After two years of working at the earliest of early stages, I’m excited to be moving onto my next adventure with Hedosophia 🚀

Looking back, here are 20 things I learned from 2 years working in early stage VC…

On the Job 💼

Being a VC is the least scalable job in the world 🌎

1000 decks, 100 meetings, 10 deep-dives on DD and 2–3 investments per year… allocating capital in the most inefficient of markets, you need to optimise your workflow and prioritise, systematically.

Meeting the right founder, in the right place, at the right time involves an uncomfortable level of serendipity 🍀

A common question facing founders when pitching for VC investment, is what makes your idea, product or business model 10x better than incumbents?

This caveat to raising venture money often borders on cliché, to the extent that it’s become meaningless. While some perceive the ‘10x’ factor as something intangible and hence hard to articulate, having been lucky enough to come across a handful of these opportunities (out of the thousands we look at each year), it’s safe to say you know it when you see it.

That’s all well and good for investors, but for founders — who rarely get…

In 2018, we received 4,000+ pitch decks via a combination of warm introductions, serendipitous interactions and cold inbound — the latter being the largest source in terms of volume (>70%). We met with 400 founding teams and invested in 10 companies.

That’s a probability of 0.25%

… and means we said no 3,990 times (an average of 76 times per week).

Current table-stakes for VC responsiveness is pretty low and most funds who receive cold inbound leads don’t bother responding.

We’ve always given founders the courtesy of a “quick no” if it’s not for us, although until recently, it’s been…

Sales is hard… and there are plenty of exciting software startups out there who consistently fail to cut through the noise. Inexperienced sales teams lose out to larger, more mature vendors with vast resources and well-honed processes (despite offering a superior product.) Or they get killed by the prolonged sales cycles, which can be byzantine in some industries.

A “Sales Playbook” is a useful approach that can help startups combat these challenges as early as pre-seed and seed. …

The Drop started as a tailoring business named Jon Kruger, which the founders had set up to trial bespoke menswear, tailored in two weeks and delivered directly to the customer. With the insights gained through their initial trial, they wanted to build an ecommerce business that could be everyone’s personal fashion concierge.

Fast forward 18 months and the team have built a successful menswear brand, underpinned by a fully functional ecommerce site. Growing 30% month on month, the business reached an impressive £1 million run-rate in Summer 2018.

How we met

The Drop co-founders Jonathan Kruger & Stephen Stroud realised that to grow…

You may be familiar with the paradox of the “busy manager”…

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly the same productivity challenge often plagues early-stage founders as they struggle to take themselves out of the critical path of their business, or prioritise whilst in the constant state of being “uncomfortably busy”.

To help busy founders, we’ve got a neat productivity hack we use at FP (complete with a handy template for you to try it out for yourself). It may or may not also give a rare insight into the day-to-day life of an early-stage investor.

Key takeaways

  • Get your diaries out: Work out where you’re…

As a startup in venture capital, Forward Partners’ success is determined by delivering on a powerful and compelling promise that attracts the UK’s top founders. Our promise is to help them build startups better, faster and cheaper than alternative funding routes.

This year, we celebrate 5 years of game-changing VC, which provides us with sufficient track record (and an appropriate occasion) to evidence it. Having taken the steps to do so, we share what we have learned so that founders can better evidence their own brand promise. *Stay tuned for the results of our research in a separate post*

Key takeaways:

  • Know…

According to Startup Genome, 92% of startups fail within three years. Forbes puts the figure at 90% within five years whilst Mattermark shows the graduation rate from seed to Series A is less than 10% amongst “high profile” US startups.

While statistical variations arise due to the different vintages, geographies and definitions around funding rounds, whatever figures founders use to measure their startup risks, the odds are heavily stacked against them.

At Forward Partners, we help founders beat those odds.

In fact…

With us, pre-seed founders are 4x more likely to raise a Series A.

Arrive at pre-seed, leave with a Series A

Based on a cohort of…

So far, we’ve lifted the lid on what makes our model of Applied VC a better, faster and cheaper alternative for founders to achieve venture scale outcomes. For those only tuning into the series now, here’s a recap on what makes us stand out…

Compared to UK angel and venture backed companies, FP founders:

Negotiations can be daunting. Whether you’re convincing a senior hire to join the team, deciding terms with suppliers or drafting customer agreements, they should always be characterised by cooperation, not conflict. When raising investment, entrepreneurs face an additional trade-off known as the ‘Founder’s Dilemma’. By understanding this better, it’s possible to navigate the deal process more openly, and effectively.

Key takeaways:

  • Get inside each other’s heads. Don’t assume anything. Ask questions and listen.
  • When negotiating price, focus the discussion on value, not on valuation.
  • When negotiating terms, understand the trade-offs inherent in the Founder’s Dilemma.
  • Don’t leave terms lingering in the ether. Time kills deals.
  • Pick up the phone. Open and frequent communication keeps everyone close.

Fighting over lemons

The “lemon game” (often interchangeable with oranges), is used by business schools for negotiation training worldwide. The game divides the MBA class into three parties, each of whom are set up to assume they’re in for a tough and prolonged negotiation.

One group (the sellers)…

Chris Corbishley

VC investor with a particular interest in Financial Services across all stages from seed on

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