Ep. #1076 - Missouri’s Startup Scene
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, a returning guest is here to give us the roundup on Missouri’s startup scene. Matt DeCoursey says hello again to Brett Calhoun, managing director and partner at Scale VC.
He was previously a guest on our episode about Investing in Founders First last year. And this time, he is here to tell us the latest on Scale VC, what they look for in a founder, and what they are working on in the heart of the Missouri startup scene.
Covered In This Episode
What is happening in Missouri’s startup scene? How important is scalability in early-stage startups?
Matt and Brett discuss all this and more in their catch-up session. They also share their insights on finding a co-founder. And how culture can affect your company’s journey throughout the years.
Don’t be the last to know what’s happening in Missouri’s startup scene. Listen to this Startup Hustle episode.
- The deets on the Missouri Startup Weekend (02:23)
- Scale VC’s origin story (03:14)
- Introducing Scale VC’s cohorts (07:39)
- What do founders need to know about Scale’s Cohort IV? (13:01)
- All about the desk personality assessment (17:42)
- What does Scale VC look for? (21:23)
- Do you bet on the jockey or the horse? (23:27)
- Execution is the key (26:07)
- It’s easier to attract tech people (28:06)
- There’s no “right or wrong” personality profile (33:19)
- Brett’s message to entrepreneurs (38:58)
There is some level of struggle you want to have in your startup-building journey with getting those first customers. You don’t want everything being handed to you. So we don’t start there. We start with the founder-level insights and then go to support.– Brett Calhoun
When you pitch your business, especially in the earliest stages, people are investing in you. And some of that, as we mentioned at the beginning of the show, is investing in you being able to have the ability to steer the ship in a direction that makes sense.– Matt DeCoursey
A lot of times, they can put together a beautiful plan about what’s going to happen in the future. But if you can’t execute it, it’s meaningless. It’s worthless.– Brett Calhoun
It’s always great to work with highly proficient software developers. You can hire them from Full Scale to assist in your tech project. Full Scale is an Inc. 5000-lister with the right resources to help you build a software development team quickly and affordably. What are you waiting for? Hire the best developers now!
Moreover, don’t forget to see what our Startup Hustle partners can do for your company.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. How about the MO startup scene? Not like MO, as in more like MO as in Missouri. If you’re not aware, Startup Hustle is from Kansas City, and Kansas City’s actually in Missouri, people. So when you watch the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl this year, you’re actually watching a Kansas City team that’s located in Missouri. Some of you knew that. And some people, I just completely changed your reality because most people in Kansas City were in Kansas. Anyway, Missouri in the Midwest has quite a robust startup scene. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Before I introduce today’s guest, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. There’s a link in the show notes that will help you get there. So once you collect that for me, and while you do that, I’ll let you know that with me today, I’ve got Brett Calhoun. He is back; he’s been on the show before. He is the managing director and partner at Scale VC, which is a scale VC and accelerator-funded venture studio that invests in monetary and social capital in early-stage tech founders and companies who are strengthened by the struggle. So much to talk about. Brett, welcome back to Startup Hustle.
Brett Calhoun 01:32
Thanks for having me on, man. It’s good to be back.
Matt DeCoursey 01:34
You know, as we discussed, the MO startup scene. Do you like what I did there?
Brett Calhoun 01:40
Matt DeCoursey 01:41
Yeah, super clever. Right?
Brett Calhoun 01:43
Yeah, it gets into our MO – Missouri Startup Weekend coming up soon too.
Matt DeCoursey 01:49
Well, let’s talk about that for a second. Is that actually about to occur? I think that’s gonna maybe have already happened by the time this comes out.
Brett Calhoun 01:57
Yeah, it’s this upcoming weekend, March 10. The click on Missouri Startup Weekend is, essentially, you can launch a startup in 54 hours with resources to actually make that dream come to life. And meet the talent, mentors, advisors, and potential investors. And if you win, you get free legal formation; you get a month of PR, you get accepted into scales. In the next cohort, we can talk for about a minute about a potential investment. So it’s a great opportunity for any entrepreneurs across Missouri, Kansas, and beyond.
Matt DeCoursey 02:34
So let’s talk about Scale for a second because we, you know, here at Startup Hustle, we’re trying to tell you the real story of entrepreneurship and also trying to give you good advice when it comes to getting the things that you need to get your business going. And, you know, I’m excited about scale, which I am an investor, and that fund, just to be upfront about that, is not why you’re on the show today, though. You’re on the show because I like to point people in the right direction when it comes to your fund providing a necessary service that I wish I saw more of nationwide which is seed stage capital. So once you give us a little bit of background about sir.
Brett Calhoun 03:19
Yeah, so I think it’s good to start with the origin story on a scale. Why are we in Columbia, Missouri, and start there? So my partners in Scale started a company called equipment share back in 2015. They went through Y Combinator ultimately deciding to keep the company in Columbia, Missouri. Fast forward to today, it’s, you know, roughly its multi-billion in revenue. It’s a top 25 YC company. You know, though, they’ll probably go public in the near future, but they are extremely successful founders to humble people. Great to work with. And there were a few different motivations to start scale. One was, you know, as you can imagine, generational wealth was built through that company-building journey. But what’s even more valuable is the knowledge that’s created that can be reinvested into founders, helping them go from zero to one phase or beyond that. And so, scale is really an investment arm to make a material impact on early-stage founders. Other motivations were that every investor passed on equipment share back in 2015, locally, so half a million dollars was spent last year that went to the coastal industries. Other things were, you know, wanting to start a fund that was that investor they wish they would have had when they originally started the company. And I think what makes us unique is obviously not the capital because everybody has capital. You can get capital from a lot of places. But what you can’t get from a lot of places is founders who have built multi-billion dollar companies who are involved on an intimate level with founders, whether it’s taking calls during the day or at night on the weekends. We have a highly responsive, humble team who’s there to listen and be helpful. And I think that’s what ultimately makes us you Nik and then we are filling a gap in Missouri because if you look at the capital landscape across the state, there’s not really anything for those precede founders or, you know, pre-revenue early traction, that capital is almost nonexistent, there’s not a ton of angels here. And yet we’re, we’re filling a gap here and beyond for founders who are struggling, whether they’re in the Midwest, or because of a certain demographic, or because they don’t have the pedigree, it doesn’t matter.
Matt DeCoursey 05:28
Now, with that scale, though, we should clarify this, listeners from all over, not just Missouri, can apply and participate. So there’s a link in the show notes for that. And once again, that is the niche that you’re filling there is that earliest of stages, which, you know, so many people I talk to, when I’m out and about in the world, wherever I’m out, talking about this stuff to people they want, I’m having a hard time just getting started. Well, that’s what I liked about your fund. And that’s also why I participated and became an LP. There are fancy, fancy terms there. And, you know, also I’ll be for a be participating in your, your men mentoring program, and as you mentioned, like, the sometimes what’s worth more than money, or the advice and input or sometimes an introduction, who knows, man, but that’s, there’s a lot of valuable things there. So, you know, like, what, how many, let’s talk about the last cohort you did, and I think you haven’t, you know, gone to the Scale VC site because, you know, people are gonna listen to this long, long into the future. And there’s always something coming up, you know, like, so if you’re listening to this episode, and you’re like, Oh, I probably missed it. Because it’s an older episode. No, you probably didn’t. You just need to get on board with another thing. So you know, what, like, for some of the cohorts that have run recently, like, what is what does that look like?
Brett Calhoun 06:59
Yeah, so we context, we started to scale in June of 2021. So we’ve gone through three cohorts. Now. The last one kicked off, he went into September, and then we wrapped it up around January. We had seven companies in that cohort, and some have gone on to raise follow-on capital. Some have gone on to not need to raise capital yet, but I’ve been getting traction. And those are companies across the US. We’ve got companies here locally in Columbia, and we’ve got one in St. Louis. There’s one in New York, we got one in Palo Alto, so we’re full across the US, and every single company is in a different industry as well, which makes, you know, the job fun of being an agnostic fund. Because the reasoning behind being agnostic is that we’re hyper-focused on the people when we’re making investments. So we start with looking at on a personal level, what are your traits, habits, and characteristics that would make you a successful founder? What is your chip on the shoulder? What is your personal connection? Passion? Why are you going to first review this? And then we do look at, I mean, other things that are important is obviously how do you articulate what you’re doing? Can you raise capital? Can you hire people? Can you sell your vision to customers? And then do you have the technical skills in the team to build a company? In terms of ideas, those changes in startups pivot. In fact, I’ve got one right now, this is a walk through this, this founding team, but they’re a perfect representation of what we like to see. They had bootstrapped their company to about 80k, a monthly revenue as a delivery company locally for college students, and, you know, struggled to raise capital, never been exposed to the venture world, actually slept on the warehouse for like six or seven months, as their bootstrapping this business, brought them into scale, helped them launch a second location raise a little bit of angel capital. And through that process, they’re doing about 150k a month in revenue now. But through that process, they realize, and this is one reason I love the founders, not just because they’re scrappy and persevere, but they’re always finding a better way to do things. And they had built such a good app for their own delivery and logistics and inventory management that they’re like, holy collusion, holy moly, we could, we could license this app out to other small businesses, medium middle market SMBs brick, and mortar, whoever to actually be the operating stack to replace like the million apps that you’re trying to use as a small business owner. And the app is phenomenal, and they struggled to raise capital as a delivery company because so many people have been burned as a delivery company. It’s so capital intensive, the markets awful, but they had found another even better, bigger market to go into, and that’s just like a testament for the kind of companies that were looking for a storm to raise capital in the Midwest, never been exposed to venture but have now found a way and are getting some serious I will see if they raise around, but it got some seriously positive traction from VC funds across the US?
Matt DeCoursey 10:05
Yeah, I think that’s part of the entrepreneur journey, as a lot of times you build something and you realize, well, yeah, you look at Full Scale, Full Scale did start as Full Scale. And we weren’t even planning on providing services to other businesses. And because of this podcast, and people we knew, and this huge shortage of developers, people just kept asking Matt Watson and me, they kept saying, what do we need to do to get in on what you guys are doing over in the Philippines. Now, I’ve had employees in the Philippines since 2009. So I have quite a bit of expertise and experience with that. But, you know, we kind of pivoted, you know, slightly pattern over this pivoted, we decided to take up both lanes, not just one, and, you know, started, you know, kind of beta client one, beta client two, beta client three over a three month period. And next thing, you know, is like, pretty obvious that there was a big problem that needed to be solved. And that was probably a much more worthwhile undertaking than just working on Giga book.com, which is what Matt and I originally did. So sometimes, you realize you’re building something for one thing, and then there’s like a high level of utility, but if you never build it, then you never get to figure that out. And that’s part of that entrepreneur’s journey, you know, like, yeah, and I. And so part of what you’re talking about, you know, you’re you got like a delivery app, and you’re competing with 10 million other things that have massive war chests to compete against, you’re not massive war chests. So yeah, you can always find some different things. Now you’ve got a new cohort, the young here at scale, hyphen, VC, once again, there’s a link in the show notes for that. And I can if I want to, I can apply to your cohort here, and that would be a 12-week boot camp of building with your team plus capital, and that can occur remotely or in person. When does that happen? I’ve got till April 7, according to 2023. So there’s still if you’re listening to this in a, in an in a more real-time setting, you got time to get in there and pretty lightweight to get in and apply here. What do we need to know about cohort four?
Brett Calhoun 12:21
Yep, so we’re accepting applicants until April 7. So we’ll be making investments between now and April 7, and it’ll be 50 to 150k. Investments. Starting May 1 is when we actually kick off the boot camp cohort program, whatever you want to call it. And it’s a little bit different from traditional accelerators. We don’t, we don’t necessarily have everybody fly in and work in a room together and learn how to make sales and have a classroom setting, and strictly track each other’s KPIs. It’s more of a relationship where we say, hey, we don’t want to pull you away at all from your business. Build your company, and let us know how we can support you. And that’s more on an intimate level. So they wanted to, you know, talk with Willie Slacks, one of my partners at scale, you know, 8am, or 8pm, at night, or on the weekends like that. We’re extremely responsive and here to help. And then we’re essentially hustling a long time alongside the founders with, you know, if they need help sourcing talent, they need help sourcing investors, getting customer intros partner intros, redoing their pitch decks, or financial modeling, or maybe even role-playing and negotiation with an investor, like, that’s what we’re here to be. It’s the white glove. So every founder that we bring in is most likely going to be at a different stage or lifecycle of their company, and they’re all going to need something different. And that’s when I That’s one reason why, you know, it’s going back to being an agnostic fund that we can kind of move our intangible value across different industries. And that said if founders are building in prop tech, FinTech, construction, tech, or building products that one of our advisor’s companies or LPS companies, or our team’s companies can leverage. So, for example, the equipment here has, I don’t know, 4000 plus employees. And if you’re building an HR tech product, well, if it’s a good match for equipment here, there’s a high possibility we can bring you a large customer who’s not going to care if the product breaks in the early days. It’s like a pilot user. It’s like there’s a little extra value we can add for certain industries. They go beyond just the founder-level stuff. But that’s not necessarily what we lean into. Because there is some level of struggle you want to have in your startup building journey with getting those first customers, you don’t want everything being handed to you. So we don’t start there. We start with the founder-level insights and then go to support.
Matt DeCoursey 14:54
But I like that it sounds like it sounds like an accelerator built by founders for founders that I kind of like what we do at Full Scale. It’s like, hey, there’s like the way that a lot of other people do it. And then there’s that. There’s something to be said, though, about that insight. You know, I mentioned, like the Full Scale example, like, you know, we were our own clients, essentially, before we took anyone else on and we have a strong grasp of what startups needed. And the access to it’s like, all the way down to like, like our billing model as a set monthly price. It’s not hourly, because well, you could benefit from it. Sometimes people on the teams get really excited, and they put in a passion and amount of work, okay. But it’s also just about knowing that you need to have a predictable billing and expense model, you know, not something that’s all over the place, or add, you know, add creating like a thing where, you know, you like, we don’t do any project work, because we have a firm belief that founders need to have their sleeves rolled up and be involved in the process. And, you know, some people want to be a tech company, and then they hire a company to, at a set rate to give them a product and hand it over to them like all these months later, and you don’t end up knowing anything, you don’t know shit about what you’ve built at that point. And you also don’t have a whole lot of insight, or I don’t know, you, there’s 10 million things that you’re going to change your mind about, on the way from conception to launch. So alright, so with the accelerator, fine block, how many companies are you going to pick?
Brett Calhoun 16:28
So, yes, six to eight, probably, it depends on how much we’re offering companies because obviously, we have a finite amount of capital, we also have a finite amount of time. And there’s a, you know, certain level, if you pick too many companies that kind of spreads our team too thin. So 60 companies, I would, I would assume six, we’ve got one already locked in. And I think we’ve got an offer on the way you’re pretty soon to another company. So if you’re listening to this on March 22, I think when the episodes come out, it should probably apply pretty quick.
Matt DeCoursey 17:02
Yeah. And you get that in there. And I mean, I’m looking at, I’m looking at what it takes to sign up. I mean, it’s obviously an application, I liked it, I like that there’s so you’ll also do one of my favorite things, which is the desk personality assessment. If you’ve never done one of those, at a minimum, go, you go find a place it’ll let you do a free one online, you will learn a lot about yourself. So actually, in my first book, Balance Me, there’s an entire section in the book about personality styles and desk and I think as an entrepreneur, like I got into that. It was actually long before I ever owned businesses, I was just a salesperson, I realized I was really good at selling to one type of customer and really bad at selling to a different kind. And I learned a lot about myself and how to recognize other people’s personality styles and traits, which made it a lot easier to communicate. So people want to be communicated to and the language that they understand. And I don’t just mean English or Spanish and that like the actual, like, the things that they’re looking for that are important to them. And it can make a big difference. And it’s a big team building component to so and so some of that stuff will actually remind you of the shit you shouldn’t be doing. Like I am not always during the process of building stuff. I’m not always incredibly detail oriented, although I do think the details are important. But that comes with my personality style because I move really fast, which means I probably wouldn’t be a good accountant. I won’t stop and look for that missing 25 cents, I will just write it off, which is like, for me feels efficient and for accountants, it just makes them angry.
Brett Calhoun 18:49
Yeah, I quickly realized that I actually started out as an undergrad for accounting. I got the CPA, and then I did an internship in public accounting and quickly realized that, you know, it wasn’t for you logics, but yeah, it wasn’t for me, I am not a detail oriented person because I’m always trying to move a million miles an hour. I mean, details matter. I think that one lesson I’ve probably learned through stuff in my career is that the last 1% is just as important as the other 9% for certain things and depending on who you’re dealing with. You’re dealing with like the top 1% of people you want to make sure you have 100% of the details correct because that in some cases could be the difference between good and great for some things. Yeah, I’m the same way if I get bored with easy little details. I tend to look over but anyways, well then that’s that’s the thing though, because you fit certainly most founders are highly driven there.
Matt DeCoursey 19:50
Like the type D, the drive, the drive type, which by the way comes with a lot of upside and a lot of downside all personality styles do. So when you’re building a team, you know, there’s something to be said about having different personality styles having different people that, like, if you’re trying to build if you want to co founder, find someone that’s good at or at least likes doing the stuff that you don’t, and then you gotta get start there. So when you look at a company, let’s just say I just applied here, like, what are you going to look at about me? Like, what are the things that matter? Important? What, what, what makes me stand out? And what makes me look like an idiot?
Brett Calhoun 20:43
Yeah, I would say, a lot, we get a decent amount of organic leads applying. But I do talk to quite a few founders before they apply as well. So sometimes I have a little context prior to reading through applications. But I think a few things that stand out to me are the question. It’s like, what is your life’s greatest struggle? And so it’s like trying to understand how they view their own struggle and how they normalize that or don’t normalize it, but what is that and how they dealt with it, and how has that influenced them building a company today. Another thing in the application we look at is the 62nd video that you put up. That’s not necessarily just about, it’s not really for the idea most people applying, you’re probably thinking it’s all about the idea, but it’s more how you articulate what it is that you’re doing. Because that’s going to be a makeup, right, like, there’s like two really important things with a tech startup, it’s having the tech skills to actually be able to build the product that you’re trying to build. You know, and then having that influenced by what customers are telling you through discovery. And the other is being able to articulate what you’re doing, be able to break these very complex things down into simple things, because you can’t articulate what you’re doing, you can’t get people excited, you can’t raise capital from investors, you’re gonna have struggle to hire people, because in the early days, you got to hire people at a below market rates and sell the vision of your company, because you’re essentially paying them with the equity that could be worth something in the future. And then three, it’s, you gotta get those early customers who are gonna believe in your product. And if you can’t articulate it, they’re not gonna, they’re not gonna believe in your product. So those are the most important things we look for. All the questions, though, definitely have a purpose. It’s like, you know, how do you solve problems in the past? How do you think about that with your existing company? What do you do in your free time? What are you always tinkering with? How are you continuously learning? You know, those typical things that you would look for in a founder or anybody? I mean, it’s at this stage of investing. It’s almost like recruiting talent. And so that’s kind of what we’re doing.
Matt DeCoursey 22:47
So do you want to do you want Alright, so I asked you the question, I may have asked you this last time. So do you bet on the jockey or the horse?
Brett Calhoun 22:55
Definitely the jockey.
Matt DeCoursey 22:57
That’s good. That’s a good answer. And that’s also still the only answer I’ve ever received on that question on the show. Like, it’s, I mean, it’s universal. And, and with that, you know, I think that’s an important thing for if you’re listening, and you’re a founder, you want to be like, like, when you go in, when you go to pitch your business, especially in the earliest stages, people are investing in you. And some of that, like we mentioned at the beginning of the show, is investing in you being able to have the ability to steer the ship in a direction that makes sense. And sometimes that when you start in those earliest stages, that’s not always the course you set when you left park, you know, because you run into storms, and you run into pirates, and you run into rocks, you know, and stuff like that. The question is, is, are you one of those people that’s just going to see the rocks coming, and then just ride the boat right into them? Are you going to change course charts in a different direction, get yourself back on the path. And, you know, like, I just find that there’s some people and I know you get this too, you just sit down and talk to some people and you’re like, I feel pretty good that this person will figure something out, or they’ll be a good representative, like representative of the company. And so the solutions and benefits that it provides me as a salesperson, so when I’ve talked to people in the past, that’s what they’re always enamored with, with me, and they’re like, Oh, dude, I think you could sell anything. I think you could promote anything. I think you get hype or market anything. Well, yeah, there’s but that, you know, that’s a great thing. But you still have to be able to build something. But I’ve run into too many people that are great at building shit and socket, selling it. I’m sure you get run into that a lot. Like talk to people. I’m like, You guys are brilliant at building software. And they’re not even making an attempt to sell or market, and I’m like, what do you what we’re waiting until we’ve built it. Okay, well, then you’re going to die on the vine because you’ve waited too long. Like you should start being read. You should be if you haven’t already started selling what it is that you do. Well As you’re starting the company, then you’re probably waiting too long.
Brett Calhoun 25:04
Yeah, I mean, it’s really hard to find the ones who are really good on the business side, being able to sell articulate, also have technical skills on the team, and then can also execute. Like, you know, there’s a lot of times they can put together a beautiful plan about what’s going to happen in the future. But if you can’t execute on it, it’s meaningless. It’s worthless.
Matt DeCoursey 25:27
Yeah. And, you know, I tell people all the time, but another thing I get is like, Oh, you’re an ideas guy. Yeah, ideas aren’t worth shit. Execution is the currency in which businesses and startups essentially, specifically trade and because like, I don’t know, I’ve seen a lot of people and projects and things that had a lot of promise that just didn’t have a lot of hype, because they’re not good at creating it. So back to that whole thing on that founder level, like, you know, like, I’m a non technical founder, although I get a lot of people that disagree with me when I say that, but I don’t write code. So I don’t consider myself to be technical and 100 other ways, and tools and clever, but I don’t write code, I write checks. And both, there’s value in both of those things. But with that, you know, that’s I’ve got Watson who is highly tactical, and he doesn’t like, although he does a good job, he doesn’t enjoy or feel as natural with the hype or the selling side of things. So that’s the role I play, you know, and that’s the thing. So how are you going to fill that gap? Now? Let’s say I applied and you’re like, hey, this guy is brilliant, technically, are you going to try and help? Maybe fine, does that just Scale help me maybe find other people, contributors or founders that can fill that problematic gap in my lineup?
Brett Calhoun 26:54
Yes. And we’ve actually done that before. In our second cohort, we did have a company where prior to investing, we helped them find a CTO, which ultimately will lead us to having conviction and then investment, knowing that they had the skill sets of the team to carry out and execute what they’re trying to do. And we had absolutely loved the founder who was, you know, probably of similar personality, you Matt and just had to find how to find his Matt Watson to his mat divorce can be I mean, that’s, yeah, I, I’m gonna piss some people off.
Matt DeCoursey 27:26
When I say this, I think it’s easier to find the technical people because tech, and cuz the technical people are out there. And it’s easy to, to Well, I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it’s a lot more tangible to quantify the skill set of a technical person, like that’s what we do at Full Scale, do, we’ve got 48 different certifications that, you know, you can take test, or we can use to assess your skill level, we can benchmark that in a very in a very predictable way. What you can’t. It’s difficult to do that on the other side, when it comes to people like sales leadership, like, I mean, do there’s not like, a, like, we have coding assessments that you like, Here, here’s the problem to solve it. And like, that’s a lot easier. Like you can say, Yes, you solved it, or you didn’t, or maybe you solved part of it. But the sales and leadership side of things is a challenge. Because I don’t know, man, I think a lot of people, a lot of people will, you know, I think a lot of people just, you know, you’re just I don’t know, they think they can sell then you show up and you’re like Where the fuck is the guy I talked to in the interview.
Brett Calhoun 28:50
So it’s probably easier to attract a technical person as someone who’s really good at selling and vice versa. Because you’re going to do a better job at selling the vision and trying to, you know, sway that person to leave whatever it is they’re doing to join you making way below market rates as a technical co-founder. That makes sense.
Matt DeCoursey 29:15
Yeah, and then you know, but I don’t know man, it’s there’s a, that’s the end of the and kind of thing. Now, one thing that I get a lot of people that have over the years asked like, how do I find a co-founder? Start talking about it? Like, where would you be a bigger problem solver? How about Facebook, Instagram, chat groups, read it, like go like, I don’t know, make some noise, go to Events, go look for it. Like, if you’re not an AI, like the best entrepreneurs do not hear the word no, and just quit. They go and find like, Why do I have 300 employees in the Philippines? It’s because in 2009 I couldn’t find the kind of programmer I needed in the United States. If there weren’t PHP developers in the United States, I needed that specifically to build what I needed to do. And I needed to go hire someone, either in India or the Philippines was basically what it came down to. I didn’t know anyone in the Philippines. So I called a guy that lives here in Kansas City that owns a Filipino cleaning company. And they had been that my parents had used their service for over 20 years. I called the guys del Rivera, and thank you Dell for giving me this advice. I called him up. I was like, hey, Dell, it’s Matt DeCoursey. He’s like, Hey, Matt, like, I need to hire some computer programmers. And he goes, You know, I clean houses, right? I was like, Yes, I do as like, but I also know you’re from the Philippines. And he gave me great advice. I was like, do I need to go to Manila? Because that’s the only city I’ve ever heard of. He’s like, No, you need to go to Cebu. It’s like the Silicon Valley of the Philippines. I was like, never heard of it. But when I went, I placed an ad there. And that here would fast forward, I’ve got 250 of my 300 employees are in the Cebu region, a great advice. And that just came because I went out and asked some people, you know, like, I literally got the coordinates of where I should set up the technical presence of my business, Dan, and now from a dude that owns a cleaning company, get out there and ask for it is the thing. So yeah. And I think that’s what I think that’s what the agitators and disruptors, you know, are gonna do. So dude, how do you gauge? So you talk about like, let’s talk about desk like, what are you looking for in a desk profile?
Brett Calhoun 31:39
So there’s no, there’s no right or wrong answer. And we don’t really use that as something to make an investment decision upon. It’s more of a data point. And it’s really useful prior to doing so. We do like applications that we have interviews with. It’s very beneficial to do prior to the interview, because you can understand, you know, how somebody kind of operates from a personality perspective prior to digging into how they’re thinking about the customers and building their company. So you can phrase questions that way. So say, you know, somebody has a high D profile with low everything else you might want to dig into how they’re thinking about their customers and the detail or thinking about them, because that could be something they’re missing.
Matt DeCoursey 32:22
Or people will also be really hard drivers. Like them their commentary doesn’t always land well with introverts. And in a tech company, that could be a problem because most like developers are more along the line on the on the love, we have to get a type A or type B, which isn’t true a disk format, but they’re more usually more type be introverted.
Brett Calhoun 32:45
Exactly. There’s no wrong answer. There’s no wrong personality profile. I think it’s also good, personally, just to understand what your personality type is, and where some of I guess some of the gaps that you might have to fill or be cognizant of, as you’re working with other people or working on teams, or, you know, if you have a co founder, and like understanding what their personality is. And it’s like, Oh, that makes sense. Why we’ve always kind of butted heads on this or, you know, we also do that too, when there’s multiple founders. And it’s not just a solo founder, it’s like, do these people mesh well together from a personality perspective? Those things are very important. I mean, yeah. One of the first companies we had invested in or when looking at investing in we first started to scale. Yeah, personality profiles kind of collided, right before, you know, making an investment decision, the founder, split. And as, so it is important. I mean, we don’t necessarily make investments because of someone’s personality, but it helps us work with teams and helps us gauge, you know, ways to frame our questions and how to look at them from a different lens.
Matt DeCoursey 33:57
Well, I think one of the things that people kind of overlook, they think, oh, their personality styles are similar, they’ll get along wrong. You are too high, like highly driven people. They’ll either form a superhero, Voltron kind of thing and take over the planet, or they will just kill each other.
Brett Calhoun 34:16
It’s most likely the ladder and so yeah, and I’m right about that communication thing, because I run into that myself.
Matt DeCoursey 34:20
And that’s part of what I’ve had to like, you know, on some days, you know, I have to remind myself that while I consider my direct and candid way of communicating to be efficient and appreciated, not everybody does. So you know, so you kind of get into that now with that though. I do love the drive component because especially in a founder because that’s a Go Go Go like those. There’s usually like, like, I mean, there’s a high correlation like it Okay, so these personality assessments Send, they’re not a test to people, it’s an assessment, or just a measuring stick. Because there’s no right or wrong personality type, all it’s going to do is give you some insight about. So with your own personality type, when you’re under stress or pressure, which you will be as an entrepreneur, your or you’re tired, your worst traits are going to show up. Yep. And so being able to understand that about yourself, and then also the people around you is a very magical thing. And it really helps you learn how to communicate with people. And, you know, in the end, that’s the thing. So like, when I talk to my wife, it is the opposite personality style to me. And that’s probably why she can stick around. Say, he’s a good listener, and she’s patient, she can put up with my shit. And, you know, and that’s, you know, but I have to take a different approach to things because I can’t just be like, Oh, give me the bottom line and give it to me now. Because that’s the way I am and my thought process and for that, for the Type Beat people, they care a lot more about the process. So you get a good balancing act in there. But I think it’s really where it’s really powerful as a leader is it really helps you understand, like, for me, when I know I’m clearly talking to an introvert versus a person, you can see I’m softening my tone a little bit, I’ll slow down because like, they don’t want to see me as being fast and erratic, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yes, slow down a little bit. And you talk about the process, not just the outcome, because the details matter to different people in different ways. So yeah, I have, I have yet to meet a salesperson that was not that type B, that was actually any good at being a salesperson, by the way.
Brett Calhoun 36:40
Yep. And it matters though I have not either, and that counts. So this all started with. So willing, Jabbok uses that when hiring employees, that equipment chair does a lot of other companies. But it always matters. Because early days, it’s like, hey, I want to understand what mine and my co founders profiles are. But as you get beyond the seed stage phase, the importance of the company is shifted from the founding team to the culture and the employees. And then the longevity of a company. So like one of the reasons I would, and I would assume William Jabbok would probably agree with this, the success of equipment shares, because they managed to be really, really good at hiring the right people. And they were able to scale the business because they had the right talent under the equipment chair. And part of that was because they use things like this to try to fit people in the right teams and pair the right people together.
Matt DeCoursey 37:41
Yeah, that’s definitely a good tool in that regard. All right. So here we are, we’re at the end of another episode of Startup Hustle, which was powered by FullScale.io. Helping you build a software team quickly and affordably. Look, if you want to learn more about how you can participate seek investment get involved on any on a number of different levels, whether you are here in the Kansas City area, which is where Startup Hustle is for those that didn’t know that, but you can get involved from anywhere and this goes to scale-vc.com. There’s a link for that in the show notes. Right. What do you want to say on the way out?
Brett Calhoun 38:18
Yep, so we have a few exciting initiatives we’re working on. Obviously, we’ve got the Missouri startup weekend coming up on March 10, where I think we were probably gonna have a sell-out. We’ve got 150 tickets open, I think, at five left. So we should have a sell-out for that event. Other things we’re doing just launched the Scale mentor network, which now you’re going to be part of, and we’ve got about 775 Plus amazing mentors. And there are people from across the US who have built companies taking companies public investment in companies. Really excited about the network effects that we can bring to the Heart of Missouri. Other things we’ve started to do are like flyover tech, which is really a Slack community, bringing together people from all these different flower ecosystems, essentially connecting all the nodes. So if you think about Columbus, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Kansas City, they’re good startup ecosystems, but they’re not great. It’s not Silicon Valley. It’s not New York. Those are great startup ecosystems that have just talent, knowledge, capital, and network effects flowing. These communities don’t have everything. So trying to connect them and maximizing network effects and connecting the nodes across flyover communities is what we’re trying to do there. So if you’re interested in that, or your entrepreneur, investor, ecosystem builder, whoever joined our Slack or slack channel, and then more recently, might have to cut this part out, launching Scale fun too. And we’ve got some amazing LPS joining, like Matt DeCoursey. We’ve got the University of Missouri, which we’re bringing in, and shelter insurance. With the University of Missouri, we’ll be launching a Student accelerator on campus where our team will be supporting the efforts of that accelerator in the student center there for the entire university. We’ve got about 30 LPs, 90% of them are local Kansas City, Missouri, or Kansas City, Columbia, St. Louis. And most of them are all operators, people who have built companies. And so we’re really excited to bring together the community to get excited about early-stage investing and really bringing a new asset class to investors and Columbia and beyond. Because, to this day, there really haven’t been any opportunities for investing at this early stage. And that’s all I got.
Matt DeCoursey 40:40
Well, for those of you listening, you know, my first sound is way out, you know, hey, give it a shot. What do you have to lose? I think that I talked to so many people that, I don’t know, it’s not uncommon for me to have a conversation with someone, and they’re like, I’m like, how’s everything going? Oh, well, we didn’t get funded. I’m like, Cool. How many people do reach out to you, they’re like, dude, like, 10. You’re like 90 Short of the average. That I mean, I’ve talked to so many people that like, I don’t want to go back to what I said earlier, like, you really want it don’t like no isn’t really a word you understand, like, you gotta go find the resources, find the help find the mentorship, find any of that stuff, and you do not look, if you’re sitting around waiting for an opportunity to come to you, or you’re waiting for the quote, right time, it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t. It’s not how that’s not how this shit works. Like, you got to go out and, you know, go chase that, go chase it, go look for it. And you know, I’m a big advocate of any early-stage company, regardless of how awesome you think you are without programs like scale. Get out of them. Because these are badges that you earned that add to your credibility, they add to your investment ability, you’re going to learn stuff, you’re going to meet other people, like, Look, you have a better chance of getting more moving forward or getting like get powerful people or experience people or wealthy people or just even peers involved in what you’re doing. Because what you’ll find is entrepreneurs like helping other entrepreneurs. And that’s exactly what they’ve created at scale. And you know, I think that that’s pretty awesome. So looking forward to participating in this with you, Brett, and thanks for joining us again.
Brett Calhoun 42:26
Thanks for having me. Looking forward to continuing this relationship.