Founders Programme: interview with Rich Serunjogi

Luke Smith

Partner + Investor

June 20, 2019

Following opening applications for the 2nd Edition of our Founders Programme, we had a chat with a member of our last cohort - Rich Serunjogi - to learn more about his experience of the programme and how he has progressed since.

Born and raised in Croydon, London, Rich studied social policy at LSE and also worked as a community organiser on theLiving Wage Campaign. After 2 years working as a consultant at McKinsey, Rich found the itch to begin building something of his own design too overwhelming to ignore.

How did you hear about the Founders Programme?

I heard about the Founders Programme via my friend Deborah Okenla (Founder at YSYS) who posted it in the 10x10 WhatsApp group (a community for black entrepreneurs and investors run Andy Davis). I realise I’d heard of several of Forward Partners’ portfolio companies and so was super intrigued to learn more.

What was appealing about the programme?

Well, I’m a solo founder without technical expertise - and therefore I know I need the technical help and support that can augment my domain expertise. Forward have a track record of supporting people just like me in bringing their ideas to life, and the Founders Programme was a great chance to experience that approach - and potentially raise funding in the process.

What of your experience of the programme - what was most valuable to you?

When I first started the programme, I did have some initial traction with an invoice financing business - but it became clear it was going to be hard to scale and to truly serve the small business owner that I really care about supporting. I had 3 different ideas I tested in parallel for a couple weeks but in the end, thanks to Luke (investor at Forward), I focused my energy on just the one.

Dharmesh’s session on user development really helped me find this focus. He helped me understand what I should be doing, and most importantly what I shouldn’t be doing - knowing that anything but validating my product with potential users is superfluous in the early stages. That was a shift in mindset for me and has been invaluable to my progress ever since.

What has happened since the programme?

A lot! After discussing investment opportunities withEuropean investors, Forward Partners included, I decided to accept a spot on Y-Combinators Summer 2019 program. In turn I’ve also managed to recruit a technical co-founder too, so really pleased with progress.

For anyone considering the programme - you’d say it’s worthwhile?

Absolutely. Forward are designed for founders with just an idea - so they couldn’t be better placed to help people like me trying to figure out a direction. Their investment team have a great view of the big picture, whilst their studio team understand the ins and outs of product development and growth - everything you need to work towards and find product market fit.

The programme gave me tools and frameworks to build, a mindset to focus, a tonne of great reading and content, and of course a new network of relationships in venture capital and tech. An awesome way to spend 5weeks.

If you’re keen to get the same access and experience asRich, be sure to apply to our Founders Programme here.

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Luke Smith

Partner + Investor

June 20, 2019

Luke joined Forward Partners from REV Venture Partners, a corporate VC, where he was responsible for deal origination, investment due diligence and portfolio reporting. 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. His focus at Forward Partners is on sourcing and executing new investments.