Founders Programme Edition 5 - March 2021: Applications Now Open

Applications for our 5th Founders Programme - and the first of 2021 are now open. The 5-week course is designed to help people validate their newly formed ideas and understand how to bring their ideas to life. At the end of the programme, there’s the opportunity to pitch for a pre-seed investment of £300k-£500k.

Getting venture-ready

Starting a company is an incredible challenge. Particularly in these times of economic uncertainty it can be hard to build conviction around a new idea and be able commit to working full-time on it.

This is only intensified by the fact that the VC industry can seem opaque and it’s not always clear what investors are looking for in early-stage startups. The chasm between idea generation and venture investment can seem too wide to navigate.

Our Founders Programme is designed to give open access to founders of all backgrounds who are considering starting a company. We’ll teach you how to evaluate startup ideas, what investors are looking for and how to raise your first venture capital round. If your startup idea is a good fit for us, we hope to also be to fund you at the end of the programme.

Our alumni have gone onto make exceptional progress with Kate Pljaskovova receiving pre-seed funding from us, Rich Serunjogi landing a place at world-class accelerator Y Combinator and Sam Murphy of Earthscope joining Insurtech Gateway.

What the programme looks like

There are 5 deep-dive workshops over the course of 5 weeks, and each workshop is led by an expert from the Forward team. These sessions will be supplemented with two mentorship sessions with a member of the investment team, as well as tasks to complete between each session.

Workshop 1: Customer Development

Get an introduction to the programme, and dive into the fundamentals of venture capital, how to research your idea, how to talk to customers and how to validate your solution.

Workshop 2: Lean Canvas

Construct a lean canvas for the solution you have identified, and understand the key assumptions in your business.

Workshop 3: Growth Marketing

Learn about growth marketing and how to implement growth marketing processes with real-life examples, find your first 10 customers and reach your wider customer base.

Workshop 4: Fundraising

Get clued up about how to craft and refine a great pitch deck, and how investors evaluate entrepreneurs.

Workshop 5: Pitches

It’s show-time. Put what you’ve learned into practice and pitch your idea to the Forward Partners investment team.

Who we’re looking for

We know brilliant people can come from a wide range of places so there are no specific prerequisites to join the programme, however, we wouldn’t be surprised if some of the following statements could be used to describe you:

  • You’re passionate about an idea or problem space.
  • You have 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.)
  • You have some experience in the area you want to start a company in. This doesn’t need to be formal expertise. I.e. Have you been keeping up to date with the area as a consumer?
  • You’re able 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 are expected to give a lot to get the most out of the programme.
  • You aren’t necessarily technical but have a deep interest in tech and entrepreneurship.

How do you apply?

Applications are now open and we will be accepting them until the 1st March.

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 remotely via Zoom.

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 am outside the UK?

Forward Partners only invests in companies that are based in the UK. If you are working remotely outside of the UK this is fine but we will give preference to companies that plan to operate in the UK.

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 accommodated?

We’re running a fully remote programme so proximity to London isn’t a problem.

I have young children - how can I be accommodated?

We’ll happily provide a bursary to any parents for childcare. This bursary can cover your usual childcare arrangements at home, or alternatively you're welcome to look after your children during the session.

I have a disability which means I may struggle to participate in the Zoom sessions - how can I be accommodated?

Please get in touch with us and we’ll work with you to find the best solution depending on your 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 entitled to two mentorships sessions with a member of the Forward investment team.

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.

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 restart the conversation later down the line. We’re also more than happy to make introductions to other VCs if we don’t think we're 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’ll get back to every applicant within 2 weeks.

Apply Here

The latest

Founders Programme Autumn 2020: Meet The Cohort

We whittled 318 applications down to an 8-strong group (among them a fiction writer, a debater and a former rap producer, no …

James Garnier

James Garnier

Brand & Content Associate


General Office Hours

A monthly event where 20 pre-seed founders pitch their business idea's and get advice from our investors.