How many years have you been a Founder and been in your current role?
I'm currently Community Lead at Tech Nation where I've been working for 4 years.
What's your backstory. How did you come to be where you are today?
Prior to starting at Tech Nation, I founded my own startup called Remember the Date. I launched it straight out of leaving university after deciding that a Graduate Programme wasn’t for me.
I spent 2.5years working on it and learnt all the lessons in the “How not to start a Startup” book but it gave me a great foundation in which to work in and with startups as well as empathy to connect with fellow founders. So when roles to lead a community of Pre-Series A founders became available at Tech Nation, I applied and ultimately, got the role.
I’ve been at Tech Nation, in various community roles, since 2017 and have helped support over 2500 founders and their leadership teams grow their startups through tailored support and advice.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There are so many, ranging from news-worthy headlines to the short DM that a founder might send me to tell me about their progress and how the community has helped them achieve something.
I think probably one of my top highlights has been collaborating with Playfair Capital on the Female Founders Office Hours Initiative. Playfair Capital had already hosted 2 in-person events at their offices (Pre-covid) and were looking to expand their reach. Covid-19 had already hit the UK so we knew we were going to have to run the event virtually but we never expected the level of interest that that first event garnered, both from female founders and VCs and Business Angels wanting to participate.
That first virtual event was a huge success and since then we’ve gone on to host 3 more virtual events with our 4th scheduled for November 2021 (find out more here). We’ve supported over 500 female founders and made over 2000+ warm introductions through the initiative which I am really proud of.
What has been the lowlight of your career so far?
Sometimes you can’t make as much of an impact as you would like. Because I work with so many founders as part of our different communities as Tech Nation, you aren’t able to provide that 1:1/more personalised support that you would if the community was smaller. However we try to combat that by focusing on broad topics like fundraising, hiring and retaining talent and international expansion to create content/provide advice, so that we can support more companies on their scaling journey.
How did you come across Landscape?
From our Female Founder Office Hours. We worked with Joe to use the Landscape VC MVP to collect feedback from the event and use the information to make the next event even better.
Since then I’ve become a Landscape Ambassador and have worked with the Landscape VC team to host webinars for Founders’ Network and promote them to our community of Founders during their fundraising research.
Biggest challenge right now/thing you need help on?
Cheeky plug but if you are a female founder or a mixed founding team that is looking to meet investors and raise your Seed/Series A round, register your interest to be notified about our next FFOH.
You can also sign up to our September AMA webinars where we’ll be joined by industry experts to share their learnings on a range of scaling topics..
What's the biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?
Not listening to my gut and taking advice from people who may have more experience than me but don’t have the insights/experience/context that I have to make the right decision. I’ve learnt that it ends up slowing things down and then I end up doing the action that I was planning on doing originally and it usually works out right in the end anyway.
What piece of advice would you give to others who are in a similar role as to you?
Listen to your gut. By all means take advice from more experienced people but ultimately, you know what is right for your business and for you personally. Don’t downplay your intuition! It’s there for a reason!
What is the most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem?
For me, it’s the lack of diversity investing. Raising investment is hard enough but if you come from an “under-represented” group, it’s even more difficult. I think it’s great that more initiatives are becoming available to support founders from diverse backgrounds and identities but more still needs to be done to improve access to funding as without it, we’re leaving some amazing ideas on the table.
What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?
More equality when fundraising and giving all founding teams an equal opportunity to raise investment and move away from the notion that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Only then will the UK tech ecosystem be able to develop into a more mature investment environment and keep its status as a unicorn maker, along with countries like the US and China.