We’re back with another Woman Crush Wednesday and this month we’re showcasing the work of Abi Mohamed, Tech Director for Community Growth Ventures and Software Developer.
Having appeared on a panel at Wonder Women Tech in London, spoken at Afrotech Fest and been featured in BBC minute, it’s safe to say she’s gaining momentum in the world of tech.
We caught up with Abi to hear about the project, her role and hear what advice she would offer to other members of the tech industry. Read the interview in full below.
Can you tell us a bit about Community Growth Ventures?
At Community Growth Ventures (CGV), we invest time and resources to help passionate founders create sustainable companies that deliver value to customers and the communities they operate in.
We mainly focus on companies based in London led by underrepresented founders. My co-workers have been running CGV for about a year.
This year is all about refining our investor framework, designing the blueprint to identify potential founders who are investment ready and who are going make a return after capital has been deployed.
We offer the following a number of services for people who fall into this category, including; advisory (ranging from tech, marketing and business strategy), technical and funding. We offer pre-seed funding as our plan is to invest in startups who fit our investment framework and input our expertise to help said startups accelerate towards their milestones.
If a company doesn’t match our criteria, we recommend alternative routes (such as accelerator programmes available in the community), and our doors are always open when they become ready.
So far, we have spoken to over 30+ founders (based in UK, US), currently working closely with two founders who will hopefully be securing their seed fund in the next year.
Why are you passionate about Community Growth Ventures and funding underrepresented start-ups?
I’m passionate about CGV because I believe we all should have a fair chance of access to funds.
In 2017, only 2.2% of the Venture Capital (VC) investment pot was invested into female founders (according to data from M&A, private equity, and VC database PitchBook). Within these figures, less than 1% was invested into women of colour.
Pattern recognition is the key tool for VC to identify potential good investment. Over the years, VC’s use this tool to mitigate risk but has also limited their profit potential and created an inherent funding bias.
According to Forbes, only 9% of VC are women with even fewer from underrepresented backgrounds (ethnic minority background, LGBT etc.).
At CGV, we’re changing that.
There aren’t enough VC/Angel groups that have access to a diverse founder startup pool, which is why CGV is so important. We can identify real potential in startups and offer expertise.
We are changing the ‘pattern’. This really excites me as we will be contributing to bringing more talented founders to the frontline.
What have been some of the obstacles you’ve faced both while training as a developer and as a member of the tech industry?
There is no ‘golden’ route into tech. It’s difficult to land your first full time (paid) developer role but there are opportunities available; you just need to be in the tech ecosystem to see them. This is a massive lesson I learnt, which made my journey longer than I wanted.
My journey into tech began after my small quarter-life crisis in my retail job. I always enjoyed tech and never pursue this because my family wanted me to have a job in economics/politics.
“I believe being part of the tech community is a massive aid when overcoming obstacles such as imposter syndrome.”
After doing a masters in IT, this still wasn’t good enough for me to get a job in tech. I had to join a boot camp, which helped me specialise in a certain area in tech. I did more than my job title required and learned and mastered different skills in becoming a strong software engineer.
Going to tech-related network events are a good start. I believe being part of the tech community is a massive aid when overcoming obstacles such as imposter syndrome. Being in tech is difficult for me because I don’t fit in the typical developer personality.
What advice would you offer those looking to get into the tech industry?
Be active on Twitter and record your work to showcase an active e-portfolio for potential job listings. Try to go as many tech workshops (not talks) as possible so you’re constantly growing and learning.
Some of the boot camps in London offer scholarships, so email the boot camps you’re interested to find out more. I always believe that if you don’t ask you never know – a quick tip that could save a lot of money!
What’s your go-to motto if you’re having a tough week?
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King). Honestly, nothing in life comes easy, so just remember that there is an ending to your difficulties and challenges in tech (much like an agile sprint). You won’t have all the answers, but that’s ok.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King)
I have a list of inspiring quotes which I naturally share daily via my social media platform to keep my spirits up. Otherwise, writing your daily achievement in a notebook is a good reference point to review when you feeling low. It’s always good to remember where you started.
Where do you hope to see Community Growth Ventures head in the future?
I think for me I believe CGV will be one of the biggest pre-seed investors based in the UK. I want it to have different arms of services available for underrepresented founders starting their startup journey.