The case for face to face: a guest post by Matthew Bradley, Investor at Forward Partners
From across the table at our dinners, partnerships have been formed, new clients have been engaged, teams have been grown and new business opportunities have been discovered. Matt Bradley, Investor at leading UK venture capital fund Forward Partners, spills the beans on the “case for face to face” – a subject close to our hearts!
Matt Bradley is a regular speaker at TableCrowd dinners. He is generous with his advice and his time and talks on topics including how to successfully close your round, what Forward Partners look for in the companies they invest in and what the businesses should look for in the investors they work with.
The case for face to face, by Matt Bradley, Investor at Forward Partners
“We’re in a crisis of attention. Almost everything around us attempts to gain our attention. As a result, we have a deficit. We try and live our lives at warp speed, investigating productivity hacks to the point where that exercise impacts our productivity. I’m not here to preach the gospel of a fulfilled life, rather the case for face to face and what TableCrowd has given me over the years.
Meeting face-to-face is a luxury though it often doesn’t seem it. In venture capital that might be the case as it’s so obviously necessary. It’s tough to really feel as though you ‘know’ people unless you’ve met, let alone trust them with millions. Personal connections count for a lot, we all know that.
At the end of each working day there are myriad events which we could attend, much like the startup community which we rely upon. That’s more face-to-face time and I’m sure that it can seem like a chore at times. We’ve all been there at our desks, it’s the evening, perhaps we should go home, chill out, chat to our partner, watch that episode or maybe even do some exercise. Or maybe we should get after it and we go to that networking event…who knows what it could deliver?
TableCrowd is one of the myriad, though I’ve always found it to be a special one. I’ve spoken 6 or 7 times and been a guest on occasion too. The recipe of networking over a great dinner, in a nice venue, with a bunch of strangers who’ve been brought together by a common interest is a great one.
I’ve sat at TableCrowd dinners talking about heli-skiing in Georgia (apparently it’s dead cheap), Greek politics, mental health…even the weather on occasion. I’ve also done some great work as a result. We got close to investing in a company as a result of meeting a founder over dinner – that’s a great achievement not least as we invest in just over 0.1% of the opportunities that we see as a fund. So, it’s great fun and you can do good business there. Quite aside from the value that you might get from the speaker, there is no catch beyond the price of your ticket.
My last TableCrowd delivered easily the greatest result out of any of those that I attended. I spent the second half of dinner sitting next to Dr. Louise Rix. Aside from plenty of great conversations about what being an actual, medical Doctor was like we got onto the topic of careers. She’d recently called time on her Entrepreneur First backed venture and was entertaining some startup roles. I suggested that she might want to throw her hat into the ring for our next Investment Associate slot (where we take aspiring investors in for a few months then support them as they look for a seat at a firm or a job at a startup).
Sure enough she did, and she got the job. Within days of her joining it was clear that this wasn’t someone that we could let go of. Intelligent, applied, proactive, productive and a pleasure to be around…I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d actually had spent all those years at medical school as an analyst at Index. Thankfully, we’ve managed to convince Louise to join us full-time at Forward Partners as an Investor. We all know how rare it is to come across top talent and just how valuable it can be and TableCrowd has delivered that for FP.
The power of face-to-face is undeniable. It takes a greater investment from all of us, but the returns on offer outweigh that cost many times over. TableCrowd offers a unique cocktail where you make personal connections and who knows where that might lead…it could be your next investor, mentor, customer, JV or even employee. If that’s not worth a little bit of time and money, I don’t know what is.”