Scale Investors’ new co-CEOs are on a mission to boost the “circular economy” of women in tech

Scale Investors co-chief executives Chelsea Newell and Samar Mcheileh. Source: supplied.

Women-focused angel group Scale Investors has appointed two new co-chief executive officers, following the departure of Ariane Barker from the role last month.

Chelsea Newell and Samar Mcheileh will share the top job, as they focus on bringing more women investors into the fold.

Over the past eight years or so, Scale has built up a network of more than 200 sophisticated angel investors, and the new co-founders are committed to activating that community, and building upon it, ultimately to bring more investment to more women-led startups.

“First and foremost, the mission behind Scale is to get capital into female founders’ hands. That is our priority,” Newell tells SmartCompany.

“The time is now to be investing in the growth of female founders.”

The new co-chiefs will find those investors through their existing networks, and through connections with accelerators, universities and VC funds.

But, they’re also noticing a trend that women entrepreneurs who have secured funding through Scale Investors before are now joining as investors themselves.

Mcheileh refers to this as a kind of “circular economy”.

Entrepreneurs want to continue that trajectory of women supporting women. And they don’t just bring capital, they bring experience, advice, and potentially an asset to a startup’s board in the future.

“We love to see women supporting women,” Newell adds.

“That’s what we’re all about.”

The pair also point to the support they received from their predecessor Ariane Barker, who acted as a mentor, a supporter and an educator to them throughout her own tenure in the chief executive role at Scale Investors.

All of this perpetuates the development of an ecosystem that’s more welcoming to women founders, and more likely to see them securing capital for their businesses.

Women-led startups famously secure a small percentage of total venture capital — partly because of a dearth of women investors.

“You invest in what you know,” Mcheileh says.

“The stats are so dire and not moving, because there aren’t enough female investors.”

Scale Investors isn’t the only new kid

Newell and Mcheileh are not the only new faces in the startup funding ecosystem this week.

Seed investment group Investible has also announced a new chief executive, financial services veteran Rod Bristow.

The appointment came as Investible announced it is raising its $50 million second fund focused on early-stage startups.

So, how does an early-stage founder get in front of such investors, and pique their interest?

Scale, for one, is industry agnostic and happy to connect with any startup, as long as it meets the criteria of having a woman founder with an equal or majority shareholding.

It’s always worth reaching out to connect, even if you’re not actively seeking funding yet.

“We want to get to know a business as early as possible,” Newell explains.

“We love stories, we love seeing a product develop,”

Founders don’t have to wait until they’re raising to get in touch, she adds. The team runs monthly office hours, inviting founders at all stages to ask questions and talk about the journey they’re on.

Then, it’s about connecting the startup with investors that are a good fit for them, if and when all parties are ready.

However, if a startup is at the point of seeking funding, Mcheileh advises having a specific and clear ‘ask’ of your prospective backers.

Each investor will have a specific skill set or area of expertise, so if you know what you need in your business — aside from cash — your pitch may be more compelling.

“Be really specific and clear about what [you] need to be successful,” she says.

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