Meet the Scouts - James Frewin

Designer & Founder of OCTOBER® Design Studio. James works with Startups, VC’s and Tech Companies to create best-in-class digital products, brands and pitch decks which have helped raise over $150m.

How long have you been scouting for?

I’ve been “officially” scouting since 2019 – first with Backed VC but now also with Landscape, but even before then I was always meeting founders and trying to link them up with investors I knew since probably mid-2017.

What got you into scouting?

To be honest I just love meeting people and making connections for people too. I’ve always done it for friends and clients etc so to do it for founders and investors just came naturally. When I first came to London in 2017 I didn’t really know anyone and so I got involved with a couple of communities (Google Campus/Google for Startups and YSYS) and with YSYS especially there were some amazing companies being built by people there. When Backed VC reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested to scout for them and help introduce them to these companies – and I had the opportunity to learn more about the VC world it was super interesting to me, of course.

Potential compensation aside, what do you enjoy most about scouting?

I really didn’t know anything about investment or VC before I got involved and I felt like learning more about it would only benefit me considering most of my clients were funded startups and VC funds. So that extra knowledge has helped but the bit I enjoy the most is the other people I’ve met doing it – I love the other Backed VC Scouts, I’ve made some amazing friends and it was from there that I met Joe the founder of Landscape!

What makes you stand out as a scout?

I’d like to say that I think my background in design has really helped me understand product and be able to identify when a product is “properly” made by a team who actually cares about what they’re doing. I think I’m also generally a very curious person so I’m always playing around with new tools and trying to understand how they’re used or what the future could look like.

If you had $1m to invest right now, where would you put it?

Great question, I love companies that facilitate work or facilitate other companies being run better or more easily (Slack, Shopify etc) so I’m always interested in that space and I’ve seen some very cool companies recently – and I’m also really interested right now in building products for sustainability, green-tech, EVs but with a great UX as a lot of what exists in that space is severely lacking a nice user experience. Probably something in those spaces.

What do you think is most important about cultivating the relationship between a scout and founder? And between a scout and a vc?

I think it’s a combination of things. I think there’s an element of like – just being another person on a founder’s side championing them and trying to give any advice I have for them – especially for first time founders and trying to help make their lives easier, and between a scout and a VC I think it’s being an extra pair of eyes for them and the trust that I’ll share companies I really believe in but that if the VC has a blindspot that I’m extra familiar with (like design companies for example) that I’ll really push them to consider them if I think there’s something that stands out to me.

How would you like to see the startup/venture/fundraising ecosystem evolve in the future?

I’d love for more services and companies to be built to help facilitate fundraising, especially for people without networks or without access to investors, but who are still building great businesses. I’m so happy to see that the ecosystem is moving in this direction and I hope it will keep getting better.

You can connect with James on LinkedIn here and follow his Twitter here. Just drop him a DM for a chat or email him at 💬.

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