Reflections on Future Forward: investing in diversity & TechInvest: diversity in tech
Over 13th and 14th July we were incredibly pleased to host both the latest instalment of our Future Forward series, focused on investing in diversity, and followed by our latest Mayor of London’s TechInvest: diversity in tech. Both were designed to feed into one another, with Future Forward offering practical tips for improving diversity across the investment ecosystem, and then TechInvest offering up one such way of doing this: ensuring your team is engaging with diverse founder led businesses and assessing pitches that have come through via more varied sources.
We welcomed an exceptional host of speakers to Future Forward, including: Kerry Baldwin – Managing Partner, IQ Capital / Chair, BVCA, Shanika Amarasekara MBE – Chief Impact Officer, British Business Bank, Muhammad Altalib – Investment Associate, Islamic Finance Guru, plus many more (see full list of speakers here). We were fortunate to kick things off with an introduction from Shanika providing an overview on how Diversity is more than just a box-ticking exercise. She explored the latest research and stats which highlight the commercial benefits of pursuing D&I as a core part of your business strategy. The panels that followed covered topics that ranged from why investing in diversity matters to diversifying your investment funnel from end-to-end. Many interesting points were raised throughout the course of the event, including as part of the ‘leading by example: industry growth stories’ session. During this particular session the significance of a warm introduction was highlighted (there’s a 13x higher chance of a founder receiving funding if it’s come through via a warm introduction), however for the most part this is something that’s afforded to those that already have investors in their networks. Deepali shared that she’s mentoring 3 diverse founders at any one time, and urged other investors in attendance to do the same. The session’s panellists agreed that more diverse investors equals more diverse investments. Andy Davis, Co-Founder of 10×10, suggests even more work needs to be done around connecting new black angel investors / VCs to established investors in the ecosystem; adding that people are out there doing the work, it is just a case of forging the right connections, especially those that are early on in their investment journeys. Deepali and Andy also shared that a sense of trust is key to meeting exciting founders at a very early stage; Muhammad Altalib – Investment Associate, Islamic Finance Guru also a part of the session, suggested this can be a competitive advantage.
The following day TechInvest welcomed a fantastic group of founders covering a particularly broad range of sectors. The tech solutions presented included: an award-winning short-term luxury home rental service, a game changing new media platform for members, a mental health app specifically for young people and an expenses app for volunteers. Sharmadean Reid of The Stack World, who presented as part of this exciting event, shared that her latest platform is aimed at: increasing the GDPR of women’s economy, furthering her mission which has always been around economically empowering women. Riaz Moola of HyperionDev, an online provider of coding bootcamps and dedicated careers support (with funding from Facebook and Google), relayed that they’re currently the largest online education platform in Africa, reaching profitability in 2020 following 640% revenue growth over 2 years. Compare ethics, a solution for verifying brands sustainability claims and attributing scalable ratings, referenced that they’d recently featured in Dragons Den, off the back of which they’d had 3 offers. The overall event welcomed an incredible selection of businesses, and we very much urge our community to look through the wider list and engage with the Founders.
See more on Future Forward via our 5 key takeaways article here.