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VC Corner Q&A: Nic Brisbourne of Forward Partners

Nic Brisbourne is Managing Partner at Forward Partners, a new kind of VC with an agency inside. It directly helps founders design, build and grow their companies with the assistance they need to achieve their potential faster.

— What is Forward Partner’s mission?

Our mission is really the same as most other funds — to help the next great founders succeed and build products that create real value. What makes us different is how we do it.

Any investor will give you cash — and most will now also give you access to their network or a “platform” of experts. But we go one step further and have built a VC with an agency inside.

That means we can directly help founders design, build and grow their startups — and as a result, our portfolio has been 4x more likely to reach Series A, with 55% higher value.

— What is one thing you’re excited about right now?

Aside from obvious answers like our portfolio’s success, it has to be the way in which our agency team and ability drive growth in how our portfolio is expanding.

It is now being run by our new Partner Jasel Mehta, an ex General Manager at AKQA, who is really taking our operations to the next level.

— Who is one founder you think we should watch?

Rachel Carrel from Koru Kids is a remarkable entrepreneur, with a hugely meaningful mission.

— What are the top 3 qualities of every great leader?

Passion, grit and an inspiring vision.

— What was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

Forward Partners first investment was Big Health — a virtual therapist service for insomnia and related mental health issues. Their mission is to make billions of people better without pills or potions, and I still find it inspiring today.

— What’s one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

There’s got to be more than one! I’ll offer three: Can this be huge? Will the product make a big difference to the world and will they move very fast post investment?

— What’s one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

It’s important for them to think carefully about how and why that particular investor is the one they want in their corner. Not all VCs are equal, and not all VCs are made for every founder.

As well as that, I’d refer them to think about the three questions above, to warm up for us!

— What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

That varies over time, but sales growth, team quality and product quality are good candidates.

— Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

— What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Hang out with my family.

— Who is one leader you admire?

Jeff Bezos.

— What’s one interesting thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m a keen meditator and amateur body hacker, with the goal of living like I’m 40 until I’m 80.

— What’s one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

Self awareness and personal growth are the keys to long term success.

— Anything else you’d like to share?

A really important topic to us is the area of diversity — and Dr. Louise Rix from our investment team has just put out our first report on the ratios of females and ethnic minority founders in our portfolio.

Because we invest so early, in founders with as little as a pitch deck and a great idea, I believe we’re a remarkably good fit for anyone who might be ignored or neglected by more traditional firms.

There’s plenty of progress ahead, but we believe it will only come faster by shedding more light and transparency on the topic.

Ready to make a pitch? Startups looking for an opportunity to pitch Foward Partners can apply here!

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