Alumni Profiles: Tom Hopkins (MBA’05D)

Sometimes you need a push…

The birth of my eldest child was the jolt I required to apply to INSEAD.

As a Chartered Accountant, I was working for PwC at the time and most of my clients were large insurance companies, but my passion lay with smaller entrepreneurial businesses. The MBA was a way to expand horizons and assist in a career change, and fatherhood made me realise it was now or never.

After a wonderful year in Singapore, I entered the world of venture capital. Most VCs themselves are small businesses so there is great variety of roles within each firm; a day can range from a portfolio company board meeting followed by an investment committee meeting, and then a pitch to a potential investor. And obviously you get exposed to a great number of business models as well as truly amazing entrepreneurs.

All this is very rewarding in itself but ultimately I wanted to run my own business. Again, it took a life changing personal event – cancer in the family – to provide the required push.

So in 2015, after almost 10 years in venture capital at two different firms, Kin Capital was launched.

Kin is trying to address some of the inefficiencies in the venture capital market, where you get small teams who should be focused on the deals but get distracted by all the necessary but onerous admin like investor reporting, fundraising and compliance etc.

Therefore, Kin offers a range of services to firms operating in the venture capital sector – think of it as providing the picks and shovels to the guys doing the gold mining. The business offers fundraising, fund management, custodial and regulatory umbrella services.

It is still early days. We now total six people, plus two part time, in the business and work with funds investing into charities, film projects, university spin outs, consumer brands and much more – providing variety as well as my VC fix.

The UK is certainly in an interesting position at the moment in regards to technology and innovation. And with the backdrop of impending Brexit, the government is currently undertaking a patient capital review to understand how UK growth businesses can be supported to fuel UK Plc. We hope to be in a position to be part, however small, of the solution.

Life as an entrepreneur is a roller-coaster ride and all-consuming but in a rewarding way. A lot is written about work life balance, and I’m not sure if it is ever possible to divorce the two. When you are running your own business it is part of your life and it is your passion so work / life lines are even more blurred.

I enjoy thinking about the business whenever I can and actually I think my wife, and now three children, would say they have seen a positive change in me as a person, probably because I’m doing what I always wanted to do.

The INSEAD MBA got me the career change I wanted but also gives you the confidence that you can run a business and go it alone. Starting your own business is not for the faint-hearted but if this your goal then life is short, and sometimes you need to have faith, or be pushed, to back yourself…

If you are interested in sharing your alumni story, please contact the UK alumni association at [email protected]

December 2017