Agreement with Nasa, which will enable the space agency to develop the basic framework of Uber’s air traffic control systems.

3. Technis

Granted, it’s not the sexiest of products. But Technis’ smart floor (it’s smart because it combines connected floors with artificial intelligence) could create exciting opportunities for shopping malls and events companies. It could even help to keep the rest of us safe.

To find out how, check out our recent blog post, in which we look at the technology in more detail. For now, Technis – a spin-off of Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne – will be looking at where else its “revolutionary” smart floor can be installed. It’s already arrived at venues in Switzerland and France; next, it’s likely to be fitted in hospitals and nursing homes.

2. Chariot 

Private shuttle start-up Chariot has been around for three years. Until now its operations have been limited to the US, but last week the company – which was acquired by Ford Smart Mobility in 2016 – applied to launch six bus routes in London.

Chariot has identified six routes in south and west London that it believes are underserved by London’s iconic red buses. Commuters would be able to book seats on one of Chariot’s 15-seater buses, which could change their route in busy periods, using a smartphone app.

1. Natural Cycles

There hasn’t been a great deal of innovation in the contraception space, but that looks set to change with the emergence of Natural Cycles. The Swedish start-up’s founders, couple Elina Berglund and Raoul Scherwitzl, used their flair for advanced mathematics to develop an algorithm that accurately detects and predicts ovulation and fertility.

It was initially used for their own purposes, but when the couple realised its potential they decided to launch a mobile app. Natural Cycles’ users have access to a calendar with particular days coloured red – the days to avoid having unprotected sex. It’s proved so successful that the app is certified by the EU as a form of contraception; earlier in November, meanwhile, it received a fresh $30m investment.

Want to keep track of the latest game-changing start-ups? Check out Stylus’ brand-spanking new Start-up Index.