I am delighted to say that I have been offered and have accepted the new OneTech MD role from January 2020, 4 days per week. No one could be more surprised than I am to find myself going back into an employed position after 22 years of running my own business! For now, at least, the consensus is that I am the right person for the job. For nearly 30 years I have been fortunate to support inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship across EU cities in all but 3 of the EU27 countries.  I am thrilled to have an opportunity to use this knowledge and experience to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive tech start-up ecosystem in London. I can’t wait to get started! (well, maybe I’ll have a little break over Christmas first!!).

Since I started working closely with Capital Enterprise the week after the EU referendum in 2016, I have been privileged to lead the co-creation of OneTech with an amazing team, delivery partners, funders and wider stakeholder group. Together I think we have created something which is both really special and incredibly important. In terms of impact and achievements, over the past 18 months, highlights include:

  •   Launching in October 2018 with funding from J.P.Morgan and in partnership with 5 delivery organisations – Diversity VC, Loughborough University in London, TechNation, The Accelerator Network and YSYS
  •   Expanding provision to reach more of London’s young and underserved communities and engaging 2 further delivery organisations – FounderVine and UKBlackTech – and with support from the Mayor of London’s Digital Talent Programme and the South London Innovation Corridor
  •   Partnering with WeWork to provide free workspace to 100 female founders and 20 young founders
  •   Increasing female founders in Capital Enterprise programmes by over 475% and BAME founders by over 233% (with Black Founders increasing by more than 600%)
  •   Engaging thousands of people through social media and our linked communities and events
  •   Recruiting more than 250 people from under-represented communities (of which 51% are women and 61% are people of colour)
  •   Supporting these to raise £10m and create 102 jobs (as of October 2019)
  •   Delivering Diversity Action Plans to 10 Accelerators and Diversity and Inclusion training to 20 senior tech leaders with Fearless Futures
  •   Publishing – with Diversity VC the ‘Venturing into Diversity and Inclusion’ report and starting work on a diversity standard for VC’s which will be launched in 2020
  •   Highlighting the importance of diversity in tech with government through a series of high-level round tables
  •   Shared the powerful stories of 13 OneTech Founders to inspire others.

& there is so much more to do. We are keen to explore how we can use these foundations to create a sustainable movement of change. 

One of my first tasks as MD will be to start to move OneTech towards being a semi-autonomous structure within Capital Enterprise. This will enable OneTech to be better connected with the communities it serves whilst continuing to affect change in the mainstream ecosystem.

As part of this, we will be putting together a small Advisory Group. If you are interested in getting involved please do let us know! You can find more information here.

In 2020 we will continue to support women and people of colour to connect with tech opportunities, and hope soon to be able to launch new support activities, accessible to people with disabilities, mental health issues and neuro diverse conditions. We want to work with government and others to incentivise investment in diverse communities and mandate the collection of diversity data by investors.  We are exploring alternative forms of finance with terms where investors receive dividends through revenue-share, built to preserve optionality for founders and support long-term ownership and control. We believe that this will help increase the diversity of founders and leaders of high-growth-potential tech startups.

To increase inclusion, we are working through the Mayor of London’s digital talent programme to offer community events, founders’ weekends, pre-acceleration support (through YSYS’s Founders Door), mentoring and workspace to 18-24 year olds with a particular emphasis on women and people of colour. Importantly most of the provision is delivered at the weekend or in the evening and support for travel and childcare costs is available. This enables people who don’t have access to the ‘bank of mum and dad’ to consider starting a digitally enabled business whilst having time to earn the money they need to live.

We have also recently launched OneTech in the South London Innovation Corridor. With FounderVine and UKBlackTech we will be offering a combination of community outreach and tech engagement events, tech taster bootcamps, startup weekends, mentoring and pre-acceleration support.

We would love to raise funds for a bursary or stipend so that founders lacking social capital and unable to bootstrap their start-up can work full time on their ideas. We would also like to partner with more, and different, community groups to ensure that we are able to reach communities who will benefit most from the support on offer. We want to reach the ‘unusual suspects’.

OneTech offers a new pathway for often-excluded communities to access digital and tech opportunities. Some will go on to create companies. The best of these will have growth potential. And all participants will gain an invaluable insight into the world of tech along with a wide range of transferable skills, which will support them into a knowledge-based future, whatever it may be.

I am looking forward to being part of it. Please do get in touch if you do too.

Happy Holidays and here’s to an amazing and impactful 2020!