Mikako Gräfin von Oberndorff, Managing Director of Sake Company Luxembourg; Credit: Jazmin Campbell / Chronicle.lu

About 50 members of the British Chamber of Commerce for Luxembourg (BCC) gathered at the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) in Luxembourg-Bonnevoie on Wednesday evening for a networking event called "Brits, Bites, Banter and Sake!"

This members-only event kicked off with an introduction by BCC Chairman Andrew Notter. Knocu Ventures co-founders Jordan Dargue and Kate Cooper-Fay, who were visiting Luxembourg from the United Kingdom, then delivered a presentation dedicated to "Igniting the future of global investment, shaping the future of investments with disruptive solutions from early stage to scaling up".

They spoke about their own experiences helping very early-stage businesses get ready for investment and for the market, as well as supporting businesses in the later stages (e.g. growth and exit strategies).

Jordan highlighted the "ever-evolving global investment ecosystem", which has been impacted by developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but added that there was a "huge amount of opportunity" to open up pathways for more investment and businesses - not least in Luxembourg.

The interactive presentation - attendees were invited to share their thoughts on the topics - touched on impact investment and sustainability. Speaking about ESG, Kate said the goal was to grow sustainable businesses that are profitable and increase impact investment - and which are still here in the future. "Simply do business in the right way," she advised.

Jordan added that some key sectors had emerged in recent years, including fintech, healthtech and medtech, as well as cleantech. However, in order for an industry or sector to be successful, it needs the right people and skills. She stressed the importance of driving investment to attract and retain talent and skills, touching on the valuable role played by angel investors and early-stage investment.

On the subject of globalisation, Kate noted that emerging markets today provide many opportunities. The hot topic of talent re-emerged, with the speakers noting the challenges the UK (and other places, including Luxembourg) currently faces in retaining talent. They later stressed the need to understand why people leave, in order to keep them - one way to achieve the latter is by providing opportunity.

Jordan added that "innovation is absolutely key" at all stages of business development, as is diversity and creating opportunities within the ecosystem. Growth and optimisation are also important in driving further investment and "good exits".

Kate concluded that it was important to "recognise [...] the extraordinary opportunities to grow Luxembourg on the global scale."

Questions from the audience came back to the topic of talent retention but also women in venture capital (VC), the role of non-executive directors and the "optimal" size of a board. On the latter, the speakers agreed on the need to have the "right" people and not to "overload" a board at a very early stage - risking "too much conflicting advice". Jordan suggested two to six people at the very early stage but the actual size of the board depends on the specific business.

Mikako Gräfin von Oberndorff then presented her journey of becoming a sake sommelier and the Managing Director of Sake Company Luxembourg - the country's only direct importer of sake from Japan. She expressed her love for the traditional rice-based alcoholic beverage of her home country and her desire to change misconceptions about it: sake does not have a super high alcohol content and does not need to be consumed only with typical Japanese food or only as a digestif.

For this networking evening, the Sake Company Luxembourg team selected three different types of sake which could be paired with the finger food available on this occasion. Mikako shared her tips on enjoying sake to the maximum - similar to tasting wine, one should check the colour and let let the sake breathe, take in the aroma and then taste the beverage in each part of one's mouth.

(Pictured below (L-R): Knocu Ventures co-founders Jordan Dargue and Kate Cooper-Fay)