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Who we are

Toucan is an eco-system that supports your creative potential as a long term partner through the tough start-up phases by using our Mentor and Investor network specialising in Food & Beverage, Lifestyle and Retail.

What we do

We cultivate your future potential

In-house

We take you under our wing by offering you long-term business support and connecting you with the Toucan Ecosystem

Partners

We use our connections to get you hard to match services

Mentors

We match you up with a Mentor and Guru who will add rocket fuel to your business

Investment Partners

We work with you using our investor network to help you secure appropriate funding

Our Criteria


We are looking for creative ideas and companies:

  • That are based in London or Greater London

  • In the Food and Beverage, Lifestyle, or Retail industries

  • That have passionate, committed and ambitious founders

  • With a clear market opportunity

  • That are commercially scalable

The Toucan Process

1. Pitch

Pitch your creative business

2. Initial Feedback

You will receive initial feedback on whether your business meets our criteria within 7-10 business days of the application

3. Investment Committee

Your application is submitted to Toucan's Investment Committee for review

4. Next Steps

Our Investment Committee will feedback to you on your business which we will discuss with you

5. Support

We will help prepare you and work with you to connect you with the Toucan ecosystem of Gurus, Investment Partners, Mentors, Partners and Champions

The Team

Meet Our Vibrant Toucan Team

Rasha
Rasha Khawaja
Founder & CEO

Rasha studied Psychiatry and Cognitive Science at Brown university, with further education at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Rasha started her career at Condé Nast Publications and went on to work at Christie's. These experiences heightened her entrepreneurial drive and after spotting a gap in the market for a way to help creatives get their businesses out in front of influential business luminaries, Toucan was born. Rasha’s passion for innovation and nurturing new talent and business continues through her role as a member of the UKBAA, and being an active member of the advisory board of Innovation RCA and the development and strategy board of the ZSL. Rasha is also dedicated to a number of charities, as well as supporting her family’s charity, The Said Foundation. Outside of the world of Toucan, Rasha is a devoted mother and an adventurous traveller who one day hopes to conquer Everest.

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Francesco Boni Guinicelli
Operations Director

Francesco is a European Qualified Lawyer with expertise in Business and Corporate Law.

After completing his studies between Rome and Los Angeles he gained experience traveling through Italy, France, Middle East and the United States working in International Law Firms focusing in m&a and internationalization of SMEs.

After settling in London in 2014 he decided to commit his career to the support of entrepreneurs starting high growth potential businesses.

His passion for innovation and new technologies helped him acquire a flourishing network of entrepreneurs, academics and investors, he has provided mentorship at top accelerator programs in Europe and has also been asked as a guest speaker to various events and conferences in the industry.

When he's not busy at Toucan, Francesco is probably talking about movies, his very first love is the film industry and you might find him at the BFI library reading about the new projects of his favorite directors and actors.

Erin
Erin Oberholtzer
Startup Manager

Prior to joining Toucan, Erin spent the majority of her career working in finance, originally as a trader and structurer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the United States. She is also the co-founder of a startup focusing on data analytics within the education space. Erin holds a B.A in Economics with honours from the University of Chicago and an M.B.A from London Business School. In the role of Startup Manager, Erin guides all Toucan entrepreneurs from their initial interaction with the company through to developing business strategy all the way to fundraise. Outside of Toucan, Erin enjoys taking advantage of the vast array of culinary opportunities in London.

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Angela Ririe
Startup Manager

Prior to joining Toucan, Angela spent the majority of her career working in finance in various sales, structuring and research roles. Angela has an MSc in Financial Mathematics from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from London Business School. Angela has always been passionate about the creative industries and initially became involved with startups during her MBA. In the role of Startup Manager, Angela guides all Toucan entrepreneurs on the development of their business strategy. When she’s not at Toucan, Angela can be found perusing art in galleries across London, that is when she's not busy trying to get a reservation at the newest restaurants in town.

Nicola
Nicola Gartenberg
Operations Manager

After having graduated from the University of Leeds, Nicola has worked for a number of various startups in the content and marketing department. She has utilised and further developed her skills, whilst working at Toucan and has since advanced into an operational role. When she is not busy at Toucan, she spends her time going to see live comedy with whoever she can drag along.

Our Board

Phil

Philip Seers

Chairman

Philip A G Seers is a member of the Investment Committee of Phoenix Equity Partners private equity funds and a director of Said Holdings Limited and Vox Generation Ltd. From 1968 to 1982, Mr Seers was with Credit Suisse First Boston, principally involved in the Eurobond primary market. From 1982 to 1996, he was Managing Partner of Phoenix Securities, primarily involved in Corporate Finance in Financial Services and in Private Equity investment. From 1997 to 2000, Mr Seers was Managing Director, European Corporate Finance at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Rasha

Rasha Khawaja

Director

Rasha studied Psychiatry and Cognitive Science at Brown University, with further education at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Rasha started her career at Condé Nast Publications and went on to work at Christie's. These experiences heightened her entrepreneurial drive and after spotting a gap in the market for a way to help creatives get their businesses out in front of influential business luminaries, Toucan was born. Rasha’s passion for innovation and nurturing new talent and business continues through her role as a member of the UKBAA, and being an active member of the advisory board of Innovation RCA and the development and strategy board of the ZSL. Rasha is also dedicated to a number of charities, as well as supporting her family’s charity, The Said Foundation. Outside of the world of Toucan, Rasha is a devoted mother and an adventurous traveller who one day hopes to conquer Everest.

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Rory Bernard

Non Exec Member

An experienced IT professional working at senior board and project level with a strong record in the internet sector working with both start-up and large corporations. Co-founded and CEO of a high growth, multi-million pound internet software developer becoming one of the UK leading independents before selling to a global consultancy. A self-motivated team player, committed to the delivery of results by using creative solutions and a personal network of clients and investors.

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Gabriella Windsor

Non Exec Member

Gabriella Windsor, Director of Arts and Travel at Branding Latin America Group, is a keen and experienced advocate for social enterprise. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Playing for Change Foundation, a non profit providing communities in need with music and arts education, as well as wider schooling and basic community services. Since graduating from Brown University she has written about social and cultural topics worldwide. She spent six months in the Middle East, taught in some of Brazil’s most challenged favelas, supported crucial health work for Amazonian village communities and curated arts events with emerging artists and musicians in Buenos Aires. She also undertook extensive research with socio-educational dance initiative The School of the Body in Colombia as part of her recent Masters at Oxford University in Social Anthropology.

Our Advisors

Farid ul haque

Farid Ul Haque

Associate, Lean Investments

Farid served as the CEO of Startup Britain, and the Programme Lead in London for the Startup Leadership Programme. Prior to ERLY STAGE Studios, he launched the award-winning journal ERLY STAGE, featuring start-ups and technologies around the world. Farid has worked for LEGO, Barclays and Schlumberger, is an advisor to the Chairman of the British Council, and sits on the Global Provocation Board. Farid was also on the board of the UK India Business Council.

Mohamedamersi

Mohamed Amersi

Chairman, Amersi Foundation

Mohamed Amersi is actively engaged in the full spectrum of activities ranging from for profit, responsible profit and no-profit. He is the Founder & CEO of Emergent Telecom Ventures, an entrepreneurial Emerging Markets Consulting, Advisory and Asset Management firm specialising in Telecoms, Media & Technology. The non-profit activities are directed through the The Amersi Foundation, which actively supports causes and charities in Education, Poverty, Conflict and Religion in Africa, Middle East and Asia. More recently, while at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School where he earned a distinction and was cited on the Dean’s list, Mohamed launched the Inclusive Ventures Group, a social impact investing platform that has invested in education, livelihood, health and waste management in Africa and Asia.

Paolacuneo

Paola Cuneo

Campaign Director, Sirius Programme, UKTI

Currently Paola runs the Sirius programme at UKTI, which she has designed and implemented following the Government’s announcement in the Autumn Statement 2012. The Sirius alumni have raised over £18M in equity investment for a valuation of over £80M and have won grants an awards of over £2M. Prior to running Sirius, Paola spent over 10 years at BT in senior roles, ranging from running the P&L of the UK mobile unit, to setting up the international operations of the professional services division. While at BT, Paola was selected for a secondment at London & Partners, the Mayor of London promotional agency for business and tourism. Paola ran both the European team and for 6 months, the Asia Pacific team. Paola was focusing in managing the multiple stakeholders and influencers, while promoting London with foreign companies and helping them to setting up in the UK. Paola is often found mentoring and supporting entrepreneurs.