At King’s Business School In London, ‘Crawling’ Through An Exciting Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Students learn about the London startup scene during the March 2023 Venture Crawl. Courtesy photos

It’s not your average pub crawl. King’s Business School in London, England takes students on a Venture Crawl, inspired by the idea of “using London as a living classroom,” says Julie Devonshire, director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s Business School.

Devonshire started the school’s annual Venture Crawl to help students explore the urban entrepreneurial ecosystem and meet founders, investors, customers, and other peers. Her goal is to ensure all of King’s students, staff, and alumni have the opportunity to make entrepreneurship an essential part of their education journey. The Venture Crawl, open to all students at the university regardless of year or discipline, is a key part of making that happen.

“When you start putting business students together with students in technology, social science, mental health, and other subjects, magic and innovation happens,” Devonshire says.

What began as a King’s-only event has since spread to over 15 UK-based universities, 13 of them based in London, as well as three international universities in Australia, the United States, and Uzbekistan. This year, 18 participants from King’s College and 200 in the London group took part in the Venture Crawl; at other UK and international schools, over 100 students participated. “It’s a great opportunity for students to meet people from other universities to discuss and build ideas together,” Devonshire says.


Julie Devonshire: ““When you start putting business students together with students in technology, social science, mental health, and other subjects, magic and innovation happens”

Devonshire says the main value the event brings is “going outside.” Students board a bus and visit small and medium-sized enterprises across the city, all within the span of 12 hours.

“It’s as simple as that,” she says. “If you’re coming to King’s College — no matter where you’re from in the world — you don’t just want to sit at a desk at the university. You’re in this amazing city with this amazing ecosystem, and you want to explore that.”

For Pahal Patnaik, first-year bachelor’s student in economics and management at King’s College, hands-on learning is what she looks for in her university experience. “There’s no point in coming all the way here from India to sit inside and read about something on paper, where business is highly glamorized,” says Patnaik. “When you talk to an entrepreneur, they tell you the grunt work and realities that go into building their business — including their failures.”


Yassin Ali: “Don’t underestimate the value of networking with your peers”

Devonshire stresses that the Venture Crawl isn’t a London-centric program; rather, it’s for all urban ecosystems. “In any city, there are entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators, spaces, communities, and people worth connecting to in a higher education context,” she says.

According to her, every participating university has the authority to decide how they choose participants to participate in their Venture Crawl; King’s College runs a competition, and those who succeed get to participate in the event.

“From the university’s point of view, it’s a great offer,” she continues. “Creating a competition allows them to make contact with 100 applicants who may apply for it. Then, they can deepen their engagement with the 40 students who win placements and end up participating.”


This year, the London-based Venture Crawl visited Grind Roastery to hear from its founder and CEO David Ambrahamovitch. Then, students got a tour of the roastery to learn all about Grind’s business model, brand and future goals for their home-compostable coffee pods.

Next, students visited the Crisis Venture Studio to learn about how entrepreneurship can be a force for good by investing in ideas that aim to end homelessness — and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Their third stop was Mercato Metropolitano to learn how it supports start-ups to scale through their key values of sustainability and community. Then, students went to the German Kraft Brewery to hear from co-founder Michele Tieghi, King’s 2017 alumnus, who shared his start-up journey. Finally, the group explored the intersection of art and science at the Science Gallery London, using disruptive thinking to debate some of society’s big questions related to AI, ethics and more.


This first stop at Grind Roastery was especially impactful for King’s students Yassin Ali and Patnaik.

There, Ali — second-year King’s College student studying economics and politics — learned the significance of marketing in a brand’s early stages. “It showed me that marketing can essentially make or break a brand’s image when establishing itself as credible or trustworthy,” he explains.

For Patnaik, she was most affected by speaking with the company’s CEO at the end of their session. A budding entrepreneur herself, she is interested in pursuing financial inclusion and social enterprise post-graduation. When she asked Ambrahamovitch what had been the biggest contributor to accelerating the growth of his business, his answer “absolutely astounded” her.

“He said it was his ability to pitch his business well, and I didn’t expect that,” continues Patnaik.
“I never would have thought that a soft skill could define what direction your business takes.”

Venture Crawl participants in London in March 2023


Patnaik first heard about the Venture Crawl during a Women in Entrepreneurship event that ran at the Entrepreneurship Institute “I wanted to be part of an event like this, which was fast-paced and intense, and see multiple different ventures in one day — each of which were drastically different from each other,” she says.

“Before we knew which ventures we were going to attend on the day of the Venture Crawl, I assumed that they would be big corporations and homogeneous in nature,” continues Patnaik. “But the fact that each venture was different from the others added a lot of value for the entire experience.”

For Ali, the Venture Crawl appealed to him since he’s in the process of launching his own startup; he wanted to network with his classmates and peers at other universities, as well as get advice from the founders his group met. “I actually met a law student there who had a personal connection with a small company, who we are now hoping to partner with in our startup,” he says.

“Don’t underestimate the value of networking with your peers,” adds Ali. “This isn’t an opportunity that you get outside of university. You get to be with 40 of your peers on a bus, having a good time and going from venture to venture.”

For those interested in joining the Venture Crawl, these students recommend that they take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible. “One door opens another. You should never miss an opportunity that you get,” says Patnaik. “You won’t get an experience like this anywhere else.”


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