After facilitating more 300+ office hours for immigrant entrepreneurs entering the UK market, what have we learned about who these founders are and the challenges they face?
Presentations for a soft landing can be crucial, but the real value lies in getting substantive feedback from experienced investors.
It’s about what your network can teach you and help you get (for example, an opportunity to pitch), not just how many connections you have.
We ran the first version of Blue Lake International Office Hours in 2022, which showed initial evidence that the trend of VCs offering office hours can deliver real value, especially for immigrant founders entering the UK ecosystem.
In the second edition, which was published in March 2023, we wanted to continue to make helpful introductions, but we also wanted to more systematically understand exactly what, exactly, was very helpful about office hours.
To this end, we developed our app and post-meeting feedback forms to better identify two things: (1) before the meeting, what do the founders say they most want out of business hours with investors and ( 2) after the meeting? meeting, what do you say you appreciate most? Put another way: do the founders ultimately value the meeting aspects as they think they will?
First, who are the founders who participated in the second round? The 125 applicants for office hours as of February 2023 came from 39 countries on six continents, and countries varied in terms of language, economic development, and other factors.
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). There was also a combination of 12 different primary sectors identified by applicants. “others” was the largest single category (22), followed by fintech (18), marketplace (17), cleantech (15), and deeptech (14).
Here is an illustration of how varied the primary sector mix was:
In terms of gender, 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 and what they say they want out of office hours. Forty-five participants completed both the applications and the postal office hours feedback form; we analyzed responses from this subset to compare what they said they wanted to get beforehand with what they covered and valued afterwards.
On the application form, when asked about the aspects they would find most valuable, 60% answered “introductions/network”. The fundraising strategy received the second highest number of responses, with just 13%. Sales and Marketing, Mentoring, and Team received a small number of votes.
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