5 min read

Monday stand-up

Monday stand-up
Vesta Rugilė Nausėdaitė on Unsplash
Morning friends!
Lithuania Tech Weekly #107
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founder guide


things planetary

three questions

Lina Zakarauskaite, Principal, Stride.VC

How did you enter the tech scene and what was that journey like with Secret Escapes?

I’ve had a rather unconventional path into tech – my academic background is in pharmacology and neuroscience. I’ve always loved natural sciences but quite early into my studies realised the pace of academic life wasn’t exactly my cup of tea... So I decided to try and break into the crazy world of startups. Which was definitely non-linear but after all those dead ends I came across a program called New Entrepreneurs Foundation – and that was an inflection point. NEF was my “MBA”. It gave me the skills, knowledge and network to enter the tech scene and that’s how I joined Secret Escapes.

And what a wild journey it was! I started out as an Entrepreneur in Residence to lead marketing special projects and later branched out into product, data and strategy, ultimately becoming the Head of Growth. My job was to help identify and launch new business bets, usually across different disciplines – LTV modelling with FP&A, ROAS optimisations with performance, measurement and attribution with data science... My favourite one was building and scaling the mobile app – first as a skunkworks project and later as a company-wide strategic initiative.

Experienced startup operator turned investor. How does your background make you a better VC, and what did you have to learn/change to be successful in your new role?

I find it really surprising that such a small percentage of European VCs are former founders or operators. Especially at seed, where it’s all about investing with no (or very limited) data – you can’t just run a DCF and get to an answer! The ability to deconstruct the business into its core building blocks and conceptualise the path to scale is key to the decision making, and I think an operator skillset here really helps. Another aspect is portfolio support – so many investors talk about being “hands on”... I think it’s easier to help founders with operational topics if you have been in the trenches yourself. Having said that, some of the best investors I know have never worked in or ran a startup, so there is clearly no one size fits all.

Is there a way to narrow down "meaningful cheques at the stage it really matters"? What verticals, themes excite you most?

Stride is artisan capital – we back founders at seed on the projects that we feel personal affinity to. Whether consumer or B2B SaaS, at the end of the day it’s about ambitious founders going after big problems that redefine industries and create new categories. Personally, I love investing at the intersection of tech and impact – health, education, climate, desci. Also web3 post hype :)

Stride seems to invest across Europe and UK. How do you see Lithuanian/Baltic scene changing - observing it from a bit of distance?

Being a proud Lithuanian myself, I am so impressed with how buzzing the local ecosystem is becoming – it’s still early days but there are so many interesting projects popping up. We are small but ambitious and we have strong talent to design and execute. Let’s build great things.