I wanted to share with all of you some exciting news. For the TL:DR:
Forward Thinking City is rebranding to FWD, pronounced “Forward”
We raised a pre-seed round, with participation from Eric Ries and Dave Goldblatt!
From City To Professional Social Network
When I started FWD, it was really just an extension of my podcast, Forward Thinking Founders. I just quit my job and I needed to bring money in to pay rent. Due to that, I didn’t spend much time thinking about branding or positioning of the city. It took me a few hours to come up with the city theme, thought it was something people would align with, so I started running with it. 120+ residents and $1,000 MRR later, we had a city! We had taxes, a city council, and a really active community, and even city gates. We started a radio station and even had plans for a newspaper.
The fun thing with a city is that it could really go in any direction. And the residents own a chunk of the city, just like real cities work. I think this is a great model, but recently, I’ve been pondering what I wanted to do with this “city”. Did I want to make it a creator thing, get 1,000 residents, and call it good? Or did I want to do something bigger….?
To Create or To Scale?
Although being a creator sounds like a great lifestyle, I’ve worked too hard to get in the position to slow down when I’m in the best position of my life to accelerate. Accelerate not for me, but for every outsider that the system has shut down and shut off. The way the startup world works has changed significantly in 2020, which means there is an opportunity to replace the old version with something far better. COVID allowed founders like me to throw iterative changes of how things work out the window. The future is a blank canvas and we have all have a paintbrush; It’s our choice to take it or not.
After months of reflecting, I decided that having a successful creator company wasn't enough. I wanted to build a venture scale company in order to solve the venture scale problem; The startup industry doesn’t know how to filter by merit. They only know how to filter by credential. And the team that figures out a solution to this will have paved the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs to learn how to build, grow, and scale…and NOT feel pressured to play status games. This is an opportunity worth swinging at, so decided to go big. In order to go big, I needed to massage the brand a bit to get it to a better position.
What Makes a Venture Scale Brand?
I’m the last person to know what makes a venture scale brand, because I’ve never made one. I do think I can say I know what doesn’t, though. Although “city” has a fun branding, I can see a lot of friction getting past “what is a virtual city?” questions by potential residents or investors. Recently, investors got stuck on that point, instead of what the actual product is. Even though there’s a world where a virtual city could work, I don’t want that added friction to achieve my goal. As I was pondering this, I came across this Tweet.
The goal I set out to reach was never to create a city. It was to solve a problem in the industry. Trying to accomplish both is an impossible path. So, I decided to focus on the problem and not get too wrapped up in the allure of starting a city.
Instead of a city, I need something more palatable to the market. At the end of the day, I am building a network so I decided to call it what it is; A professional social network. With a new brand comes a new name! With some help from friends, I decided to call it Forward, and brand it as FWD. The progression looked like the following.
Forward Thinking City —> Forward City —> Forward —> FWD.
Why FWD? No matter where you are in life, you always have something if you’re moving Forward. and FWD is a brand that I think will align with Gen Z very well, who is the future of the world’s workforce. Here is the initial logo and copy I came up with. I see it sticking for a long time.
At the end of the day, a brand is only as good as the company it represents and in order to reach our potential, we needed to raise capital. On that front, I have another announcement…
We Closed a Pre-Seed Round!
I’m happy to announce we closed our pre-seed round in the last few months! The round included:
Dave Goldblatt - Spent 2007-2017 at Facebook working on product and growth.
I am extremely grateful that these two took a bet on me when it was far from clear that I was even going to decide to build a venture scale company. And if it wasn’t for their capital, I probably would be working a job right now! Their investment allowed me to see FWD through and get it to the point it is at today. I am eternally grateful for their conviction and hopefully will make them tons of money in return! :)
Today, I have never been more excited to work on something. FWD maybe only was founded in August, but the fire within me has been building for over a decade in this space. I appreciate you all following along. Stay tuned, I hear the next chapter is where things really pick up ;) As always, thanks for your support. Onward and upward!
Do you want to break into startups without needing to move to a startup hub like SF or Miami? You may like what we’re cooking up at FWD. Check us out here.