What makes Bethnal Green Ventures stand out?
We were the first specialist tech for good VC firm in Europe and the first SEIS & EIS fund dedicated to tech for good. Our expertise in finding and supporting companies that deliver fantastic returns and positive social and environmental impact makes us unique.
What are three areas of focus for your firm this year?
- A sustainable planet – companies that help us tackle the climate crisis.
- A better society – startups that solve problems in education, employment and inequality.
- Healthy lives – products and services that improve the mental and physical health of millions of people.
“Every six months we get applications from hundreds of tech for good entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas for businesses that could improve peoples’ lives. It’s like a torrent of optimism coming our way.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Every six months we get applications from hundreds of tech for good entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas for businesses that could improve peoples’ lives. It’s like a torrent of optimism coming our way and it’s an immense privilege to then get to work alongside the best of those founders as they turn their ideas into reality.
How do you see your role changing in the next 3-5 years?
Tech for good and impact investing will become more mainstream over the next 5 years. That’s brilliant because we want to see more investors put their money to work to deliver both returns and positive impact on the world. It comes with risks though – we’ll have to guard against ‘impact washing’ as some people cut corners and take liberties.
What’s one thing you’d like to change about the sector?
I’d love to see more diversity in fund management teams. We’re a majority female team and nearly 40% from BAME backgrounds – that’s very rare. We’re strong believers that greater diversity leads to better decisions.
What are three things you look for when investing in a business?
- Commitment of the founders to their chosen impact area – it’s fine for them to pivot their product or service, but we don’t want them to pivot away from the problem they’ve chosen to solve.
- Scalability – if it works, could this business benefit millions of people?
- Defensibility – why are these the right people to build this business and how will they preserve value as they grow?
What character trait helps you succeed in your role?
Optimism and the ability to spot the potential in ideas that seem crazy and far off at the time. This is nicely balanced by others in our team who are more sceptical than me and make sure we’re considering all the risks as well!
What non-fiction book would you recommend?
‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ by Steven Johnson – it’s a brilliant study of innovation, showing that it never simply comes from a lone genius, it’s an iterative networked process that can be intentionally fostered.
Paul Miller, OBE – Managing Partner and CEO, Bethnal Green Ventures
Paul has eight years investing experience and has made 100+ early stage investments through Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV). Prior to BGV, he was co-founder and CEO of an education technology venture. He’s been an adviser to leading companies and the UK government on tech for good and is a regular speaker at technology and investment conferences. In January 2020 he received an OBE for services to start-up investment.
About Bethnal Green Ventures
Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) is Europe’s leading early-stage tech for good Venture Capital firm. They back ambitious founders using technology to tackle big social and environmental problems that aim to radically improve millions of lives.
BGV has unrivalled experience and track record investing in and scaling tech for good businesses, generating top-tier returns for investors, as well as significant and measurable impact.
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