Andrew Bott

"I received funding and won an award from CitySpark and grants from Launch Lab to start my company — the community and support at the university can be incredible if you utilise it!"

Andrew Bott

Nationality: American
MSc course: MSc Entrepreneurship
Graduation year: 2019

What motivated you to study MSc Entrepreneurship?

I have always been a bit of an outsider and I remember vividly when I sat in my first class on entrepreneurship back in 2014 I felt like I finally met ‘my people’. Entrepreneurs are just the right amount of crazy to change the world and I always find it incredibly exhilarating to sit down and come up with an idea, and months later to see those ideas come into reality.

The MSc Entrepreneurship programme at Bayes Business School was a natural extension of that and I chose to attend because every single module was one that I was interested in, and I knew could help me achieve my goals. All of my previous degrees were from California and I wanted to be part of a new community, expand my horizons, and access the new start-ups community in London which I had heard great things about.

You are the founder of ‘MeetFounders’, can you tell us a bit more about the company?

MeetFounders started in January 2020 as a completely different company. When the pandemic forced us into lockdown, we pivoted to a fully virtual events company to help start-ups meet investors. Since then, we have been running 1-2 educational pitch events every month totalling over 600 Venture Capitalists, thousands of start-ups, and millions in funding for founders.

At our events we host 10-30 serious venture capital firms and 15 start-up’s pitching for investment, with 100 start-ups watching to network and learn. We really believe in building relationships between investors and start-ups and the idea that building a start-up is a learning experience (rather than a way to make money quick). That’s why our events have educational panels, live pitches from start-ups, and time for networking & relationship building.

Other than our monthly London pitch events, we are hosting our yearly Venture Capital “Beach Day” 2023 at Bayes Business School, which will be an entire day with 50 VC funds, 200 start-ups, hours of panels and networking with dozens of start-ups that have raised millions in funding. Our plan is to host larger events like this as we grow and to expand our start-up mentoring and support by creating an accelerator programme that accepts all start-ups who want to grow, scale and get funded.

How did you benefit from the MSc Entrepreneurship programme at Bayes?

I participated in the MSc Entrepreneurship programme with one goal, to start my own company and see it grow. Not only has Bayes sponsored my visa, but I have been able to return to the university as a visiting lecturer, teaching a full course on ‘Corporate entrepreneurship’ in 2022. Every step of the way this programme has helped me accomplish my goals, providing mentors, free office space at City Launch Lab, event space for us to host start-up events that benefited both students and the local innovation community.

One of the things that I loved about the programme was that every class was like a mini-start-up sprint where you formed a group, solved differences, and collaborated to create projects. To have every class be a group project really gave me the foundation for running the team at my start-up — dealing with staff issues, motivation, problem solving and creative teamwork.

City Launch Lab gave me detailed feedback and mentorship, eventually sponsoring my Start-up Visa to remain in the UK. Bayes Innovate and City Ventures provided incredible events to build relationships with successful founders and investors, and in fact many of the first speakers at our MeetFounders events came from these relationships. I received funding and won an award from CitySpark and grants from Launch Lab to start my company — the community and support at the university can be incredible, but only if you utilise it!

What advice would you have for students considering MSc Entrepreneurship?

My advice is to pursue the programme that helps you accomplish your goals! Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but you can use it to pursue your own company, innovate in a large firm, or even be a consultant. I think you should look at the modules and analyse your career goals before choosing the right programme for you.

Finally, what do you think it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

My favourite comparison about being an entrepreneur is that building a start-up is like jumping off a cliff, and trying to build an airplane from scratch before you hit the ground. This metaphor is the reason why the logo for MeetFounders is a paper airplane — trying to help start-ups take their ideas from a piece of paper and make something that can fly! I really believe to be a successful entrepreneur you have to build as you go, and be comfortable and creative even as you see the ground rapidly approaching. Staying calm in the face of potential failure is one of the most important qualities that will help you make your start-up successful when others would just give up.