Evolving our investment strategy

This is a long post (1,900 words). For those of you who are time poor here’s the tltr:

  • Forward Partners operates a focused investment strategy because it helps us make better investment decisions and provide better support to our companies
  • A good focus area for us is one that can generate 50+ deals and where we can build some generalised expertise that helps with our decision making and value add
  • Until now we have focused on marketplaces and next generation ecommerce
  • Recently we evaluated lots of options and did a deep dive on Applied AI before selecting it as our next area of focus

For the three and a half years that we’ve been going, Forward Partners has operated a focused investment strategy. We observed that small transactions of all types are increasingly moving online and backed the companies that were helping to accelerate that trend. That meant lots of

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Google’s 5 Traits of Great Teams

As you may know Google has done an almost obsessive amount of research into what makes a high performing team. This post from Michael Schneider summarises what they found, into five traits that are easy to understand and easy to identify. Very powerful.
  1. Dependability.
    Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.

  2. Structure and clarity.
    High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group.

  3. Meaning.
    The work has personal significance to each member.

  4. Impact.
    The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.

  5. Psychological Safety.
    When everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions.

I love this for it’s simplicity and completeness. Unfortunately implementation sometimes remains challenging.  

Ten minutes mindfulness a day makes you a better leader

Want to see the confirmation bias at work? Then read on. I just read Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything and loved it. I meditate for 15 minutes first thing every morning and feel that it makes a big difference to me. As I meditate I can feel stress dissipate and my mind feels somehow less taut. In the same way a flexible muscle is able to absorb more shock than a taut one I feel I’m more able to control my response to things that go wrong or might otherwise instigate a knee jerk reaction. The article tells me that my experience is common and this excerpt goes a little way to explaining why.
Leaders across the globe feel that the unprecedented busyness of modern-day leadership makes them more reactive and less proactive. There is a solution to this hardwired, Continue reading "Ten minutes mindfulness a day makes you a better leader"

The growth equation

This growth equation is brilliant in it’s simplicity. I love that it forces the focus on a magic moment and core product value. Both are essential. Read more about this in First Round Capital’s latest article.

How to beat the behemoths

I just read Andrew Chen’s Growth is getting hard from intensive competition, consolidation, and saturation. His argument is that we are at a point in the cycle where distribution is controlled by a small number of companies who limit the opportunities for differentiation via marketing. He mentions Google, Apple, and Facebook, and I agree wholeheartedly. Facebook’s growth in revenue per use shows just how successful they’ve been in extracting value from the system and I’m sure we could find similar charts for the other two. Amazon is the other company that is dominating distribution, and for me most impressive and therefore ultimately the most scary of the lot. All four of these businesses have monopolistic tendencies that make it hard for startups to compete and get noticed. Chen identifies six trends which continue to make life more difficult:

Authenticity cannot be achieved solo

I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity recently. The first thing to say is that it’s a woolly concept. As an individual I am clearly me, and therefore of undisputed origin and not a copy. In common parlance then to be authentic is to be genuine, to be truly what we say we are. The problem with this is that most of us are, in fact, many different people. The person we are with our kids might be different from the person we are with our partner, which might again be different to who we are at work, and we might even be a different person depending on which group of friends we are with. There’s a tempting notion that the true person sits somehow at the middle of these different external facing people, but if you subscribe to the view, as I do, that we are no more than Continue reading "Authenticity cannot be achieved solo"

Entrepreneur to scale-up CEO: two very different skill sets

Growing from a founder to a scale-up CEO is challenging. Thinking up game changing ideas couldn’t be more different to running a large business. Many transitions are required along that journey but the one that I’ve been thinking about recently comes when the first product starts to take off. To simplify, before then success comes from trying lots of things, but after that success comes from making one thing work. Creativity is the main skill required in the first phase. It’s all about coming up with lots of ideas and seeing which ones have merit. It’s a time when the options seem limitless and new ones are opening up all the time. Conversations with customers and other industry players frequently go off on tangents revealing new opportunities and adding to the sense of upside. It’s all about getting a few irons in the fire and founders often have a growing belief that Continue reading "Entrepreneur to scale-up CEO: two very different skill sets"