Originally from Turkey, Cansu Deniz Bayrak is an early-stage tech-for-good investor. She previously worked in international politics and human rights law, and has a strong interest in ecosystem building, impact technologies, and social entrepreneurship. Cansu has lived in the UK since 2016, and received her Tier 1 Visa for Exceptional Tech Talent in 2018. Here, she tells us her story.
“In tech, there is an overwhelming number of opportunities to explore and thousands of brilliant individuals coming from all sorts of backgrounds, sharing their wisdom and networks with each other. For a curious person, the UK is a goldmine of diversity and talent. Every time I meet someone, I learn something new which I then, hopefully, bring to my work as a tech-for-good investor.
Being recognised by Tech Nation has allowed me to build my career as I see fit. In a sector as fast-moving as tech, sought after skills are usually transferrable and even interchangeable, therefore responsibilities and role descriptions rapidly evolve as one progresses in their career.
My previous Tier 2 visa did not allow me to change jobs easily or quickly. Tech Nation’s recognition made it possible for me to reconcile my two careers: human rights and tech. By bringing my early-stage investment expertise to the impact investment sector, I can tap into something which currently has a global market size of $502 billion.
Since I started working in London in 2016, I have had the chance to visit numerous UK tech hubs. From a talent perspective, I think there is work to be done to attract international workers to UK hubs outside of London – one of the reasons tech people come to London is because they know they will be able to build their social and professional networks relatively easily here. Diverse ecosystems lead to diverse teams, and diverse teams build better products and services.
Since I was awarded my Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, I joined Bethnal Green Ventures as senior partner to lead fundraising for our investment vehicles. We have been pioneering tech for good since 2012 with a growing portfolio of 131 world-changing startups and are raising a bigger fund at the moment.
London has been named the best European city for tech for good by the European Digital Social Innovation Index in collaboration with Nesta, based on six indicators for digital social innovation: funding, skills, civil society, collaboration, infrastructure, and diversity and inclusion. London ranked particularly high on skills and collaboration, which I believe illustrates my point on the value of welcoming talent from across the globe to the UK. We owe this success to everyone working hard on moving forward the tech-for-good agenda. I am able to contribute to this sector thanks to my Tech Nation endorsement, which is another example of the collaboration between the tech sector and the public sector which plays a key role in growing the tech-for-good ecosystem.
To anyone changing countries – please remember to congratulate and celebrate yourselves. It is easy to get caught up in edited stories of success. This is as much fun as it is hard work and, in the end, it is worth it. I can’t think of anywhere else in Europe that would have allowed for more professional growth as a tech talent than the UK”