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VC Corner Q&A: Lee Strafford of Accelerated Digital Ventures

Lee Strafford is Co-founder and CEO at Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV). He is responsible for shaping the ADV strategy and raising funds. Lee’s focus is on creating the environment for scale-ups to scalebig. Previously he had the privilege to co-found and lead the development of PlusNet from 1997–2007. Lee then spent eight years doing ‘community work’ trying to improve support for startups especially in the North of England.

— What is ADV’s mission?

Promoting collaboration across top angels, early stage VCs and microfunds. We want to connect large institutional investors to the early stage VC asset class at scale, enabling the best founders to scalebig over the long term, wherever they are based. Big ambition needs to be backed for the long term with patient venture investment in order for generation-defining companies to be built.

— What is one thing you’re excited about right now?

We’re meeting amazing founders from very different background and in very different locations, proving they can build big companies without having to relocate to access capital. Founders in the UK (and Europe) are consistently demonstrating how talented they are and how big the investment opportunity is here.

— Who is one founder you think we should watch?

They’re all great folks! I couldn’t pick one…

— What are the top 3 qualities of every great leader?

  1. The ability to see the nearly impossible future that needs to be built.
  2. The ability to bring people with them around that vision.
  3. The ability to build an empowered team full of people who are better than themselves!

— What was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

Our first investment was Wefarm early in 2017. Wefarm represents a massive opportunity to create huge economic and social impact. The network now consists of over a million farmers, more contributors than Wikipedia. Since our first investment (alongside LocalGlobe) we’ve been joined by True Ventures and can’t wait to see what the future brings. A really exciting team, product and opportunity.

— What’s one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

Will this team be able to sustain the 10–20 year journey of building an industry or generation-defining company?

— What’s one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

Will these investors be with me as a partner for the long haul?

— What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

  1. Long term vision
  2. Short to mid term key milestone deliverables
  3. Team empowerment in order to develop scalability

— Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

The Cluetrain Manifesto.

— What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Family time!

— Who is one leader you admire?

Any entrepreneur committing to their mission; creating shared opportunity for others; making the world better in their own way; and making some money along the way is a leader I admire.

— What’s one interesting thing most people don’t know about you?

I am autistic and somewhat dyslexic.

— What’s one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

Time is your most expensive resource. Invest it carefully ensuring that you’re doing what might be the most challenging thing ever but which if successful can lead to a big outcome.

— How can startups reach you?

Startups interested in an opportunity to pitch ADV can apply here.

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