Opportunity for Budding Missouri Tech Startups as Scale VC Closes Second FundJake Slobe
Scale VC, a venture capital fund based in Columbia, Missouri, has announced the closing of a $5 million fund that will invest in and support early-stage tech founders.
Through the new fund, Scale VC will invest $50,0000-$150,000 in 30-40 companies over the next three years.
The new fund includes a $1 million investment from the University of Missouri System, an anchor investment from Columbia-based Shelter Insurance along with other investments from 34 limited partners. The fund is the largest venture capital fund raised in Columbia to date.
Founded in 2021 by brothers Willy and Jabbok Schlacks and Jai Malik, Scale VC is a venture capital fund and studio investing monetary and social capital in early-stage tech founders across North America, the Midwest and Missouri. Prior to starting Scale, Willy and Jabbok founded EquipmentShare in 2015, a top 25 Y-Combinator construction tech startup that has garnered billions in capital and revolutionized the construction industry.
10 of the 23 companies that received investments from the first fund were based in Missouri, says Brett Calhoun, who serves as the managing director and partner at Scale VC.
“Our biggest focus is finding really good entrepreneurs and founders who we believe have what it takes – the mindset, motivation and technical skills — to build a successful company,” Calhoun says.
Starting Startups Internally Through Venture Studio
Of the 30-40 companies the company plans to invest in, Scale will start three startups in-house through its Venture Studio program.
The goal of the Scale’s Venture Studio program is to bring in a technical co-founder and to prove an internal idea and build an MVP.
“We take ideas internally and do customer discovery, market research and competitor research on them,” Calhoun says. “Then we source founders to come in and be the co-founders and build companies around those ideas.”
To date, two startups have come out of Venture Studio — PitaTech and goodhouse. PitaTech is building a solution that democratizes debt financing by simplifying filings, expediting legal diligence and increasing data transparency. Goodhouse offers home care subscriptions meant to disrupt traditional methods of home repair and maintenance for the 80 million homeowners in the U.S.
Forming a Student Accelerator at the University of Missouri
In addition to their financial investment, Scale VC’s partnership with the University of Missouri includes a new on-campus student accelerator. The accelerator is sponsored and supported by both Scale VC and EquipmentShare.
The student accelerator launches this fall and will focus on connecting students across all departments and universities of the UM System — University of Missouri in Columbia, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla — to forge innovative companies.
“We will be putting founders essentially through a mini boot camp and helping them go from an idea to launching their businesses,” Calhoun says.