London Business School is well known for its research insights into entrepreneurship and financial markets, its teaching of the key instruments available in the private capital sector, and how to build new ventures, scale startups and promote technical innovation. Now, the School is bringing together its accumulated knowledge in entrepreneurship and finance in private markets to create the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital (IEPC). The new institute was launched in September 2021.
Forged from the union of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Private Equity @LBS, the IEPC aims to further the School’s reputation as a global knowledge centre that will support and promote new ideas that drive sustainable economic growth in private markets. The combination of entrepreneurship and private capital highlights the reality that most entrepreneurs obtain funding for their ventures from a large ecosystem of investors in private markets that covers various types of funds, such as seed, venture, growth, buyout and special situations funds.
LBS alumnus and School donor Michael Schad MiFFT2003, Partner and Head of Investment Management at Coller Capital said: “It’s great to see that the IEPC has been launched at a time when private markets are rapidly developing, both in size and sophistication. The holistic approach LBS is taking has never been so valuable in my view. I vividly remember that it was challenging to get informed about the industry when I was prepping for my interviews at Coller Capital. Having institutes like the IEPC that help to bridge the knowledge gap with industry through their research will give a better understanding of the various career opportunities that are available to students in private markets. As an LBS alumnus, I am proud to support the efforts of the IEPC.”
The support from the LBS alumni community is also evident in the new ‘Tech Disrupt & Transform’ scholarship, which is offered to MBA students through the generosity of Jason Schretter MBA2005.
The IEPC will provide a bridge between the LBS community and the entrepreneurial ecosystem by facilitating new real-world learning opportunities, as well as enhancing the research and business-development experience for all stakeholders. Besides events organised by the School, degree students and executive education participants will benefit from the Incubator, as well as highly experiential courses.
The first in a new TELL Series (Talks on Entrepreneurial Leadership at LBS) kicked off the academic year on 22 September with Joe Foster, co-founder of Reebok.
With regard to the experiential courses, the long-standing ‘Entrepreneurship Summer School’ continues to support the development of ideas outside the classroom. Two newer courses, ‘The Entrepreneurship Lab (TEL)’ and ‘Innovation to Market’ (I2M), offer students the opportunity to work with founders and researchers from top institutions and apply what they learn to real, high-impact ventures.
Another initiative is internship projects to work side-by-side with top venture capitalist and private equity fund managers based in London. The internships will be part of the Private Capital Experiential Programme and enable current LBS students to gain real-world experience of private-markets investing and, ultimately, facilitate a career in the sector.
At the same time, the IEPC will maintain an international focus with collaborations that involve practitioners and academics from all over the world. The institute will create a hub for those in the School community interested in participating in private markets and will collaborate externally with London and European startups and private-capital investors and managers.
Businesses in all stages of their life cycle are supported by private-capital investors. Young ventures testing new ideas, companies seeking to scale, entrepreneurs wanting to pivot, leveraged buyouts, family-business transitions and companies refreshing their management all benefit from the support and guidance of the fast-expanding private-capital sector.
Now in its 12th year, the LBS Incubator continues to grow from strength to strength, allowing alumni to develop their startups through the IEPC’s innovative research, networks and skills development and guidance. The Incubator programme will continue to provide £250K worth of support services per team, a series of skills-development talks and workshops, and continuous support throughout the year.
The ‘Entrepreneur Mentor in Residence Programme’, open to all LBS students, offers guidance from 25 dedicated mentors. Students can also benefit from the newly launched ‘Ask an Expert’ programme, which offers access to world-class specialist knowledge across a range of subject areas, such as AI and machine learning, to help students launch and grow their ventures.
We are all inspired by the stories of successful entrepreneurs, and in particular by businesses that make a difference to the world by increasing employment, diversity and wellbeing, and combating climate change. LBS has been very influential in the creation and financing of successful new businesses that have benefited from the spark of early-stage financing that is unique to the School. More than that, it is about the entrepreneurial mindset that can be applied to any role or organisation. Ventures that have been devised and driven by LBS alumni, such as Ocean Bottle, Treeapp, Junee and Wype, are distinguished by their commitment to integrating social missions into their businesses.
“We are determined to be collaborative to ensure that the impact of our activities reaches those who will benefit the most”
The IEPC is unique among business schools. We are determined to be open and collaborative to ensure that the impact of our activities reaches those who will benefit the most. An example of this commitment is Newton Venture Program, a forerunner to and committed partner of the IEPC. The initiative was launched in October 2020 as a joint venture between LBS and top London-based venture capital fund LocalGlobe. Silicon Valley Bank also joined in June 2021 as a founding partner. The programme will deliver diversity and training to the next generation of VC investors and entrepreneurs. Next spring, a six-month programme will welcome the first cohort to train those who want to become the future leaders in backing startups and scale-ups.
By bridging the gap between those at the frontier of discovery and those who know how to ignite, run and obtain financing for new ventures, the IEPC will be in the vanguard of generating the knowledge that will enable founders and investors to tackle global challenges.
Luisa Alemany is Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategy and Entrepreneurship; Academic Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital.
Florin Vasvari is Professor of Accounting; Chair, Accounting Faculty; Academic Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital.
Meet the team behind the School’s aim to create value for both entrepreneurs and their funding partners in private capital
Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategy and Entrepreneurship; Academic Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
I consider myself an entrepreneur. I am in academia, but looking for the resources and starting new initiatives that hopefully will have an impact. The opportunity of bringing the knowledge and energy of LBS to the entrepreneurial and private equity community are just enormous. Exciting to see our students and alumni applying an entrepreneurial mindset to all their future endeavours, both in their career and to their lives.
Senior Programme and Communications Manager, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
As a result of this merger, we’re able to further expand our range of opportunities and resources for LBS students and alumni to get involved with. I’m excited for what’s to come and I look forward to building relationships with key players in the entrepreneurship and private capital ecosystem.
Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
I’m passionate about entrepreneurship. There you have it – short and sweet – although only those who know me well would describe me in the same way! I’m so excited for our new and enlarged institute. It’s a great opportunity to extend our reach beyond the startup world to tomorrow’s unicorns.
Senior Programme and Communications Manager, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
Investors and entrepreneurs are often seen as sitting at the opposite sides of the table. Our aim with this institute is to create a bridge between them and help them both in creating value for each other through knowledge-sharing, research, inspiration and networking events. I enjoy sharing the inspirational stories of our students and alumni. It’s important to motivate people and light the flame in others. I always think of my mum, who started out by importing goods from Turkey and Hungary to Romania, slowly building up a market stall where we helped as kids and then a small shop. She has retired, but her passion never stopped, and she is 72. This is the same passion I see in our entrepreneurship community. We not only celebrate successes, but help the founders learn from each other and promote an entrepreneurial mindset. Now we’ll do the same for the investors, who are increasingly keen to engage with the LBS community. People have different journeys, ups and downs, but there’s a willingness to share both good and bad experiences so that new entrepreneurs can learn from experienced ones. By integrating private equity and venture capital and broadening our offerings, we will be able to contribute to the full lifecycle of an entrepreneur’s journey.
Professor of Finance; Alexander M. Knaster Chair; Fellow of the British Academy; Academic Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
I’m delighted to be part of the new centre, which brings together two research and teaching initiatives that have already played such a vital part in the School’s programmes.
Executive Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
I love anything that prompts people to create new ventures. In a previous life, I co-founded dozens of them myself; nowadays I live vicariously through the successes of our students, doing anything I can to encourage and equip them to build their first business from scratch. It’s all about creating programmes that I wish had been around when I was a student here. Nowadays, entrepreneurs are as much in the market for capital as customers – maybe because the best ideas are imitated far faster than before. The IEPC expands our remit, allowing us to engage with investor communities and thus give our students even more of a head start.
Professor of Accounting; Chair, Accounting Faculty; Academic Director, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
I’m passionate about investing and enjoy interacting with our stakeholders. And I’m excited about helping to build a platform that brings together students, academics and the investment community in the private market, which has gone under the radar screen for too long. Although private-capital funds are the proverbial “special sauce” that provides critical support for the formation, development and expansion of entrepreneurial businesses, most people know very little about them. Our main aim is to lift the veil over these funds and their ecosystem.
Financing an initiative to help organisations achieve their sustainability goals
London Business School alumnus Fabian Sinn MAM2021 describes his data and machine-learning company Tanso as “purpose-driven”. That purpose? Leveraging a data-led team of experts to build software that supports environmental sustainability reporting for industrial manufacturers.
The early-stage startup aims to remove the barriers that hamper corporations from achieving climate neutrality by helping them measure, understand and communicate their ESG performance, and set goals based on the data.
The founding team, who made their plans a reality in early 2021, chose to focus on industrial manufacturing as the sector is both currently emissions-heavy and underserved by many digital services.
With $1.9 million of pre-seed funding secured, the Munich-based company is now aiming to get its software up and running in time to meet an anticipated rise in demand, as new sustainability regulations begin to take effect.
Reflecting on its decision to invest, Robin Godenrath, Founding Partner and Managing Director of Picus Capital, highlighted Tanso’s positive impact, saying, “We believe every one of our investments should have a positive contribution to society, and Tanso does just that.”
Alexander Kiltz, Principal at UVC Partners, commented: “We are impressed by the founders and their vision to positively contribute to climate action with technology, and we are excited and honoured to partner with the team and to lead their pre-seed financing round. We look forward to supporting Tanso to become the global category leader in sustainability accounting for the industrial manufacturing sector.”
LBS Assistant Professor of Accounting Dr Marcel Olbert is currently advising the Tanso team on its strategy and the regulatory environment; in particular, drawing on the latest research concerning sustainability accounting and its impact on financial decisions.
Rachel Bell, Entrepreneur Mentor in Residence, President of the E-100 Club, investor, mentor and founder of business growth consultancy Brand Spanking
“You get to a stage in your professional life when you’ve achieved most of what you wanted to do, and you have time to give something back. Entering into a relationship with LBS has been fascinating. I don’t have an MBA, but I’ve started and sold a number of businesses, so I bring practical experience. I know how to make deals happen, how to get businesses moving and how to get teams to new levels to expand and grow.
Meeting students at the start of their entrepreneurship journey is super-enjoyable: I get them to think about what their business edge might be, the pricing, how it’s going to run. We walk through potential flaws: have you got all the roles you need? What will the customer be doing? What behaviour do you need them to adopt in order to switch to your product? I give advice about share ownership, where the long-term value is, who needs to be kept on the inside of the tent.
Like all the investors in the E-100, I love the raw, palpable excitement around getting a business going – the energy and momentum you need at the start, that fearless feeling of conquering the world. The Enterprise 100 is fantastic for angel investors, because what ends up in the room is screened and high-calibre.
We catch up monthly about different facets of investment. For anyone who’s a CEO or has exited a business, it’s a great place to talk. The angel investment fund comes with risk – you’re deploying your own sense and knowledge, putting your own bets on the people you want to back. It’s super-rewarding and you’re giving people that chance you once had yourself to get their business out of the blocks.”
Thinking outside the lunchbox
Caroline Williams MBA2021, co-founder and CEO, Junee
“I’m American and I moved to London for LBS. To come here and experience the entrepreneurship ecosystem has been a real treat. Being exposed to actual entrepreneurs demystified them. They weren’t all eccentric characters like Elon Musk – they were people who were passionate about an idea.
The tipping point for me came six months into my programme. I’d been thinking of Junee as a side project, but Covid brought a lot of self-reflection on what I wanted out of my life and my career. I realised how exciting it was to be working on an idea I was passionate about – what if, instead of single-use, throwaway lunchboxes, we could provide a sustainable alternative? I became more and more confident.
Joining forces with my co-founder Mary Liu, also an LBS MBA2021, made it more real and motivating. In our second year we explored the idea through various LBS programmes like Launchpad. We also joined the Alpha Accelerator, outside LBS, which immersed us further in London’s startup ecosystem and helped us transition from students to full-time founders.
Thanks to endless pitch practice through these programmes and connectors we met along the way, we have just closed our pre-seed financing round of £250k. Entrepreneurship can be intimidating – you’re graduating with a depleted bank account and loans – so the idea of leaping into something that is statistically likely to fail is daunting.
I’d love to see a lot more student entrepreneurs come out of LBS, and support for them in terms of getting funding will go a long way. Anything that can help bridge the gap between entrepreneurship and access to funds is a great development.”
A cleaner way to cleanse
LBS alumni Giorgia Granata MBA2018 and Eli Khrapko MBA2018 founded Wype as an alternative to the hundreds of millions of wet wipes that end up in the oceans every year
“Our gel is 99% natural, biodegradable and plastic-free, which means it reduces the huge environmental problems we face from people flushing wet wipes,” says Granata, former Head of Product Development at Versace Jeans Apparel. Khrapko, a former officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and an aeronautical engineering graduate of the University of NSW, explains that around 80% of marine litter starts on land and rivers and wet-wipe “reefs” help transport non-biodegradable debris out to sea. Less than a year into their venture, with their award-winning company already turning over £230,000, the founders are branching out internationally, growing their community of supporters and customers, prototyping designs, expanding their product line and engaging in a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. “Eli’s a glass-half-full kind of person, while I am more cautious in my approach,” says Granata. She admits that, before LBS, she was daunted by the nuts and bolts of the business world. “I’d never have dreamed that I would be able to talk about business affairs with the confidence that I have today,” she says. They are thankful to Jane Khedair, Director of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital, for her advice and support. In addition, it was invaluable being part of a network of frontrunners; business entrepreneurs who had gone before them and were making a success of their ventures. “Seeing other successful entrepreneurs provides a boost to your confidence,” says Khrapko.