SBS Venture Fund gives flight to big ideas

This post was written by Vannary Sar, of the Skoll Centre.

Last night hundreds of students, alumni and people from the business community gathered at Saїd to watch the Venture Fund Final (or should I say “show-down”) and let me tell you, what a fun night!  The Venture Fund happens once a year and is an opportunity for SBS entrepreneurs to battle it out for a chance to win seed capital for their venture.  To date, the Fund has a portfolio of five promising start-ups, with a total investment of £675,000 – and we were all hoping to see another cheque with many zeros being handed over.

The four ventures competing were Contego, TheySay, Off.Grid.Electric and Green & Grow.  The teams pitched their ideas with passion filling the theatre, and you could feel the drama (at one point a £250,000 cheque was waved in the air!)  All entrepreneurs did extremely well, fielding difficult questions and justifying their projections – but the two ventures that impressed the investors the most were Green & Grow and, Off.Grid.Electric.  Congratulations to both teams, and especially Skoll Skollar, Xavier Helgesen and Skoll Centre Associate, Erica Mackey of Off.Grid.Electric. We are SO proud of you!

The celebrations continued throughout the night with cocktails and live performances from Oxford’s a cappella group ‘Out of the Blue’ and it was great to be part of such a supportive and entrepreneurial atmosphere.  While this event isn’t run by the Skoll Centre (congratulations to our SBS colleagues for their hard work), it is a vivid reminder of the incredible resources and networks out there in the wider Oxford ecosystem for entrepreneurs.  These support systems are so critical to entrepreneurs – especially those with ideas for social impact ventures, where seed funding is even more scarce.

A great night all around, where little (or BIG) ideas can turn into a reality.   Here’s to the winning teams!