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A Journey in Tech as a Queer South Asian migrant | LGBTQ+ History Month

A Journey in Tech as a Queer South Asian migrant | LGBTQ+ History Month 3200 1800 OneTech

In commemoration of LGBTQ+ History Month, OneTech is highlighting and celebrating trailblazers, entrepreneurs, founders and progress-makers in the tech ecosystem and beyond. In this blog post, we’re invited to experience a journey in tech through the lens of a South Asian migrant in London’s tech scene.

 

London’s tech scene is a vibrant one. There is no doubt about it. But 12 years ago, as someone who moved from a South Asian country, I had no idea this would become a natural ‘work’ home for me. As February is LGBTQI+ History Month in the UK, I thought it would be a good time to look back and reminisce on my journey in tech.

In 2009, when I moved to the UK as an international student,  the plan was to finish my degree, complete a masters degree, get a job in a bank and live happily ever after. Fast-forward a few years, I did manage to graduate with both my bachelors and masters degrees, but I landed a job in tech instead.

The journey was not an easy one. Within a few weeks of attending my bachelors business classes, my tutor suggests I get tested for dyslexia. Being unaware of dyslexia, I was confused and went to the student centre for an assessment. This is where I came across, what I now would call, structural bias.  The assessor concluded I did not have dyslexia. Instead, they told me it was just the standard of my English language as a South Asian migrant. It wasn’t until years later when I attended UCL for my masters, that I was diagnosed with severe dyslexia in my first week. Looking back, I am very aware of my first university’s shortcomings in regards to supporting international students, compared to UCL’s decades of experience.

One of my first jobs was working for a large tech giant. A company that had its float at the Pride in London march. At this job, we worked in rotas that are published every week in advance. Knowing this, and how important Pride is to me, I informed my line manager over a month in advance that I will be unavailable on the day of Pride, as I was a senior-level volunteer. Nevertheless, a week before Pride, I find my name on the rota to work that very day. When I asked about my request, I was told my volunteering at Pride was not important and he went on to mention “business needs”. But for me, Pride is a very important part of building an LGBTQI+ identity and a sense of community. It is especially important for someone like me who comes from a country where LGBTQI+ rights and freedoms are not always upheld. So I got in touch with my manger’s line manager, explaining how important Pride was for me at that point in my life.  He completely understood, expressed this to my manager and I eventually got the day off!

one of my main challenges was finding a role model I could relate to. I came across many Asian founders and lots of white gay founders, but I never came across anyone who was an Asian queer immigrant founder.

My next few roles were in small tech startups ranging from AI to Crypto. During this time, it was very informative and I learnt a lot about the tech sector. But one of my main challenges was finding a role model I could relate to. I came across many Asian founders and lots of white gay founders, but I never came across anyone who was an Asian queer immigrant founder. To this day, people like me are far from seen and represented in this space. I can say from my experience, there is elitism in the tech industry and so many barriers to entry.

Yet, I must admit that having a masters from UCL has helped me to navigate through the elitism. Going to a reputable UK university has worked in my favour to a certain extent. But what do you do when the system-at-large is seeming against you? One of the moments I realised this was when I applied for residency in the UK as a migrant with a same-sex partner. I applied around the same time as my Canadian friend who applied as a migrant with an opposite-sex partner. So two unmarried couples, a South Asian with an Irish partner and a Canadian with a British partner. Guess whose residency application took longer? My friend’s application took two months. Whereas, my application took about two years! In those two years, I was consistently asked to provide more and more evidence that I lived together with my partner. Of course, we complied and submitted the evidence asked. Then, they asked for proof that we were sleeping in the same bed! It was only when my partner, who happens to be a lawyer, indicated to take legal action that things started to move in a more positive direction. But what if my partner had not been a lawyer? The interrogation would have continued beyond the two years.

As a curious person, I have always wanted to figure out why things don’t work out for me as it has for my white friends. Initially, this was confusing, but since joining an organisation that values and champions diversity everything makes sense. I would consider myself lucky or privileged in some way as I have supportive parents, went to a great university and have a supportive partner. But this is not the case for everyone.

By journeying through a system that was built to make your life difficult in every step, I have learnt not to take anything for granted and, now, I look forward to how I can make an impact with people that align with my values and passion for positive change.

 


Discover our Twitter thread of selected LGBTQIA people blazing a trail in their respective industries and paving a way for a more inclusive society

IDEALondon Offers Free Membership to OneTech Founders

IDEALondon Offers Free Membership to OneTech Founders 3360 1890 OneTech

The workspace and innovation centre set in the heart of Shoreditch will provide 20 startup founders with space and support to grow

We’re really excited today to announce that founders in the OneTech community will soon be able to benefit from a free membership to IDEALondon

IDEALondon is home to some of the most ambitious and flourishing new businesses in London’s tech city. A partnership of University College London, EDF and Capital Enterprise, IDEALondon provides startups with space and support  — from access to funding and the best talent to advice from its expert partners. 

OneTech startup founders involved in programmes supported by JPMorgan Chase or the Inclusive Knowledge Economy programme (IKE) will be able to apply for one of 20 available memberships, which will provide them with three months of access and support. 

The free membership will be available for two cohorts of ten founders, starting in March 2021. Given the pandemic, founders will have a choice between a fixed desk, a hot desk or a virtual membership. The virtual membership gives founders a huge package of support including mentoring, events, credit and discounts. 

When allowed to re-open, IDEALondon is operating a Covid-19 safe space and provides breakout spaces, free meeting rooms for members, a welcoming cafe space, free tea and coffee and unlimited Wi-Fi. Members will be able to work alongside a community of startups founders all building MVPs. 

You can take a look at the fantastic, vibrant space, below. 

Startups that have previously been apart of the IDEALondon community and gone on to great success include Curve, the FinTech which recently closed a $95M Series C, online fashion ecosystem SilkFred, visual fashion search tool Snap Fashion, and UniBuddy, a platform connecting prospective students with real-time access to University students. 

You’ll be able to tap into the existing IDEALondon community of startups, alongside mentors and industry experts. There are also ongoing online events to get involved in to get to know the IDEALondon network. 

 

To register your interest, apply here and someone from the OneTech team will be in touch. 

 

We target underrepresented communities in tech including women, people of colour and people from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds. 

 

OneTech Continues To Sponsor Spaces With The Angel Investing School

OneTech Continues To Sponsor Spaces With The Angel Investing School 750 782 OneTech

Last year, we decided to partner with The Angel Investing School (AIS) to widen participation for professionals from all backgrounds to learn how to get started with investing in startups. Through their 6 week courses, they teach 30 emerging investors every April and September on a guided tour of angel investing. Their most recent cohort had 43% women and 78% people of colour with a wide range of professions represented by community leaders to lawyers and management consultants.

We were proud to sponsor 5 places last September and we are pleased to announce that we will be sponsoring 5 more places for April 2021.

OneTech is proud to work with a value-aligned partner dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem in the UK. Andy Ayim shared,

“We believe that investing in startups shouldn’t be so elusive and opaque. Our goal with this partnership is to make this education available to curious people from diverse backgrounds who would not ordinarily afford this opportunity. Our ambition ultimately is to teach a new breed of investors to invest in the next generation of diverse founders.”

 

If you would like to qualify for a OneTech scholarship for AIS: APPLY HERE

Applications will be reviewed at the deadline date of 1st March 2021, and recipients will be announced on Monday 8th March 2021. Please note the course starts on 24th March and runs the following 7 Wednesday evenings.

To learn more about The Angel Investing School, visit angelinvestingschool.com

 

Introducing our new initiatives to further support underrepresented entrepreneurs in London

Introducing our new initiatives to further support underrepresented entrepreneurs in London 400 400 OneTech

We are excited to announce that we are expanding our efforts to support and diversify London’s entrepreneurial community! We hope that this will contribute to addressing systemic racial and economic barriers to entrepreneurship highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The expanded programme aims to increase, educate and strengthen the number of BAME and female founders developing tech businesses and working in the digital industry, whilst collaborating with the industry to fix underlying issues and create new opportunities. Run in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase.

Following the results of a longitudinal programme evaluation conducted by Loughborough University London, and direct feedback from target communities over the past two years, we’re launching two new programmes for entrepreneurs: the OneTech Entrepreneur Incubator and OneTech Accountability Groups. These programmes will reach over a thousand people and offer intense support to more than 250 entrepreneurs and 120 businesses at a time when it is needed most.

Alongside the new programmes, we are continuing our work with Diversity VC who recently launched the Diversity Standard for VC’s, and are happy to announce new partnerships with The Nest, a mobile platform democratising entrepreneurial education and access to capital, and the Angel Investing School, which trains professionals from all backgrounds on how to get started with investing in startups. 

Here’s a breakdown of the activities we are introducing. 

OneTech Entrepreneur Incubator

Four expert-led programmes for early-stage businesses will be delivered across the next year for underrepresented communities, each comprising two cohorts. The curriculum will combine distance learning, webinars, workshops, peer learning, one:one and complementary content. Specialist sessions and support will be delivered by black leaders for the black community. The programmes will be organised by stage of business; ideation, validation, early traction and funding readiness. 

Resources for all programmes will be provided by The Nest and aligned with the incubator programme curriculum. As part of the programmes, all Founders will have over 15 hours of support, free membership to The Nest for its mobile-first masterclasses from entrepreneurs, and can use The Nest to access angel invests, venture capitalists and other forms of financing.

For businesses that are at the Traction and Funding Readiness stage, we will provide them with regular office hours from industry experts within its network, and a 1:1 investment readiness support through Investor-in-Residence, Andy Davis, and regular Office Hours with potential investors. 

Gary Stewart, CEO and Co-Founder of The Nest, said: “As a founder from various underrepresented backgrounds, I know how essential it is to have the right knowledge set and access to a network of peers, experts and capital to succeed. We created The Nest to grow, educate, inspire and support a new generation of global entrepreneurs and future leaders, with a key focus on those who feel overlooked and underfunded. We have invited the best entrepreneurs in the world to share their lessons learned with you, founder to founder, and then facilitate access to some of the world’s top investors, all from the palm of your hand.”

OneTech Accountability Groups

Building on the experience of the previously run Pioneer Investment Readiness programme and the Startup Resilience Programme developed in direct response to COVID-19,  we will roll out online accountability groups as one of its key business support activities. 

Recent feedback from the black communities, in particular, confirm that specialist mentoring remains important and this model offers a way of delivering this at scale. Each group will comprise six to eight founders and an entrepreneur-in-residence or industry expert. Entrepreneurs will be grouped by stage and area of interest. The groups will meet once or twice a week for three months for a mixture of peer-to-peer support and expert input. The groups are for BAME and female founders of early-stage businesses. 

Diversity Standard for VC’s

Launched in early September, the Diversity VC Standard is an industry-first benchmark for diversity and inclusion. 10 UK funds, including Atomico,  Ada Ventures, and McRock Capital, have already been assessed and certified. Through our ongoing partnership,  Diversity VC will continue to offer assessment and certifications to funds in the UK. By September 2021 it aims to have assessed 20 more funds. 

We will also work with Accelerators and Angel groups to encourage fairer representation and assessment for early-stage founders. 

Our Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Emma Obanye, commented: “The lack of diversity in tech is a big issue, and the events of this year have once again surfaced the ongoing issues around institutional and structural racism both in society and the economy. COVID-19 is creating additional challenges for all and many entrepreneurs and startups are struggling. As with any macroeconomic shock, people from excluded communities with little or no savings and reserves will suffer most. BAME communities have been hardest hit. Our mission is to support the underrepresented, increase visibility of role models, and address systemic problems through diversity & inclusion best practices, and this has never been more vital. We’re proud to launch these new initiatives for our community alongside our partners, providing Founders with the expertise and support they need, right now, across the next 12 months.”

Hang Ho, Head of Global Philanthropy EMEA and LATAM for JPMorgan Chase, said: The Covid-19 crisis has further highlighted historic and systemic barriers to opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs. By bringing together the industry, entrepreneurs and community organizations, we can help more women and BAME founders grow their business and give back to their communities.” 

Andy Ayim, Founder Angel Investing School, commented: “It takes an ecosystem to change the systemic issues diverse founders face when starting and scaling startups. We believe entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, so everyone should be afforded equal opportunity. In working with One Tech, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring founders through the Accountability Groups as well as benefiting from sponsorship for The Angel Investing School. We are proud to share that we have had 50 attendees, 45 percent were women and over 70 percent were people of colour.

 

Since our launch in October 2018, we’ve been on a mission to change the face of startups with the support of JPMorgan Chase, which has committed a total of £1.3 million to this effort. Through various initiatives, we’ve engaged over 1000 founders, and 360 people and 180 businesses have received support. Of those people, women made up 68 percent and BAME 91 percent. As of June 2020, OneTech startups have raised £14.4m and created well over 130 jobs.

Applications are now open – https://weareonetech.typeform.com/to/GLPs19R6

OneTech partners with Andy Ayim's Angel Investing School

OneTech Partners With The Angel Investing School To Provide Scholarships To Underrepresented Professionals

OneTech Partners With The Angel Investing School To Provide Scholarships To Underrepresented Professionals 1024 683 OneTech

The Angel Investing School (AIS) is a nationwide community focused on widening participation for professionals from all backgrounds to learn how to get started with investing in startups. Through their 6 week courses, they teach 30 emerging investors every April and September on a guided tour of angel investing. Their most recent cohort had 45% women and 65% people of colour with a wide range of professions represented by digital marketers to developers and management consultants.

OneTech is proud to work with a value-aligned partner dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem in the UK. We are proud to have worked with the founder, Andy Ayim who was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with us last year where he had his Ah-ha moment and went from idea to launching this mission-led business. 

After piloting a program in April, the two organisations joined together to launch a new AIS scholarship program that sets out to help level the playing field for underrepresented professionals keen to get started with investing in startups but lack the access to the knowledge and network.

So much of the focus in the work we do at One Tech is about nurturing diverse founders in the London ecosystem but we recognise that in the absence of a “friends and family” round, many of our founders benefit from raising angel investment. Therefore, we believe that as AIS trains more diverse investors, the flywheel will lead to more diverse startups being invested in. This is all part of our long term goal of changing the face of startups.

 

Julie Fedele graduated from AIS earlier this year and went on to invest in Ohne, the UK based direct-to-consumer subscription service providing bespoke deliveries of organic period products to customers, on a cycle to match theirs. In her own words, Julie mentions that,

“For a long time, I have wanted to start angel investing but didn’t have the confidence. Through AIS, I now have a sound understanding of the process, ‘investing’ language demystified and a laser focussed investment thesis.”

One Tech is excited to provide 5 scholarship places for the September cohort of The Angel Investing School. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to overlooked professionals who wouldn’t traditionally have access to the startup and investing ecosystem. Andy, the creator of AIS shared, “I am excited about this opportunity to create pathways for anyone from teachers to nurses to have the opportunity to gain access to this education and network.”

Alison, the Managing Director of One Tech shared that, “One Tech will cover the costs for 5 people to gain access to this opportunity who need it most, we have no doubt it will be a great learning experience and we are proud to partner with Andy on this journey.”

If you would like to qualify for a One Tech scholarship for AIS: APPLY HERE.

Applications will be reviewed at the deadline date of 14th July 2020, and recipients will be announced on Monday 20th July 2020.

To learn more about The Angel Investing School, visit angelinvestingschool.com 

OneTech’s #FoundersSpotlight: Feedback Swap

OneTech’s #FoundersSpotlight: Feedback Swap 1292 862 OneTech

Following Feedback Swap‘s amazing performance at OneTech’s Founders Weekend, and then them subsequently winning a place on our pre-Accelerator FoundersDoor (run in conjunction with YSYS), we were pleased to quickly checkin with them to see how their business idea is progressing and get their tips for other young aspiring founders.

Feedback Swap – founded by Bradie, and now joined by team members Eva, Gaby and Andy – is a Web platform that allows users to get unbiased feedback in exchange for giving it to others. They aim to build a community of entrepreneurs and empower them to build products that solve problems.

The team are currently looking for participants for their customer survey – if you can help, get in touch with Bradie!

 

What gave your founder Bradie the idea for Feedback Swap?

 

The idea came from my own frustrations not being able to get the feedback I needed on a previous project. I felt lost and alone and really needed outside  help to drive my project further. I started swapping feedback with other people who were in a similar position as myself on Reddit and that’s where the idea emerged.

 

How have you found the process of developing the business so far?

 

The process has been both difficult and rewarding. We are all enjoying the journey but it isn’t without its frustrations at times. We know we have to take this journey to get to the outcome but sometimes it feels like we are running in circles. Having the mentors, OneTech Founders Weekend and FoundersDoor has been an absolute blessing!

 

What would your tip for first time Founders be?

 

Make sure your have a solid team you enjoy spending time with. No matter what you are creating it will be a tough journey and it’s important you have the right team to work through it with. At the end of the day if you aren’t enjoying the process it will show in the result.

Don’t feel as if you need to know everything before you start but ensure you’re always actively learning from the people around you and in your own time. When you’ve approached a road block remember to always take a step back and reflect!

 

www.feedbackswap.com

OneTech Founders Weekend Nurtures Underrepresented Young BAME and Female Talent to Become the Tech Entrepreneurs of the Future

OneTech Founders Weekend Nurtures Underrepresented Young BAME and Female Talent to Become the Tech Entrepreneurs of the Future 5168 3448 OneTech

PRESS RELEASE

OneTech ran their first ever Founders Weekend at IDEALondon and WeWork on 28-30 June 2019. This 3-day event gave young BAME and female founders the opportunity to launch their own tech businesses.

The weekend event helped young funders, all who were 18-24 years old, to network and join-up with other like-minded people. All participants were then granted the chance to meet mentors who were able to guide them in making their product ideas a reality and, possibly, win the chance to gain a small amount of seed investment and get onto the FoundersDoor pre-accelerator.

“At this event, we wanted to take action and provide opportunities to young people who… wouldn’t get such chances offered to them”

Emma Joy Obanye, entrepreneur and Head of Delivery for OneTech, said: “At this event we wanted to take action and provide opportunities to young people who, despite their background or maybe if they’re female, wouldn’t get such chances offered to them. So this weekend, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or your gender, if you possess the skills, work ethic and the talent then you’ll all be able to walkaway with your very own tech startup business.”

Emma went on to say: “In the UK, for every £1 of venture capital investment, less than 1p goes to all-female led teams. Meanwhile, of all funds raised by European VC-backed companies in 2018, a staggering 93% went to all-male founding teams. Furthermore, underrepresented communities, including those that live, work and study in the London boroughs, where London Tech startups cluster, are missing out. This has to change and we’re making a start this weekend.”

The Talent Founders Weekend’s winning teams, including Munch, Feedback Swap, Spiela, Chrima Capital and The Good Hair Company won places on the FoundersDoor pre-Accelerator, run in conjunction with YSYS, and 2.9k worth of pre-seed investment to be spent on hardware. OneTech’s Emma Joy Obanye and Genevieve Oller, along with YSYS’ Deborah Okenla, also awarded laptops to the individuals that they felt had displayed the following qualities: most transformed, most resilient and best community spirit.

Bradie Beseda, winning young founder and CEO of Feedback Swap, said after the event: “ Honestly probably the best way I have ever spent a weekend in my life!”

ENDS.

About Capital Enterprise

Capital Enterprise are London’s startup experts; connecting & energising a world-class entrepreneurship ecosystem.

We unite a powerful membership network of London’s leading universities and colleges, accelerators, co-working spaces, enterprise agencies, innovation institutes and public sector organisations.

We are committed to making London the best place in Europe to start and scale a business.

Our twin mission

– To facilitate the growth and success of London’s startup ecosystem

– To enable our members to play a leading role in the delivery of support services to London based start-ups.

About OneTech

OneTech, a Capital Enterprise founder initiative, supports underrepresented tech founders in London. One of our main goals is to double the number of female and BAME-led tech start-ups raising investment through our programmes.

Over the next 2 years we will connect and support under-represented entrepreneurs through mentoring, access to pre-acceleration and investment readiness support and workspace.

We will also navigate founders around the rest of the tech ecosystem.

We will be thought leaders, driving conversation, communities and action to change the face of start-ups.

OneTech’s Supporting Partners include:

– YSYS

– JP Morgan

– Mayor of London

– WeWork

– IDEALondon

WeWork provides its members around the world with space, community, and services through both physical and virtual offerings. From startups and freelancers to small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, our community is united by a desire for our members to create meaningful work and lead meaningful lives—to be a part of something greater than ourselves.

Co-founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with over 10,000 employees. Follow us @WeWork on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook or visit wework.com to learn more.

For more information contact Michael Denham on 07548 934 302 or email: michael@capitalenterprise.org

If you are 18-24 years old and interested in accessing support via OneTech, please interest via the following form. Our next Founders Weekend will be taking place in September.

Advice for first-time tech interns from industry leaders at One Tech’s Talent Spot 

Advice for first-time tech interns from industry leaders at One Tech’s Talent Spot  1500 1001 OneTech

On 28 March we were incredibly pleased to host our first One Tech Talent Spot and accompanying CAP Talent Intern Fair at CodeNode for a large group of students from a range of UK Universities. The primary aim of the events was to allow the graduates to see the broad spectrum of companies and people that make up the London tech ecosystem, and also provide them with the opportunity to obtain internships at exciting high-growth startups.

We were excited to welcome representatives from Redcat DigitalCountBlack Young Professionals23 Code StreetBackstage Capital, People of Colour in Tech and Creative Rowe at sessions during the first half of the day, each providing invaluable information to the students and recent graduates. KageNovaTick.DoneOdin Medical and Spaghetti Brain were just some of the companies involved in the proceeding intern fair.

During the ‘One Tech Talent Spot’ section, the students were inundated with valuable advice from the host of inspiring speakers. The below represents just some of the important lessons passed on! 

 

1)    “Be deliberate!” – Taylor Brownlow, Head of Customer Analytics – Count

 Taylor referenced the need to be ‘deliberate’ when thinking about what internships you go for – she reminded the audience it is as much about what you want to get out of it, as it is for the company, and you need to focus in on exactly what you want from it, as well as what might not be working for you.

 

2)    “People hire people” – Charlie Rowe, Contract VD/UI/UX Designer – Creative Rowe

The ‘UX/UI Design’ was an especially popular session at the event, with many eager to understand what the first step towards a career in the field are. Charlie suggested that what was needed above all else was personality, with a natural curiosity being paramount – telling the audience ‘studies don’t make you a UX designer (although useful!), attitude does’.

 

3)    “Every company is going to be a tech company” – Michael Berhane, CEO – People of Colour in Tech

This hammered home that there’s no getting away from the need for tech skills – whilst coding might not be for you, even if you chose something seemingly more ‘creative’, such as marketing, the level of automation that’s going to be introduced means there’s certainly no escape! Michael’s was an especially inspiring speech, with him rallying the audience to chant ‘tech is for everyone!’.

 

Kike Oniwinde of Black Young Professionals spoke about her journey, sharing all of the benefits of working for a startup that attendees might not have already considered: the level of autonomy and seeing something being built from the ground up being just some of these.

The Intern Fair then welcomed an additional 25 startups and 75 students to CodeNode, where students met and chatted to the high-growth startup companies that are looking to hire a summer intern through our CAP Talent programme.

Startups in attendance represented a whole range of growing tech sectors, from Virtual Reality to health technology, AI for Sports and Media, Education Technology and more, and were all actively looking to hire bright talent for a range of exciting intern roles.

Some examples of roles represented at the fair and that are available through the CAP Talent programme include ‘Creative Lead’, ‘AI Performance Engineer’, ‘Business Development Intern’, and ‘Games Developer Intern’, to name a few.

Through CAP Talent and the internship placements, we will be bridging the gap between the best and brightest talent with the exciting startups that London’s tech ecosystem has to offer.

If you’d like to continue to hear about the One Tech Talent support programme for early-stage startups and other affiliated events, please enter your details here. If you have any questions, please feel free to email genevieve@capitalenterprise.org.

For more information about CAP Talent, whether you’re a startup looking to hire or a student interested in an internship, please follow this link or feel free to email gracie@capitalenterprise.org.

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