Meet our Manchester Student VCs 2017-18

A new academic year brings with it Campus Capital team changes and the Manchester team went out to fill the gaps left by graduations last year. They are now a diverse team of 10 Student VCs and the student team leads at Manchester did an amazing job of recruiting this year. Here are some of the questions they asked at interview and some of their responses.

Adaobi Adibe

Electronic Engineering, 2nd year

What can you bring as a Student VC?

As team lead, I can bring my experience of having started and still running two social enterprises. My working with Accelerated digital ventures – a £150M Venture Capital firm – also lets me learn from experienced investors and put those teachings immediately into practice with Campus Capital. I also have a vast network within the the UK which also extends into both Western Africa and China, including senior executive from a vast number of companies from consulting to tech.

My degree helps me to both understand deep tech plays as well as think analytically. It also puts me in contact with a lot of technical students from all technical backgrounds giving me access to an elite talent pool which is a great value add for early stage start ups.

Why Venture Capital?

I like working with and learning from smart people and venture capital allows me to do so. Beyond this I have a massive interest in technology, especially in the areas of health, energy and education. Venture Capital lets me work with and meet people who are possibly redefining industries.

Fritz Lensch

Innovation & Design, 2nd year

What can you bring as a student VC?
As the partnerships lead of Campus Capital Manchester I meet with potential partners like for example Eli Harari, Founder and Chairman of SanDisk. These relationships and my role as Chairman of Manchester Entrepreneurs allow me to embed Campus Capital Manchester and our portfolio companies in the ecosystem of Manchester and its Universities.

At the age of 16 I became self-employed as a Choreographer and Creative Director. For clients like Daimler or Universal Music Group I created stage concepts, instructed acting artists as well as supervised technical and administrational concerns. After I established one of the biggest event platforms for choreographers in Europe I enlarged my job by founding an agency which connected dancers with national clients – and sold this agency to a major competitor. Therefore, I can bring an understanding of what it means to be a founder to the table.

Why venture capital?
I am keen to explore how organisations have to change structures and culture to increase people engagement and enable creativity and agility. As one of the three pillars of corporate innovation, venture capital will help me to get a deep insight into this.

Myrto Lalacos

Organisational Psychology, Masters

What can you bring as a student VC?

I’ve been supporting the Northern startup ecosystem for over two years, so I am very familiar and can relate to a startup founders’ journey. As part of Manchester Entrepreneurs, we organised the largest student enterprise conference of the region. As Programme Manager for AccelerateME, I helped 7 startups get to the next level of growth by supporting them through their validation phase all the way through to raising their next round of funding. I now work as Programme Associate for corporate innovator and investor L Marks, where early-stage B2B startups get to trial their products within industry-related corporates and potentially raise their next round of investment. My extensive experience working with startups at different stages and within multiple verticals allows me to add value to founders when they are looking to raise by giving them the right kind of guidance, when looking to grow by connecting them to the right people in the ecosystem and through overcoming obstacles by working with them through their strategy.

Why Venture Capital?

One of my goals is to make the North of England an international tech hub. Building a resilient and flourishing ecosystem however requires the right kinds of VCs to be supporting its startups between the idea and growth phase. I chose to throw myself into VC in order to provide startups and their founders with the right kind of investment to fulfil my vision.

Chris Ikunnah

BDS Dentistry

What can you bring as a student VC?

Expertise – I’ve worked with multiple start ups in a few different spaces and hope to use my experiences to help determine which start ups have high growth potential. In addition, studying Dentistry puts me in a position where I’ll be able add value to deals in the healthcare space.

A strong networking ability – I hope to create strong relationships with both founders and other larger VC’s to bolster our funds awareness and to ultimately increase deal flow.

Salesmanship – the very best start ups always have multiple funding options; I hope to be able to successfully steer great start ups to our fund.

Why Venture Capital?

I’ve always had a strong interest in both investing and start ups; I run my own investment fund and have been involved with multiple start ups – Venture Capital allows me to combine these two interests perfectly.

Caroline Gagneux

Finance, Postgraduate

What can you bring as a student VC?

As a student VC, I will bring to the team the technical knowledge that I have developed during my previous experiences in financial modelling, investments and deal-making. I can conduct financial valuations, industry and company analysis (products, pipelines, services, intellectual properties, technologies, market forecasts, company profiles) and due-diligence. I will also use my interpersonal skills to connect and exchange with the start-up founders, to understand their expectations and to share my points of view.

Why Venture capital?

Passionate about breakthrough technologies, I have always wanted to be part of a team that gives a chance to start-ups to develop their ideas. I am very excited about interacting with entrepreneurs, getting to understand their projects, identifying and tackling the various challenges they face and help them in bringing their innovation to the society faster. Being part of a VC team will give me the opportunity to get to know more about the early-stage company activities developed in the region, to work together with students and professionals with different profiles while expanding my network, and to develop my analysis and valuation skills.

Karolina Piotrowska

Economics, 3rd year

What can you bring as a student VC?

My area of interest covers fintech, alternative finance and blockchain technology. I previously conducted academic research in cryptocurrencies economics and provided research analytics of the publicly-listed companies while working for asset management advisory boutique. I have also nearly one and half year of experience in building B2B networks and managing my own company which was awarded for its product innovation strategies.

Why Venture Capital?

Venture Capital is a perfect fit that merges my passion for entrepreneurship, technology and investment strategies. It gives me the opportunity of creating real value for the businesses and society in incomparably rewarding and tangible way. On top of that, meeting multiple different entrepreneurs and discussing with them their disruptive start-up ideas is the most intellectually stimulating and empowering experience I could possibly imagine.

Sami Al-Shatari

Master of Enterprise

What can you bring as a Student VC?

As a student VC I believe I can bring my experience with product design engineering and provide both technical and practical viewpoints to Campus Capital. With recent studies in enterprise, I also wish to apply my business knowledge to help determine potential successful start-ups within Manchester. Having designed products for numerous years, I plan to successfully commercialise my product based idea into the market in the near future. My entrepreneurial side will help put myself in the shoes of the some of the startups that are seeking for investment. My student network is ever expanding, I am course representative for my program and active in many societies within the University of Manchester.

Why venture capital?

As an innovator it will be a great experience for me to understand the requirements and viewpoint from a venture capitalist. Now as a student VC, the chance to be able to offer start-ups investments that will accelerate their opportunity is amazing. Having received funding in the past, it is exciting to now be able to be on the other side of the table and seek to invest. It is a great way to network and to learn lots about the world of business.

Luminita Horga

Biotechnology, PhD

What can you bring as a student VC?

As a student VC, I have very strong technical knowledge regarding the biotechnological field, as well as background knowledge on business and enterprise from my undergraduate degree. Moreover, I have a good network of students and academics from around the campus, especially in the life sciences and computer science field.

Why venture capital?

Because VC can help businesses grow tremendously to become world leaders and change technology and the world around us, because of the opportunity to meet inspiring founders and leaders, because it makes possible innovation, because all of the skills and knowledge that I can gain but that I can also share; for the experience as a whole and because I wish to one day be a successful entrepreneur.

Adam Amara

Synthetic & Systems Biology, PhD

What can you bring as a student VC?

I would like to bring my technical expertise around computational biology, data analysis, and biotechnology at the same time as a scientific rational thinking in the analysis of investments opportunities and in the start-up’s development.

During diverse projects in academia, industry and associations, I had the opportunity to develop an international network in biotech and pharma.I currently advise and help some academics launching their companies in the field of synthetic-biology.

Why venture capital?

I think that venture capitalists are the people enabling and shaping the startup ecosystems hand in hand with the entrepreneurs. As always, the team is crucial in making a company successful, and I love the fact that VCs are bringing much more than a financial investment in a company, but also a personal investment of skills, network and share a common vision with the entrepreneurs. Having the possibility to experience the VC perspective, I hope, will help me in the future to build a company that will work efficiently and in harmony with its VCs.

Osarhiere Akpata

Law with Politics, 3rd year

What can you bring as a student VC?

As a student VC raised in Nigeria, I can bring a wide Pan-African network of professionals and entrepreneurs, especially from the financial, legal, energy and business sectors. This gives me access to the growing start-up and venture capital market within the continent, which are currently taking advantage of the gaps in the public/private market. Furthermore, I have a great student network from participating in several groups and societies on campus. These student connections could be part of future recruitments and investment opportunities. Additionally, I could bring a strong analytical and legal perspective to the team.

Why venture capital?

I would like to be part of early-stage investing process for start-ups and small companies to see them grow into larger companies and be part of this growing industry. Also, I like to be at the forefront of evolving markets and new discoveries that can be potentially be opportunities for great gains, financially and technologically. Further, I enjoy meeting and networking with a diverse range of people who are passionate about their ideas and companies.

Campus Capital SVC Ltd is a community focused organisation which provides experiential learning opportunities within venture capital.