Announcement: Founders Programme 2019, 2nd Edition

In January this year, Forward Partners launched the Founders Programme, with six early stage founders working with us for six weeks to get their startups VC ready, and we’re delighted to report that it was a phenomenal success.

Not only were we blown away by the quality of applicants, but the programme achieved an NPS of 83 and resoundingly positive feedback from those involved too. We were close to making an offer to Rich Serunjogi of Business Score, alas he opted to accept an exciting offer to join a world class accelerator for their summer cohort. We are of course delighted for him!

Given this success, we’re excited to launch the second edition of the Founders Programme, starting 9th September, giving a new group of up to ten founders the chance to benefit from dedicated business and investment coaching from our investors and studio team. With the ambition of helping aspiring or early stage founders get VC ready, we’ll also be looking to make a pre-seed investment of £300-500k in successful founders at the end of the programme.

The Programme Overview

The programme itself runs across 5 in-person sessions, helping founders take their initial idea into a VC ready business concept with a proven need and a compelling pitch to back it up. These sessions will be supplemented with both ongoing 1-to-1 mentoring, as well as tasks and activities to complete in between each session. 

Session 1. Customer Development (9th September)

Introduction to the programme, fundamentals of venture capital, how to research your idea, how to talk to customers, how to validate your solution.

Session 2. Lean Canvas (16th September)

Constructing a lean canvas for the solution you have identified, understanding the key assumptions in your business.

Session 3. Growth (23rd September)

Introduction to growth marketing, implementing growth marketing processes with real life examples, finding your first 10 customers, reaching your wider customer base, messaging for startups.

Session 4. Fundraising (30th September)

How to craft a great pitch deck, how investors evaluate entrepreneurs.

Session 5. Pitch session (early October TBC)

Pitch your idea to the Forward Partners investment team.

What did our first cohort of founders have to say?

“For me it was an amazing opportunity to see how VCs think. I’m not your traditional entrepreneur, not having that background and skills or networks so being able to tap into that was an incredible opportunity”  - Ayah Omar

“Having the sessions really gave me a drum beat to try and make progress towards. I’m now in a position where I have a solution, have managed to validate it and now planning the next steps to make sure we can serve our customers.” - Rich Serunjogi

“We already had an MVP but that product and even the way we position the product and explain to people has changed quite a lot in the last few weeks, the product has changed and the proposition has changed and that is down to some of the sessions that we were guided through” - Jonathan Baker

Who are we looking for?

People that are passionate and committed to running a company - startups are hard work and we need people that are up for the challenge.

An idea/area or two that you’d like to work on - we’ll help you refine these so don’t worry if they aren’t fully formed.

Domain expertise is preferred - or at least a good answer to the question of why you are a good person to solve this problem. 

Ability to commit to the programme - the ‘when and where’ of the sessions will be done as thoughtfully as possible (considering the commitments of those participating), but you’d be expected to give a lot to get the most out of the programme.

Technical ability is not necessary - being technical is a bonus, but it will not give you an advantage in your application.

So, how to apply?

Applications are now open, and we will be accepting them until 28th August.

Please apply via this typeform, which should take you no longer than 10 minutes.


Can I participate in the Founder Programme if I’m still working full time?

Yes. We hope to make the sessions as accessible to the people selected for the programme as we can, and the commitment will be 1.5 hours per week plus some homework for 5 weeks.

Where will the sessions be run?

The sessions will be held in our office in Hoxton.

What will be the format of the sessions?

Each session will be highly interactive, combining instruction, conversation and activity.  

Can I still apply if I live outside the UK?

Yes, however you will be required to commit to the in person sessions at our office in London.

What happens if I can’t make all of the sessions?

If there is a session you can’t make, please detail this in your application and we will try and accommodate.

Is there any cost involved?

The Founders Programme is completely free for participants.

Do you take equity?

No, we don’t take any equity for participation in the programme, although our goal is to make pre-seed investments in successful participants.

I don’t live near London - how can I be accomodated? 

If joining the programme requires significant travel and associated cost from elsewhere in the UK, we're happy to offer financial support, but they will be discussed on a case by case basis with successful applicants to the programme. 

I have young children - how can I be accomodated? 

We will happily provide a bursary to any parents for childcare. This bursary can cover your usual childcare arrangements at home, or alternatively if you’d rather bring your children along to the session, we can arrange someone to be on site too. 

I have a disability which means I am unable to use public transport to travel - how can I be accomodated?

If you require special travel arrangements, we will provide a bursary to support covering these costs - discussed on a case by case basis. We default to programme participants in arranging the transport most relevant to their needs. 

Can I apply for the Founders Programme and Office Hours?

You can apply to both the Founders Programme and Office Hours, however if you are accepted onto the Founders Programme we won’t accept your Office Hours application.

Who will be my mentor?

Each founder will be paired with a mentor from the FP team to troubleshoot and share ideas during the programme.

I’m a seed stage company, can I still apply?

The purpose of the Founders Programme is to help founders formulate and then refine a business idea therefore isn’t suitable for seed stage businesses. Seed stage companies should apply for investment via this link.

Can my co-founder/s attend too?

Unfortunately we can only host one founder per company due to space limitations.

How does the programme complete?

Our ambition is to invest in as many of the companies we believe are ready. If this isn’t the case, we will advise on what aspect of the business still needs some work and rediscuss later down the line. We are also more than happy to make introductions to other VCs if we don’t think FP is a good fit for the company.

I’ve already started working on an idea/have built some product can I still apply?

Yes, but the programme is aimed at very early stage businesses.

When will I hear whether I’ve been successful?

We will get back to every applicant within 2 weeks on the success of their application.

Luke joined Forward Partners from REV Venture Partners, a corporate VC, where he was responsible for deal origination, investment due diligence and portfolio reporting. He was previously a consultant with the strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman, where he worked across the retail, aviation, healthcare and FMCG sectors.

Luke originally planned a career in science and he holds a PhD in biochemistry. His focus at Forward Partners is on sourcing and executing new investments.

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