Exceptional Promise Prep

Hi all, I wanted to share details about my endorsement prep and hope for your advise.

I have an undergraduate business degree from a UK university and 5 years of sales and business development experience at 4 Tech startups (all Fintech). I am currently the Head of Growth of a fintech startup(Nigeria).

Applying for exceptional promise:

Personal statement: Focused on my work and how it shows impact and innovation, what I want to do in the UK and my potential contribution
Letters of recommendation:

  • CEO of a Fintech Company (who used to be a former senior colleague at my previous company)
  • CEO of a Fintech (a YC backed company)
  • CEO of a Fintech company (a YC backed company); happens to be my mentor

Mandatory Criteria

  1. Evidence of high salary (I did a conversion and also comparison using Glassdoor, this shows I command a high salary compared to industry standard here in Nigeria)
  2. Attestation letter from an industry expert talking about my work
  3. Evidence of speaking at 2 events. First is an online tech event hosted by a marketing growth agency focused on growth marketing which is aligns with my current job. Second is a non-tech event, however the topic is focused on the use of tech for business growth.
  4. Letter from my employer (the Chief Commercial Officer) talking about my work
  5. Op-ed article on “Buy Now Pay Later” which aligns with my experience at my first tech company

Optional Criteria 2

  1. My contributions to 4 media articles published by a popular, global and renown tech media. They reached out to me for my opinion and contributions. I have screenshots of my chats with the team via LinkedIn. These articles are all fintech (financial services) related articles
  2. Op-ed article about SMEs and the challenges beyond payment acceptance. This is also in alignment with my current role as the Head of Growth for SME where I work. This was published in December 2022.

Optional Criteria 3

  1. Evidence of my contribution at company A showing as follows
  • Growth of the product. I’m currently leading the sales team to achieve that growth. All metrics included such as total customers acquired, transaction count, transaction value, revenue generated (all backed with screenshots).
  • My acquisition strategy which points to my sales and business development process, shows growth projections as well.
  • My contributions to the product modification (I listed my contributions and backed with screenshots of the implemented changes)
  • Reference letter from the Head of Product attached
  1. Evidence of my contribution at company B as follows:
  • Leading the sales and growth of the product
  • I planned and implemented an offline sales campaign which brought about increase in customer acquisition
  • I initiated the design and implementation of a loan feature release on the product
  • Reference letter from my former reporting line while working at company B

Hey Charles, well done so far. I see from your profile that you have applied before? What was the feedback like and what has changed in your new application. If you share what they highlighted in the rejection, it gives us a better insight.

Here are a few pointers from what we have here

For your letters, you need to keep in mind that just because they are YC founders doesn’t automatically qualify them as leaders. They have to have strong experience and public profiles/CV
Check out this link, I dropped some comments on here.

For MC
I’ll suggest you arrange your documents with the way they were highlighted in the TN guide. I truly believe that their hierarchy actually says alot.

I’ll suggest to take one of your speaking engagements and use as an evidence in OC 2. And don’t say it isn’t a tech event. As far as you spoke on tech and you can show that, that’s more than enough

The op-ed on buy now pay later, is your name in there? For MC documents, they like to see that you personally played a huge role and were credited

Make sure to put a strong op-ed article here

OC 2
Add speaking engagement. And make it sound big. Even if it wasn’t as big, but had big speakers or sponsors, you can highlight it. But make sure viewership and attendance must have been well over 100 according to the guideline

OC 3
This looks good. But you have to be careful when putting documents that aren’t in the guideline, cos projections of what the company can do is not proof that it has done it.
External validations and metrics are key

Also bear in mind that every document you put should show your contribution and highlight it’s impact.

Hope this is helpful

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Thank you so much for your prompt response. One of the major fall back I had in my last application was my recommendation letters. Please find below, the response from the panel.

Assessment panel feedback:

The candidate has applied for the Global Talent Visa (GTV) through the Exceptional Promise (EP)

pathway, electing to evidence meeting Optional Criteria 1 (OC1) and Optional Criteria 3 (OC3) and

providing evidence for meeting Mandatory Criteria (MC) as being a recognised emerging leader of their

field within the past 5 years.

We are not convinced the candidate is at an early stage of their technology career. The candidate has a

career history in business development for banking related services. Their first role was in 2013 with

Sovereign Trust Insurance. As the candidate’s career has not significantly changed, we cannot

ascertain with evidence whether the candidate has recently changed from a non-technology to a

technology career within the past 5 years. A personal statement is not considered evidence.

The EP pathway is reserved for candidate’s that are either within the first 5 years of their professional

career or who had materially changed from a non-technology career to a technology career within the

past 5 years. It is the burden of the candidate to demonstrate they are at an early stage of their

technology career, and not the role of the assessor to prove otherwise. Therefore the candidate does

not qualify for the GTV under the EP pathway. However, we assessed this application anyway for the

purposes of feedback to the candidate.

It should be noted there are significant concerns of templating and replication across references. Some

references contain the same sentences in the same order and structured very similarly. As a result,

reference letters have a reduced impact on this application.

It should be noted there are reference letters with copy/pasted signatures in place of a genuine

signature from the referee. Where this is the case, the reference has been disqualified and not


The candidate fails to meet the requirements for Mandatory Criteria for Exceptional promise because

they have not provided sufficient evidence of being an emerging leader of a technology field to the

standard of an EP awardee. Typical EP awardees present a stronger track record of media recognition,

high profile speaking engagements, well recognised leadership of notable projects or companies,

celebrated public contributions to technology-focused activities, and strong and detailed references from

a wide network of well recognised and established leaders of technology explaining precisely why the

candidate is a promising leader of a technology field. The candidates single piece of qualifying evidence

for recognition - an article in Vanguard - is not to the standard of an EP awardee. And the candiate’s

references have diminished positive impact due to the concerns raised above.

The candidate fails to meet the requirements for OC1 because there is insufficient evidence the

candidate has authored a significant and field-advancing innovation for a product led digital technology

company within the past 5 years to the standard of an EP awardee. The candidates presented work at

Zilla was while they were a contractor according to their LinkedIn profile, and the other presented works

are typical of one’s role and show no signs of innovations to the standard of an EP awardee.

The candidate fails to meet the requirements for OC3 because there is insufficient evidence the

candidate has made a significant technological, entrepreneurial, or commercial contribution to a product

led company that has materially impacted the growth metrics of the organisation to the standard of an

EP awardee. The provided evidence is primarily in the form of payslips and promotion letters. These are insufficient evidences to demonstrate OC3.

On the basis of the above, we do not endorse this application.

I have also taken note of other feedback you provided and will work on them.
Thanks once again.

The article was credited to me.

Hey man, thanks for sharing the feedback. It’ll definitely help others here.
That’s the thing with TN, once you have something that already disqualifies you like Higher number of years, templated letters, or you work as a freelancer, or an agency, the feedback they’ll give you is usually not so much based on facts.

But they actually did provide some insightful stuff here tho.

Hope you’ve looked into your reference letters? I understand one might have done a draft for their recommenders to make it easier, but please make sure they are clearly different. And also those signatures. Let your recommenders know what they need to do.

For your amount of years, show only what you need your assessors to see on your LinkedIn or CV i.e if your tech work was in the last 5yrs, show just that. I was flagged in my second application cos I showed that I was an intern 2yrs prior, and they treated my application as talent because of that. So clear it if it doesn’t help the application.

Also be super spot-on on your dates. Your cv and LinkedIn must tally. And your personal statement must also be in line.

Overall, this application definitely looks better. It’s just to solidify it.

For each op-ed, make sure you highlight how big the media outlet is. Mention how many views per month they get(you can use similarweb), their demographics and why you were the expert for that publication/feature.

Anything contractor, just remove it. Unless you can show that you weren’t one.

You could still tag one or two experts on here so you can get some more insight

How recent are you speaking and media publication evidence. Can you explain the buy now pay later evidence in the context of tech or product marketing. The quality of article and timing matters.

Thanks a lot @Dee_E . This is really insightful and would help me rework my pieces of evidence.

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Two media publications; one is March 2021 and the other is October 2022. For speaking engagements, they are both in May 2023. However, I’m not applying until Nov/Dec 2023 (I don’t know if that is fair enough).

The Buy Now Pay Later articles point to how it’s been a relief in times of economic hardship and enhanced the purchasing power of the average Nigerian. It also talks about the evolution of Buy Now Pay Later in Nigeria.