No matter where you go, each city has something to offer for founders and investors. But if you are a fresh arrival or just not an active member of the ecosystem, it can be difficult to navigate. This is precisely why we created the OpenVC Guides.
The OpenVC Guides are a collaborative work. Become a contributor, tell us about your city!
Today, we cover the London ecosystem.
Table of Contents
Intro to the London Ecosystem
It is no secret that London is one of the most popular cities in the world for entrepreneurs and investors. It is ranked fourth in the world for global venture funding, behind San Francisco, New York City, and Boston. London also is number one in Europe for funding. Here are some other London facts:
We asked our friends in London for their opinions. Here is what they had to say:
Best spots in London to work from your laptop
Every city has its own cool and hip spots to work from. Here is what our contributors said about London.
Soho House (member-only)
The trendy Soho House isn’t just for partying and networking events, it is a great place to focus and get to work. Soho House requires a membership but if you want a quiet place to work or take meetings, it is worth it. You can often find a table without a booking.
Soho Works (member-only)
Like Soho House, Soho Works requires a membership to access. It is designed as a place for creative and business thinkers to work and shar ideas. Soho Works offers everything from a lounge to a private loft for an entire startup team.
The Ned (member-only)
The Ned is a great spot that is full of entrepreneurs and independent contractors. Whether you go to a meeting or just to work in peace, you can’t go wrong. The Ned includes private members’ club Ned’s Club and a private events floor, and ten restaurants.
Serata Hall (open to the public)
Not only does Serata Hall offer bottomless brunch and coal fired pizzas, they have a hot desk pass which offers unlimited hot drinks and superb wi-fi. The best part? The pass isn’t required. So you can pull up a chair, plug in, and get to work without any hassles.
The Library Lounge (open to the public)
Located at the Standard Hotel, the Library Lounge offers a relaxed atmosphere while being close to the startup action. Just be aware of their no laptops after 6pm policy.
The Grind (open to the public)
The Grind is a hip place to work, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether your schedule requires a coffee or a cocktail, the Grind has you covered.
HuckleTree Shoreditch (open to the public)
Huckletree Shoreditch is not just a great place to work, but they host loads of events from panels to classes. They are also close to Silicon roundabout. Members have twenty four-seven access while visitors can obtain a day pass from 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday.
WeWork (open to the public)
London has multiple WeWorks available throughout the city, should you want the familiar co-working setting that reminds you of home. The WeWork that is recommended is in Old Street, London’s Silicon roundabout.
And if you find any of these places too busy, you can always count on the posh lobbies of the major hotel chains such as the Curtain.
The Curtain Hotel (open to the public)
The lobby is often quiet and designed for business minded travelers. It makes for a perfect workstation.
Best place in London for an investor meeting
IOD (Institute of Directors)
The IOD offers their premises at 116 Pall Mall for either conferencing or one to one meeting spaces (or working alone). It’s comfortable, quiet and clean, with a great range of facilities. This includes the Carlton Lounge towards the back.
The Conduit (member only)
The Conduit club is a nice members club which isn’t too pricey and is in a great part of town. Billed as a collaborative community of people creating a just, prosperous, and sustainable future, it is a great place to network and have meetings.
A decent coffee shop or brunch across Waterloo, London Victoria or London Bridge as it's quiet and away from the city
That person in London every tech founder should know
Not only does it pay to know where to go in the London scene, but also who to know. Our contributors mentioned the following personalities to know:
Mark Pearson - Managing Partner, Fuel Ventures
Mark Pearson of Fuel Ventures seems to be the face of the London venture scene. Not only does he love the technology space, but he is very approachable.
Brent Hoberman - Co-Founder & Chairman, Founders Forum Group
Brent Hoberman of Founders Factory is a major figure who has a network that spans the U.K., Europe, and the U.S. He previously founded two Unicorns, made.com and lastminute.com
Marc Jarrett - Connection Alchemist
Marc Jarret seems to be a person to know as he knows everyone else! He is the ultimate networker and the founder of Emjay Consultancy LTD.
Tom Blomfield - Founder of Monzo
Tom Blomfield of Monzo fame is also someone who should be on your radar.
Not only does Hatty Fawcett have a great style and personality, but she is known for raising millions of pounds for founders that she works with.
One of the great things about London is that there are so many small eco-systems that there is always someone to know or network with. So expect to meet many personalities regardless of the industry you may be building in.
London investors that truly add value
Every VC claims to add value to their portfolio companies. Here a few London VCs that actually do according to our contributors:
Ada Ventures. Ada leads the charge on how ethical venture capital should appear. They have contributed a lot to the founder and venture capital ecosystem. They are known for investing in underrepresented sectors such as POC and women founders. Their first fund claims to be the most diverse in Europe, with 55% female founders and 30% ethnic minority founders.
Fuel Ventures. Fuel Ventures is highly regarded among founders and VCs. It has invested in over fifty concept and pre-seed companies as well as over sixty seed and Series A companies. They are known for taking an active role in their portfolio companies.
Octopus Ventures are always willing to lend an ear, especially to founders who want to change the world. They are extremely responsive to founders and offer their time to listen, regardless of the pitch. While they may not be positive on the project itself, they always take the time with the founder and provide valuable feedback. They invest £100k per startup in pre-seed ventures across Europe and pre-seed founds can simply fill out a typeform on their website to pitch.
Index Ventures are open to investing in startups that truly innovate. Index Ventures is a VC that I came across many times in my journey here in London. They might not be originating from London but they are very active in the ecosystem. I particularly follow them since their investments give me great insights about where the industry is going and the areas that are being disrupted. More importantly, they believe that the current economic downturn will produce the next great companies and are supporting that belief with a $300 million fund.
Top London incubators and accelerators
If you are building in the London scene, make sure to know the following incubators and accelerators.
Known as Europe’s Seed Fund, they have a great presence in London.
Brings together entrepreneurs to meet their co-founders and create a startup from scratch. They have a great presence in London and are perfect for founders who are smart, ambitious, and want to create and lead a global company.
A wonderful and respected program. Founders Factory backs visionary founders with capital and support from over one-hundred experts.
Techstars is highly regarded worldwide. London is no different.
Wonderful network and a great organization to be involved with.
Favorite London meetups and events to attend
Paradigm Talks holds events for entrepreneurs, private investors and corporate finance professionals. The event includes founders pitching for investment and is often followed by drinks and networking with representatives of the leading venture capital firms, family offices and angel syndicates.
Institute of Directors events
The Institute of Directors business events are for business leaders and directors to network, share ideas, and build their business community.
The BVCA hosts a variety of events which cater to the needs of all audiences involved in the private equity and venture capital industry. This includes everything from conferences and roundtables to high profile dinners.
Runway East VC Office Hours
A startup co-working space, Runaway East offers VC office hours for its founders. This gives them a chance to meet, greet, and connect with investors on a monthly basis where they can pitch their startups
SeedLegals events include masterclasses, pitch events, networking, webinars, and more. Sign up to their newsletter to stay up to date.
Contributors to the OpenVC London Guide
A big thank you to our contributors for taking the time to share their knowledge and expertise.
Laura Bloomer is a Founder, start-up Advisor/Mentor and previously worked at a VC firm in London. Feel free to reach out or connect at https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-bloomer/
Duncan Stuart is an entrepreneur working across 4 startups of which 3 he co-founded. He has over 15 years in the resourcing/consulting space. He has a good network of founders, NEDS and advisors he can introduce you to. He can be contacted [email protected]
Nicholas Collinson has a background that stems from the sales, operations and management of a financial regulated business as the proprietor of a leading UK based leasing company for over 25 years. Having a keen interest in the finance, fintech and blockchain sectors, he now works as a freelance consultant, advisor and non-exec director for various early and mid stage organizations. Feel free to reach out at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-collinson/
Duane Hall has a comprehensive background scaling bluechip companies from easyJet, Atos, Capgemini and BNP Paribas to tech startups. Partnering with forward-thinking tech founders and organizations to support the commercial/strategic direction of the business, from defining talent solution models, internal culture and wellbeing to product-market-fit and advisory board positions.
Erim Franci has over 8 years of experience in building products. As a product manager turned founder, he loves coding, design and solving great problems with beautifully crafted products. Erim can be reached at [email protected]
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