OneTech, an organisation connecting London’s underrepresented communities with opportunities in tech, is increasing its efforts to support and diversify London’s entrepreneurial community.
OnTech is expanding its Entrepreneur Incubator and Accountability Groups to increase, educate and strengthen the number of BAME and female tech founders and minorities working in the digital industry.
In partnership with JPMorgan Chase, OneTech also plans to collaborate with the industry to fix underlying diversity and inclusion issues and create new opportunities for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) entrepreneurs.
The new Groups will reach over 1,000 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, the OneTech is continuing its work with Diversity VC who recently launched the Diversity Standard for VC’s and is also announcing new partnerships with The Nest, a mobile platform revolutionising 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.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for action, says Emma Obanye, Entrepreneur-in-Residence for OneTech: “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.
“OneTech’s mission is to support the underrepresented, increase the visibility of role models, and address systemic problems through diversity and 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.”
OneTech Entrepreneur Incubator
The OneTech Entrepreneur Incubator, comprising four expert-led programmes for early-stage businesses, will be delivered to two cohorts of underrepresented communities across the next year.
The curriculum will combine distance learning, webinars, workshops, peer learning, one-to-one and complementary content. Black leaders will deliver specialist sessions and support for the black community around programmes organised by the stage of their 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 and include over 15 hours of support, free membership to The Nest for its mobile-first masterclasses from entrepreneurs, and use of The Nest to access angel investors, venture capitalists and other forms of financing.
For businesses that are at the ‘traction,’ ‘funding’ or ‘readiness’ stages, OneTech will also provide time during office hours with industry experts and potential investors within its network – as well as one-on-one investment readiness support through Investor-in-Residence, Andy Davis.
Knowledge is key in order to succeed, says Gary Stewart, CEO and Co-Founder of The Nest: “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, OneTech will roll out online Accountability Groups as one of its key business support activities.
Recent feedback from its black communities, in particular, confirm that specialist mentoring remains important to succeeding further, 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, and entrepreneurs will be grouped by stage and area of interest. Designed for BAME and female founders, the groups will meet once or twice a week for three months for a mixture of peer-to-peer support and expert input.
Diversity Standard for VC’s
Launched in early September, the Diversity VC Standard is an industry-first benchmark for diversity and inclusion. Various UK funds, including Atomico, Ada Ventures, and McRock Capital, have already been assessed and certified. Through their ongoing partnership with OneTech, 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.
OneTech will also work with Accelerators and Angel groups to encourage fairer representation and assessment for early-stage founders.
Diversity within startups won’t change overnight, says Andy Ayim, Founder of Angel Investing School: “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% were women, and over 70% were people of colour.”