Forward's 2022 Year in Review
As we look to a new year at Forward, we’ve reflected on our progress, the market and our portfolio throughout 2022. It goes without saying that this year has been challenging for the startup ecosystem. Both startup founders and their investors faced some big, new challenges as we adjusted to an environment that was moving around more than we had seen in a long while.
Despite these challenges, we’ve seen more than our fair share of good news in the portfolio - and the wider ecosystem too. At Forward, we believe that great startups will endure - and when a business is genuinely providing a solution to a big problem, growth and investors will follow.
The slowing of funding rounds characterised the last year for the startup ecosystem - and shaped a good deal of the support we provided our portfolio too. Early on, our investment team identified the signs and the impact that this could have on our portfolio. We moved quickly to support the founders where we could. At a board level, we shared advice on how best to extend their runways, reduce burn rate and prepare to weather the storm. Our Studio team rolled up their sleeves to support on projects aimed at increasing sales or revenue and finding the right talent for many businesses in our portfolio. We also organised internal funding rounds, where appropriate, to ensure our portfolio remained resilient.
In 2022, both inside and outside of our portfolio, we saw great startups adjust their operations and continue to show that they could still grow. As we begin 2023, this not only means that they can survive in the short term - it sets them up to be lean, agile and ready to pivot to growth with their next round of investment.
Read on for our 2022 highlights from Forward and our portfolio, including funding rounds, fantastic marketing campaigns, industry accolades and innovative product development. Entrepreneurs don’t stop for downturns and that was clearly evident in 2022.
🏆 Good news from Forward, our portfolio and our new investments.
As our portfolio adjusted to the new environment, we’re pleased to highlight the strong commercial performance that many of our investments demonstrated. Our Top 15 portfolio companies by value delivered a weighted average YoY revenue growth of 107% in the first half of 2022.
Financially, these companies are in a strong position too. 80% of our Top 15 companies were either profitable, anticipated to be on the path to break even without the need for further fundraising, or hold 18 months or more cash runway, when we reported to the market in June. 8 out of the 15 raised successfully in the first half of 2022, even against the challenging backdrop of the fundraising landscape.
Internally, at Forward, we completed our first year as a publicly listed company, with many first milestones like releasing our maiden full-year results in the summer and hosting our first in-person investor event in November.
Dig into our monthly highlights from 2022 below:
🎈 New investment: We announced our investment in Sourcery, an AI code assistant that helps developers write better code, faster. The company raised €1.75m, led by Forward Partners alongside Runa Capital, Techstars, Angel Invest, CapitalX, Acequia Capital, and other private angel investors. Read the coverage in TechEU here.
📈 Follow on funding: We participated in another round for Silico, an AI-powered decision-making platform for the enterprise, announced their £3.4m seed round of investment, led by German VC Join Capital with participation from Forward. Read the announcement on UKTN here.
📈 Follow on funding: We invested in the £12 million Series A round for Breedr, a livestock management platform. The Breedr team also launched a financial product to help farmers with cash flow. Read the coverage in full on AgFunder News here.
🏎 Momentum: The accommodation marketplace Snaptrip acquired Independent Cottages for a seven-figure fee. This was the company’s second acquisition in 12 months following the acquisition of Hot Tub Hideaways in 2021. Read the article on Travel Daily News here.
📈 Follow on funding: We participated in another round for Gravity Sketch, the leading innovator in the digital design industry, offering intuitive 3D design software for cross-disciplinary teams. They raised $33M Series A, led by Accel alongside Google Ventures. Read the exclusive on TechCrunch here.
🎈New investment: We invested £1m into Sonrai, an analytics platform that leverages AI to speed up drug and healthcare developments as part of the company’s £2.2m round, alongside Techstart Ventures. Read the coverage in UKTN here.
🪴 Crowdfunding: Fy!, a mobile-first eCommerce marketplace designed to meet the needs of millennial shoppers, launched their first of two crowdfunding campaigns via Seedrs in 2022, which collectively raised a total of £6.8m from almost 800 investors throughout the year.
🤝 New partnership: Apexx Global, a payment orchestration platform which allows merchants to connect via a simple API to the world's payment ecosystem announced its partnership with Ryanair to transform payments ahead of the post-COVID travel boom.
🪴 Crowdfunding: Spoke, a direct-to-consumer eCommerce company that provides better-fitting, better-looking men's clothes, completed a £5m crowdfunding round on Seedrs, deemed the platform’s largest campaign of the year.
🎈New investment: We invested £0.4m into serverless technology company Baselime as part of the company’s £1.5m round, led by Arc, Sequoia’s catalyst for outlier founders. Read more about the investment on our blog here.
🤝 New partnership: Big Health, a digital therapeutics company that provides cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to improve well-being and mental health announced a new partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to provide mental health support to newly diagnosed cancer patients across the UK.
📣 Campaign cut through: Research commissioned by Koru Kids, a childcare marketplace that connects parents with vetted part-time nannies, in conjunction with The Fatherhood Institute examined the current state of UK paternity leave. Its results were widely covered by the UK media, including The Guardian, The Independent and The Evening Standard.
📈 Follow on funding: We supported OutThink, the world’s first cybersecurity human risk management platform, with their $10m round, led by AlbionVC. Read the coverage in The Times here.
📈 Follow on funding: We invested again in Koyo, a personal loans provider which uses open banking and applied AI to offer loans to consumers who lack traditional historical credit data. Koyo announced that it had successfully secured a £100m debt facility and a £5m extension of its Series A funding from Force Over Mass, with participation from all previous investors: Forward Partners, Frontline Venture and Atalaya Capital Management. Read the news on Altfi here.
📈 Follow on funding: Plyable, the award-winning, market-leading composite mold producer, announced their $3.2m round, led by Maven Capital Partners with participation from Forward. Read more over on their blog here.
🌍 International expansion: Sonrai, an analytics platform that leverages AI to speed up drug and healthcare developments, secured their latest round of funding from US investors Eckuity, to accelerate their U.S expansion. Read more on Sonrai’s blog here.
📈 Follow on funding: Makers is creating a new generation of tech talent through courses and apprenticeships, by combining an academy and a recruitment agency. They announced a £7m funding round led by BGF with follow-ons from Forward and Educapital. Read an interview with the founder of Makers, Claudia Harris in The Times here.
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