Storm Ventures, a venture firm focused on early stage B2B start-ups, announced this week that it has promoted Pascale Diaine and Frederik Groce to partner with the company.
The two new partners have worked their way up over the past few years. Groce joined Storm in 2016 and has invested in SaaS startups like Workato, Splashtop, NextRequest and Camino. Diaine joined a year later and has invested in companies such as Sendoso, German Bionic, InEvent and Talkdesk.
Groce, who is also the founder at BLCK VC and who helped the Black Venture Institute build a network of black investors, says these promotions show the company needs to be more diverse, and Storm recognizes that. “If you think about the way our team works, I think this is how venture teams must work to be successful for the next 40 years. So the hope is that over time everyone will do this and we’ll get there early, ”said Groce.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case at the moment, not even near it. According to a study by Crunchbase, only 12% of venture capitalists are women, and two-thirds of companies don’t have female investors. Now only about 4% of ventures investors are black.
These numbers affect the number of black and female founders because, as Groce points out, the lack of founders in underrepresented groups is partly a networking problem. “In a network-based business, you cannot ensure that there is great talent in all ecosystems if the network or the teams that run those networks are not diverse,” he said.
The French Diaine, who started her career by founding Orange Fab, the corporate accelerator of European Telco Orange, made her international Business background for Storm where she helped her tailor this experience to an investor focus and supported her as she learned the nuances of the investing side of the business.
“I don’t come from the VC world. I come from the innovative corporate world. So they had to train me and spend time bringing me up to date. And they spent so much time making sure I understood everything to make sure I got to that level, ”she said.
Both partners bring their own unique views and are looking for investment opportunities beyond Silicon Valley. Diaine’s investments include a German, Brazilian, and Portuguese company, while Groce’s operations include companies in Chicago, Atlanta, and Seattle.
The two partners have also developed an algorithm that can be used to find investments based on a range of online signals. This has become more important during the pandemic when they couldn’t connect in person.
“Frederik and I worked on it [an algorithm to find] What are the signals that you can identify online that tell you this company is doing fine and this company is growing? You need to have good startup search tracking [signals]But what are you pursuing when you can’t just get the revenue in real time, which is impossible? So we developed an algorithm that we can use to identify some of these signals and create warnings about which startups to watch out for, ”explained Diaine.
She says this data-driven approach should come in handy and increase her personal efforts even after the pandemic ends, and increase her overall effectiveness in finding and tracking companies in her portfolios.