Scale VC Closes Fund II, Anchored by University of Missouri System and Shelter Insurance

Scale VC Closes Fund II, Anchored by University of Missouri System and Shelter Insurance

Scale VC Closes Fund II, Anchored by University of Missouri System and Shelter Insurance |


Scale VC, a Missouri-based venture capital fund, expanded its support on April 5, 2023, with a $ 5 Million Fund II. The fund is the largest venture capital fund raised in Columbia, Missouri, to date. Anchored by the University of Missouri System and Columbia-based Shelter Insurance, Fund II also includes 34 limited partners.

Forming a Student Accelerator at the University of Missouri

In addition to their financial investment, Scale VC’s partnership with the UM System includes an on-campus student accelerator. The accelerator is sponsored and supported by both Scale VC and EquipmentShare, a Columbia-based construction equipment rental and technology company.

The experienced leaders of both companies are passionate about sharing their learned experiences with new entrepreneurs. From that passion stemmed the partnership with the University of Missouri to form the student accelerator. This partnership will focus on connecting students across all departments and universities in the UM System to forge innovative companies.

“This investment and partnership will build upon our efforts to turn the System and our state into an innovation destination — a place where big thinkers can start and grow their ideas,” said Dr. Mun Choi, UM System president and the chancellor of the University of Missouri.

Scale VC Supports Startups

With Fund II, Scale VC will have the capital to support more than 30 companies. It has calculated this figure by allocating investments ranging from $ 50,000-150,000 in the next three years. Recipients will include three startups that will be incubated by the fund in a venture studio from internal ideas.

Corporate investors l Shelter Insurance will have the opportunity to be a design or co-incubation partner with these new companies.

“This partnership is an investment in more than our regional economy. It demonstrates our belief that our Midwest values don’t just coexist with innovation — they drive it. We are proud to work with Scale and our fellow investors to build the next generation of companies creating economic growth in the communities we love,“ said Amanda Martin, director of innovation at Shelter Insurance.

Small City, Big Resources

According to Crunchbase, Columbia-based startups have raised more than $ 1.5 billion in debt and equity since 2020. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in this community.

Scale VC was founded in 2021 by Willy Schlacks, Jabbok Schlacks, and Jai Malik. Raising a fund in less than six months shows the potential for growing a nationally recognized startup city in the middle of the country.

“The Midwest or flyover states are generally overlooked when it comes to headlines, which is partly because founders in flyover locations are not used to telling their stories. In reality, the Midwest is flourishing with many humble world-class operators building massive companies who want to support other founders,” said Brett Calhoun, managing director and partner at Scale VC. “We are on a mission to empower founders to build generational wealth from the middle of the country, random suburbs, or even existing innovation hubs. We’ve seen this first-hand — founders can come from all walks of life.”

The Power Of High-Level Partner Access

Scale VC’s successes have been largely due to the accessibility of mentoring partners. These proven business professionals help startups avoid costly mishaps and increase their chances of success.

“What sets us apart from other venture capital funds is the amount of time our high-caliber partners give to our entrepreneurs. These people have built multi-billion dollar companies and are willing to spend hours each week responding to questions and concerns from startups. That sort of responsiveness and dedication to investment success drastically increases a startup’s chances of success,” said Calhoun.

These mentors are successful operator-limited partners and advisors who are dedicated to empowering founders. Some of the entrepreneurs may be at a disadvantage due to certain constraints. These could include their location, pedigree, social class, immigrant status, and gender. The goal is to accelerate access to the knowledge, networks, and resources to remove roadblocks for them.

When looking for entrepreneurs to invest in, Scale VC is focused on identifying those who display strong leadership traits. And they also seek those who have a disproportionate ability to persevere.

Investments occur nationwide. However, the capital fund hopes to create a Silicon Valley-type hub in the Midwest that seeks founders across North America.

Real-world Experience Makes the Difference

Scale VC has chosen to select its advisors based on real-world success. A business professor or educator is valuable in certain settings, but there’s no substitute for experience. Advisors include founders from Zapier and Summersalt, among others.

Scale VC’s limited partner base also includes numerous Missouri-based operators. These include Scale VC founders Willy Schlacks and Jabbok Schlacks of EquipmentShare. Other limited partners are Brant Bukowsky, co-founder of Veterans United Home Loans; Phil Reynolds, founder of BriteCore and DevStride; and Matt Watson, founder of VinSolutions.

Not only are these advisors valuable for their expertise, but they also possess an extensive network of business connections. And when it comes to ways to increase chances of success, strong relationships are near the top of the list.

Sharing Success

For the founders and partners, Scale VC’s efforts are about more than profits. These advisors dedicate themselves to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“My brother Jabbok and I started Scale VC to share what we learned from building companies and empower other founders to create legacy wealth and legacy companies. I would even argue that since starting Scale VC, I’ve learned just as much as the 40-plus founders we’ve supported,” said Willy Schlacks.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Yan Krukau; Pexels; Thank you.

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Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at