As I’ve written before here at Forward Partners we work with entrepreneurs to help them launch and scale their companies in two different ways. About half our investments are in companies at true startup stage – i.e. founder + idea, nothing built – and half are in slightly more mature companies, up to late seed stage when there are maybe 5-10 people in the company.
Right now we’re looking to invest in up to two amazing new entrepreneurs or founding teams at that true startup stage. You will either be building an ecommerce brand that people will love, or supplying software and services into the ecommerce sector. We want people who are passionate about their idea and fully committed to pursuing it, but the idea doesn’t have to be fleshed out in detail. What’s important is that you have a clear vision of the future and a good understanding of the dynamics which are creating the opportunity.
We think about ecommerce in the widest sense, including innovative product companies that sell direct and businesses building new ways to buy things online. Good examples of things we like from our portfolio include:
- Hailo – a new way of booking taxis that people love because the product is a joy to use
- Wool and the Gang – a fashion brand that people love which has an innovative community based manufacturing model
- Unbound – a crowdfunding platform that offers fans a new and better way to connect with and buy from authors
- Appear Here – a market place for short term lets on the High Street that works with ecommerce companies
- Driftrock – a platform for marketing apps for SMEs (including ecommerce companies)
We have a simple application process and our quick due diligence process is designed to add value even if we choose not to make an offer. If you get through that you will be offered up to £200k in a tranched deal, typically £25k, £75k, and £100k. We will build a picture together of the progress that will unlock the next tranches, but won’t tie them to milestones (we’ve learned that attempting to predict what the business will look like with the specificity that milestones require is a fool’s errand). We’re all about keeping things simple and transparent, so the offer would be for ordinary shares with other standard terms, and to keep it balanced and fair tranches two and three would only happen if you and Forward Partners want them to. Both sides are free to walk away.
Whilst cash is important what really sets us apart is that we offer more than just investment. You will be invited to come and sit with us in our offices and our expert team of ecommerce startup specialists will be at your disposal at a subsidised day rate. We are practitioners of lean startup and design thinking and have developed a number of tools and processes which help companies build a deep understanding of their customers, build products people will love, and execute quickly and efficiently. See the Forward Thinking section of our website for more details.
Every company is different, but the rough template we work to is to speak with customers and build MVPs to test assumptions before launching a product around month three, gain enough traction to begin Series A discussions by month six, and then close the round by month twelve.
If that sounds exciting then we’d love to hear from you via the application process on our website. We will get back to you within a week.
Please pass this post on to anyone you know who might be interested. Referrers of successful applicants will have our eternal gratitude and be offered a nice lunch or bottle of wine :).