Launched this week, Future VC is a unique internship programme launched by the non-profit Diversity VC aimed at placing 30 people, with 10 participating remotely, from diverse and non-traditional VC backgrounds into five-week paid internships at various venture capital funds across the UK and Europe, including big-hitters like Accel, Notion, Balderton, Downing Ventures, Octopus and Bethnal Green Ventures.
The programme received over 800 applications, with 70% identifying as BAME; 47% Women; 35% people who receive free school dinners; 32% people who were the first in their family to go to university and 11% LGBT.
Speaking at a launch event for the programme this week, Diversity VC cofounder Check Warner said: "Well done for getting here. We had 850 applications, 350 that was cut down to, we held 60 interviews... so this is the cream of the crop.
Techworld attended the launch of the programme and spoke to a handful of the interns about where they will be working and what they hope to achieve in the future. Here's what they had to say:
Tunde Adekeye, 24 years old, will be interning at VC firm LocalGlobe
Techworld: How did you find out about Future VC?
"Via Twitter. I had already been to a few Diversity VC events, so I follow a lot of the people involved and applied for it."
What are you hoping to achieve during your time at LocalGlobe?
"I am looking to gain more of a functional knowledge of VC from the inside. I have kind of been slightly obsessed with the sector for the last three years of my life and most of my knowledge has come from an outside perspective, so being inside of a fund and seeing how they work and what they say and do will be super interesting."
How did you become interested in VC?
"I was working in investment banking for like two or three years. In the course of that I was following lots of tech companies. So you kind of saw the end of the VC pipelines and all these companies at the late growth stages or approaching IPO. I was always super interested in how they got there and you always see a set of similar names in the investor sections, so that's where I got interested in who these companies were, who invest in these companies."
What is your end goal?
"I would say [a job] would be nice, I think that would be the end goal. I think more so than that is an understanding of, it's very easy to say you want a job from outside the job, but gaining an understanding of this thing that I have, to an extent, put on a pedestal and find out if it is something that I would like to do and enjoy doing and gain some skills is also important.
"Programmes like this are changing things. VC is kind of like a semi-opaque industry, so you just have to do a lot more digging. There's no VC primer and few books, but I do think VCs are starting to do more to educate people with podcasts and blogging more.
"To get an intense understanding of some of the more nuanced factors is still difficult and to get in is even more difficult than that. So I see it changing, but slowly."
Shilpika Gautam, 35, Downing Ventures
How did you hear about Future VC?
"I've been living in London for about 10 years, I've been in fintech, financial services, sales, and environmental advocacy, so a wide-ranging career which also means I have a pretty solid network of people here who are involved in the industry, but I always felt a bit on the outside of it.
"So through that network I heard that this programme was launching. I'm on my own entrepreneurial journey right now, focused on the medical tech industry, so I thought this would be a really cool way and a great way to see the inside of how people look at ideas and businesses."
Are you looking to turn this into a career in VC? Or are you just looking to learn as much about the industry as you can?
"I think my life mantra is to go with the flow and take one step at a time. I think a lot of things could come out of it. Right now I'm just really excited that I'm going to learn things that I didn't even think about learning."
Isaiah Wellington-Lynn (above), 23, LocalGlobe
How did you find to find out about the Future VC programme?
"In a WhatsApp group chat. So one of my friends, I'm on a scholarship program, and we have a group chat, one of my friends posted it and I just happened to look that day, the day of the deadline. I was actually traveling at the time, wrote my application on the train, took an hour break, proof read it and sent it."
What made you want to get into VC?
"I interned at a startup four years ago called JustPark. I loved it, had an amazing time and through that I found a mentor who works at Google Ventures and he just really helped support me throughout my time at university. Then two years ago, I worked at JP Morgan in investment management and last year I worked at Airbnb, and did a fellowship with another VC firm. So I feel like VC has always been the intersection of investment and tech and I'm really interested in helping direct capital into ideas that solve a particular problem."
Is a job in VC the end goal?
"I'd say that my end goal is to either be part of a founding team solving a really cool problem, or to help a founding team solve a really cool problem. I'm also a designer and hope that during my time at LocalGlobe and beyond I'll be able to contribute my design skills, technical and business skills."
Hassan Sukkar, 21, Seraphim Capital
How did you find out about the Future VC programme?
"Through LinkedIn. I had someone who liked a post which led to this and I thought it was really exciting."
What made you want to get into VC?
"So my background is in mechanical engineering, I did things in corporate, in traditional engineering, and at the start of my final year I knew I wanted to do something tech-related but I had no experience in tech. So I started applying to various things and this programme seemed like an amazing opportunity to really meet lots of people, network and get this VC mindset and understand things from the perspective of a venture capitalist."
What are you hoping to get out of your time at Seraphim?
"A few things. So the first thing is, I'm very interested in space, so understanding space tech [Seraphim specialises in space tech].
"The second most important thing is, I'm an aspiring founder, so in three years, I would want to start a company. Understanding how venture capitalists evaluate companies, what they look for, how they evaluate teams and founders, is another very important thing that I want to gain through this. Also in the short term, I might be looking at opportunities in venture. So I'll be applying to the various firms and having this experience will really help me in that.
"Then on top of that, of course, is the network of the other interns and the investors and the people in the ecosystem in general. So this is another thing that I would want to build.
"So I would say that learning is is a more important metric for me than a job at this stage."
Joshua Olunsanya, 24, Bethnal Green Ventures
How did you find out about Future VC?
"VC is something I've known that I was going to be a part of for a very long time. So within the past year or so anything, VC related, in terms of internships, I was on top of it. I was obsessed. As soon as [Future VC] came out, I had already applied, I had friends referring me to the site and had already applied."
What made you want to get into VC?
"My career started in sales and working with startups, but I didn't want to be confined to one and wanted to work with a range of startups and always wanted to be involved in investments as well. So I tried out investment banking for a bit. It wasn't really for me, through the culture, just the way the companies are set up, there's a lot of hierarchy there and it wasn't for me.
"So I guess the idea of combining the two and finding elements that I like and dislike, VC gave me that equilibrium that I wanted. I did an internship at Google and worked with startups there and really liked it. I also got myself on an internship in Indonesia at a VC firm. I got myself an internship in Nigeria with a private equity firm. So it's basically trying to learn as much as I could and see what path I want to take."
What's the ideal outcome of this internship?
"The ideal outcome would be a job.
"I'd imagine the case for most candidates will be to see if it's something that they are interested in. Whereas I've seen it, I kind of know what I want, so I guess it is more trying to get my foot in the door, meet different people and just build a network. So it may not be straight away that I'll get a role but maybe in a year or two."
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