North American LGBTQIA+ founders explore business opportunities in London


Wednesday 24th February 2021. London will host a group of North American LGBTQIA+ founders and entrepreneurs today for the start of a two-day virtual trade mission to explore London’s business ecosystem. The mission will see fourteen of North America’s fastest-growing LGBTQIA+ led tech companies ‘touch-down’ in London to meet with corporates and startups to discuss potential business opportunities in the UK capital. 

Hosted by London & Partners, London’s international trade and investment agency, the LGBTQIA+ North American trade mission will also look to build cross-border collaboration and advance an inclusive transatlantic community of diverse leaders through a series of online networking events. Sessions will cover topics such as scaling inclusive companies in London and finding your community, as well as a fireside chat from London’s first night-time economy Czar and prominent LGBTQIA+ campaigner, Amy Lamé to introduce London’s LGBTQIA+ culture and discuss how inclusion is at the heart of London’s growth.  

The series of events will include a matchmaking session where the mission delegates will be paired with London-based LGBTQIA+ founders to share their learned experiences and strengthen partnerships between the two regions’ LGBTQIA+ business communities. The trade mission will also provide an exciting opportunity to unlock the enormous value North American LGBTQIA+ led businesses can add to London and the wider UK economy. 

According to research from The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the US and The Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, LGBTQIA+ owned businesses contribute an estimated $1.7 trillion to the US economy1 while Canada is home to over 28,000 LGBT+ owned businesses2. However, the StartOut Pride Economic Impact Index shows the unrealised potential of high-growth LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs to create jobs and innovation. Latest data from the index reveals over two million jobs could have been created in the US in the last 20 years had LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs received equal access to resources.3  

Amy Lamé, London’s Night Czar, said: “London prides itself on being one of the most diverse cities in the world, home to a large LGBTQ+ community who make a major contribution to our economy and culture. But with inequality still a daily reality for many, it is more important than ever to tackle challenges head on. The Mayor and I are committed to working with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure our resilient city is inclusive for all, especially as we build back from the devastating effects of the pandemic. I am looking forward to meeting our North American friends to help them discover what our city has to offer LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.”  

 Stephen Feline, Director for North America at London & Partners said: “I’m excited to lead this virtual trade mission for LGBTQIA+ founded companies from North America, to help them discover all that London has to offer their businesses. London is an open and diverse city, with a culture that embraces difference and is home to a supportive and inclusive tech ecosystem. But more needs to be done. While incredible talent and innovation are everywhere, it is still unrealised amongst some of the most underrepresented groups including the LGBTQIA+ community. This significant mission is an important way to unlock this unrealised potential and forge lasting transatlantic business links between like-minded diverse founders.”  

Like many other major cities around the world, London is working hard to be a fairer, equal, and integrated city. Home to the largest LGBTQIA+ population in the UK, the Mayor of London has implemented various policies to make the capital more inclusive and welcoming for its LGBTQIA+ citizens, including launching a new police unit to tackle online hate crime, protecting LGBTQIA+ venues and encouraging provision of gender-neutral toilets. There are also a growing number of initiatives operating in the UK capital which support diverse and underrepresented founders, with some organisations building communities for LGBTQIA+ individuals and entrepreneurs in particular, like Series Q, MyGwork and Intertech. 

The mission will also help the North American founders make relevant connections in London for them to explore new business and investment opportunities. One of the major challenges facing LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs is a lack of access to Venture Capital funding, with an estimated 1% of VC funding being received by LGBTQIA+ founders4. There are a host of VC firms both sides of the Atlantic trying to close this funding gap, such as Ada Ventures, a UK fund dedicated to investing in overlooked founders and markets, LOUD Capital, an early-stage VC firm based in the US, and Backstage Capital, an US accelerator and fund that backs underrepresented founders, who opened a London office in 2018.  

Companies joining the virtual trade mission include Washington-based cybersecurity firm Dragonfli, who were recently named 2020 Supplier of the Year in Disability:IN’s Inclusion Awards, Imprint Content, a New York-based full-service content marketing agency, and Prompta, a change management consulting form who were awarded 2018 Canadian LGBTQIA+ company of the year. Partners involved include The Department for International Trade, Propel, Taylor Wessing, Blick Rothenberg, The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and The Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. 

Glenn Ballard, CEO and President of cybersecurity firm Dragonfli Group added: “With no prospects of international travel in the near-term, this virtual trade mission is a fantastic way for North American LGBTQIA+ led businesses like Dragonfli to connect with like-minded leaders across the pond and discover what London has to offer fast-growing companies. I am particularly looking forward to the matchmaking session with London-based LGBTQIA+ founders and sharing experiences of the best ways to foster inclusivity in business.”  

The LGBTQIA+ trade mission was developed by Pride & Partners, London & Partners’ LGBTQIA+ employee network. The trade mission is part of London & Partners’ wider commitment to helping companies from a range of diverse background and communities and is one of a number of trade missions with a focus on promoting greater diversity and inclusion to be organised this year.