Looking to get VC ready? You're in the right place.
Funding Lab is a fast-paced, two part programme for founders looking to raise investment from a VC.
Join us to tune your pitch and prepare for a raise with straight-talking, actionable learnings direct from VC investors and industry specialists.
A lean, action-oriented VC funding crash course for ambitious founders.
No-fluff, action-orientated training.
At Forward, we believe in giving entrepreneurs their best shot at success. Unlocking the right funding at the right time can make a huge difference to the speed at which you can grow. We know that VC funding can be confusing, protracted and daunting for some. That’s why we’ve curated our Funding Lab programme. To give founders a head-start on their funding journey.
Connect with our network.
During Funding Lab, you will meet our team of investors, other entrepreneurs and startup specialists. You’ll also get the chance to collaborate with our Studio and Investment teams via the mentoring programme. Before, during and after the forum, they’ll be on hand to help you apply the learnings from the sessions to your own pitch.
Built to help you secure VC funding.
This free, highly selective programme is designed to give open access to founders of all backgrounds who are looking to raise their first venture capital round. We'll help you to understand the investment landscape, craft your pitch deck and show you how to build your network. You'll receive one-on-one mentorship too.
Time to put the learning into practice.
Our lean programme features a full day of workshops, followed later by a pitch event a week later. There, you'll have a chance to pitch to our team of investors get feedback. Investors will be looking for our Funding Lab Frontrunner, a company that's shown great promise. The winner will receive further mentorship and support from the team.
“ Forward's Founders Programme was really great! I felt incredibly motivated, supported, and the investors were genuinly helpful and excited about my idea. ”
Fast, focused VC funding crash course.
Our Funding Lab programme includes a full day workshop and an evening pitch event at our offices in Huckletree Shoreditch, on Finsbury Square in London.
Session 1: Introduction to VC.
In this session, our investors will take you through the current VC landscape, how VCs think and operate and how to grab their attention. You’ll learn what they are looking for in your business to give you a deeper understanding of how to prepare before you start to build your network and ask for those first meetings.
Session 2: Pitch deck 101.
Our investors will dive into the dos and don’ts of drafting your pitch deck. We will cover how to effectively structure your deck, to tell an engaging story and answer key questions that investors have upfront. And crucially, how to avoid some common mistakes we often see in the process. You’ll come away with a strong understanding of these fundamentals which you can then apply to your own pitch deck later on in the Lab.
Session 3: Funding stories from Forward portfolio.
We will invite 2 founders from Forward’s own investment portfolio to join us for 45 mins to share their funding stories with you. You’ll hear firsthand about the highs and the lows of raising a round and gain real-life insights about how founders approach investment. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask the founders any questions you may have during the session in the Q&A section.
Session 4: Pitching workshop.
In this session, we’ll break out into smaller groups, with a Forward team member in each, to collaborate on crafting your pitch with the other members of the group. You’ll get instant, constructive feedback from other founders and our experts to help you apply the insights from the day so far. If you have a burning question about your deck or pitch, now is the time to ask.
The pitch event.
One week after the Founders Forum, you’ll be invited back to Forward HQ to deliver your pitch to our investment team. You’ll have 5 minutes to pitch your startup, followed by some quick-fire feedback from our team. After the event, you’ll receive a full write up of the feedback and if your business is right for Forward, an invitation to pitch for investment in a follow-up meeting.
The programme gave me tools and frameworks to build a mindset to focus, a tonne of great reading and content, and of course a new network of relationships in venture capital and tech.
What we're looking for.
We're looking out for traits that make a great founder and we encourage founders of all backgrounds to apply to Funding Lab.
You’ll be passionate about a problem or area to work in and hold an interest in tech and startups. You don't have to be technically-minded to apply.
You’ll be able to commit to the programme. You're expected to give a lot to get the most out of the programme and have the best chance of follow on investment.
An itch to scratch
You’ll have an initial idea you’d like to work on - we can help refine it so it doesn’t have to be fully formed.
Expertise & knowledge
You’ll likely have domain expertise or will have made an effort to be knowledgeable about the space.
Funding Lab FAQ's
I’ve got an idea but I’m not ready to think about funding just yet.
This programme is best suited to founders who are looking to raise VC funding in the next 6 months. If you are in the very early idea stages, without a product idea just yet, you can still apply.
I’ve already started working on an idea/and have an early-stage product, can I apply?
Yes absolutely, we’d love to hear from you.
Where will the sessions be run?
The sessions will be run in-person (hurray!) at our offices on Finsbury Square in London. The full address is Huckletree Shoreditch, Alphabeta Building, 18 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1AH.
Can I participate in the Founder Programme if I’m still working full time?
Yes but you must be available to attend the two sessions in the programme. A full day of sessions and workshops and the pitch event. Side-hustles are encouraged but we believe the Founders who will benefit most from this programme are those who are in the early-stages of their business growth.
What can I expect from the sessions in the programme?
Each session will be highly interactive, combining instruction, conversation and activity. You will have an opportunity to ask your questions in the Q&A section at the end of each session.
Can I still apply if I am outside the UK?
Forward Partners only invests in companies that are based in the UK. As the programme is in-person, you will be required to be in London for the two main sessions of the programme.
What happens if I can’t make all of the sessions?
In order to get the most from the programme, it’s important that you are able to make both sessions in person. We are unable to accommodate virtual attendees to either session.
Is there any cost involved?
Funding Lab 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?
You will be required to be in London for the two main sessions of the programme. Whilst Forward Partners will not be covering any accommodation costs incurred, we can share local hotels with you if you are accepted onto the programme.
I have young children - how can I be accommodated?
If you have any specific childcare needs that may impact your ability to attend the sessions, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
I have a disability which means I may struggle to participate in the 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 Funding Lab and Office Hours?
You can apply to both Funding Lab 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?
Your mentor will be a member of the Forward investment team and you’ll get two mentorships sessions. You will have the opportunity to speak with multiple members of our Studio team during the Funding Lab sessions.
Can my co-founder/s attend too?
Unfortunately, we can only host one founder per company.
How does the programme finish?
You will leave the Pitch Event with some actionable, specific feedback about your pitch and deck. Our ambition is to invest in as many of the companies we believe are ready from Funding Lab. If this isn’t the case for you, 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.
When will I hear whether I’ve been successful?
We’ll get back to every applicant within 2 weeks.