2021 Year In Review

Our 2021 Year in Review is our best bits from the last 12 months for the UK startup ecosystem, the Forward team and our portfolio.

2021 has been a remarkable year for the UK startup ecosystem. At Forward, it’s been a year of big change and growth for our fund and our team. Across our portfolio, there have been some huge wins, exciting raises and big exits. So before we get stuck into 2022, read on for our best bits from the last 12 months.

The year of decacorns for London.

2021 has been a record-shattering year for venture funding around the globe and London has been at the forefront of it. In July, CityAM reported that London doubled the number of tech businesses worth $10bn or more in the prior six months, reaching a dozen and putting London behind China and the US in global rankings.

Though many funds target these big investments, at Forward we believe that the hunt for outliers rather than just unicorns is the best route to returns for our shareholders and success for our founders. Get into it in this piece by our CEO Nic, here.

The year VC funds went for permanent capital.

If you didn’t pick up on it, this year Forward went public, opening up our investment opportunities to the world. For investors, democratising access to a private asset class is part of our core mission to help more entrepreneurs to succeed, whilst opening the upside of investing in these incredible, inspiring businesses to all. Read about it in an article our CEO Nic put together for City AM here.

We’re not alone either. Joining the ranks of Molten ventures (Draper Esprit), Augmentum, and most recently announced Sequoia Capital. Here’s the upshot: it’s not just about capital, it’s about what you do with it. Read these insights from the Economist on the bright future of VC - and how escaping the fund model enables investors to do better deals, work with companies for longer and innovate.

It’s not just money that matters.

This year, we dug into funding and the promises that investors make alongside it. Our findings?

📈 61% of early-stage founders surveyed want value-add services from their VC.

📣 92% of investors said that they provide it.

❓ The reality? 61% of founders said that they got less than they were promised.

Get a summary of the findings from Sifted discover 5 ways to avoid buyers remorse when funding via Forbes or dig into the full report. At Forward, we believe that investing expertise alongside funding can drastically improve outcomes (that’s why our studio team exists). Have a read of our CEO Nic’s views on how VC’s can become a one-stop shop for unlocking growth.

Our portfolio had some great news too.

Inside Forward.

It’s been a busy year for Forward too. Up until 28th September of this year, we made 13 investments including four into new companies that included scientific marketplace Clustermarket and logistics technology company Ryde. Forward Advances, our revenue based financing company made 63 Advances too. We saw some great exits totalling £11.7m, including included trade sales for Heights and Wonderbly, and Cazoo’s high-profile SPAC merger. The Studio Team completed some great work this year, including supporting Clustermarket to develop their proposition and helping Forward Advances to build a sophisticated fintech product and develop their growth channels.

What’s your highlight?

Enough about us, how about you? We want to know what you’ve been up to, your accomplishments, big or small over the last 11 and a half months. Get involved in the comments on Twitter.

Growth wrangler. Marketer. Customer champion.

Jared has spent his career building great customer experiences. He's started up. Sold. Built new things, including a newspaperA robot dogAn omni-directional wheelchairThe most visible screen in London. And for a time, the world's biggest picture. Before Forward he led marketing and growth for Marketplace business Plentific, helping them to pivot, scale their business across Europe and raise a $30m round.

Insights

6 AI trends that will define 2022.

What does the 2022 AI landscape look like? Check our our top 6 trends to watch this year.

Ann-Marie Rossiter

Ann-Marie Rossiter

Senior Marketing Manager

Insights

Why AI needs EQ: our take on the future.

Is it time we stopped talking about human-in-the-loop and start thinking about humans as the loop?

Insights

Founders Programme Session 5 - The Pitch.

Check out our top tips for perfecting your investment pitch from Matt Bradley, Forward's CIO.