Imperial College London

Alumni discuss crowdfunding and investment at entrepreneurship panel event


Alumni listen to the presentation in a lecture theatre

Alumni and students explored crowdfunding, angel investing and ICOs at an event for entrepreneurs.

The Entrepreneurship Professional Interest Network (PIN) provides opportunities for alumni to gain insights and learn from others on topics of interest as well as build professional networks. 

It was the network's second event of the year after a successful event in March.

The panel and insights

Imperial alumnus Oliver Woolley (MBA 1992) is a member of Imperial College Court and chaired the panel during the event. “I found the MBA course I undertook in 1991/2 hugely valuable to myself and my business. I have shared some of my knowledge and experience with Imperial undergraduates and alumni at a handful of lectures on entrepreneurship and investment over the last 20 years. I am honoured to be a Member of Court at Imperial.”

The dynamic panel consisted of experts and leaders in the sphere of investment and crowdfunding:

  • Modwenna Rees-Mogg – Founder of AngelNews, Executive Chairman of The Pluralists Club and Great British Private Investor Forum
  • Julia Groves – Founder Director of the UK Crowdfunding Association (UKCFA) and Partner at Downing LLP
  • Jeff Lynn – Executive Chairman and Co-Founder at Seedrs
  • John Kingdon – Managing Director of The Third Bladetec Bitcoin Mine
The panel standing in the main entrance
From right to left: John Kingdon, Oliver Woolley, Modwenna Rees-Mogg, Julia Groves and Jeff Lynn

The panel discussed the various types of investment available to startups – where to find it and how to access it – and how they differ.

The talk started with a comparison between business angels and crowdfunders. Oliver said: “No one likes to be put in boxes really. You’re going to have business angels who do some crowdfunding and vice versa. From the FCA regulators’ perspective, they introduced this new term ‘restricted investor’ for crowdfunders, which actually changed the regulation a few years ago and enabled this type of online investing.”

The panel in discussionJeff Lynn, co-founder at Seedrs, suggested that the differences between them are blurring. He said, “What we see with our platform, there is increasingly a very significant blended line between what we would consider crowdfunding, angel investing, venture capital investing and so forth. We don’t see ourselves as a crowdfunding platform, we see ourselves as a marketplace for private investment. We have a whole suite of different options and approaches for investors. I think that certainly, platforms like ours will become wider and broader marketplaces in the future.”

Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) were a topic for discussion throughout the evening. An ICO is an unregulated means by which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture. Asked on where she thought investing would head in the future, Modwenna believes that ICOs are hugely exciting. “I think what’s exciting about ICOs is the sheer scale. There’s no point in doing an ICO unless you’re raising tens of millions. It’s very rare in the financial services that a new type of asset or security gets created and ICOs are that. To my mind, there’s no question that they will become bigger and more sought after.”

After a lively interactive discussion, participants had the opportunity to chat with panellists and each other.

Alumni networking in the College main entrance

Alumni views

Michael OkoigunMichael Okoigun (Electrical & Electronic Engineering 2008) celebrated his ten-year milestone at this year’s Alumni Weekend in April. Michael was back on campus for the Entrepreneurship event and enjoyed the opportunity to network with other alumni. He said, “I definitely extended my ICO knowledge and it was good to get insight from the amazing panel.”

Rebecca MaroccoRebecca Marocco (Innovation Entrepreneurship & Management 2017) wanted to learn more about investment for her startup. She said, “It was interesting to hear and about the regulatory aspect of investment rather than the practical. That was useful for my startup.”

Yilin Wang (Biology 2009, MRes Life Sciences 2010, MSc Management 2011) and Caroline Knight (Biology 2009, MSc Management 2010) studied their undergraduate degrees together at Imperial and caught up at the event. Caroline thought the event was very helpful: “It was useful to hear about all sorts of companies and bodies that can offer funding, but also support in terms of starting a business.”Caroline Knight and Yilin Wang


Dan Warren

Dan Warren

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