"I used to think that sexuality and faith were things that didn't have a place in business. Over time, I've realized those personal things connect us as humans."

My favorite city is: London My life hack is: create check lists for everything and keep yourself accountable.

Aaron Jones

Breaking down language barriers to change lives

BEING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF. Aaron Jones remembers the moment his entrepreneurial journey reached a pivotal crossroads. Describing himself as a "late bloomer," he had yet to come out as gay when, at 29, a potential investor from a prominent London VC firm for his venture confronted him while he was leaving a gay bar in London and subsequently passed on the deal due to "cultural differences”.

"He said, 'I don't think that's how a founder of a tech company should be conducting themselves.' Psychologically, the whole experience did something to me. It made me afraid to pitch for quite some time and massively slowed down the company's progress.”

Determined to see his company succeed, he worked through the internal conflict between his Christian faith, his sexuality, and how others see him, and ultimately chose to be honest with himself and those around him. "The whole thing was very connected and personal. I just hope that no other founder has to have that experience of being rejected in such a personal way because it really did mess me up. I think our personal, spiritual and work lives are much more connected than we know, a storm in one can trigger tsunamis in another."

Aaron's coming out journey has played a significant role in both shaping the kind of founder he is and in the launch of his company Yepic. The company provides AI models as a service allowing users to create, personalize and dub professional quality video content in many languages within minutes, and at low cost, without the need for interpreters, actors, a studio, or a film crew. Not only a valuable tool for companies, Yepic is also a new means of communication that could revolutionize video production and dubbing. Their new talking photo feature allows anyone to turn themselves into a 2D avatar in minutes.

"Before, I used to think that sexuality and faith were things that didn't have a place in business. Over time, I've realized that those personal things connect us as humans, unite us, and create connection."

Aaron now recognizes the importance of authenticity among friends, family, and colleagues. "From that stable place of authentic self comes the best ideas, the power, and the self-belief to go off and live out your dreams and plans. It is vital that, as a founder, you can live from that place of authenticity."

PRIORITIZING IMPACT OVER PERSONAL GAIN. Aaron has always considered himself an entrepreneur, going back to launching his own car wash business in his teens. Still, it was at university that he understood the kind of businesses he wanted to run. "It's always been about impact. I could focus on making loads of money or be very happy in a finance job, but for me, it has always been about making a difference."

At university, Aaron embarked on his first entrepreneurial journey with the launch of Fikay Fashion, an ethical fashion brand that empowers communities in Cambodia. Later, after working in e-commerce to help solve issues around customer experience, he joined Founders Factory as an entrepreneur in residence, where the concept for Yepic sparked. The mission, with his co-founder Yannis Kazantzidis, is to positively impact communication globally, connecting people by enabling conversations that otherwise may not happen.

In 2021 Yepic launched its first product, an online studio service. Aaron admits he is feeling the pressure to ensure it is not only a commercial success but also that the technology is disseminated correctly. "It's a bit of a scary idea, but I think you have to calculate it in the context of what it can achieve. For example, 20 million Americans struggle to access health care because they don't speak English. What if we could have 24/7 translation available over a video call? There are 300 million migrants globally, and more than half don't speak the host language in which they live. If you can help those people access basic services, you've changed millions of lives."

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.