The LSE Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Data

Welcome back to the Houghton Street Ventures blog. When we published our review of the LSE entrepreneurial ecosystem for 2021 back in December, we promised to dig even deeper and share with everyone our insights into the community as a whole. So today, we are doing just that.

As usual, the data presented today comes from the insight and sourcing engine (LSee) that we have built at Houghton Street Ventures. It ensures we support our global ecosystem as best we can from the moment founders start thinking about reshaping the future and begin their entrepreneurial journey. It is our eyes inside the network.

In our 2021 review post, we had a look at the trends (spoiler: it broke all records), but today we will stick to the headline numbers. If last time helped you understand how the LSE ecosystem is developing, today’s post will give you an insight into how big it is and what is going on.

So, how big is this community?

We are now tracking over 23,000 founders in our database; given that the LSE alumni community as a whole is approximately 200,000 individuals, this number continues to highlight that your average LSE graduate is more entrepreneurial than you might think. Of that, over 15,000 are still actively involved in an organisation they founded.

Looking at how this number is set to develop in the future, we only have to look at the number of founders coming out of each graduation year.

Number of Founders per Graduation Year

Since 2010, around 800 graduates per year have started their own businesses, up from nearly 300 per year a decade ago, back in 2000. Further evidence that the LSE is becoming much more entrepreneurial. Remember, this data does not include the people who are yet to start their businesses and have already graduated — more on this in a future blog post where we look at what the typical LSE entrepreneur looks like.

Finally, the annual data appears to be somewhat consistent with the overall figures (23,000 founders out of ~200,000 alumni), given approximately 11,000 graduates are coming out of the LSE per year.

Where in the World? LSE Entrepreneurs by Country

LSE entrepreneurs can be found all around the world. Although there are concentrations in places you would expect, like the UK (27%) and the United States (23%), the top 5 countries only account for 62% of the total (with number 5, Canada, having an overall share of just under 3%). There truly is global dispersion with 171 different countries represented within the LSE entrepreneurial community.

This data not only mirrors the LSE experience and student body, but it is also something we have observed at Houghton Street Ventures whilst supporting this community over the last 12 months — we have spoken to founders building marketplaces in South East Asia, Fintechs in Latin America, B2B SaaS’ in Australia, Edtechs in Africa and so many more.

Suppose we re-cut the geographic data and look instead at the number of venture investment rounds or the amount of money raised. In that case, you start to see some expected patterns — countries like the United States and Germany move up in the ranking. So much so that the United States accounts for 40% of all historical venture funding within the LSE ecosystem — making it the clear number one historically.

Top Verticals within the LSE Ecosystem

Industry-level data is not the most straightforward data set to work with; many companies are labelled with industry tags such as ‘Software’, ‘Internet’ or the extremely unhelpful ‘Information Technology’. However, when looking at the universe of companies that have received at least one round of funding, several themes stand out (highlighted in the graphic above), with no single one dominating (apart from Fintech, with around 30% historical VC dollars being invested in this vertical).

We will dive deeper into each of these in future blog posts, so, for now, we will move on to look at some of the biggest winners within our community.

Pre-2021 Unicorns

Exits: Public Listings & Acquisitions

Our 2021 review post highlighted the record-breaking 2021 that the LSE entrepreneur had achieved. Still, there were already four unicorns going into 2021, with OakNorth announcing a $2.8bn valuation back in 2019, KeepTruckin’ announcing a $1.25bn valuation in their 2019 Series D financing (now valued at $2bn after their 2021 Series E) and Deposit Solutions announcing slightly over the $1bn valuation mark back in 2019. Deposit Solutions merged with their competitor, Raisin, in 2021 to create one of Europe’s savings marketplace powerhouses. The last, Allbirds (with a current market cap of $1.3bn), IPO’ed during 2021.

Turning to some of the exits, we are fortunate enough to be able to look up to a few esteemed publicly listed companies such as Square [now Block] (LSE co-founder: Jim McKelvey, current market cap: $64bn), Qualtrics (LSE co-founder: Jared Smith, current market cap: $17bn) and HelloFresh (LSE co-founder: Dominik Richter, current market cap: $9.3bn) within our network. All in addition to the IPO of Allbirds.

However, not every company exits through a stock market listing. If we broaden our analysis of major exits by looking at acquisitions, we find several other major events worth highlighting. The first has to be the planned $44bn merger between IHS Markit and S&P Global. Although not entirely over the line yet, this is one of the most significant exits of all time within the LSE network. Secondly, we can point to a few other notable and recognisable names, including Audible, Kensho and Ebury (exiting to Amazon, S&P Global, and Santander, respectively). The list of acquisitions we are tracking goes into the hundreds, and given that we can’t go into as much detail as we’d like on everyone, we will leave it there for now and move on to our final insight for today.

Top 20 LSE Entrepreneur Investors

We also capture data on who is investing in LSE entrepreneurs around the world, and we are delighted to see that some of the best venture capital firms are backing our best and brightest. The data above shows our network’s top 20 most active investors when looking at who invested into each investment round. The landscape looks a little different if you count each investor only once per company (and not once per round), but, as you would expect, this skews heavily towards some of the high volume pre-seed funds while the multi-stage global leaders are somewhat underrepresented. Having Sequoia, Khosla Ventures, Accel, Index Ventures, and HV Capital in the top 20 is an excellent signal that the LSE entrepreneur is definitely the one to back.

If you are building a business and have a connection with the London School of Economics and Political Science, we would love to speak to you and learn more about your vision for your company.

Learn more about what we do and submit your pitch at houghtonstreet.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

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We are Houghton Street Ventures, a venture capital firm founded in partnership with the London School of Economics. Leveraging the LSE ecosystem, we support our founders with inspiration, insight, and influence.

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Adam French

Adam French

Partner at Houghton Street Ventures. Backing LSE entrepreneurs.

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