Shamik J Parekh: Podcast Transcript

Shamik J Parekh: Podcast TranscriptListen to episode here

Shamik J Parekh: [00:00:00] I was looking at, you know, what kind of person do I want to be? So I fell into the hedge fund world, but what kind of like investor do I want to be? Seeing the impact of us actually investing and supporting those like local communities was actually really cool. So I was like, okay, is there a way to like marry up?

Shamik J Parekh: Yes, finance and you know what we, what we enjoy doing and, you know, hitting our bonuses. And, but then also can we combine it whereby we, we actually do good.

Amardeep Parmar: Today, we have a great guest for you, Shamik Parekh from Octopus Ventures. He's got an interesting journey, having been born in South Africa, then growing up in the UK, initially going to commodities trading, doing a master's, starting a company there, and after starting that company and it dissolving, then going into the venture space and looking at how to invest and how to open up investment opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds.

Amardeep Parmar: He's focusing on health tech at the moment. So if you're looking to either get into venture or looking to raise money in the future, this would be a great episode for [00:01:00] you to learn more about what he does and how he could potentially help you. So Shamik, we've just heard about where you got to today, but what were you like as a kid,

Amardeep Parmar: did you believe one day you have these big dreams and be able to make an impact like you have? Or were you much shyer than that? 

Shamik J Parekh:I  think as a kid I was quite shy. Um, I was loud, uh, and quiet. Like, so in the class, I think I get a lot of energy from people. So in the classroom setting, I think my, my, my reports, uh, every year was like, Shamik distracts the class too much, or Shamik talks too much.

Shamik J Parekh: But I think it just depends on, I guess, the environment that I was in. I think nine, more, more often than not. It was very much a question of, I think I'd naturally revert to like a shy side as opposed to anything else. Um, but I think growing up, I think we had a, I had a very tight knit family, um, growing up in South Africa.

Shamik J Parekh: So it was quite nice to have like, you know, cousins around me, my, my uncles and my aunts, my mom and dad, obviously, and my grandparents. So I think that like family unity, just like, just made you [00:02:00] more confident to like, want to take risks or just do stuff that you wanted to do. Um, so I think, yeah, I think initially I was quite shy growing up and then just kind of came out of it, but had no idea what I wanted to do when I was growing up.

Shamik J Parekh: So yeah, quite glad I fell into this. 

Amardeep Parmar: As you like  grew in confidence, what did you then hope to be? What were you looking at as in terms of careers at that point when you were in your late teenage years? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I  think I was one of those, one of the students where I wanted to do nothing and just like play games all day or like do everything and, you know, try, try take over the world.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, so it was very like pulled between these two things. And I think my, my parents were very much a big influence in my life. And so are my cousins growing up. So seeing them do well in their careers and seeing them do well in their studies, just kind of motivated me more to do better. So I think I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up going into like the commodities world because I think that my, my, my dad was in that and I was like, okay, cool.

Shamik J Parekh: This seems fun. And then after, after a point in time [00:03:00] whilst I was working, I, I guess was looking at, you know, what kind of person do I want to be? What kind of, um, So I fell into the hedge fund world, but what kind of like investor do I want to be? 

Amardeep Parmar: Whatcalls that inflection point of thinking about it from that angle, rather than just how do I make the most money?

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I think it's, I think when you are, when you are in a position to make a company money, you know, it's always a good feeling to be like, okay, cool. This year I hit my bonus target. Well, this year I've done this and this year I've done that. But I think after a while it just becomes numbers on a page.

Shamik J Parekh: And again, not, not in a, not in a cocky way, but it's like, what does it actually mean? And I think we were, we were at that point, supporting and investing in artisanal mining operations in Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, um, and like random and weird and wonderful places around the world. And I think seeing the impact of us actually investing and supporting those like local communities was actually really cool.

Shamik J Parekh: So I was like, okay, is there a way to like marry up, yes, finance and you know, what we, what we enjoy [00:04:00] doing and, you know, hitting our bonuses and bonus targets, but then also can we combine it whereby we, we actually do good. Uh, we're a bigger community. So I think that was a natural inflection point to be like, is this what I want to do?

Shamik J Parekh: And really, what can I do from this position of like sitting in a Mayfair office or sitting in the London office? So I think that was also a deciding factor. I think there were a couple of like stories from my commodity trading days. Um, And all of those, yeah, amalgamated into, into wanting to, yeah, leave and, and join the world of venture.

Amardeep Parmar: So you've obviously been  in London for a while now as well, right? So you said you were born in South Africa. 

Shamik J Parekh: Yep. 

Amardeep Parmar:‘Cause that, what, what made you move to London as opposed to working in the commodities industry or the finance industry in South Africa? 

Shamik J Parekh: So I think one, so my, my parents, so I am third generation South African.

Shamik J Parekh: And so my parents, so my dad, my granddad, all grew up and  lived through like apartheid in South Africa. Um, and I think it was my granddad's dream for all of his grandchildren to one study in the UK and, and, [00:05:00] you know, have a better life because I think that's all they'd known, which was apartheid and that split across, um, across, across Southern Africa.

Shamik J Parekh: So I think that was the first push. Um, and then the second push I think was, I think at the time growing up, you know, South Africa was, Post apartheid was relatively safe, but you could see in certain areas it was becoming less safe. So I think the family just took the decision of like, okay, why don't we all just go out, um, and, and, and emigrate to the UK.

Shamik J Parekh: So I think we, we landed over here in 2003, 2004, and yeah, did, did most of my schooling here as well. So it was quite nice. I've totally lost my accent. Um, I think that was the, that was the main determining factor. And then I think, again, just naturally going through school, going through sixth form and university over here, you build your friendship circle here, you build your community around here.

Shamik J Parekh: So it's just like easier to stay, I guess, um, as opposed to moving back. 

Amardeep Parmar: So working in the finance industry, right, that's. There's many, many people who work in the finance industry, but a lot fewer of them going to venture and down that path. How [00:06:00] did you make that transition? Because it's obviously it's not an easy one for many people that might decide, okay, I want to go into venture deciding to do that and actually being able to do it as two different things.

Amardeep Parmar: How did you make that initial transition? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I think again, I went to went to university, worked for three years in the hedge fund world or three and a half years in the hedge fund world, and then when to do my masters at Exeter and I wasn't really exposed to, I guess I come from like a very entrepreneurial family anyway, but the whole side of venture was quite new, uh, to me anyway.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and to most of my family as well. So we knew of it, but I don't think anybody was in it. Um, and I think, I guess this is one of the benefits of coming from like a big, like big family, which is, you know, you, um, can afford to take some risk, or even if you do want to take a risk, somebody will be there to like support you and you'll have a back, which is a nice feeling to have.

Shamik J Parekh: So I think that was a huge motivator for me to take risk. So I think it was in my, yeah, in my year. So during my year at Exeter, [00:07:00] I, um, I started up like a FinTech business and we received like first round funding. Um, and that was like the first taste of like my own personal entrepreneurial story. 

Amardeep Parmar: Tell us more about that, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because you've skipped over that a little bit. You started a fintech business. Not everybody does that. And you raise funding for it. What happened? And what was the, what was the idea? How did you come up with it? 

Shamik J Parekh:Yeah.  So I think it was a, um, so it was a social enterprise program that Exeter university was running.

Shamik J Parekh: So interestingly, Exeter suffers from one of the highest homelessness issues across the country. So, um, myself and I think it was four other people thought about, how do we address this problem? So we created a chatbot. So this is back in 2017, 2018, um, where we created like an automated chatbot, um, which essentially would provide a user to engage.

Shamik J Parekh: And to better understand their finances. So, um, I think the interesting fact and what spurred us to do this was, I think it was like 40 percent or [00:08:00] 50 percent of the population in Exeter are one paycheck away from defaulting on their mortgage. Um, and when you hear that, it's like, surely there's something we can do.

Shamik J Parekh: So we created links between financial ombudsman, financial ombudsman. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. It's a hard word. Don't worry. 

Shamik J Parekh: It's a hard word. I still can't get it right. Um, so financial ombudsman, local council, banks, so local banks, um, and mortgage providers and real estate agents. And what we tried to do is to say, okay, is there a way where we can, you know, start to decode what or who are the most at risk of defaulting and then, you know, bring in a financial ombudsman to give, provide like free services and free advice on how to restructure.

Shamik J Parekh: They're debt and credit. Um, and the chatbot would essentially be that, you know, that friendly, you know, person over the end of the phone to be like, Hey, like, don't worry about this. Like, we'll, we got you. Um, and this is the support that you have access to. ‘Cause I think a big thing is, you know, education as well, um, or access to it.

Shamik J Parekh: And I think this [00:09:00] is where, you know, it's really exciting to be part of, I guess, the venture space because whilst I invest in health tech, I see everything from FinTech EdTech, uh, to health. So it's quite nice to see that push upstream, but I think that, that initial business received first run funding. Um, and I think just because of.

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. University and I guess exams. Um, I think inevitably I went to uni to do a masters and I don't think my parents would have been too happy if I came back and be like, Hey, I dropped out, set up a business. So, um, I, I came back to my exams and yeah, put the business on, on, on, on the side. And I think it's out of that fizzled, fizzled through.

Shamik J Parekh: So we returned the, the, the, the shareholders money and, and, and gave it all back. But I think it was just that time commitment piece, which we just couldn't, couldn't give. 

Amardeep Parmar: You  made that, um, startup then, which you then fizzled out. What was your next step after the masters? Where did you go to afterwards?

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I was, I was quite lucky at, at, uh, at Exeter. And I think most universities offer this now, which is a career mentoring program. And this is where, you know, former alumni from the [00:10:00] university, um, you know, still stay in touch with, with their, with their school and their college. And it's a question of, you know, the

Shamik J Parekh: University providing access to their students to say, okay, these are the people that have graduated like 10, 20 years ago, and this is what they're doing now. So it gives you somebody that, you know, you can relate to because they went to your, they went to your uni. So I had a mentor, uh, who was at a private equity fund.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and he showed me the ropes of, and he, I guess he introduced me to the world of like  European and UK private equity and with that mentor discussed everything from venture capital to private equity and what it is that I wanted to do. And I think private equity is great but you lose some of that human touch.

Shamik J Parekh: I think early stage venture is quite, quite interesting and very exciting because you get to sit with the founder face to face and go and talk through their challenges and work out broader strategy, but then also get ingrained into like the nitty gritty detail if you wanted to. So I, I was ooing and eyeing as to what I wanted to go into, um, and ended up, um, applying to a number of like [00:11:00] called, like reaching out call to a number of VC funds out in California.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and, uh, 

Amardeep Parmar:  Why California? If you were in London? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I think it was one. And coming back from, I guess, the family support and family support structure of just taking risk. Um, I think I'd worked quite hard for three and a half years and I was like, okay, I've got somewhat of a, of a, of a foundation, um, so let me try, see what I can do with it.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and it was very much a question of, you know, I think VC in, in America is incredible, but then VC in like the West coast is, I guess where it all started from right. So it was like, if there was a world where I could get exposure to that, I would 100 percent take it. Um, so I, I applied through just reaching out, call to a number of VC funds.

Shamik J Parekh: And I think again, like having a warm network helps, uh, or a network helps for, for, for warm introductions. But yeah, long story short, I ended up going to California as soon as I graduated, uh, to, to join a fund called Sarah cat ventures. Um, [00:12:00] so it was a small, you know, six man team. Um, run by run by Indians, actually.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, so it was, it was really cool, um, to see how, you know, they've taken their journey, um, from, you know, working in a, in a big corporate running their VC fund from within the corporate and then spinning it out into their own. So that was also like a huge motivator to be like, okay, cool. This is the kind of people I want to work with and for. 

Amardeep Parmar: So  you mentioned there about how you didn't really know anything about the venture space until your mentor was able to help you out there.

Amardeep Parmar: But what was it like actually working in venture capital? Because obviously some people listening won't really know what venture capital is, right? So the idea is that you've got investors who then put money was stages across early stage up all the way up to late stages as well. But you were focused mainly in the early stage.

Amardeep Parmar: Most of your career, right? And it's, there's people who have ideas, but don't have the money to actually make them happen. Then investors can come in, take some equity. If you might like a dragon's den. That's an easy way to describe it, not quite the reality, but that kind of idea, right? What was the reality like when you got into venture [00:13:00] capital?

Amardeep Parmar: Was it what you hoped it would be? Was there any differences between your expectations? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah, I think, um, it's quite funny. So whenever I talk about venture capital to people who don't know what it is, I use dragon's den example, like shark tank. And I'm like, Hey, this is what we do, but on a slightly different scale.

Shamik J Parekh: But I think that is also a slight misconception. Because I think what everybody sees is somebody walking into a room. And there's like money on the table and the dragons are like, Hey, we'll, we'll, we'll invest. Um, but I think, you know, when you actually go into a VC fund for the first time, um, one, I wore all my hedge fund suits and I took it to California ‘cause I was expecting a finance job.

Shamik J Parekh: I got there and everybody's in shorts and I was like, okay, well don't do that. Um, so I think that the bigger expectation was, you know, it's a lot more, it's a lot more collegiate and friendly compared to, you know, investment banking and the hedge fund world. But also I think people, you know, there's, there's a lot of like process, which I guess not many people see.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and especially the founders, like, I think there's the expectation of going there with a brilliant idea, [00:14:00] um, and just receiving money. But I think there's this whole idea of, you know, running through due diligence as from an investor perspective, also raising the fund from, from like the VC funds perspective as well.

Shamik J Parekh: And then ensuring that, you know, whatever you invest in. You support and I think all of that kind of flies or tends to fly under the radar. I think now a lot of VCs are making noise around how they are active on the board and take like a very, I guess, a helpful position in the business. I guess actually most of the time, it's a question of the founders doing really the hard work and we're just there to like

Shamik J Parekh: lift them up if, if they need any help or like broader support and guidance, but ultimately like we were there to support them and help them when they need to, but it's really their story. Um, and we're just a small part of it. 

Amardeep Parmar: What type of founders were you focused on at that fund in California? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So we  were, we were an early stage VC fund as well.

Shamik J Parekh: So C to series a, but we invested, I say we, I'm still not with a fund, but very loyal. Um, but no, so the fund was investing in, yeah, early, early stage [00:15:00] entrepreneurs across cyber security, AI, machine learning, and healthcare. 

Before it was cool. 

Shamik J Parekh: Before it was cool. Exactly. Um, and they were doing healthcare before it was cool.

Shamik J Parekh: So they invested in, uh, I think they let the seed run for a business called Biome, which is doing exceptionally well right now. And they've done a number of like cybersecurity deals from Israel because I think Israel's got a very unique structure to to early stage businesses um, but that was their core focus and I think their claim to fame was they had John Cushman and Vincente Fox on the board which is quite cool.

Shamik J Parekh: So during their annual GPLP meeting I was in the same room as them and I was like, what am I doing here? It was quite surreal to be part of that but I think having exposure to, you know, understanding VC as a concept. So doing everything from, you know, the analysis to market research to due diligence and, you know, calling other people to or calling references and just really understanding

Shamik J Parekh: the end to end process of not only an investment, but [00:16:00] then also, I guess, fundraising for a fund as well was, was really opening, uh, eye opening. 

Amardeep Parmar: So obviously  you say that for a while, but then you've gone on to work for other VC funds and there's a bit in between as well, right? Which you created your own fund.

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I think it was, it was more of, um, so I came back. So Trump was like, Shannon, go, go. So I ended up coming back to London and, um, was in the process of, of looking for, looking for a job and, um, I think there was a LinkedIn post where they were looking to hire, uh, somebody in the team. And, um, yeah, I was, I was one of the, one of the first times for this fund.

Shamik J Parekh: So this is a brand new fund being started from scratch. Um, and it was very much focused on seed to series, a pan European health tech, um, pre COVID as well. So like it was health tech before is cool as well. Um, and these guys have the vision of, you know, creating and setting up a fund. And what we used to do is whilst we were like raising for the fund, we would still obviously speak to founders.

Shamik J Parekh: We try to build a brand. Um, and more often than not, because the two [00:17:00] partners and the two guys that created it, they, you know, came from a healthcare background. So one of them was a GP, a doctor, and the other was, um, a consultant. And I think they were providing a lot of value add to founders from day one without even investing in them.

Shamik J Parekh: And I think that made the conversation around, Hey, like we're raising a fund. We don't have money right now, but when we do, ‘cause we're very like optimistic, but when we do, why don't you take our money instead of any others? Because, and what we used to do is like support them as you know, whether it was a question around hiring or whether it was a question around, okay, this is your go to market, whatever it was, we were like, okay, we'd be on hand and we'd almost be like a second team member.

Shamik J Parekh: So that's the way we thought we would differentiate ourselves. And we did that for, I think it was 18 months of like one doing the fundraising and trying to, you know, speak to LPs, so limited partners who invest into other VC funds, and then to speaking to founders as well and trying to find this perfect balance of.

Shamik J Parekh: Okay. How do we provide all the support that we want to, but [00:18:00] not, I guess, not set false expectations that, you know, we're going to be investing from day one because we didn't have the capital. We, we didn't raise our first close as a, at that point. So I think that that was going on. And I think just to put money on, on, on the table or

Shamik J Parekh: food on the table. Um, it was not Dragon's Den style food on the table. It was very much a question of, okay, what can we do outside of that? So, uh, one of my colleagues, he went to go run Google health and the other partner and myself, we set up a health tech accelerator. So it was the perfect storm of one COVID coming into play, two technology really picking up and then three doctors needing to adopt technology really quickly.

Shamik J Parekh: So it was like the perfect storm of us, you know, getting into this accelerator program. And whilst we did that, we, we scaled technologies from like electronic health records all the way through to like digital therapeutics, um, during, during COVID. And that was like an eye opening experience for me because I don't come from a [00:19:00] healthcare background.

Shamik J Parekh: But I think having done or having being part of a health tech investment in California, that was really the, the catalyst to make me stay within, within the space. ‘Cause again, it married up, you know, finance and it married up, I guess, impact. So I think healthcare is like naturally impactful, but it's also, yeah.

Shamik J Parekh: How do we ensure that we invest in businesses that can have the, the biggest effect. So that's what we, that's what we're doing. And we scaled, uh, we scaled a number of businesses across the NHS, um, and, and the UK. And that was, uh, yeah, really, really enjoyable experience, but a lot of long hours, uh, especially over COVID, but it's good fun.

Amardeep Parmar: So one of the interesting convention there is you've mentioned GP, right? Because one of the confusing things is when you get into the venture space is that GP also means general partner for a venture fund. But for most people mean general practitioner for healthcare. So there's sometimes these confusing different acronyms are used and it's, it's good that you defined it there as well because people do get mixed up, but look at the experience there, 

Amardeep Parmar: so some people might. Be considering whether or not to go for an accelerator or [00:20:00] not. And what was your experience in terms of how that was able to, what were you able to do for those companies to really actually accelerate their journey and make them go further? And if say somebody's listening right now, that's considering, if you just started a company, they're thinking about going into accelerator, would you recommend they generally do that as a way to

Amardeep Parmar: get themselves off the ground. 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So that's, that's a great question. I think a lot of, a lot of the times, you know, when you look at or what stage you're at and what the accelerator program is providing. So we were, we were, when we were setting it up, we were very focused on supporting businesses that had already existed for a short while.

Shamik J Parekh: Whoever you got a strong tech stack, but just needed a way to break into the NHS or break into the public healthcare systems. And that was what, um, one of my colleagues specialisms was, was, you know, how do we ensure technology works, uh, within, within healthcare systems. So I think it's very much a question of one, understanding what your needs are as a founder and then to matching it to what the accelerator can provide.

Shamik J Parekh: I think there's a lot of [00:21:00] accelerator programs out there, which just say, Hey, we'll do everything for you. Um, and then they tend to not do much because you, so pulled apart and you just go and you say, like, finally spread. Whereas I think if you find a targeted accelerator that says, okay, we will work with you on branding or we'll work with you on marketing and, and sales, like those are probably going to be the ones that are going to help you the most.

Shamik J Parekh: And I think it's a question of finding out, like stepping back and finding out what you want as a founder. So if it's a question of, do you want to just help people or do you want to scale and become a billion dollar business? And those two are like very, very interesting and different questions because you can naturally have a lot of impact.

Shamik J Parekh: But you may not be, you know, right for a VC backing or, or an accelerator program, but it's a question of how do you, how do you balance what you want and what you can get from them? 

Amardeep Parmar: Obviously, in the end, you were able to invest through that company and then you've now, you work with ventures. But there's a story in the middle there, which is quite rare and it's not really been told very much.

Amardeep Parmar: Can you go into that a bit more detail?

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. [00:22:00] So I guess, um, what, what had happened was as we are creating this fund, so the fund was called 10x health and we were in the middle of fundraising and I think we came to the idea of, you know, how do we get this off now off the ground? So we were very close to raising what is called a first close in a fund.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and that is where you can start officially deploying and investing capital, but it's not the final size of the fund. Um, so we were, we're, we're nearing first, first close. And there was, there was two options in the table, one being backed by a large family office and two, working and combining with Octopus.

Shamik J Parekh: So I think this is one where at, I guess, management level, um, it was a very interesting discussion to have because, you know, whilst I wasn't privy to all of it, it was very much a question of, okay, what does it mean if we go down this route? Or what does it mean if we go down that route? And I think inevitably what we found was, because we are very much like

Shamik J Parekh: Pan European focused. It was, can we join octopus and bolster their European reach? So I think it was a great question [00:23:00] of what can we do from just a pure money perspective or what can we do with a pure like, branding money and talent perspective as well. So I think that made the conversation slightly easier as well.

Shamik J Parekh: And we ended up, uh, joining forces with, with Octopus. Uh, so Octopus ended up acquiring the fund and the three of us ended up at, at Octopus. So that was where, you know, we were able to then focus on or continue fundraising for that. And to, you know, really have the backing of it,  well known brand behind us. Um, so I think all of that kind of helped structure, you know, what we wanted to do.

Shamik J Parekh: ‘Cause I think, you know, from a fund perspective, yes, money is great and you want to raise as much as you can and you want to close the fund as quickly as possible. But I think there's also when you step back, it's, it's a bigger strategic question of, okay, what resource to what resources do you have internally?

Shamik J Parekh: How can you manage that? How can you work with what you don’t have and do have? Um, and where can you fill the gaps appropriately? So I think, you know, it was quite a nice marryup or marriage [00:24:00] between very much UK focused VC fund at the time to then, you know, uh, a dedicated pan European health tech fund. So that marriage between the two just further exploded, um, Octopus's reach.

Amardeep Parmar: So  obviously you took a quite a big risk by joining 10x health when you did, when it was, there was no funding yet. There was only the partners there and it takes a huge amount of like risk, like didn't even know if it's going to work out. And you said you had to create the accelerator to pay the bills in the meantime, put food on the table.

Amardeep Parmar: So then joining Octopus Energy, Octopus Venture, sorry, you suddenly had a backing of a much larger organization. How did that change things for you in terms of what you've been able to now achieve at Octopus in terms of helping some of the companies which you'd hoped to help?

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah, that's a great question.

Shamik J Parekh: I think one, you know, the idea of being backed and having backing just provides that extra layer of comfort and security. I don't want to say comfort because there's a lot of stress behind it, but a lot of security, I'd say, at least. And I think having the, having the ability to one, invest and support [00:25:00] businesses that you wanted to support and two, um, Watch them grow and develop just allows you that as that perspective of, you know, being an investor to be like, okay, cool,

Shamik J Parekh: this is what I am here to do. And I think having not only Octopus as a brand behind us, but then to having, you know, a broader team, which, you know, everybody at Octopus is, you know, incredibly switched on incredibly helpful and just a great team to be part of, like, we fundamentally also work for, you know, we have a fiduciary responsibility

Shamik J Parekh: to our investors, but also we work for our founders as well. Um, so I think being, being in a position where not only we can provide help and guidance, but also invest and watch them grow is, is, yeah, is, is, is great to be part of. 

Amardeep Parmar: I know you're a champion of people from diverse backgrounds as well in terms of your investment and looking at giving the opportunity and making sure you're finding the best

Amardeep Parmar: opportunities available for the funds for investment, right? And you're looking beyond just say the usual characters. How have you been able to try to find those people and to encourage them to reach [00:26:00] their dreams and build what they think they can make of the impact? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think this comes back to the conversation we were having before, which is education and starting from very much the top of the funnel, as you say, in VC terms, which is, you know, how do we, how do we ensure that people understand and know what VC is, but then to also, you know, how do you, cause not every business requires VC backing.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, but it's a question of how do we level the playing field, um, and ensure that people know what VC is. So I think, you know, what I've tried to do is go to, you know, non golden triangle universities and speak to students there just to be like, okay, cool. This is what is open to you. I think, you know, I was quite fortunate to be able to take risks, um, growing up, but I think, you know, a lot of people.

Shamik J Parekh: Probably don't have that luxury as much. So I think it's one where, you know, just at least highlighting what venture is, what, what it means, um, and just showing that, you know, okay, if you do have a great idea and [00:27:00] if you really are passionate about it and you think you can change the world, like these are the options that are open to you.

Shamik J Parekh: Um, and I think one, we also have, um, you know, I think. We have a, we have an open website where you can submit a type form and, and submit your pitch deck to, to any of the investors. But also what we try to do is go out to networking events and really just invite as many diverse, um, both, you know, ethnically and, and, you know, female to male and, and other, other genders.

Shamik J Parekh: But it's more a question of how do we ensure that we're being fair in reaching out and making that outreach more accessible to, to others. 

Amardeep Parmar: So the conversations we've been having as well, where you were at our event on Tuesday and hopefully met a bunch of diverse founders there. But looking at the time now, I think we're going to move on to quick fire questions.

Amardeep Parmar: So the first one is who are three British Asians hat you'd love to spotlight that you think are doing incredible work?

Shamik J Parekh: So there's a, there's a founder, um, called Ravi, Ravi Solanki, um, who has received, I guess, first [00:28:00] round funding, um, and. It's one of our portfolio companies as well, but he's out there creating a new, a new testing and diagnostics for, for cancers.

Shamik J Parekh: And I think this is one where I'm slightly biased because it is healthcare. Um, but I think it's one where, you know, the vision and the drive that he has and, and his prior background, it's all perfectly wrapped up to essentially execute on this idea that he has. So, um, that's, that's one guy. I guess a colleague of mine, uh, Uthish, he recently made partner at Octopus and I think just his ability to move through the ranks and from his career perspective, you know, become partner at a, at a, you know, one of UK's and Europe's largest funds is, it's just incredible.

Shamik J Parekh: And I think last but not least, it is, and I guess the second, the last person, but last but not least is Rubina, Rubina Singh from again, from Octopus. I think what she's done is, you know, set up a fund from scratch as well. Um, but also really pushing the agenda around, you know, equality fairness for very early stage funds.

Shamik J Parekh: So we tend to invest at seed [00:29:00] series. Rubina is going much earlier on, which is, you know, Pre-seed and, and university spin out. So I think all in all, we are seeing a huge rise in not only entrepreneurs, but also investors, um, that, you know, essentially look like us and, and, um, have that same mentality of supporting, you know, diverse founders.

Shamik J Parekh: So it's really exciting time to, to be part of this early stage ecosystem. 

Amardeep Parmar: So let's say people listening right now want to reach out to you for help or guidance, what's the best place to reach out to you to, or follow you and learn more?

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah. So I'm, I'm easily accessible. Um, so either on LinkedIn, um, where I guess everything is there.

Shamik J Parekh: So my email address, my LinkedIn profile, et cetera, but also, yeah, just via email, to be honest. Um, and if anybody has any questions or, you know, questions around how to scale a business, or if they just want to talk about venture in general, like, yeah, happy, happy to have a conversation. 

Amardeep Parmar: And on the other side, is there anything that maybe the audience could help you with?

Amardeep Parmar: Is there anything that you're looking for that would help you in your journey? 

Shamik J Parekh: Yeah, that's a great question. I think if you, if you have a great [00:30:00] idea. Um, and if you want to test it out, because I appreciate, you know, having these conversations or these calls with investors can be quite daunting at some time, like sometimes it's a question of how can I make that easier?

Shamik J Parekh: Um, so I think if anybody has an idea, especially within the health tech space, because that's where I feel I can be the most helpful, um. But especially in the health tech space, yeah, do feel free to reach out and, uh, I'd be happy to have a chat. 

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for coming on. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Shamik J Parekh: I guess it's, you know, build up a trusted network, uh, one where, you know, they not only support you, but also test you. Um, and to, once you have that network, really take that initial step and just go for it.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It makes a huge amount to us and we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes the world of difference. And if you believe in what we're [00:31:00] trying to do here, to inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asians.

Amardeep Parmar: If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests. We can host more events. We can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part. So thank you so much for supporting us.