London-based Forward Partners closes new £60M fund to invest in startups at idea and Seed stage

Forward Partners, the London-based VC firm originally founded by Forward Internet Group and Nic Brisbourne, has closed a new £60 million fund to continue investing in tech startups from idea to late Seed stage.

Noteworthy, the new fund has a single unnamed LP. Described only as a “major institutional investor,” I understand that unlike Forward Partners’ first fund, it isn’t Forward Internet Group itself. The new LP doesn’t sit on the VC’s investment committee, either.

In a call, Brisbourne stressed that, despite only having a single LP, Forward Partners’ second fund will be a fully independent entity managed by himself along with Investment Partner Martyn Holman, and Product Partner Dharmesh Raithatha.

He also said that the fund’s closing was testament that Forward Partners’ model is working. This sees the VC back companies at the earliest stages and, if needed, supports them with a startup studio-styled operational team of nine people, comprising marketers, recruiters, designers and developers. However, as with any super early-stage investor, it will take some years to see if the big bets really pay off.

To that end, four year-old Forward Partners has backed startups such as pop up retail marketplace Appear Here, personalised children’s book publisher Lost My Name, and healthcare company Big Health, amongst its 36 company portfolio.

Brisbourne told me the VC’s remit remains focussed on e-commerce and marketplaces “in every vertical” not just what might be traditionally considered to fit those categories, such as travel. He said this enables the firm to take and apply common learnings, including customer acquisition and retention, across many sectors.

That said, I’m told that Forward Partners is currently updating its investment thesis and should have more to say on this later in the year. The firm’s The Path Forward guide, first published in late 2015, still gives you an idea of what they are looking for and how the VC operates.

You can also listen below to my interview with Brisbourne from October 2015, much of which remains relevant to this day.