Storm Ventures, a company specializing in B2B start-ups, announced this week that it has promoted Pascale Diaine and Frederik Groce among the company’s partners.
The two new partners have made progress in recent years. Groce joined Storm in 2016 and has invested in enterprise SaaS startups such as Workato, Splashtop, NextRequest and Camino. Diaine joined a year later and invested in companies like Sendoso, German Bionic, InEvent and Talkdesk.
Groce, who is also the founder of BLCK VC and helped organize the Black Venture Institute to build a network of black investors, says these promotions show the company needs to be more diverse, and Storm acknowledges that. “If you think about the way our team works, this is how I think venture capital teams will have to work to be able to be successful over the next 40 years. And so the hope is that over time everyone will do it and that we are just ahead, ”Groce told me.
Unfortunately, at the moment this is not the case, not even up close. According to a Crunchbase study, only 12% of venture capitalists are women and two-thirds of companies do not have female investors. Meanwhile, only around 4% of venture capitalists are black.
These numbers have an impact on the number of black and female founders because, as Groce points out, the lack of founders in under-represented groups is in part a networking problem. “In a network-based business, if you don’t have diversity in the network, or the teams that run those networks, you just can’t make sure you see great talent in all ecosystems,” a- he declared.
Diaine, who is French and started her career by founding Orange Fab, the corporate accelerator of the European company Telco Orange, brought her internationally Business experience at Storm, where they helped her adapt that experience to an investor orientation and supported her as she learned the nuances of the investment side of the business.
“I’m not from the VC world. I come from the world of innovative business. So they had to train me and spend time updating me. 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 perspectives as they look beyond Silicon Valley for investment opportunities. Diaine’s investment includes a German, Brazilian and Portuguese company, while Groce’s investments include companies in Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle.
The two partners also developed an algorithm to help find investments based on a number of signals online, which became more important during the pandemic when they couldn’t network in person.
“Frederik and I worked on [an algorithm to find] What are the signals that you can identify online that will tell you that this business is doing well, this business growing. You must have a nice set of startup search tracking [signals], but what do you follow if you can’t just get the real time income which is impossible. So we have developed an algorithm that helps us identify some of these signals and create alerts on startups that we need to pay attention to, ”explained Diaine.
She says this data-driven approach should be helpful and increase their in-person efforts even after the pandemic is over and increase their overall effectiveness in finding and tracking companies in their portfolios.