Investor’s forum: London Technology Club opens first overseas investment hub in Dubai

Exclusive forum looks to grow its membership base of wealthy investors in the Mena region

London Technology Club has hosted its first event in the emirate, with 70 guests. Photo: LTC
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London Technology Club, an exclusive community of wealthy investors, is opening its first overseas investment hub in Dubai as it looks to tap a growing membership base in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The networking club, which matches investment opportunities in the technology sector with high net worth investors, chose the emirate for its first international base after its UK members called for meetings to be held there.

“We already intended to expand and become a global forum and network but more and more members were asking us, what about Dubai? It was a natural step for us as our first international offering,” Simon Pavitt, chief operating officer of LTC, told The National.

Founded in 2018 by London-based entrepreneur and investor Konstantin Sidorov – one of the early investors in Spotify whose other notable exits include Airbnb and Lyft – the LTC is an exclusive community of family offices, private and institutional investors, venture capital firms, entrepreneurs and technology experts.

The Club offers co-investment, thought leadership and relationship-building opportunities in the tech sector, hosting two events a month and offering access to competitive VC funds with attractive returns.

“At the events, we present members with founders or investment opportunities and also share ideas around thought leadership and where we believe the world is heading from technology point of view,” Mr Pavitt said.

More than half of the 87 members in London are ultra high net worth or high net worth individuals, he said, while 15 members are VC firms and the rest are made up of institutional investors such as Barclays Wealth and UBS.

“We're a mixture. We're all about bringing together VCs, tech pioneers, influencers et cetera and then investors to talk investments,” Mr Pavitt said.

In London, individual membership costs £8,000, while a corporate partner or VC pays £15,000 and institutional investors are charged £25,000.

In Dubai, membership will be charged at the equivalent of Dh40,000, Dh70,000 and Dh125,000 respectively.

The decision to expand to Dubai was fuelled by its members, Mr Pavitt said.

“We noticed more of our members were spending more time in Dubai, whether that's setting up businesses, investing or moving their family over there,” he said.

“It almost became a bit of a running joke that when we talked about our Christmas party, asking our members where they would be for the winter, they all said Dubai.”

LTC will have a bricks and mortar office in Dubai through its partnership with venture capital firm and LTC member Global Ventures, with the Club looking to grow its membership base in the UAE and wider region by a calendar of events.

Its first Dubai event for 70 guests was hosted at restaurant The Maine in Business Bay during the World Blockchain Summit this month. There are other events planned for Dubai and Abu Dhabi this year.

The UAE is a “natural place for people to convene,” said Mr Pavitt, adding that there is “a huge buzz” in the country around technology and progress with the company eyeing up investment opportunities in mobility, AI, FinTech, cyber security, DeepTech, BioTech, FoodTech and impact investments.

“Dubai is definitely a focus for us going forward. There's been a few marquee signature companies that have been built out of the region – its path to build unicorns has become clear,” he said.

With more wealthy investors looking at growth stage technology companies as part of a mixed portfolio, Mr Pavitt said there is an increasing appetite in the region for tech investments.

Future locations for potential LTC hubs include Geneva, Zurich, Miami, Berlin or Singapore, but choosing Dubai first “is a testament to the region and to Dubai, as a city”, Mr Pavitt said.

LTC has a long record of targeted investments, listing Revolut, Klarna and ATAI Life Sciences among its members’ direct investment portfolio.

“A lot of our opportunities are relatively well known brands,” Mr Pavitt said.

“But we like to say that venture capital is an access class, not an asset class with the ability to unlock these opportunities the main problem for investors. That's what we help unlock.”

Noor Sweid, general partner at Global Ventures, said Dubai, “a city bustling with entrepreneurs”, along with the wider Mena region has “become a global hotspot for tech innovation".

“It is also a part of the world that continues to attract sophisticated investors who see it as an ideal place to settle with their businesses and families,” she added.

Updated: March 30, 2022, 11:09 AM