We sat down with Check Warner, Founding Partner at Ada Ventures to talk all things fundraising, diversity & community.
Check! Introduce yourself...
I’m Check, short for Francesca. I’m 31, based in London, UK. My mission is to open doors for others, particularly those that have faced barriers to achieving their full potential. I’m a big fan of Diem for that reason.
You're a Founding Partner at Ada Ventures, tell us about that...
Ada Ventures is a $50m pre-seed and seed fund. We invest in bold ideas from overlooked founders in overlooked markets. We have a unique community driven sourcing and diligence model which enables us to access overlooked communities. We also have an angel programme which enables first time angel investors to invest £50,000 in five companies. They keep 100% of the carried interest (profit) on the investments they make. We launched the fund in December 2019 and since then we’ve invested in companies addressing mental illness, enabling flexible affordable childcare and providing software to make data collection for clinical trials more efficient.
You're also the founder of Diversity VC, what inspired you to create this?
I co-founded Diversity VC with Lillian and Travis and several others at the start of their VC careers. We were all pretty alarmed by the fact that we saw the same people from the same backgrounds getting the opportunity to pitch VCs, raising money and then continuing the cycle, so we looked around to join or support an organisation that was addressing this challenge. When we found that there was not one already established we decided to set up Diversity VC. Diversity VC now has a successful internship programme (Future VC) has developed the first of a kind ‘Standard’ for VCs (The Diversity VC Standard) and has several international chapters.
Biggest success and challenge so far?
The ongoing challenge of matching ambition and creativity with capacity to actually deliver to the standard that I’d like to. Being a VC is a really broad job, meaning that you are usually spread quite thin, constantly context switching and never really have time to deliver the quality and depth of output that you would like to. I’m not sure what the answer to this is, if anyone can help me with this – I’m very open!
Tips for female founders looking to navigate the VC landscape?
I would give the same tips to female founders as I would to male founders; work out how to really distil your story and tell it in an emotionally resonant and differentiated way. This is something I am working on myself. As VCs we also have to fundraise and I’ve noticed a big difference when I’ve invested in telling the story of why we’re working on Ada and what it means, instead of diving straight into the detail.
Any advice for women looking to enter the VC world?
Work out how to become a magnet for founders. It could be a podcast, a newsletter, a large tiktok following, or a reputation for value add in a specific area. If you become a magnet for the top founders, you automatically become attractive to VCs looking to expand their team.
As you know, community is kind of everything for us... how has your community helped you publicly and/or professionally?
I’ve played a part in created a really powerful community with the team at Diversity VC and we’re also developing an engaged community at Ada Ventures. I have been lucky enough to be part of several communities, large and small – from Femstreet, to Transact Global, to YSYS, to Ada’s List. The biggest benefit I derive is the massive amount of insight I get from people sharing their experiences, and the ability to connect with people I might never otherwise have met.
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