Forward Partners accelerates agency growth, releases data on pioneering “Applied VC” model


  • Portfolio companies 4x more likely to reach Series A, with 55% higher valuation
  • Results validate approach: “VC with an agency inside” to help founders design, build and grow to reach their potential sooner
  • Key ex-AKQA appointment ushers in new era for agency delivery and product innovation

It should be clear to everyone by now that a VC system which fails 9/ 10 founders is one with room for improvement.

With that in mind, fives years ago we established Forward Partners to go beyond the usual VC deliverables. Every investor will give you money. Most will now provide introductions, mentors and the expertise of the in house team.

But we believe, especially in seed and pre-seed, the secret is to provide founders with our own specialist agency across every area of company building -- design, build and grow. This helps them add value where they need it, and reach their potential sooner.


We recently reviewed our portfolio’s performance and we think the data speaks for itself:

Listen to what our founders think about it:

“I felt way more comfortable with the Forward Partners team, a team of experts who were in the room with us and had a vested interest in our success. The silver lining was they were there when we needed them most.”

Stephen Stroud, CTO & Co-Founder of The Drop

So what do you do when something is working? We’re taking it to the next level.

Taking the Forward Partners Agency to the next level

With 13 years experience at AKQA, Jasel Mehta is coming on board to bring everything he has learned at brands like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Nike, to building the next great startups.

In a blog post about why he joined, he says:

“Since leaving AKQA, 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.”

“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 aligned.”

The team is already growing under his watch:

Matt Dean joins as Head of Growth, bringing with him global experience in performance marketing, growth and analytics. Matt joins from one of London’s fastest growing startups, where he was Head of Performance Marketing, helping the business achieve 15X growth during his time there. He is excited to be working with the portfolio companies at such crucial stages in their life, experimenting at pace and building scalable growth engines

Fiona MacDougall will be leading the design of great user experiences across the portfolio of companies, combining her background in business analysis and interest in behavioural economics. She is excited uncover fresh customer insights, explore radical solutions and rapidly test new ideas. Fiona joins from surgical education startup, Touch Surgery, where she collaborated with world-renowned institutions in the US to design an interactive, self-guided learning experience for trainee surgeons.

This team will continue to expand, multiplying in size in the near future, and offering the full suite of services and innovation to every Forward Partners founder.

If you are looking for a new challenge, where your work can make a real impact, get in touch here.

A step forward for investment

Meanwhile, on the investment team, Matt Bradley is stepping up to the role of Partner, having already ushered two funds of portfolio companies to success.

Dr.Louise Rix also joins the investment team, with a background as a founder herself, entrepreneur-in-residence and medical doctor.

Louise has also been leading our first report into the diversity of the Forward Partners portfolio, recently revealing the results to drive our progress forward on this front.

The year ahead

The data sends a clear message: we are already the VC for early founders to speak to. But in the next 12x months, we’ll be multiplying the size of our agency team, one of the key aspects of helping these businesses thrive and achieve their potential sooner.

And this is just the start. There’s more to announce very soon, and it will bring a typically fresh perspective to the traditions of VC, with a focus on what founders really need to succeed.

We look forward to revealing more in the months to come.

Nic has worked in venture capital for almost 20 years now and prior to founding Forward Partners in June 2013, was a Partner at leading venture capital firm Draper Esprit.

He has worked and invested in London and Silicon Valley, leading over 25 investments and enjoying a number of successful exits including (acquired by AOL for $125m) and Zeus Technology (acquired by Riverbed for $140m).

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