Tech mentors were left confused after they were locked out of Canary Wharf’s exclusive London tech accelerator

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A shot at night of the Canary Wharf skyline. The HSBC building is on the right
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Mentors of Level39, the tech incubator space in Canary Wharf’s tallest tower, were left confused after they found themselves locked out of the exclusive space with no explanation.

Several Level39 mentors told each other in an email chain leaked to Business Insider that they had been unable to access the space in One Canada Square in recent weeks. They believe that their free memberships have been terminated.

“I have tried to access Level 39 tonight but got denied entry at the ground floor security,” wrote one mentor. “They tried to call upstairs many times to verify me but no one picked up the phone.”

Another wrote: “The change was communicated to me by the front desk. Since then silence. Seems we’re not good enough.”

Level39’s group of mentors – thought to be around 50 people strong – have been allowed to access Level39 for free since it was founded. Free access was granted to mentors on the basis that they agreed to deliver a certain amount of mentoring to the startup entrepreneurs based out of Level39 each year.

“This worked well and was respected,” an anonymous Level39 mentor told Business Insider. “Now they want mentors to give time still but also pay thousands a year for a desk.”

Level39’s mentors, which includes the likes of Bindi Karia, a former VP at Silicon Valley Bank, and Marco Mirko, SVP of information security at Citi (neither of whom were locked out), are now being asked to pay approximately £3,900 a year if they want continuous access to Level39.

Some mentors were also given free membership to ClubLounge39, an elite club where they could meet founders and corporate executives. The club was scrapped last December under new CEO Ben Brabyn.

Asif Faruque, the head of content at Level39, wrote an email to some of Level39’s mentors last Monday inviting them to become hot-desk members at a price of £325 a month.

“It’s pretty poor all round,” said a Level39 mentor. “I don’t know if Ben is looking for a new job or just doesn’t give a crap.”

Faruque told Business Insider that mentors who want to use the space on days when they’re not mentoring will have to pay for a membership.

“If anyone requires permanent, continuous access to Level39 they pay for membership,” he said. “That starts at £325/month. If a mentor is coming in to do mentoring, they do not (and have never) paid for access.”