As a frequent media commentator, Karl Swanepoel has been featured in prestigious news publications such as Business Insider and BusinessLive. He regularly shares his knowledge on various podcasts, engaging in discussions on pivotal topics such as the future of work, fundraising, and leadership.
He has also been directly involved in the European Parliament’s roundtable on Modernising Europe’s Workforce Well-Being Strategy. BestStartup recently recognised Karl as one of the top CEOs in the freelancing space.
In 2021, Karl emerged as a national finalist in the esteemed Engineers in Business competition held at London’s iconic The Shard. Prior to this accomplishment, he clinched both top prizes in his university’s startup competition and later served as the Chair of the judging panel in subsequent years.
Shortly after graduating with a degree in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, he secured pre-seed funding from London-based Venture Capital firm SFC Capital for Revolancer. This propelled the fledgling dorm-room project into a multi-million dollar tech startup. Since then, he has successfully raised over $700,000 in funding, including investments from renowned angel investors like sporting legend Bob Skinstad and grants from industry giants Google and Amazon.
An entrepreneur from an early age, Karl embarked on his freelance journey at just 13 years old and sold his first business, a freelancing platform, at the age of 15. Recognising his potential, he was appointed as the youngest-ever brand ambassador for Europe’s largest business conference, The Business Show. During his teenage years, he founded the most widely read UK-based online watch publication in 2016. At the age of 18, he opened his first high-street office for a web agency he established with a modest initial budget of under £100 after just two months, catering to clients such as the NHS and Harlow College.
During his time at university, Karl played a pivotal role in a tech startup based in Warwick, serving as the CMO and interim CTO. His contributions included pioneering a novel form of monetisation—interactive advertising for brands through viral challenges—leading to the startup securing funding at a valuation in the seven figures.
In his final year of study, Karl undertook an ambitious major project titled ‘Using AI to track and predict sentiment in reader responses to news articles’. He successfully developed an autonomous system capable of collecting and processing an extensive dataset of articles and comments. Leveraging this system, he achieved impressive results in accurately predicting audience responses to new articles for specific news publications, including the virality potential of the article, and whether the article would spark a negative, neutral, or positive reaction (and the percentage breakdown of this). His project marks an advancement in utilising AI to track and forecast audience response sentiment in response to publications.
Karl has been privileged to receive guidance from esteemed mentors, including a former Fortune 500 CEO, the co-founder of Just Eat (with a multi-billion dollar valuation), and a high-profile investment banking executive. Grateful for the support he has received, he actively gives back by collaborating with the Welsh Government, speaking at numerous events, schools, and universities, and providing regular guidance to fellow startup founders.