The Forward Experience

A 2023 Lookback

A Note from Our CEO & Co-founder

“Our team’s passion and commitment are critical to our company's success and are the reasons we continue to drive our mission.”

At Forward, everything we do is centered on our belief that every business deserves financial opportunity. Our team is the engine and heart of what we do and is what makes our organization and culture truly stand out among the rest.

2023 was an impactful year for our organization. We helped countless customers get the funding they needed to thrive. We also added new, talented individuals to our team across both the United States and Dominican Republic. We achieved many amazing wins together and also weathered a few storms, always emerging from the other side stronger.

We owe all of our success to the talented team members we are lucky to work with every day. In this report, we highlight just a few of our 2023 accomplishments and what makes our team, culture, and company so special.

2024 is sure to be another impactful year for our team, and we are so excited to see how our story continues to unfold!

Justin Bakes, Co-founder & CEO

Justin Bakes CEO and co-founder of forward financing

What We're
All About

Our Mission Is Simple

To build a world-class fintech company so our customers and our people can reach their full potential. We believe in the power of small businesses and the positive impact they can have on the communities where we live and work.

Our Core Values

Drive the Mission

We believe in financial opportunity for underserved small businesses.

We say “yes” when others say “no.”

Keep It Real

We value direct communication, candid feedback, and authenticity.

We are an open book.

Act With Kindness

We create an environment where caring is cool and helping is the norm.

We do the right thing.

Shoot for Extraordinary

We are inspired by innovative thinking and continuous improvement.

We never settle for yesterday’s best.

by the Numbers

Reaching New Heights

2023 was a year of achieving remarkable milestones and looking toward the future. We placed a keen focus on strengthening the foundation of our business while simultaneously charting a path for growth. Our commitment to supporting an increasing number of small businesses year-over-year remains steadfast, and we are continuously exploring new ways to enhance their experience — making it better, faster, and more seamless. Throughout 2023, we served over 14,000 small business customers, bringing our total number of customers served to more than 55,000. None of this would have been possible without our entire team Shooting for Extraordinary!

Customers served in 2023

0 +

Customers served since inception

0 +

Customers located in a low-to-moderate-income area

0 %

Funding provided in 2023

$ 0 M

Funding provided since inception

$ 0 B

Our Extraordinary Team

Team members located in the United States

0 +

Get to Know
Our Teams

Account Servicing 

Our Account Servicing Department ensures customer satisfaction by providing excellent service and assisting customers who are experiencing financial hardship.


The Analytics department is responsible for providing valuable insights that enhance operations and business outcomes across all departments, allowing the business to make data-driven decisions.


Our Legal team ensures regulatory compliance on behalf of the company in addition to our government affairs efforts. The team reviews contracts and corporate transactions, and educates regulators and legislators about revenue-based financing.


The Marketing team develops and implements strategies to promote Forward’s services and brand to various audiences, such as customers (small businesses), ISOs (partners), and new talent (future Forward team members).


The People team is divided into two specialized groups: Talent Acquisition and People & Culture. Our Talent Acquisition team is dedicated to sourcing top talent and ensuring a best-in-class candidate experience. Our People & Culture team focuses on fostering employee growth, enhancing retention, and cultivating an engaging workplace environment to uphold Forward’s reputation as an exceptional place to work.


The Sales team is divided into two parts: New Sales and Renewals. The New Sales team works directly with ISOs, or partners, to fund new deals and provide capital to new small business customers. Our Renewals team works with existing customers and our ISOs to expand our relationships and provide additional funding to help our customers’ businesses continue to grow.

Strategy & Finance

The Accounting and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) teams make up the Strategy & Finance department. FP&A monitors and forecasts the business’s operational outcomes and ensures that all legal and lending criteria are met. The accounting department is responsible for all incoming and outgoing financial transactions.


The Technology team, composed of Engineering, DevOps, Product, Information Security, and IT departments, is responsible for building and maintaining Forward Financing’s proprietary applications, business systems, and office hardware.


The Underwriting team is responsible for reviewing applications from small businesses for funding and providing a rapid, competitive, and profitable decision.

Employee Experience at Forward

Our Greatest Asset

At Forward, we Act With Kindness, creating an environment where caring is cool and helping is the norm. This drives every part of an employee’s journey at Forward, from the time they join our team, through various stages of growth and challenges, professional successes, and personal milestones. Our goal is that every team member feels celebrated, supported, and cared for at the individual level.

Welcoming New Team Members

At Forward, we take onboarding new members of the team very seriously. New hires follow a thoughtful and comprehensive onboarding program, including 1:1 coffee chats with our CEO, partnering with a welcome ambassador to learn the business, volunteering with peers, and more. By establishing this foundation from the very start, we set our people up for long-term success at the company. In 2023, we onboarded 18 new employees into strategic roles at Forward.

Cultivating a Culture of Recognition

We’re firm believers that supporting our employees through recognition, engagement, and continuous development is paramount. Over the years, we have developed a continuous feedback model through quarterly performance reviews, employee goal setting, and frequent engagement surveys. In 2023, we grew our culture of recognition YoY with 81% more shoutouts and 220% more standing ovation awards. We also continued to develop our goal-setting process by implementing the Objective and Key Result (OKR) format.

Standing Ovation Award

We continued our Forward Standing Ovation Award – a way to reward and celebrate employees who have delivered outstanding performance while also exemplifying our core values. Award recipients receive a congratulatory, personalized message from department leadership in addition to a monetary gift.


employees received a Standing Ovation Award

Employee Recognition Channel

We nurtured our Recognition Program, which enables all employees to publicly shout-out and recognize their colleagues on a daily basis. These shout-outs are tied to our Forward Core Values and are tracked so that all managers can see the impact of their team members’ hard work throughout the year. By highlighting and celebrating both individual and team wins, we are building a strong sense of community, teamwork, and engagement across all teams.


total shoutouts received

+ 0 %

employees have received a shoutout

Empowering Our Team

At Forward, our people are the heart of our organization. That’s why we do everything we can to help them thrive! We help our people grow in their current roles or transition internally to a new role that aligns better with their career goals. We know that the success of our team directly correlates with the success of our company. That’s why we’re committed to fostering an environment where our employees can Shoot For Extraordinary!

2023 Employee Development by the Numbers

+ 0 %

of our employees were promoted in 2023

0 +

employees utilized the
Professional Development Program

Professional Development Program

This program represents an incredibly important investment in encouraging professional growth among our employees. Its primary objective is to provide them with experiences that foster development both in their current roles and within the company. Each employee is granted an annual stipend to invest in their career development. In 2023, we launched a Professional Development Course Catalog, showcasing various online courses, professional certifications, conferences, and more as examples and ideas for employees to leverage their budget. Over 40 employees utilized their Professional Development stipend in 2023!

High five icon

Cross-Functional Communication & Collaboration

One of our core values is to Keep It Real, we value direct communication, candid feedback, and authenticity. Throughout 2023, we developed new ways to facilitate collaboration and keep our team up-to-date on company news. We enhanced our bi-monthly Huddles, an all-hands meeting updating the team on business performance and company wins. We also introduced new programs such as Learning Loop, our internal Learning and Development session offering team members a peek behind the curtains in their co-workers’ day-to-day work.

Objectives and Key Results

In 2023, we put more rigor around our goal-setting process. We followed the Objective and Key Results (OKR) format, creating tangible and measurable goals at the company, department, and individual levels, ensuring each team member could see how their work was driving top-down success at the organization.

Internal Mobility

We’re proud to support our employees by helping them grow in their current roles or transition internally to a new role that aligns with their longer-term career aspirations. Through our Internal Mobility Program, employees are encouraged to explore internal job opportunities as they arise and apply for a new role if it’s of interest to them. Either through a promotion, internal transfer, or elevation to a management role, our employees are given the opportunity to leverage their existing knowledge while continuing to develop their skillsets.

Caring for Our Team

At Forward, we recognize that each one of our team members is unique and has unique needs. We are committed to ensuring that every single employee feels cared for both inside and outside of work. Act With Kindness – we create an environment where caring is cool and helping is the norm. We do the right thing. We continually collect employee feedback and take action on it, especially when it comes to supporting our employees personally. It’s critical to us that every employee has access to high quality care, in whatever way they may need it.

Maintaining Employee Choice

In 2022, we established a hybrid work environment that puts employee choice first. We implemented our Employee Choice program, empowering individuals to decide where they work best, whether that is in our office, from home, or wherever life may take them. In 2023, we continued this program, giving employees complete flexibility to establish and adjust their schedule and work setup based on their individual needs, allowing them to do their best work. At the end of 2023, Forward was named a 2024 Best Place to Work by Built In, placing on their national list for Best Midsize Places to Work.

Cultivating a culture and work environment that is truly unique and reflective of our core values is a top priority for us at Forward. Empowering employees through Employee Choice is just one of the ways we do this."

— Shannon Braley, Chief People Officer

Forward Benefits & Perks

Forward Flex Pass

We continued our Flex Pass Program which grants all employees monthly funds to spend on wellness, commuting, or home office expenses. When it comes to benefits in a hybrid environment, there is no one-size-fits-all policy. This benefit empowers employees to spend the funds in a way that works best for them.

Competitive Compensation

Our people work hard, and we make sure they feel appreciated by conducting regular market assessments, offering robust compensation packages, and matching 401(k) contributions. In 2023, Forward partnered with an external compensation consultant to holistically evaluate compensation to ensure equity.

Medical Coverage

Forward understands the importance of comprehensive medical care and doesn’t think cost should be a barrier for their team members getting the care they need. That’s why, in 2023, Forward absorbed the cost of any increases in medical premiums for its employees, maintaining the same employee cost for coverage as 2022.

Supporting New Parents

We proudly welcomed 11 new babies into the Forward family along with 7 new parents. Forward’s paid leave program offers new parents eight weeks of paid leave and includes time off for those who experience pregnancy loss, stillbirth, failed adoption, surrogacy, or fertility treatment. This allows employees to take the time they need to grieve or recover without explanation.

Learning & Development

Forward offered quarterly learning and development opportunities for both individual contributors and managers. These sessions covered topics such as navigating difficult conversations, establishing leadership presence, taking ownership of career growth, and public speaking in a virtual world. Forward managers also had sessions on negotiating strategies and effective coaching.

Additionally, 12 top performing team members were nominated and selected to participate in a four month long “Real-Time Learning” leadership development program. Participants of the NimblyWise Program participated in both group sessions and individual 1:1 coaching sessions with a career coach to help them learn to identify patterns, anticipate change, and proactively adapt their skills.

Fostering a Safe & Inclusive Culture

Forward actively promotes a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in all we do. We are committed to creating a workplace where trust and respect are paramount, and all employees feel valued, heard, and accepted. It’s a top priority for us that DEI efforts do not feel separate from our business initiatives, but rather help us Drive the Mission and are core to who we are as a company.

In 2023, we primarily focused our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy on truly embedding DEI into Forward’s everyday culture. We strive for all employees to feel like they belong at Forward, that their voices are heard and valued, and that they consider Forward a safe and inclusive place to work. We are extremely proud of our 2023 accomplishments, and feel they have set us up for future success. As we look ahead to 2024, we are committed to prioritizing DEI in all we do.

Forward was honored to receive a Gold Stevie® Award in Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion and a Bronze Stevie® Award in Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility in The 21st Annual American Business Awards®.

A few of our 2023 initiatives included:

Continuous DEI Engagement Opportunities

Throughout 2023, we hosted ten all-employee DEI speaker sessions and six Employee Resource Group (ERG) meetings. These sessions included topics related to workplace belonging and mental health, anti-racism, and building impactful allyship with the LGBTQ+ community. We also hosted internal roundtable sessions, hearing from Forward’s women in leadership and US Veterans. Our goal for each workshop was to expand our employees’ perspectives and emphasize the importance of continuous learning in this space. Nearly 90% of our employees attended at least one session.

DEI Employee Resource Group

We’ve continued to prioritize our Employee Resource Group (ERG), a group centered around open and safe discussion on a variety of DEI related topics. With over 35 group members, we discussed topics from the gender pay gap, the history of Pride month, antisemitism, Black resistance, social responsibility, the politicization of gendered bodies, and more. The group’s goal is to build awareness and education, and take that foundation and turn it into action.

One of our major focuses in 2023 was to empower and support our women-identifying employee population. We recognize that strong businesses have diverse workforces when it comes to race, ethnicity, and gender. We also recognize that women are disproportionately represented in the financial services and technology industries. We are committed to bridging this gap while fostering an equitable and inclusive workforce.

0 %

of our employees are women-identifying.

0 %

of all 2023 new hires
are women-identifying

0 %

of employees promoted in 2023 are women-identifying

Coming Together
as a Team

Core to our culture is a connected team, filled with energized, passionate, and driven employees. We love to bring our people together to build relationships, collaborate cross-functionally, and have a little fun!

Forward Palooza

As a remote-first organization that offers employees the flexibility to work and live where they want, Forward understands that meaningful connections are pivotal to a thriving workplace. That’s why we go the extra mile to create opportunities for the team to come together. Forward Palooza is a bi-annual meetup in the Boston office consisting of employee learning development opportunities, a company all-hands, and opportunities to connect and celebrate.

Growing Our Team in the Dominican Republic

Forward has a growing subsidiary based in Santiago, Dominican Republic (DR), boasting a diverse team spanning across numerous functions of our business. In 2023, the team expanded significantly, reaching over 230 people. Our team in the DR is integral to Driving the Mission. We would not be able to serve our customers without them. Stay tuned as the Forward Financing employee experience continues to flourish in the DR!

Forward financing team members

Giving Back

Our employees are personally committed to Driving the Mission in all that we do – and that includes supporting our local and underserved communities. In 2023, our teams volunteered and donated to a variety of organizations and had fun doing it!


of employees completed a Volunteer Day


gifted to each new hire to donate to an organization of their choice


volunteer events facilitated across 7 different organizations


in matched charitable donations per employee per year

Through our giving and match program, we donated a total of





What people have to say about Forward

“The strong culture that has been built at Forward has made it a pleasure to come to work every day. I am proud to be a part of an organization that prioritizes its employees and fosters a positive and motivating work environment.”

— Brendan Moore

“Forward cares about creating a flexible work environment that prioritizes well-being. From generous time off to recharge, to being able to work remote, I feel like I am always able to maintain a healthy work-life-balance!”

— Toni Ostlund

“The culture fosters mutual respect and support, empowering growth while also valuing personal responsibilities. Its flexible policies allow us to balance commitments without compromising career advancement. It’s rewarding to work for an employer committed to the overall employee success and fulfillment.”

— Brayan Zepeda

99 %

CEO approval

92 %

recommend to a friend

Awards We’ve Won

Inaugural list of the B2B
companies that go the
extra mile to provide
game-changing support
for small businesses

#45 Best Fortune Best
Workplaces for Millenials

Achievement in
Diversity & Inclusion

Achievement in
Corporate Social

Best Place to Work (2023)

Achievement in Sales and Customer Service (2023)

Our Vision for the Future

In 2023, our organization, customers, and team thrived, marking a year of remarkable success. As we look to 2024 and beyond, our commitment remains unwavering: to champion small businesses while upholding our A+ culture. Our dedication extends beyond business triumphs; we’re dedicated to fostering the success of our people. After all, it’s our exceptional team that truly defines Forward’s workplace excellence. We can’t wait to see what we achieve in 2024, both for our cherished customers and our invaluable team members.

Stay up to date on our progress here!

All content and statistics are accurate as of December 31, 2023