Who is Sherry Coutu?

A prolific angel investor and serial entrepreneur – here are six things you should know about Sherry Coutu…

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Name: Sherry Coutu
Businesses: Founder and executive chairman of school entrepreneurship scheme Founders4Schools. Founder, CEO and chairman of financial services site Interactive Investor.
Why you should know about her: Serial entrepreneur and angel investor Coutu was born in Canada but has called the UK home for more than 20 years, where she’s made investments into more than 50 companies and sat on the board of major tech businesses including Zoopla and LinkedIn. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to entrepreneurship in the New Year’s Honours List 2013.

Coutu has never courted the spotlight, but quietly built a reputation as an instrumental figure of the UK’s thriving tech scene over the last two decades.

Here are six facts to shed some light on her extraordinary career…

1. She’s served as advisor and non-executive director to some major names in the UK tech space

Coutu has made investments into more than 50 UK companies including MOVE Guides, YPlan, LOVEFILM and Duedil. With a focus on consumer internet, clean energy, education and information technology, Coutu has worked closely as a product strategist and advisor to help them achieve their potential.

She’s also served as a board member for LinkedIn, and as non-executive director of Zoopla and the London Stock Exchange.

2. She’s called on the government to support ‘scale-ups’

Coutu authored the Scale-Up report in 2014, a major independent report commissioned by the Digital Economy Council, which called on the government to focus on helping ambitious businesses scale to their full potential.

The report, which defined ‘scale-ups’ as businesses with more than 10 employees and turnover with more than 20% growth a year for a three year period, suggested that a 1% boost to the sector could create 238,000 new jobs and add £38bn to the UK economy over the next three years. In the long term, this could result in 150,000 new jobs and generate a potential £225bn.

3. She launched the Scale-Up Institute with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman

On the back of the Scale-Up report, Coutu teamed up with Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, to launch the Scale-Up Institute – a not for profit organisation which helps fast-growth UK start-ups achieve their potential and become “global giants”, as well as lobbies the government on issues such as red tape and infrastructure.

In Novemeber last year, Coutu identified 58 fast-growth start-ups to join the 2015 ‘Scale-Up Club’ for their potential to reach £100m turnover in the next three to five years. The 2015 cohort generated a combined revenue of £300m last year and employ over 3,100 people across the UK.

4. She’s stepped away from angel investing to support Founders4Schools

In mid 2015, Coutu announced her intention to cease her angel investing and instead use the money to invest in her enterprise promotion scheme Founders4Schools.

Backed by LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Duedil and partnered with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and the Founders Forum, the organisation was founded in 2013 to introduce children of eight and above to the world of business and entrepreneurship by inviting business leaders to give free-to-attend talks in school.

5. She thinks Britain is going to produce the first trillion-dollar company

In an interview with The Sunday Times in June 2014, Coutu said: “I think Britain is likely to produce the first trillion-dollar company”.

Her experience as an avid angel investor throughout the UK’s rise as a global tech hub suggest she may have some authority on the subject. When asked how she could be sure, the entrepreneur replied: “I can spot an entrepreneur within seconds. They’re hungry and problem-solving. There’s lots of talent, lots of ambition and lots of scope.”

6. Her contribution to UK business has not gone unnoticed

Despite remaining a relatively low-key figure, as well as her CBE for services to entrepreneurship, Coutu has been bestowed with a host of other accolades by various business and tech publications.

2015 alone has seen her included in the top 50 inspiring women in Europe by Management Today, the top 10 most influential women in the United Kingdom by IT industry Computer Weekly, the Most Interesting Venture Capitalists in the UK by Techworld and the Leading Females shaping GLOBAL tech innovation by Hot Topics – to name but a few.

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