Frederik Groce

Frederik Groce | Field Notes
Frederik Groce of Storm Ventures | VC Hunted!

Listen to “FREDERIK GROCE | Storm Ventures | Purpose-Driven Action and Elevating Black VCs! – S2E5” on Spreaker.


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I knew from the get-go that my conversation with Frederik Groce was going to be a good one. He’s got the swagger and the aura of greatness around him. At least, that’s the energy I felt immediately!

Jumping right into the interview I wanted to know how he got into venture capital. He graduated from Stanford University and immediately got to work with Standford Student Enterprises. This experience gave him a lot of exposure to the venture community, but even after a couple of years being the CEO of this non-profit, he still didn’t really know what he wanted to do. Being a wise young man, he went to one of his mentors and asked his mentor what he thought. Turns out both Frederik’s mentor and another friend thought that Frederik would be great in venture capital.

Frederik Groce and Peter Saddington sharing mentor stories!

I loved this story because it tells of the real value of mentors and a network of relationships that can speak into one’s life. Having these types of individuals around you just simply makes life better. Digging a bit deeper (and believing in the deep value of mentorship), I wanted to know Frederik’s thoughts on mentors. I loved his response:

“People get caught up in the idea of the ask, right? I want someone to be my mentor, sort of like a role, like asking someone to join your family or career family. The number one thing I tell people all the time is don’t ask! Every person you meet has the opportunity to be a mentor to you. The key is to ask them questions, engage with them, find ways to come back to them and show that you’re growing and how they are helping you in some way. Make sure from the get-go that you’re finding ways to help support them as well.”

Frederik Groce | VC Hunting S2E5

Frederik has a lot of mentors and it shows. I really loved this perspective because I too share this similar worldview. Everyone has something they can help you with. It may not be tangible or career-oriented, but merely asking can open a lot of doors. As my father always told me: Asking is always free!

Be assertive says Frederik Groce – Ask! People love to help!

Eventually, Frederik found his way to Storm Ventures, which allowed him to really pursue a couple of passion projects. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this about Storm Ventures. They really encourage each and every one of their employees to take opportunities to grow themselves, to experiment and to exercise their own free-will to follow their own curiosity. For Frederik it was GovTech and what eventually emerged to be BLCK VC, which was formed early in 2018 to connect, engage, empower, and advance Black venture investors by providing a focused community built for and by Black venture investors. Since its inception, they’ve worked to develop the community through both social and educational events focused on advancing Black investors.

“As I accumulate privilege, what do I do with it?”

Frederik Groce | VC Hunting S2E5
So what has Frederik Groce learned from his experience at Storm Ventures?

“I have learned to quickly provide value in an empathetic way. What that means is connecting with that individual at a human level and finding a way to help them in any way possible. It doesn’t have to be a business-related thing. This is something that all my partners here and my team really internalize at our firm. This has really helped me be a stronger investor and quite frankly, a stronger networker as well.”

Frederik Groce | VC Hunting S2E5

Having been at Storm Ventures since 2016, Frederik is kind of a statistical anomaly in terms of millennials staying their first real job for more than a couple of years. I wanted to know what were the reasons for him to stay at Storm Ventures, and he did not disappoint:

“The way I’ve always evaluated whether I want to make a change or not has always been am I still growing and learning. I’ve always felt that I’m learning and growing in this firm, and my partners and my team are giving me the ability to continue to get more rope that I can hang myself with. Which I think is really important to be able to grow! You have to take these risks on yourself, betting on yourself. I’ve always felt like that exists here [at Storm Ventures]. My partners also spend a lot of time mentoring me.”

Frederik Groce | VC Hunting S2E5
But don’t really hang yourself! Find a work environment that allows you to take risks!

This type of support and culture was exactly what someone like Frederik needed especially as his ideas around BLCK VC emerged as a personal initiative that he had to pursue. His team members and partners didn’t laugh at him, rather, they supported him, and asked him how they could help him make this idea into a reality! They even allowed him to talk to their Limited Partners about the idea so that they could engage with him and help him as well.

What’s the balance of personal brand vs reputation?

Pivoting to another blog post that Frederik wrote not too long ago, I wanted to understand his ideas around a personal brand. Something that I’ve spent years trying to mold, change, and shape for myself. I’ve never felt that I had it perfectly right, the balance between personal brand and reputation, from being purposeful in my posting vs haphazard posting. I wondered if Frederik had any answers for me.

Turns out, it was Frederik’s fiance who has helped him think about this more as she is a successful Instagram influencer. It turns out that through is own self-discovery in figuring out his own brand, BLCK VC emerged as something that really has caught his attention and passion.

“I’m currently fascinated by how people are using Instagram for their professional brands. I think this will become more common in the future, but it comes with a lot of interesting challenges. I think as humans we are drawn to vibrant images of life and integrating that with our work lives seems like a good intersection. Particularly for careers that often get defined as lifestyles — venture fits into this, though I have yet to find a VC that does a great job of using IG to disseminate interesting content beyond pics of their weekend getaways.”

Frederik Groce | Millennial VC Blog Post

I support Frederik’s brand of BLCK VC and I wish I had said this to him during our interview, but I’ll say it now. Lean into it, Frederik. Lean into BLCK VC. The reason I say this is because the more focus that he gives this powerful brand opportunity, the more people will be drawn to him. THAT is the power of branding and reputation. In a crowded venture capital land, it’s harder and harder to differentiate beyond cutting a check. Having a brand that has a message of helping the underserved will never go out of style and will always be needed and appreciated. In my opinion, he’s got something that is worth pursuing more!

Lastly, as I said in the interview, I wrote down something that Frederik said that I just loved so much: PURPOSE-DRIVEN ACTION or PDA. I just love it!

From Frederik’s clear desire to be a part of the next generation of investors and founders (millennials), I believe he’s doing exactly the right things to be part of the conversation, to help where he can, and to constantly network and grow and serve those he works with. This was an honor and a life-giving conversation.

I wish Frederik the very best and I expect we’ll be talking again soon!

Enjoy my retrospective!

Frederik Groce of Storm Ventures | Retrospective

Best,
ps


Frederik can be a pretty big nerd too tho!

Frederik Groce Social Media

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@vchunting

Anyone can be your mentor. Just ask like Frederik Groce of Storm Ventures does! #funfacts #venturecapital #startups

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I won’t be forgettin’ that hunt anytime soon!