Samantha Deakin and Michael Howe began conversations about how they could improve VC investment in the North over coffee roughly two and a half years ago. Now, their university-based, tech investment firm Campus Capital is introducing its third location in Lancaster.
This third partner will complement their existing sites in Sheffield and Manchester. They’re currently hiring, with the aim to start their first VC bootcamp in January and begin making investments soon after.
How to be a VC
Samantha comes from a background of experiential learning, which she got into through starting her own business. As well as this, she was involved in Startup weekend, which she calls a kind of worldwide experiential learning initiative for tech founders. Outside of her work with Campus Capital, she also coaches early stage student and graduate founders.
“Some of them are so new to the process that starting their own business is in itself experiential education that they’ll take with them to make their 2nd, 3rd or 4th company a success.”
“Creating an environment where they can fail and learn from it on the way to success teaches you a lot about the value of experiential learning, particularly within tech startups and early stage investing where you can’t just fall back on theory when the world doesn’t behave in the way you expect it to.”
She find that this way of learning can work for a variety of different roles.
“Like entrepreneurship, I don’t think you can learn to be an investor just by reading books, you have to go out and see lots of pitch decks, meet lots of founders and make choices which may actually be wrong, and you may actually fail.” She explains.
Samantha worked closely with universities for 6 months to validate the value of Campus Capital to HEIs, and within 3 months of officially opening they had secured their first academic partner in Sheffield.
Engaging Universities with SMEs
Samantha notes that universities are now looking to collaborate more with industry, and are often asked to show the impact that their research and funding is bringing to the local economy.
The news isn’t just positive for the universities. So far, 3 of their students have gone on to summer VC internships, 1 has gone to work full time for ADV and another has a part time internship.
“At the end of it the students can say they’ve analysed x number of businesses and been through the whole process, done the proper due diligence. There’s a great narrative there.”
Samantha also aims to increase awareness and close the gap of VC funding in the North. To do this, Campus Capital will be holding a series of events in co-working spaces in Manchester. They aim to promote trends in VC, showcase active sources of funding and cultivate more awareness of the VC model.