Meet Luke, Investment Partner at Forward.
Forward invests in high-growth companies at early stages. Investing early not only means great deals on equity, it means we can roll up our sleeves and get involved right from the start, supporting businesses to build strong foundations for growth.
We specialise in pre-seed and seed stage investments within marketplace, applied AI and Web3 sectors, backing teams and products with promise and momentum. We also provide support right from the start of our investment. This is achieved through our dedicated Studio team who help founders on the ground with expert execution and our investors who support at board level, through strategic advice.
Our investment team are the engine room at Forward. They uncover outstanding founder talent, deep dive into new trends, analyse the growth potential of the companies we meet and build long-lasting relationships with the founders in our portfolio. In this article, you’ll meet Luke, Investment Partner who leads our team of investors.
Tell us a little about your career to date?
I started out with big aspirations to become a scientist so did a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, before realising that academia wasn't for me. That led to a couple of years in strategy consulting at Oliver Wyman, which was a great introduction to how to think about businesses and markets as I spent time across retail, aviation, FMCG and healthcare. During this time, I contributed to many exciting projects like multi-million supplier negotiations for a large UK supermarket, promotions optimisation for large FMCG and digital transformation for an airline. After Oliver Wyman, I spent a few years at Reed Elsevier Ventures, the corporate VC of RELX Group, before joining Forward Partners back in 2016.
What made you want to work at Forward?
I was excited to work in a fund that could provide real help and support to founders through the Studio team and Forward’s big ambition to build the UK’s leading early-stage investor.
What technology sectors are exciting to you right now?
I'm excited by the use of AI to solve boring problems in traditional industries, which can often present surprisingly large markets. From automating repetitive legal work (e.g. Robin AI), to helping salespeople be more efficient, to better pricing insurance, there are lots of big problems that have become increasingly addressable with well-understood AI tools. I expect to see many large companies built over the next few years to solve these issues.
What do you think makes a stand-out founder?
I like to use my own framework, CIDL - Competence, Insight, Drive, Leadership. I believe a stand-out founder combines all four.
- Competence - attention to detail, proactivity and ability to get things done.
- Insight - a unique or difficult to achieve understanding of the customer, technology or market.
- Drive - passion, tenacity and resilience.
- Leadership - ability to attract and retain talent, build a narrative and sell.
A standout founder to me, combines these four attributes. Displaying competence to get things done to a very high standard, with some kind of unique or hard to build insight into the market and pain point they are addressing. To turn that idea into a viable business, a founder needs massive drive to keep going through the inevitable tough times and the leadership to build and motivate an exceptional team.
Do you have any advice for founders looking to secure funding from Forward?
We don't need a warm intro or recommendation, so feel free to just reach out but make sure you explain how you fit our focus areas and can articulate how you're solving a big problem in a massive market.
There are many ways you can contact Forward. For pre-seed stage companies, you can apply to our monthly Office Hours programme. If your a seed-stage company, you can submit your deck for review directly via our website.
Who's making waves in the Forward portfolio?
Gravity Sketch is really exciting, having raised a big Series A from Accel and GV earlier this year. Now a leading innovator in the digital design industry, offering intuitive 3D design software for cross-disciplinary teams to create, collaborate, and review in an entirely new way. They are well positioned to become the go-to design tool for 3D assets, a big and growing market.
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