Stride.VC — how we operate and what we seek.

Fred Destin
3 min readApr 24, 2019

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You won’t find grandiose manifesto’s on our website — but nevertheless I thought it’d be helpful to explain precisely how we operate and what we are looking for at Stride.

Team setup.

We are a small firm. What we lose in scalability, we gain in speed. We are able to move extremely fast as a small, highly-engaged team on any opportunity that we like. We can debrief in real-time on any conversation we’ve had. We are able to build conviction quickly and without any process overhead.

Each of us will pursue our own path in finding great opportunities. The moment we identify a company we like, we work as a unit. We all meet management and contribute to the process. With all three investors thus engaged, we move away from the somewhat random nature of the *final partnership meeting* and closer to a shared understanding. Because we deal so much in intangibles, this matters.

This is not a knock on anyone else as there are real benefits to scaling teams too, but we find that the close understanding we collectively develop through this process is really helpful to our decision-making, as well as giving entrepreneurs a chance to understand who they’re getting into business with. After all, we invest in people, not strategies or data.

We are the opposite of a star system. The only thing that matters is the body of work of the team. We share opportunities and our network freely and we want entrepreneurs to have full access to anyone in the partnership at any time.

As much as we love to help for no other reason than to be helpful, we might be hard to get a meeting with. We want to stay hyper-focused, which is a pre-requisite to getting anything done in this business.

Stage: very early.

Our sweet spot can be defined as post-product / pre-traction. We have a lot of respect for design, product and engineering and find that exceptional rather than good products are often the delta between success and failure.

The typical round we look at is a 2–3M round where we lead or co-lead.

On occasion we will go pre-seed, on occasion some of the opportunities we back look like early Series A’s, but this is generally where we live. More broadly defined round sizes could be anywhere from 1M to 6M

We don’t deviate. If we missed a great opportunity, we missed it. Our ability to make money for our investors is predicated on staying disciplined on the stage we come in at.

What we look for.

Within the confines of what we understand well enough, we are proudly anti-thematic. Entrepreneurs are much better at finding white space than we are, and it’s our job to have the imagination and creativity to understand what’s possible.

We all need to agree that we want to back the founders. Consensus on the entrepreneurs is a hard rule. Beyond that, we know that consensus kills outliers and we don’t seek it. We try to get as close to the objective truth about a company as we can.

We have no rules on traction, revenues or anything else. Every case is different and it’s on us to be mentally plastic enough to figure it out. We live in data-scarce environments — and where there is data it may not be predictive anyway. Want rules — get an algo :-).

We’ve backed companies pre-launch, with early traction and no revenue, pre-build, and with solidly recurring revenues.

We care about two things first and foremost:

  • Can this founding team truly shape the industry they are in?
  • Does this opportunity have a glimmer of greatness ?

We hate having to replace founders.

Portfolio size

Up to 25 companies over 4 years. We’re not a factory. We try to write meaningful checks when it matters most.

Geo

We started out only investing in the UK and France, but we are slowly broadening the scope.

Terms

As clean as it gets. There’s no value to be found in downside protection or investor vetos. We’ll insist on some key governance clauses, some founder reverse vesting and that’s about it.

Boards

We like small boards. “Every board meeting should be a whiteboard meeting”. Read Tiny Startup Need Tiny Boards.

Anything else?

That’s it.

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Fred Destin

Helping startups grow with money and mentoring to the sounds of Crystal Castles