It turns out Stride.VC isn’t going to focus exclusively on the U.K. after all. Pia d’Iribarne is leaving Accel to join Stride.VC as a partner.
Stride.VC was originally co-founded by former Accel partner Fred Destin along with Harry Stebbings, producer of “The Twenty Minute VC” podcast. Back in October, when TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear covered the official closing of the £50 million fund, the pair said they would focus on the U.K. at first. Arj Soysa also joined the firm as operating partner around the same time.
“Currently, the firm is 100 percent focused on the U.K., but Destin and Stebbings say they will relax that rule once Stride.VC’s operations are well honed,” my colleague wrote.
And it’s happening a bit sooner than expected — d’Iribarne is going to spend most of her time in Paris and travel back and forth between Paris and London. The firm’s new partner d’Iribarne worked at Accel for three and a half years, including a couple of years with Destin. Before that, she worked at Felix Capital and McKinsey.
At Accel, she worked on many interesting deals for the VC firm, particularly on the French market — Doctolib, Shift Technology, Selency, PayFit, Framer and Zenaton. She has sourced and has been a board observer at PayFit, Selency and Shift Technology.
But Accel is also a well-oiled machine. While d’Iribarne loved working there, she couldn’t miss today’s opportunity. For instance, she spotted PayFit way before Accel invested in the Series B round — it is now one of the most promising software-as-a-service startups in Paris. Being able to invest at the seed level with more flexibility is exactly what she was looking for.
“I learned so much there but I had the urge to invest at an earlier stage and do something more entrepreneurial,” d’Iribarne wrote in an email. “I am very grateful for the incredible exposure I got at Accel and am proud I was able to contribute some meaningful opportunities to the firm, but it was time for me to branch out and go earlier stage.”
Stride.VC is focusing on seed rounds that are slightly larger than your typical seed round. With such a small team, the firm doesn’t want to spread itself too thin across dozens of investments. It isn’t going to invest all over Europe — the U.K. and France remain the focus for now. So far, Stride.VC has officially announced two investments — Forward Health and Cazoo.
Prior to the closing of Stride.VC’s initial fund, Bloomberg reported in July 2017 that Destin was facing an accusation of inappropriate behavior with a female founder at an event in 2013. Destin later issued a statement and apologized — he had also disclosed the incident, as he saw it, in an earlier blog post. Stride.VC told us it was not specifically looking to hire a woman for this role.
“[Gender balance] is an important topic for our industry and I’m delighted that more and more of us are in a position to make investment decisions; having said that I will hopefully be known for being a great VC, not just a great woman VC!,” d’Iribarne said.
Natasha Lomas contributed reporting to this article.