In the Spotlight with Senior Investor Relations Manager Charlotte Scott

11 March 2024

Using her experiences of working in Venture Capital, Angel Investment and with startup businesses, Charlotte Scott, Senior Investor Relations Manager at Innovation SuperNetwork, works to improve the relationship between investors and businesses. We spoke to her about underrepresented business founders, and how networking outside of your business community can unlock a new world of investment opportunities. 

‘I think that there is this misconception that investors loom in the upper echelons of society, and they don’t enjoy kicking back at the end of the day like everyone else’ 

What do you think is missing from business and investor relationships? 

Transparency and authenticity. I think that there is this misconception that investors loom in the upper echelons of society, and they don’t enjoy kicking back at the end of the day like everyone else. Human stories will engage them, and authentic connections can be the basis of a very trusting and productive relationship.   

I have seen a lot of entrepreneurs putting on brave faces to their investors and pretending everything is rosy, when it’s not.  An investor will likely take a board seat, so if you haven’t taken the time to build that trusting relationship where you can admit the business isn’t performing well and you can disclose key information, then they can’t help you make decisions and offer advice that could potentially save your company.  

Take the time to just get out there, network with investors and invest time nurturing those relationships. Treat them as humans and respect their time and opinions as you would anyone else. If it’s difficult to spend an hour with you, the investor is probably going to think, ‘I really like your product and your business – but we can’t work together as I can’t be in a room with you longer than an hour. You’ve got to be able to have good communication and good interpersonal relationships. 

‘Think before you speak when you are asking questions about their plans for the future with their family, would you ask that of a male founder?’ 

How can investors work towards improving equity by supporting a range of businesses? 

Working with start-ups in a variety of roles and regions has introduced me to a lot of underrepresented founders and communities that have – through no fault of their own – slipped through the access to funding net. And that was quite an eye opener. It was clear how much having access to business support could really transform their personal and professional situations.  

I think everyone needs to do a bit of self-reflection. If we’re considering a women-led enterprise for support or investment; reflect and think ‘when I sit and listen to a female founder, what am I projecting here?’ Unconscious bias is a very real problem. 

Are we making them justify every figure on their cashflow forecast and grilling them on their market knowledge more than we would a male founder? Are we asking questions about their future family plans, would you ask that of a male founder? Women are 50% of the population, so it makes economic sense to back female-led businesses or businesses that target women as their primary customer.  

Also, don’t surround yourself with people that only look or think like you. It’s generally acknowledged that we want to hang out with people who have similar interests. That’s fine – I am not saying to get rid of this basic human need. But if an investor is really committed to diversity and inclusion then they should be branching out, involving themselves with communities who are not from the same background, of the same sex, or of the same ethnicity, and welcome the diversity of opinion that comes with expanding our network beyond the familiar.  

What tips would you give to underrepresented founders who are looking to start conversations with investors? 

Absolutely get out there and start talking about yourself! If an investor needs to go to areas and break into communities who don’t look and sound like them, you’ve got to try and do the same. They genuinely might not know where to find you.  

For example, put an event every week in your diary where you think investors or people who know them might be and show up. It doesn’t just have to be in a formal environment, it could be at a networking event for tech developers with beer and pizza. You might run into an investor who was a former tech developer, or a tech founder who has already fundraised and knows investors who might be interested in your company.  

Don’t pitch in that informal environment but have a chat and start to build a positive relationship – What do they enjoy? What brings them here? What’s their story? That person will remember you as that interesting individual who they had a good chat with a couple of months ago, so they’ll be more receptive to start up a conversation and lend you a hand.  

‘The nature of those individuals operating businesses is that they are all ambitious and very highly motivated and inspired – they have a certain resilience and grit’ 

What do you enjoy the most about working with businesses and investors? 

You come across such a range of people, ideas, and businesses; it’s very inspiring. The nature of individuals operating businesses is that they are all ambitious and very highly motivated – have a certain resilience and grit. It’s a wonderful thing to be surrounded by because it gives you hope. There are founders addressing social challenges, developing lifesaving technologies, and helping to save the environment. I always like to give people the time of day even if I can’t support them myself and connect them with people who can. If I can help them in any way, then it’s very rewarding. 

Charlotte can be found on LinkedIn, or via email at charlotte.scott@supernetwork.org

Find out more about Innovation SuperNetwork’s Access to Finance support: https://supernetwork.org.uk/finance/

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