Bethnal Green Ventures is open for applicants for WorkerTech businesses

Closing date for applications is 13th of June.

More details here,

They’re putting on a Q&A session tomorrow morning, :smiley:

I’ve booked a ticket to the Q&A tomorrow.

One thing that i am planning to ask them, is why BGV don’t accept co-operatives onto their accelerator.

Since this cohort is based around WorkerTech, to me it’s an obvious step for the people taking part to be eating their own dogfood, as far as running their businesses.

It’ll be interesting to see what they say this time.

Any other questions i should ask?


I was precisely going to ask this. Maybe ask for some details, is it related to the investment scheme, maybe they want a share, and it is not possible with a cooperative.


Aren’t they a VC firm? If so, they’ll almost certainly be investing in tech startups by taking an equity stake and then flogging that down the line to get their return. Hence not a good fit for worker cooperatives that want to retain 100% worker ownership and control.


Hi all.

It was an interesting and informative meeting. :smiley:

@Graham Yes, BGV definitely follow the VC-funding model.

They only invest in Companies Limited By Guarantee.

They offer £30,000 for a 7% stake in the company.

These are non-negotiable conditions.

They also offer 2nd-round funding, of £50K-£100K, as well as introductions to other investors.

I had to ask them about ROI’s and Exits, a couple of times before i got a straight answer.

BGV are looking for an 8-10* ROI on exit.

This gives an initial valuation of £429K for the company, no matter the potential market size.

Assuming the same valuation for the 2nd round, and they’ll end up with between 18%-30% of the shares in the company.

And they still want an 8*-10* ROI, so if you accept £100K from BGV, they’re expecting to get at least £1,000,000 back.

It’s not worth it. :frowning:

However the partner that was aimed at the WorkerTech part of the operation is Resolution Ventures,

who are the investment part of the Resolution Foundation,

The Resolution Foundation are primarily interested in the Impact-side of things, and less about the ROI.

This is reflected in the fact that they have invested in Co-operatives before, and are willing to do so in future.

They also do grant-awards, so may be an option for seed-funding for co-op’s.

While they are partnering with BGV as co-investors, they also have a separate program for WorkerTech organisations.

More details here,

Hope that this helps :smiley:

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@baybars I didn’t get your message until after the meeting, but i may be able to answer this, as it’s one that i came across before.

If you are talking about the SEIS investment scheme, then yes, co-operatives can access this form of investment funding, and, the investors will receive the tax-breaks that arise from this, but only if the co-operative fullfills all of the criteria for the SEIS scheme.

I had an informal conversation with an accountant about this, that i later cross-checked with the disablility support staff from HMRC, when doing my tax return. :smiley:


Thanks for posting this here, was an interesting event, and good to see you there!

I think it’s interesting that they’re a source of capital trying to fund something to improve the wellbeing of labour. I wonder if they believe there is an antagonism between labour and capital? Because what they’re trying to do seems quite difficult if they accept that


L’esprit D’escalier kicking in.

One of the most effective solutions for bringing people out of poverty, is to just give them money.

Hence the arguments towards a UBI.

One of the most effective solutions towards lack of autonomy in workers is to give them real control of the organisation.

Hence, the worker’s co-operatives here.

Ricardo Semler’s “Maverick” showed that giving employee’s autonomy by devolving decision-making right down to the shop floor, was incredibly profitable.

Or Valve’s example where in 2012 Valve was the company where they were generating the most profit-per-employee on the planet, and that this was done by giving the employee’s the right to work on what they wanted.

BGV’s attempt to maintain the illusion of control, by only accepting Limited Companies on board, means that they are failing in their fiduciary duties to maximise profits for their fund.

And this stands for ALL of the VC funds.

To quote Aral Balkan,

"If has on its advisory board, it can mean one of two things, either:

  1. They don’t understand the relationship between wolves and sheep, or,

  2. They aren’t really sheep either."

Don’t get me wrong.

BGV have done some great work, but they’re not doing as well as they could do.

Wish that i could have said that yesterday. :slight_smile:


Perhaps, but is there not perhaps a trade-off between workers autonomy and profit? At it’s most basic level, every pound returned as profit on an investment is a pound not in control of the workers who generated it. I suppose you could make the argument that without the capital the organisation of the workers wouldn’t exist, and there wouldn’t be any surplus to distribute at all, but perhaps that’s an argument for a coop method of speculative enterprise rather than necessarily having capital.

Would be interesting to hear BGV’s take on it.


I’d be interested in hearing BGV’s point-of-view as well.

They fund start-up’s that work on worthwhile technnologies, so if it can be shown to be a more profitable method, i fell that they’d be up for changing their way of operating.

25+ years ago, i read a book called “Maverick” by Ricardo Semler,

that showed me how devolving autonomy down to the lowest level of the organisation became their route to both profitability and resilience, while helping the local economies thrive.

It’s a more effective long-term strategy, especially when it involves mental work, as well as physical. :smiley:

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Just been thinking about the last couple of times i was talking with people who worked at BGV at the in-person events.

Looking back at some of the facial micro-expressions that they exhibited when they were talking about the business structures, and the ways that their voices changed when they were talking about the limited companies, i don’t think that they liked what they were saying…


Yeah, that’s what happened at this event, the representatives of BGV and Resolution started talking a lot more quickly when the subject of financial returns came up. It does seem like they’re maybe not big fans of the model


I’ve inquired about all this on Twitter before, a couple of times I think, and have never received any response at all from BGV.

It’s perfectly possible for co-ops to have “non-user” investor members, so long as they don’t collectively ever have more than 25% of votes (or seats on board). And yes, they can attract SEIS etc too if relevant.

Indeed at we’re about to launch a share issue with SEIS