Originally posted on Startup Founder Daily on 4/6/23.
Today’s featured Managing Director & Partner is Brett Calhoun of Scale Venture Capital
NOTE: Scale VC is now Redbud VC
Brett Calhoun, William Schlacks, Jabbok Schlacks, Jai Malik, and the team at Scale are on a mission to invest in Midwest founders. Scale highlights competent, driven, and successful founders who have bold ideas, but who are generally overlooked due to geographic location.
Scale’s investment thesis is centered around early stage investing, even with or without an idea. “We aim to provide a means for more founding teams to succeed” stated Brett in an interview with Startup Founder Daily.
“Founders drive the idea forward.” -Brett Calhoun, Scale VC Managing Director & Partner
What is Scale?
Scale Venture Capital is an accelerator fund and venture studio that invests monetary and social capital into early-stage tech founders. Since its founding in 2021, Scale has invested in 23 companies and 40 founders, deploying over 1.5 million dollars.
Scale’s focus is on funding and providing opportunities to founders at all stages of the startup journey.
For example, anyone interested in working with startups and who exhibit entrepreneurial skills and habits are encouraged to apply - even without a business or even an idea. (Scroll down to read about the venture studio.)
The key differentiators of Scale are i) responsiveness/availability, ii) intimate level of support from operators who have built billion dollar companies and scaled product teams to hundreds, and iii) a team who will work founder hours alongside Scale founders (e.g., sourcing talent/investors/partners, product discovery support, or role playing negotiations).
Scale is on a mission to elevate entrepreneurship in the Midwest and beyond, so focusing on the people behind the business is crucial. Their team of experienced investors and operators removes barriers for founders by providing industry insights, winning business models, and financing.
Scale Programs, Resources, and Events
Engaging programs create climates for rapid growth and innovation. A recent example is Missouri Startup Weekend, which was held earlier this month. Those in attendance were 150 founders and more than 30 investors.
“At [Missouri Startup Weekend] there were 50 ideas presented, which was then narrowed down to 12. Participants formed teams to build a business model to be pitched at the conclusion of the event. Participants worked all weekend - sometimes up until 3-4 am (you know the struggle!) in order to take home the cash prize pool for $18,500. The winner this year is All Hair Academy, which trains hair stylists online.” -Brett Calhoun, Scale VC Managing Director & Partner
Last year’s Startup Weekend winner is Appreciate, a proptech startup, who has since grown
to $13,000 in MRR and 11 employees.
“Scale has been an incredible opportunity for Appreciate and myself. The connections and advice that we have received are invaluable. The people within the scale ecosystem are highly knowledgeable at everything from company formation to round raising; we couldn’t be where we are without them.” -Nick Farquhar, Co-Founder and CEO of portfolio company, Appreciate
Third, Scale brings international levels of talent through Mentor network. Currently, there are 100 mentors in which over 20% have experienced profitable exits, and 80% are investors.
Fourth, through Scale’s venture studio, founders are recruited to build ideas. If you have talent (but no idea for a business) this is the option for you. So far, there are two startups going through this process; goodouse and Pitatech.
Scale Cohort IV Application Deadline April 7, 2023
Cohort IV Timeline
Application (due by April 7th)
DISC Personality Assessment (given no later than April 10th)
30-Minute Interview With Our Team (no later than the week of April 10th)
Acceptance (no later than April 21st)
Cohort Starts (May 1st)
“I was struck by Willy describing Scale not in terms of growth, but in terms of being inspired by a musical scale. Like finding harmony in music, harmony in business requires pulling the right pieces together at the right time. Scale was able to bring advisors and resources together for us to meet us where we were in our journey, helping us find a way to harmonize.” -Jonathan Fish, Co-Founder and CEO of portfolio company, CapGains
Advice for Fellow Founders
“Don’t ever shift your focus from building products and delighting customers to building decks and delighting investors.” -Brett Calhoun, Scale VC Managing Director & Partner