Why would an agency lifer join the world of VC?


I’ve loved working in agencies. The pleasure and privilege of partnering with brands like Audi, Coca Cola, Nike and Nissan, on work that many thought we were crazy to take on, has shaped me into what I’ve become today.

It’s been a journey that started in London but has taken me all over the world in pursuit of building ambitious teams that produce exceptional work - from a crowdsourced Bollywood movie in India, to pioneering virtual reality work in Japan, to defining new business models for automotive in Germany, writing a TV commercial script in China and more.

The passion, energy and craft is unlike anything I’ve experienced and I’m grateful for every moment of it. That feeling that you’re part of the team where there is no impossible - no matter the innovation, marketing or technology challenge.

That said, something clicked for me a few years ago when it became clear that the industry was changing, but not in a healthy way. It used to be as simple as: hire great people, do great work and the rest takes care of itself but as many of the hero agencies scaled, the pace of technological change was, and continues to be, relentless.

Yesterday’s core capabilities were becoming increasingly commoditised and the focus was changing from the work to a constant struggle between capacity and margin. There was also this sense of increasing vanity where ego and awards mattered more than doing right by the clients.

It felt like a virus that was spreading at pace across the industry, especially at, although not restricted to network agencies.

For me, the red line had been crossed. I’ve never been one that’s comfortable in a box and I’ve always had a burning desire to do things differently. I care deeply about the teams I work with, the work that we produce and the impact it has for the clients we work with. This attitude has never wavered and will never change.

Most importantly, I’ve wanted to get back to obsessing over building products that create business value, consumers love and the team are collectively proud of.

And that’s when I heard about what Forward Partners was doing.

A VC with an agency inside

Since leaving AKQA, where I spent the majority of my agency life, I’ve had some experience across the startup world - but when I saw the Forward Partners approach, it instantly felt special and unlike anything else out there.

While most VCs will offer funding and some degree of connection to their network, Forward Partners is different.

Forward Partners is a new kind of VC, with a startup agency built in, relentlessly obsessed with helping ambitious founders succeed.

The agency has a hands-on team spanning product strategy, product design, brand, technology, PR and talent professionals who help founders design, build and grow their startups.

Instead of margin, the focus is on creating as much value as possible in the startups we partner with - so the team and the founders’ interests are perfectly in tune.

The data is compelling with research showing that early stage founders have a 4x better chance of reaching Series A with Forward Partners. When they get there, their business is worth an average of 55% more.

The Forward Partners approach is clearly working.

I’ve joined to help take Forward Partners to the next level and grow the agency even further and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Here at Forward Partners we're dedicated to helping founders succeed by building breakthrough products people love.

If we win awards, it will be for our founders. If we create the next great companies, it will be for our founders.

If this strikes a chord with you, get in touch and join us on this incredible journey - we’re hiring!

Jasel runs the team delivering value-added services to our partner companies, from early-stage idea through to launch and anywhere in between. This includes product strategy, customer experience, brand development, technology services, growth marketing, talent, PR and more (breathe). He has a background in building and running teams developing innovative products and experiences for some of the world’s most celebrated brands. This included 13 years at AKQA on clients including Audi, Coca Cola, Nike and Nissan.

When not working, J’s a proud father of two, loves to travel and watching his favourite football team.

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