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Investor Spotlight: Luke Smith, Forward Partners

In Planning growth, Raising finance, Rapidly scaling - 2 years ago - 4 min

Investor Spotlight: Luke Smith, Forward Partners

Every month we talk to an Investor from our network, who invest in early-stage businesses seeking to raise up to £10m in equity and debt finance. This month we spoke to Luke Smith, Investor, at Forward Partners.

Luke focuses on sourcing & executing new investments and working with portfolio companies. Luke joined Forward Partners from REV Venture Partners, a corporate VC focusing on data & analytics, digital health and next generation media. He was previously a consultant with the strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman, where he worked across the retail, aviation, healthcare and FMCG sectors.

Luke originally planned a career in science and he holds a PhD in biochemistry.

Could you tell us a little bit more about Forward Partners?

At Forward Partners we provide investment and execution support to pre-seed and seed stage companies with a focus on ecommerce, marketplaces and applied AI. Alongside cash investment we help companies execute faster by providing access to our team of dedicated experts covering development, design, UX/UI, product, talent, growth and PR/communications.

How big is your portfolio? And how much do you typically invest?

We’ve invested in 48 companies across our funds and look to make 12 new investments per year. At pre-seed stage we typically invest £300k as well as providing workspace and access to our product team. At seed stage we typically invest £400k-1m

What are the top three things you look at when considering a new investment?

We look for:

  1. A great founder/team;
  2. A product that solves a real pain point for the user;
  3. A market large enough to achieve venture scale returns.

Are there any companies you’d like to highlight that you’ve worked with?

We’ve invested in companies such as Appear Here, Zopa, Drover, Wonderbly (formerly, Live Better With and Patch.

Any companies that got away that you wish you’d backed?

We saw Koru Kids at pre-seed but didn’t invest. Fortunately we got another chance and led the seed round.

What are the big red flags for you when reviewing investment propositions?

Founders who can’t articulate the pain point their product addresses are always a real concern. Alarm bells also ring when founders try to brush off or ignore questions about their business, as honesty and transparency are crucial. It’s also generally a no from me when it’s obvious that there are bad team dynamics.

I wish I saw more…

Companies leveraging AI in underserved markets such as healthcare, agriculture or science.

I wish I saw fewer…

Recruitment tech companies and ICOs.

What I wish I could tell every founder…

It’s better to get a quick ‘no’ via email than take time in a meeting where there’s no fit.

What do you see as the next industry to be disrupted?

I’m very excited by the potential of technology such as computer vision to disrupt agriculture..

How should a business seeking finance approach you?

It’s best to come through our website – you can apply to our monthly office hours pitching sessions there. Alternatively you can get in touch via LinkedIn or ask someone in our network to connect you.

If you are thinking about raising investment for your business and want to understand your options, get some free guidance from one of our team team today on 08081 722350 or drop us an email: