Q&A with Dina Routhier, president, Stanley Ventures

Larry Harper, formerly vice-president of Stanley Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) unit of US-based industrial tool maker Stanley Black & Decker (SBD), said of Dina Routhier, who has recently stepped up to lead the unit: “Dina has been in the [venture] space for about 20 years and is a fantastic person and investor. She understands the corporate investing environment and will lead Stanley Ventures to even greater results as she takes the helm.

“As we have made 38 investments over the past five years, all still operational, she is taking over a machine that has produced some great results for the SBD business. [She is a] leader that has the experience and support of a large corporate…SBD is very excited to have a woman leading our venture strategy and Dina could not be a better choice.”

1. First, just give us a quick overview of who you work for, what you do, and how long you have been doing it for.

I have been with Stanley Ventures, the corporate strategic investment arm of SBD for three years. SBD, an S&P 500 company, is a diversified global provider of hand tools, power tools and related accessories, electronic security solutions, healthcare solutions, engineered fastening systems and more.

I started at Stanley Ventures as an investment manager, was promoted to managing director in 2019, and took over management of the team in December 2020. Prior to joining Stanley, I spent five years at [design software producer] Autodesk making CVC investments and acquiring companies on behalf of the firm. I began my career in venture capital at a Boston-based institutional VC firm, where I was an investing partner for 12 years. I was honoured to be among Global Corporate Venturing’s Top 100 Rising Stars in 2019.

2. What attracted you to CVC?

I love the dual challenge of finding best-in-class technologies and startups, and then selling the vision to Stanley’s internal stakeholders of exactly how that technology can grow Stanley by serving existing and new customers with innovative product and service offerings.

3. What have been your greatest successes at your unit?

I am very excited about our investment in Evolv Technologies, as the company has the potential to disrupt the physical security industry while preventing mass casualties from active shooter events.

4. What have been your biggest challenges?

Given the level to which venture investing is a relationship business and the maintenance of a strong personal network is critical to quality deal flow, the industry’s inability to meet potential deal syndication partners in person remains a challenge for all.

5. What is your main professional ambition for the future?

My professional goal is to usher Stanley Ventures successfully into an expansion phase, supplementing our experienced investment team with the development and integration of a CVC business development function. The goal of that function will be to work closely with the existing portfolio to maximise the strategic value of the relationship for both the startup and for Stanley.

6. What do you think all CVCs could do better to make it a stronger industry?

I believe that greater sharing of best practices among CVCs would make us stronger as an industry.

7. What are some of your corporate parent’s technology needs and corporate strategy amid the pandemic, as well as your CVC unit’s pain points?

Given the diversified nature of Stanley’s businesses, our technology needs are also diverse. Within our Stanley security business, we are witnessing one of the biggest transformations of security in modern history. Covid-19 has challenged us as a society to rethink how we view security. The scope and role of security have expanded from protecting physical and digital assets to promoting safer, healthier and more efficient environments. This has prompted a rapid shift from analogue and disparate to digital, touchless and highly integrated.

For years, a general reluctance to move to the cloud has prevented widespread adoption of cloud-hosted and “as-a-service” security solutions. Now more than ever, organisations understand how critical remote administration capabilities are in managing their people, assets and facilities in the future.

8. And, finally, for colour, what did you do prior to CVC or in your spare time?

I am a lifelong Bostonian with a passion for the area’s innovation ecosystem. When I am not leading investments, you can find me on winter weekends in search of the first tracks of corduroy at Attitash Mountain in New Hampshire with my husband and daughter.