In a perfect world, technology constantly advances at full speed, and there are always people on board eager to invest in those advancements to keep the improvement going and the economy developing. But not all of us can be industry disruptors and innovators like Elon Musk.
At the virtual Oxford Saïd Network Entrepreneurship Forum (OSNEF) earlier this month - a two-day conference held virtually by The Oxford Saïd Business School for current students and alumni from around the world to engage in discourse around global business issues - Chōsen co-founder and Oxford MBA alumna Robin Connelley led a geographically diverse panel of entrepreneurs and industry practitioners to discuss the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and its future.
Offering differing points of view from start-up entrepreneurs, legal and corporate backgrounds, the panel analyzed innovation and funding activity while uncovering the challenges and opportunities for venture capital in response to rapid innovation development that would not traditionally fit into the VC model.
Miguel Colebrook, Senior Associate at Vinson & Elkins in London, started the panel discussion. As a graduate of the Oxford Saïd Masters of Law and Finance, he focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions and strategic joint ventures. He also has experience advising issuers and underwriters on a variety of debt and equity capital markets transactions.
Speaking from his work from cross-border venture capital transactions and representing financial sponsors and large corporates, Miguel believes that a structure is necessary with participation in venture capitalism, though sometimes this can be rigid and/or potentially obstructive of vision. “With respect to the array of financial sponsors participating in venture capital, there is a moderating impact in terms of what they are willing to accept from potential partners. While this may limit the funding of potential ventures, a structure is needed to ensure that the investors' interests are protected at the end of the day,” says Miguel.
Sudheer Perla, co-founder of JetSetGo, a private aviation company in India and Vice President of Business Development of Tabreed - the world's largest listed district cooling company based out of Dubai - continued the conversation. Sudheer is an Oxford Saïd MBA graduate that has experience in successfully executing $2bn+ in corporate turnaround and investment transactions.
Speaking on culture in both Dubai and India, Sudheer has a passion for purpose-driven entrepreneurship and innovation. Leaving aside structure and digging a little deeper, Sudheer touched on the founder’s search for meaning. “Work is love made visible. Work can be part of the search for meaning and why we exist. In today’s world, people are looking for companies that they can resonate with. When we can locate the intersection between what we believe in and protecting the interests of the principal, this can ultimately create more value and drive innovation culture. Yes, structure is important, but at the end of the day it boils down to purpose,” says Sudheer.
Enrico Goitre is an Associate at BonelliErede in Milan, Italy. His practice focuses on all aspects of commercial and corporate law with particular expertise in venture capital, high growth and tech, M&A and extraordinary financial transactions, private equity, commercial contracts and company reorganization.
As an Oxford Saïd graduate of Masters of Law and Finance, Enrico spoke from legal and VC experience and believes that the traditional profit versus purpose driven concept is slowly falling apart - something apparent that he has experienced in his recent works. “In 2021, purpose-driven is now a market requirement. Whether or not these innovators truly believe in their potential, it is clear that purpose and meaning is a necessary requirement to profit,” adds Enrico.
Chōsen Co-founder Robin Connelley is an international serial entrepreneur with a background in finance, international law and entrepreneurship in developing economies. As an Oxford Saïd MBA graduate, Robin spoke from her extensive experience creating a support system for entrepreneurs dealing with extraordinary amounts of uncertainty and stress.
Sharing the same passions as Sudheer, Robin believes that the ideal pairing between an investor and an innovator is when their actual purpose and underlying values align. Continuing Enrico’s point, Robin believes that more so than ever, investors are putting the passion and self-belief of the innovator under the microscope. “I believe that we are transitioning from a scarcity and fear-based economy to that of an abundant point of view on innovation and wellbeing. In a post-COVID world, we now see more companies offering wellness programs to support the individual in helping them be better versions of themselves. I believe that being purpose-driven is a large part of this new world,” adds Robin.
“Innovation” essentially means that we are going forward into a brave world that no one has ever explored before. When we are carving a new path, innovators and investors need to be prepared for massive amounts of uncertainty - which is all part of the learning curve and feedback loop.
Stay tuned for more on the diverse points of view in this timely discussion on the support needed to respond to the exponential innovation curve vs the traditional VC model of incremental innovation in our upcoming newsletters.
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