Founders & Funders – S5E1: Investing in Underrepresented Founders

27th October 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Founders & Funders is excited to announce the kick-off of season 5 ( why not record this though the Engaging with Entrepreneurship scheme)

Join us on Thursday, 27 October at 4-5pm UK time (11am ET)

Founders & Funders: Kick-off Season 5 – “Investing in Underrepresented Founders”

Moderated by Dr. Christiaan de Koning from the University of Oxford and Brianna Bao from Simsan Ventures

The lack of diversity in investing is leaving an estimated $1 trillion opportunity on the table. So far in 2022 all-female founded teams received only 2% of venture capital and mixed-gender teams managed to reap 15.6% of venture capital. The lack of diversity is amplified as we see that less than 1% of venture capital is raised by Black and Latinx founders. Time for a change!

As part of this season 5 we launch a new series on ‘Investing in Underrepresented Founders’. We will explore what underrepresentation means for investors, founders, and the wider ecosystem – and how we can change this.

We are honoured to welcome three guests, Rupa Popat from Araya Ventures, Mary McKenna MBE from Awakenhub and Maria Rotilu from Octopus Ventures, who are all entrepreneur-turned-investors, to share their prospective from both sides of the table.

Oxford’s Founders & Funders is a community and digital event series that brings notable alumni and funders in conversation with researchers and executive students at the coalface of science and business; proudly supported by the Entrepreneurship Centre and Enterprising Oxford.

Rupa Ganatra Popat, Founder & Managing Partner of Araya Ventures

Araya Ventures invests in the next generation of early-stage start-ups and venture funds that invest in the future of work, life and health, with a diversity lens. Rupa has a strong belief that diverse founders and teams drive higher returns and better impact outcomes for society.

She is a Forbes-featured entrepreneur and investor with several successful company exits and has won several awards including UKBAA Top 20 Female Angel investors and Management Today 35 under 35.

She has most recently launched Halo, an education programme in partnership with WeAreRadikl, to educate more women into angel investment.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, she had an eight-year career in investment banking.

Mary McKenna MBE, Co-founder AwakenHub, Entrepreneur, and Investor

Mary is a technology entrepreneur, serial angel investor and cross-border dweller. She co-founded the successful Derry based online learning company Learning Pool in 2006 on the back of a long government career and a spell as a Silicon Valley dotcommer. She exited the company in May 2014 in order to work with early-stage startups.

She has an interest in helping start & grow indigenous Irish & British tech companies and especially in working with first time and female entrepreneurs. She is a Saïd Business School’s (University of Oxford) Entrepreneurship Experts, Expert Advisor to the EU, co-founder of AwakenHub (a growing community of female founders across the island of Ireland) and a trustee of CAST (the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology). In addition, she is a member of the Global Irish Network in Ireland and sits on the boards of both WestBIC and the Western Development Commission.

In the 2014 New Year’s Honours Mary was awarded an MBE by HM the Queen for services to digital technology, innovation and learning.

Maria Rotilu, Octopus Ventures

Maria is an Operator Turned Investor. Her 10-year professional experience spans Venture Capital, Startup Operations and Management Consulting. She co-built and is currently an Investor with First Cheque Fund at Octopus Ventures, a pre-seed fund focused on finding and funding European startups at their earliest stages.

Prior to this, Maria spent time at Hustle Fund where she invested in early-stage technology ventures in North America, Latin America and Africa. She also was the Managing Director of the Oxford Seed Fund, a student led fund that invests £50k in two oxford-affiliated startups every year.

Maria has scaled technology businesses and teams and loves to help entrepreneurs thrive with early-stage investments and strategic & operational support. She believes great founders should not struggle to raise capital, because building a venture is hard enough already.



27th October 2022
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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