18 Feb 2019

Introducing Cansu

By Cansu Deniz Bayrak


This is Cansu from Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) and it feels great to type this sentence. I have been getting to know the amazing BGV team over the course of last year and am very excited to join them as Head of Partnerships. My main area of responsibility is building meaningful connections for our fund and portfolio companies. I am also looking to learn as much as I can on fundraising for our investment vehicles.

Moving into impact investment has been a personal goal in the making for the last decade. My background is in international human rights and humanitarian law. I believed a human rights career to be the most pragmatic use of one’s efforts to help build a more equitable future. Law, to me, provided the solid framework that would drive actual change. I was privileged to work with organisations like the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International in France and Turkey. Whilst I enjoyed my time with them, I also felt constrained by the bureaucracy and politics inevitably involved.

Seven years ago, I decided to move to a much faster moving industry with the most palpable effect on society: tech. I was co-founder of a community that turned into a profitable product platform, I then built a SaaS business for e-commerce. My way into early-stage investment was through microfunds and acceleration programmes. For the last four years, I was with Startupbootcamp – first running their MENA branch in İstanbul and making investments through a $10M microfund, then building and running their IoT programme in London.

Working with more than a hundred entrepreneurs in different verticals and constantly searching for pragmatic ways of enabling them taught me two crucial things. First, it takes a village – products and services cannot be built in bubbles, so cannot support mechanisms. Second, investment alone can take a team only so far. Yes, impact takes time to build, and that requires runway. Yet steady mentorship, the right connections and sharing best practices are crucial in the early stages of building a business. This is why at BGV we complement our cash injection with a tailored acceleration programme and life-long support to help our portfolio companies take off.

We believe technology can and will change the world for the better. We believe that we all need to make a conscious and continuous effort to support inclusive, ethical, scalable, and financially feasible innovation by betting on ideas with the potential to affect millions of lives. We also believe being for-profit and supporting tech for good are not mutually exclusive.

We are regularly looking for commercial partnerships to strengthen our ability to disseminate our learnings and encourage more talent to build tech for good, to fund the social ventures of tomorrow, and to build a stronger support structure for our portfolio companies.

We know there are lots of companies looking to get involved in impactful technologies but don’t know where to start. To date, we’ve partnered with organisations like the Resolution Trust, the Children’s Society, the Wellcome Trust, the Mayor of London along with Unilever, LDN_LAB by Facebook, and Accenture to help drive more innovation and tech for good across sectors. If you’re interested in finding out how your organisation can effectively  support founders building impactful products and services and the wider tech for good movement, then do get in touch.