Beyond Networking: What Founding Immigrants in the UK Want from Venture Capital Working Hours
Juanita Gonzalez-Uribe (Author)
Love Guk is a founding partner of Blue Lake VC. It supports start-up international founders based in the UK.
Robin Klingler-Vidra Author
Robin Klingler-Vidra is Associate Dean for Global Engagement and Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Sustainability at King’s Business School.
Having spent over 300 working hours for immigrant entrepreneurs entering the UK market, what have we learned about these founders and the challenges they face?
Implementation for a soft landing can be critical, but the real value lies in getting substantial feedback from seasoned investors.
It’s about what your network can teach you and help you get (like being able to apply), not just the number of contacts you have.
We launched the first version of Blue Lake International Office Hours in 2022, which showed the first evidence that the trend of VCs offering working hours could bring real benefits, especially for immigrant founders entering the UK ecosystem.
In the second edition, out in March 2023, we wanted to continue making helpful introductions, but we also wanted to more systematically understand what was so helpful about work hours.
To that end, we have designed our application form and post-meeting feedback forms to better define two things: (1) before the meeting, what the founders say they want most after hours with investors, and (2) after the meeting . meetings, what do they say they value most? In other words: do founders ultimately evaluate aspects of the congregation the way they think they will?
First, who are the founders who took part in the second round? The 125 work time applicants since February 2023 have come from 39 countries on six continents and from different countries in terms of language, economic development and other factors.
The countries of origin included places as diverse as Australia and Azerbaijan, as well as Ghana and Germany. The countries with the highest number of applicants were Ukraine (33), India (11) and Turkey (10). Applicants also indicated a combination of 12 different main sectors. “Other” was the largest single category (22), followed by fintech (18), market (17), cleantech (15) and deeptech (14).
Here is an illustration of how diverse the composition of the primary sector was:
From a gender perspective, applicants were predominantly male, with 96 applicants identifying as male, 28 as female, and one as non-binary.
Let’s go back to our questions about what these diverse founders are and what they say they want out of work time. Forty-five participants filled out both the applications and the postal hour feedback form; we analyzed the responses for this subset to compare what they said they wanted in advance with what they considered and evaluated afterwards.
In the questionnaire, when asked about the aspects they find most valuable, 60% answered “dating/networking”. The fundraising strategy received the second highest number of responses, with only 13%. Sales and marketing, mentoring and the team received a small number of votes.