For immigrant founders in the UK, office hours with VCs are rocket fuel • TechCrunch


the three of us Immigrants to the UK We were greeted with the classic catch-22 of trying to open a bank account and find a place to live: to get a bank account you need an address, but to rent an apartment you need a bank account.

This is just one of the (very minor) friction points that immigrants encounter when moving to a new country. Entrepreneurs setting up a business in a new country face more challenges. Lyubov’s own experiences as a Ukrainian immigrant in the UK gave her a great empathy for the experiences that established immigrants face, and a belief that immigrants often make and build world-leading businesses.

Beyond personal experiences, academic research appears to indicate an almost inverse relationship between contributions made by immigrant founders and early acceptance by the ecosystem.

Experimental design of open office hours for international founders

With personal experience as her incentive, Lyubov piloted a program that would offer a softer landing for immigrant entrepreneurs in the UK. The pilot was an International Founders Open Office Hours program that will help immigrant founders enhance their social networks and local knowledge by meeting with VCs in the UK

Instead of the usual presentation format, the meetings were informal conversations aimed at helping the founders build the essential social capital – and missing to immigrants -. The a program Inspired by Playfair Capital and the working hours of its founders.

The first start was rocky, coinciding with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Lyubov and her partner at Blue Lake, David Gilgor, were helping families and friends in Ukraine by day and planning the program by night. Early on, there was the challenge of engaging VCs and partners. Blue Lake has been active for a few years but it was still a new name in the investment ecosystem. The demand for investors’ time meant that we had to prove that we could launch something influential that the major players wanted to be a part of.

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