Can Europe’s cannabis market avoid the US’ mistakes? Investors chime in

When it comes to Europe’s cannabis market, the biggest piece of news this year is what didn’t happen. Contrary to what a lot of people expected, Germany isn’t on the way to legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Instead, the EU’s most populated country watered down its law reform plans after liaising with regulators.

Is Germany’s decision and the precedent it has set bad news for VCs who invest in cannabis startups in Europe? Not necessarily, and it could even be good news for some. According to Oliver Lamb, co-founder of Óskare Capital, Germany’s “push to slow down the legalization of recreational cannabis is positive for the medical and pharmaceutical market.”

“The hybrid recreational-medical experiment has already been played out in North America, and there were a painful amount of lessons learned that it would be reckless to ignore,” he said.

Lamb, like other investors, is wary of the mistakes they’ve seen being made in the U.S.: “The blurred line between the medical and recreational sectors has undoubtedly been to the detriment of targeted medication development,” he said.

“It is crucial to use lessons from paths that others have laid before you. In New York, we’ve seen a failure to do this, with just a handful of dispensaries up and running alongside lax law enforcement, which led to an overt and booming illicit market,” said Matt Hawkins, founder and managing partner at Entourage Effect Capital.

However, some funds are worried that the total addressable market for legal cannabis on the continent is limited and has been affected by Germany’s decision. “The scaling back by Germany has made us more hesitant to deploy capital in Europe,” Hawkins said. “Germany’s process has indicated the entire continent will struggle to create a commercial adult-use market in the coming years and have a limited TAM.”

Similarly, like other private businesses looking to raise venture capital, cannabis startups aren’t immune to the global repricing that investors are pushing for. “European cannabis companies are still overvalued,” said Emily Paxhia, co-founder and managing partner at Poseidon Investment Management.

For founders of cannabis-related startups hoping to weather the slowdown, the advice isn’t very different from what all entrepreneurs are being told at the moment: survive and advance. That’s Poseidon’s motto, Paxhia said.

For cannabis companies that know they won’t survive, finding a buyer seems to be a viable option, as consolidation is expected in the coming months. But whether we are talking about investments or M&A, we are in a strong buyer’s market, Lamb warned.

Read on to find out where these investors see the next opportunity, how they plan to tackle the market following Germany’s decision, and how to best pitch them.

We spoke with:

Oliver Lamb, co-founder, Óskare Capital

Is cannabis more legally accessible in Europe this year than it was when we conducted our previous survey last year? Have there been any key regulatory changes at play?

On the medical side, cannabinoid therapeutics and non-cannabinoid therapeutics (i.e., therapeutics that modulate the endocannabinoid system but do so without cannabinoids) are notably increasing in availability.

There are many factors at play that explain this shift, amongst them [being] increases in tailwinds and reductions in headwinds. Today we have more, higher quality clinical data demonstrating the efficacy of these medications for various conditions, coupled with an uptick in highly qualified teams that are bringing these medications to market.

As for the tailwinds, difficulties in patient access have long hindered prescriptions of medications that target the endocannabinoid system (the mammalian regulatory system that reacts to cannabinoids and cannabinoid-like molecules, similar to the central nervous system).

However, we are excited to see a number of technologies and platforms linking specialized doctors with patients in need of these medications. One such example is Leva, whose digital clinic is tackling the vastly underserved chronic pain market in the U.K.

Alongside this, there is a growing acceptance within medical communities of the suitability of ECS-modulating medications for certain pathologies. At a conference in Berlin this month, a founder happily relayed that a recent meeting of general practitioners dedicated two hours to talk about medical cannabinoids. This is a clear indicator of the increasing understanding and adoption of these medications by doctors across Europe.

Aside from watered-down plans to legalize recreational use, Germany imported a record amount of marijuana for medical and scientific use in 2022. Is this taking focus away from the fact that imports are slowing?

Although Germany’s decision was undoubtedly unpopular at companies that bet on the legislation going in the opposite direction, this push to slow down the legalization of recreational cannabis is positive for the medical and pharmaceutical market.

The hybrid recreational-medical experiment has already been played out in North America, and there were a painful amount of lessons learned that it would be reckless to ignore. Specifically, legalizing recreational cannabis in tandem with medical use in North America can be seen to have diminished the incentives for researchers to develop targeted therapeutics for specific pathologies, given the flood of cannabis flower being distributed through dispensaries. That happened despite a preference held by the majority of doctors to prescribe targeted and licensed treatment that does not need to be smoked.

The North American approach also blurred the lines between the recreational and medical markets, strengthening the impression that users of such therapeutics were simply prioritizing pleasure while claiming a genuine need.

This misconception is not only counterproductive for patients looking for proven treatments, [but] it also detracts attention from the fact that ECS-modulating medications can provide not only far superior side-effect profiles compared to traditional pharmaceuticals such as opiates, but also treatments for conditions that are currently untreatable.

The Czech Republic might end up legalizing recreational cannabis use before Germany, but it is a smaller market. Is it big enough to move the needle and find out what the EU will tolerate?

Peter Lynch once noted that if you spend 13 minutes a year on economics, you’ve wasted 10 minutes. Politics is arguably the same. Influences on international regulation are vast and varied, and even if you have a good idea of the outcome, the timings are just as complicated to predict.

Therefore, as a rule, we don’t bet on regulation. Instead, we invest in what we know: strong teams, innovative science and untapped market opportunities. We select our investments assuming that the regulatory landscape is fixed as it is today. That way, if nothing changes, we know that they can succeed regardless, and as and when things continue to open up, they can be positioned to benefit further.

A prediction I do feel confident in making is that governments and medical communities will continue to gain understanding of the benefits of these medications.

How has your approach to investing in the cannabis sector changed in the last 12 months? What are your expectations for the next 12 months? Is consolidation in the cards in that period?

With regards to our thesis, not at all. We started by focusing on Europe and continue to do so. Likewise, we launched the fund to target life sciences and deep tech investments in the sector, and this remains unchanged, largely due to the fact that our portfolio is performing very well.

It’s also gratifying to see that a number of U.S. funds are now looking to Europe for the next wave of growth in the sector. This is an asset, as we like to syndicate rounds and having stakeholders across the pond is often helpful when it comes to intercontinental expansion.

Here are our predictions for this year, and those we made for 2022 are here.

We’re happy to say that most of our past predictions have come to fruition, and those for this year are on track to do the same.

What advice are you giving your cannabis-related portfolio companies right now in terms of preserving or extending their runway?

It’s been a bumpy 6 months for edtech — are smoother roads ahead?

It has been a bumpy six months for the global startup ecosystem. It has been equal parts exciting and alarming to see the advancement of generative AI conversations with the breadth of applications increasingly understood.

It’s our view that we are coming to the end of the hype cycle, and startups, even those that previously didn’t have any generative AI plans, are beginning to look at immediate uses rather than just the moonshots and associated disruption it can cause, including in schools and workplaces.

Exploring immediate uses will help us make the micro-adjustments over time that ensure disruption is minimized once the longer-term projects begin to materialize. This theme has been well explored by others, so let’s turn to other developments in H1 2023.

We had the fall of Silicon Valley Bank, which caused significant discomfort but had limited meaningful, long-term scarring on the ecosystem, particularly in Europe, given the actions of partners and governments. In the U.K., this respite was provided by HSBC, which stepped in to ensure stability for thousands of startups across the country, but minimal disruption was felt in the European Union, given the bank’s limited presence in the markets.

edtech companies that raised rounds in H1 2023

Edtech companies that raised rounds in H1 2023. Image Credits: Brighteye

Turning now to global edtech, the market has continued to stutter, exemplified by Chegg’s fluctuating valuation, kicked off not by unexpectedly negative results but by merely acknowledging the risks of generative AI to the business.

Let’s take a closer look at what happened in the European edtech ecosystem. Here are our five key takeaways.
My Tutor Source became the first MENA-based edtech startup to raise $100 million, which bodes well for the region’s ecosystem, previously more dependent on U.S. and U.K.-based startups for edtech activity than homegrown companies. The remaining large deals of $80 million – $100 million tended to be companies raising later stage funding, like Degreed and Begin. One European deal made the top 10: Hack the Box’s $55 million Series B (a Brighteye portfolio company).

Using this segue into Europe, the announced $1.7 billion privatization of Norway/U.K.-based Kahoot by a Goldman Sachs–led group presents a bright start to H2 2023, with the compelling cash offer representing a greater than 10x multiple on revenue. The deal spotlights a trend we anticipated in our annual report in January — growing M&A activity as companies begin to favor exits over raising down rounds and risking becoming zombies.

Overall, however, we expect a minor increase in European activity in H2 2023. H1 2023 saw increased funding than the previous period in H2 2022 and many of the companies that raised big rounds in early- to mid-2021 will be coming back to the table to raise more funding.

This should not be seen as signs of health in the ecosystem, however — what will be more telling will be:

  1. The basis on which these companies are raising (to seize opportunities or to stay afloat).
  2. Whether these companies are raising more or less funding than their previous rounds.

Let’s take a closer look at what happened in the European ecosystem. Here are our five key takeaways:

One-third of global edtech deals done in Europe

It’s positive to see the European edtech market holding firmer than other major markets in North America and Asia in terms of deals activity, but activity by funding and deal count is down across the board.

European edtech has a larger portion of a smaller pie:

European edtech has a larger portion of a smaller pie

European edtech has a larger portion of a smaller pie. Image Credits: Brighteye

H1 2023 saw more funding and higher average deal size than H2 2022

Though the pie has gotten smaller, the European ecosystem has had a better H1 2023 than its H2 2022, with more funding and higher average deal size than the prior period. In H2 2022, the European edtech sector secured $0.4 billion, but this marginally increased to $0.5 billion in H1 2023, despite few large deals.

You don’t need VC to develop a consumer tech product

For the last decade, scoring a big round of venture capital funding has been the yardstick of success for startups across the ecosystem. After that, startups can finally get out of fundraising mode, focus on growth, reach scale and generate millions (billions?) in annual cash flows. But for many startups, venture funding isn’t necessarily the best option — for some, it’s no longer an option at all.

Now, with global venture funding in decline, bootstrapping is an increasingly important and viable way to launch and grow a startup.

Moreover, it seems like the pendulum has swung back to a time when technical innovation (as opposed to business model innovation or regulatory arbitrage) is happening in nascent spaces such as crypto, climate and generative AI. Venture capitalists may feel reluctant to invest in companies without a product they can prove is already successful with a growing customer base.

Founders of consumer tech startups can use the current market downturn as an opportunity to focus on revenue generation by building products that customers are willing to pay for.

We launched NordVPN from Lithuania in 2012. Back then, there was a lack of accessible venture capital — that year, Baltic startups merely raised $54.4 million combined compared with $2.4 billion in 2021 — which we had to factor into our corporate growth plans.

Here are three key principles bootstrapped founders should keep in mind for conceiving, launching and scaling a successful consumer product, based on our ten years of bootstrapping experience.

Double down on a key focus and do it well

When your customer is king, it usually pays to develop product thinking, which is the skill of knowing what makes a product useful to — and loved by — people. But what happens when you are building a product for a market segment that doesn’t even exist?

Use the current market downturn as an opportunity to focus on revenue generation by building products that customers are willing to pay for.

The answer: double down on a key product focus rather than explore multiple options — do one thing very well (at least initially). Your attention to detail will become a competitive advantage in time.

In the early 2000s, VPNs were mostly associated with businesses and the public sector. Consumer VPN technology was still nascent and the average online user was not familiar with it. In short, there was a lot of white space to be filled.

In 2012, it was important for us to educate people on the importance of using a VPN and why they should pay for one — and it was equally important to build a product that the ordinary internet user could, and should, use daily (addressing both functional and emotional needs).

The huge vacuum in the consumer VPN market at that point meant it was tempting to ship out any and all features, especially since the industry was still maturing then. However, our limited capital meant we had laser focus on revenue generation, which meant building a product our users loved. By prioritizing control, convenience and speed, our customer loyalty was built up over time and retention remained high in both the good and hard times.

You don’t need VC to develop a consumer tech product by Walter Thompson originally published on TechCrunch

VC Office Hours: Fabrice do Rego on building one of the few Black-led funds in the EU

Before he became one of the few Black fund managers in the EU, Fabrice do Rego had quite a long career in finance. He started off with Lehman Brothers, before moving to stints at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, and eventually founding M&A advisory firm Valmeon Corporate Finance.

But during all his years analyzing M&A deals and corporations, do Rego rarely saw people who looked like him in that industry. That realization, he tells me, inspired him to start The Blueprint VC with Ibrahim Ouassari to back founders from under-represented backgrounds in France and Belgium.

For do Rego, the logic behind launching The Blueprint is simple: Mixed teams with diverse backgrounds are known to perform well, yet capital allocation to such teams is still low. “There’s a lot of money being left on the table,” he said. So, he decided, literally, to go get that money.

Launched in December 2021, The Blueprint started raising a €25 million fund last January, which the founders hope to invest in 30 companies within the next four years. They’ve already backed two.

The firm likes to invest in mixed teams of diverse origins, mostly focused on gender and ethnicity. The Blueprint focuses on seed and pre-seed rounds, writes checks ranging from €100,000 to €400,000, and has a reserve for follow-on investments. It’s sector-agnostic but does not invest in deep tech or biotech at the moment.

I recently caught up with do Rego to talk about his work with The Blueprint, surviving the venture downturn and the best way to cultivate the next generation of talent in the EU.

(Note: The following interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.)

TechCrunch: You’ve been raising this €25 million fund for about a year, with a diversity-focused investment thesis on a continent with noted issues regarding equity and inclusion for marginalized groups. What has the process of approaching limited partners been like?

Fabrice do Rego: It has been much more difficult than what I expected.

We have a great team, and I thought with such a team, it would be easy. But we faced some odd times raising the fund, especially with institutions. Their first question was the “pipeline problem” [asking if there was enough diverse talent to fund in France and Belgium].

Another thing that was difficult is the difference between continental Europe and the U.S. or maybe even the U.K. — we don’t yet have a super strong and wealthy community of Black people who are connected to each other. That is something we lack, and when you want to raise the first fund [for something like The Blueprint], that’s the type of LP you need to have for your first millions.

The minimum target size of our fund is €25 million. Anything below that threshold, it’s super hard to have a professional fund. We wanted our first close to be €12 million, and we will probably reduce it to €10 million because we want to deploy as much as possible, fast.

VC Office Hours: Fabrice do Rego on building one of the few Black-led funds in the EU by Dominic-Madori Davis originally published on TechCrunch

What’s it like being a Black founder in France?

In France, Shaila Sahai says pitching investors usually goes like this.

She is a woman, Black and a CEO, and when she walks into a meeting with investors, armed with a slide deck for her fintech startup We Take Part, she’s often greeted with bafflement. “They are surprised, and they can’t hide it,” she told me.

She’ll go on to pitch her company, and then: “They usually just leave the conversation,” she said. “I’ve had people say, ‘Oh, okay, nice, very interesting. Thank you. See you soon.’ And we were in the middle of a conversation.”

In France, Sahai isn’t alone in facing this almost systemic avoidance of people who look like her, but you wouldn’t be able to find any proof of it. The French startup ecosystem for Black founders is shrouded in mystery, especially because France’s embrace of universalism and its color-blind approach to economic and social policy has meant that there is little to no data or visibility into the startup and venture capital industry’s racial and ethnic diversity.

The country does not track its racial diversity metrics (former French president Nicolas Sarkozy tried and failed to change that about 14 years ago), meaning that while racism continues to exist in the country like everywhere else in the world, there is no hard evidence of that racism. Many Black founders are reluctant to draw attention to themselves and instead move in silence, contributing to a lack of success stories about them.

We have to fight all these stereotypes to prove we can do interesting things. Rodolphe-Emmanuel Hospice, founder, Clickdoc

For those looking to break into the tech sector, this lack of information makes it look like there is nothing happening within venture capital for Black founders.

Naturally, that isn’t true: Laura Pallier raised a $20 million Series A for her fintech SaaS platform Regate last September; Alvyn Severien closed a $13 million Series A for his algae products company Algama in January; Nelly Chatue-Diop raised $2 million last year for her web3 investment startup Ejara; Bruno Mendes Da Silva raised $3.5 million last year for his AI-focused data startup Heex Technologies; and Sebastien Luissaint raised $2.4 million last August for Myditek, an agtech startup.

This list isn’t comprehensive, of course, but it’s representative of the fact that Black founders can and do run fast-growing businesses in tech and other fields. “We are invited to speak, we are invited onstage to testify,” Sahai said. “But we have more to bring to the table than just testaments. We should be invited to the decision-making process. We should be funded. And that’s it.”

“It’s impossible that you can be their equal”

Black people in France have faced a long history of discrimination that’s been swept under the rug. Many Black people in France hail from or are descendants of immigrants from its Outremer or “overseas departments” — mostly islands such as Réunion and Martinique — and are legally French citizens. Others have ancestors from former French colonies in Africa, including Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.

Sahai, who was born and raised in France, believes the country is still “embarrassed” about its history of enslaving and colonizing Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. Despite that, deep-seated racial stereotypes and prejudices still fester in the country, manifesting in the form of economic discrimination against Black entrepreneurs, a few founders told TechCrunch+.

Compared to the U.K., where there have been more open and honest conversations about racism and colonialism, she said the French don’t want to acknowledge their history.

What’s it like being a Black founder in France? by Dominic-Madori Davis originally published on TechCrunch

Why Europe and Israel’s unicorns are producing the next generation of tech founders

Talent is the cornerstone of any successful tech ecosystem. In the last two decades, we’ve seen a wealth of strong founders and operators emerge across Europe and Israel, building innovative products and category-defining, unicorn companies that are competing on the global stage.

This in turn has encouraged employees from some of Europe’s biggest tech success stories to take their experience working at a unicorn, use it to found the next generation of startups and win venture backing. As a result, we’re now seeing a spinning flywheel effect, in which unicorn pedigree and know-how is trickling down and fueling the next wave of ambitious entrepreneurs similar to what we have seen in the U.S. over the last few decades.

Since opening our London office 23 years ago, the Accel team has backed some of Europe’s greatest startup success stories, including Celonis, Miro, Monzo, Personio Spotify, Supercell, UiPath and Vinted.

Our recently launched Founder Factories Report explores the unicorns, or “founder factories,” now producing the largest amount of entrepreneurial talent in the region and the resulting journey from unicorn employee to tech founder.

The ecosystem is in a strong position despite current headwinds, thanks to its flywheel of inter-generational talent spawning from unicorns.

Our data paints a clear picture: the ecosystem is in a strong position despite current macroeconomic headwinds, thanks to its flywheel of inter-generational talent spawning from unicorns.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at some key takeaways from the report:

The rise of the “founder factory”

Established juggernauts in the European and Israeli ecosystem are fast becoming hotbeds of talent. These “founder factories” are attracting and upskilling the region’s brightest tech operators – and inspiring many of them to become founders and start new ventures in the process.

Our data reveals that 221 of the region’s 353 VC-backed unicorns have fueled 1171 new tech-enabled startups through their alumni, illustrating this trend. Moreover:

  • The founder factories at the top of our ranking are Sweden’s Spotify and Germany’s Delivery Hero, both of which have produced 32 startup spinoffs, followed by the likes of Criteo (31), Klarna (31) and Zalando (30). Other familiar unicorns including BlaBlaCar, Deliveroo, Glovo, N26, Revolut, Skype, Wise, Wix and Zalando, have all also produced more than 20 new tech startups each.
  • However, a wave of newer founder factories is also on the rise with younger unicorns such as Babylon, Celonis, Conduit, iZettle and SumUp seeing 10 or more companies set up by former employees.

Venture firm Black Seed raises £5M inaugural fund to invest in Black founders

British early-stage venture firm Black Seed has raised £5 million ($6.2 million) as part of its inaugural fund to solely support Black founders in the country. The round was led by asset manager M&G Investments, with additional support from Atomico and Molten Ventures. The firm is hoping to raise an additional £5 million to close the round.

Black Seed was launched to address the lack of funding Black founders receive in the U.K., according to its founders: Karl Lokko, Cyril Lutterodt and founding member Yvonne Nagawa. Black founders in the country received only 0.24% of all VC funds between 2009 and 2019, and only 10 Black British women were able even to raise at all, according to a report by Extend Ventures. That’s worse in some ways than in the United States.

The dismal lack of funding has historically led to Black British talent leaving the country for the U.S. seeking funding opportunities. Lokko and Lutterodt said the firm also wants to address the fact that 88% of Black businesses in the U.K. are self-funded, and they want to decrease that number to at least 50%.

“We exist as a tech fund and a community,” Lokko said. “We exist to bridge that gap and give Black founders inclusion.”

Lutterodt said that the firm wants to cut to the chase by writing checks to help bring about change, as many Black founders in the U.K. are overmentored yet underfunded. “We have built a pipeline of Black entrepreneurs, primed and ready,” he said, adding that the firm expects to make at least 10 investments over the next three years and has a reserve fund for follow-on investments.

The firm will focus on early-stage investing, serving as a kind of “family and friends” round for those who lack access to angel investors — or, as they say in the U.K., the “Bank of Mum and Dad.” It is one of a handful of funds that exist in the U.K. that focus solely on Black founders. Black Seed is industry agnostic, though Lutterodt says it’s particularly interested in deep tech, health care and AI.

Black Seed also hosts events at its office in Brixton, the south London neighborhood known for its Afro-Caribbean population. The firm organizes the Brixton Startup Weekend as well as the pitch competition Lyan’s Den.

Humble origins

Launched in 2021, the firm was initially supposed to announce the £5 million raise late last year, but it ran into delays concerning regulatory compliance.

“We actually overestimated how long it would take to get £5 million worth of commitments,” Nagawa, who also serves as Black Seed’s chief of staff, told TechCrunch+. “It only took us six months to hit that figure. What we underestimated was the length of time it would then take to complete the legal side of things and the paperwork. It was a reminder of the complicated factors you face when raising a fund.”

Venture firm Black Seed raises £5M inaugural fund to invest in Black founders by Dominic-Madori Davis originally published on TechCrunch

European startups on track to raise $51B this year, down 39% from 2022

The venture slowdown has long been established to be a global phenomenon, and per a new report from VC firm Atomico, this “adjusted market reality is here to stay.”

Based on Dealroom and Crunchbase data, Atomico predicts that if things stay the same, the amount of capital invested in European startups this year will be 52% lower than in 2021.

That’s a clear decline, but it isn’t much worse than what we are tracking in other major regions.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.

We should note that the report comes with a caveat: It doesn’t include Israel, which is often included in many European data venture data summaries, and also excludes biotech, secondaries, debt or lending capital. Some of those sectors and funding avenues have been on the rise lately, which makes their exclusion notable. However, the geographic, sector and funding-type restrictions are consistent with prior Atomico reporting, meaning we have a solid basis for historical comparison.

Many of the same problems present in the United States are also showing up in Europe, such as infrequent exits and a dead IPO market. But we already knew that.

So, instead let’s look at recent European venture capital totals and see if there is cause for optimism despite yet another decline in anticipated funding levels.

The bad news isn’t actually that bad

Atomico reports that European tech investment volumes are tracking at around half of 2021, set to reach $51 billion in 2023, compared to $106 billion two years ago.

But that comparison isn’t that useful given 2021 was such a big outlier. We’re more interested in how 2023 will compare to years when the funding climate wasn’t so inflated.

European startups on track to raise $51B this year, down 39% from 2022 by Anna Heim originally published on TechCrunch

Beyond networking: What immigrant founders in the UK want from VC office hours

After facilitating more than 300 office hours for immigrant entrepreneurs entering the UK market, what have we learned about who these founders are and the challenges they face?

Introductions for a soft landing can be crucial, but the real value lies in gleaning substantive feedback from experienced investors.

It’s about what your network can teach you and help you obtain (e.g., an opportunity to pitch), not just the number of connections you have.

We ran the first version of the Blue Lake International Office Hours in 2022, which showed initial evidence that the trend of VCs offering office hours can deliver real value, especially to immigrant founders entering the UK ecosystem.

In the second edition, which ran in March 2023, we wanted to continue making helpful introductions, but we also wanted to more systematically understand just what, exactly, was so useful about office hours.

With this aim, we developed our application and post-meeting feedback forms to better identify two things: (1) ahead of the meeting, what do founders say they most want to get out of the office hours with investors and (2) after the meeting, what do they say they appreciate most? Said differently: do founders ultimately value the aspects of the meeting as they think they will?

First, who are the founders who participated in the second round? The 125 applicants to office hours from February 2023 came from 39 countries across six continents and varied countries 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 greatest numbers of applicants were Ukraine (33), India (11), and Turkey (10). There was also a mix of 12 different primary sectors identified by applicants. “other” was the largest single category (22), followed by fintech (18) marketplace (17), cleantech (15) and deep tech (14).

Here’s an illustration of just how varied the primary sector mix was:

VC office hours founder topic preferences

Image Credits: Blue Lake VC

Gender-wise, applicants were predominantly male, with 96 applicants identifying as male, 28 as female, and one as non-binary.

Back to our questions about what these diverse founders and what they say they want from office hours. Forty-five participants completed both the applications and post-office hours feedback form; we analyzed the answers for this subset to compare what they said they wanted to glean beforehand with what they covered and valued afterwards.

In the application form, when asked about the aspects they would find most valuable, 60% answered “introductions/network.” Fundraising strategy received the second highest number of responses, with just 13%. Sales and marketing, mentorship, and team all received a small number of votes.

Beyond networking: What immigrant founders in the UK want from VC office hours by Walter Thompson originally published on TechCrunch