How Nikita Thakrar’s multi-generational mission at Included VC is giving overlooked, diverse individuals a path into Venture Capital.
“Before joining NEF+ I always had these big dreams and ambitions to impact the world. However, it made me feel different, especially with where I come from. But as soon as I entered NEF+, I felt ‘normal’ – like every other person in the room. There was always someone trying out and learning something new, or someone wanting to develop another thing. I remember being with my cohort, and by the fourth month of the programme, one of the entrepreneurs was already working on their third business idea.”
Nikita Thakrar is the CEO and Co-founder of Included VC and our NEF+ Class of 2013 alumna. To perfectly describe her journey, Nikita recalls exploring entrepreneurship “before it became sexy.” At university, she started entrepreneurship societies and enterprises, before going on to join NEF+ in 2013. She would later work in a start-up, a global accelerator, university academia – and finally land in venture capital.
Now paving the way for individuals from overlooked, diverse communities, Nikita has created and built Included VC alongside Creandum, Daphni, HSBC Ventures, KAYA, K Fund, Mangrove Capital, M12 – Microsoft’s venture fund, Notion Capital, Seedcamp, Mouro Capitaland, Wilson Sonsini. Included VC – a Fellowship is a way for individuals to access, learn and gain opportunities in the closed world of venture capital.
With over 3,000 applicants for its second cycle, the fully-funded and 9-month long Fellowship includes masterclasses, mentorships, foundational learning, coaching, simulation investment committees and in-person retreats.
A future generation that will “write cheques that are different.”
When Nikita was 11 years’ old, she picked up Richard Branson’s book and knew that she wanted to be an entrepreneur like him. But she also realized early on that “there wasn’t a South Asian woman that I could look up to.”
The diversity gap in entrepreneurship is similar to what’s happening in Venture Capital: only 24% of the VC workforce are from ethnic minority groups. In the UK, under 30% of VC staff are women. Nikita sees this issue as a rippling effect, which also has influenced her multi-generational mission. “My goal is that one day, Included VC doesn’t need to exist. I ultimately want the Fellows to take that mission forward…Our Fellows who are now getting jobs will one day employ people who are different – and also write cheques that are different. The impact that it is going to have on the ecosystem will ripple, and hopefully, one day – create waves.”
Impact in numbers
Since Included VC’s launch 18 months ago with just a logo and 10 founding Venture Partners, the Fellowship has already taken off faster than Nikita could anticipate. “We were building the rocket whilst it was on the runway.” The first Fellowship saw 1,400 applicants, before doubling to 3,000 applications for the second. Of which, 125 nationalities were represented – two-thirds of the world’s nationalities.
For the Fellows who are currently mid-way through the Fellowship, Nikita has already seen them receiving job offers across Indonesia, to the UK, and rest of Europe. Statistics would prove this to be impossible, but Included VC’s “family and tribe” are pushing on with the agenda.
Nikita’s advice for future NEF+ applicants
“I’ve been saying this since I first joined in 2012: 1001% yes. You will find your home, your family, and most importantly your people. Beyond the foundational teachings, there is also the team that will go out of their way to help you. It isn’t a short term thing. They will always be there.
My absolute favourite parts were the Fridays when we got together. Everyone was doing so many different things and coming together every week for the same purpose. You’d find one corner of the room talking about their learnings, another about a new idea, and another about starting a project the next day. There were so many incredible, different conversations to tap into and learn from.
You’ll always leave NEF+ gatherings feeling warm, fuzzy and inspired. The culture is that everyone helps to fuel your ambition and keep you accountable.
More traditional alumni communities die out but here at NEF+, you can instantly build connections with people you don’t know – for the single fact that you have all experienced NEF+.”
Find out more about the NEF+ programme here.