HomeInterviewsScout Ventures, Interview With Managing Partner Brad Harrison

Scout Ventures, Interview With Managing Partner Brad Harrison

Scout Ventures - Bradley Harrison
Scout Ventures – Bradley Harrison

Scout Ventures, an Austin, TX-based venture capital firm focused on frontier and dual-use technologies built by hard-to-access founders, recently closed Fund IV, at $94m. In conjunction with it, Managing Partner Brad Harrison replied to our questions about the firm, the overall strategy, their portfolio and shared with us its thoughts about the tech landscape.

VCWire: Hello Brad, can you please tell us a bit more about you? What’s your background?
I grew up in Westchester, New York, before attending the United States Military Academy at West Point where I was a Distinguished Honor Graduate. I then served as an Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army for five years, retiring as a Captain before transitioning through graduate school to my business career. At MIT Sloan School of Management, I studied New Product and Venture Developments and was fortunate to work in the early days with Endeca Technologies and Puretech Ventures. From there, I spent time at AOL before focusing on building innovative early-stage companies with the potential to change the world.

VCWire: Can you introduce Scout Ventures?
Scout is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in frontier technologies built by founders from the military, the intelligence community, and national research labs. Scout leads Seed Rounds with $1-3M checks while reserving capital to follow on through Series B. Our investment focuses on AI, Machine-Learning, Quantum Computing, Robotics, Advanced Materials Science, Security, Space & Aerospace, and Advanced Energy. Our teams’ experience in defense and building multi-billion dollar companies provides us with the expertise necessary to find repeated success within these verticals. We specialize in dual-use technologies with private-sector and public-sector defense applications, and we are experts in leveraging non-dilutive capital. At Scout, we believe investing in dual-use technologies can significantly impact society. By investing in these technologies, we can help create a safer and more prosperous world. With our military backgrounds and investment expertise, we are uniquely positioned to identify and support the next generation of dual-use technology pioneers. Our team consists mostly of military service academy graduates which gives us a competitive advantage in sourcing “hard-to-access” founders from the Military, Intelligence Community, National Research Labs, and leading Research Universities with DoD funding.

VCWire: What is your overall strategy?
Our investments are driven by a shared mission of making the world a better, safer place.
We focus our efforts at the intersection of government and innovation and critical technology development to keep America competitive. We start with, what are the basic necessities? Food, water, shelter, security. That is the value chain for world peace. Our goal is to start at home and then go from there. We have companies like Unite Us, they are in 44 states delivering health care for citizens. We focus on companies based in North America and typically lead seed rounds.

VCWire: Beyond capital, how do you support startups?
The most rewarding part of our work is after we have wired the money. We have a process for helping our teams leverage our experience, network, and Venture Partners & Operating Partners.. We also help with reporting, team construction, product development, and all the big decisions that can help propel companies forward. At the core, we help with the 4Rs: raising capital, driving revenue, recruiting senior leadership, and then retaining the capital, revenue, and talent. Our team communicates frequently with founders to help guide them through difficult decisions.

VCWire: What can you tell us about your LP base? Are they helpful? How?
We have institutional investors, including the New Mexico State Investment Council, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, USAA, Vanderbilt’s Endowment, and several established family offices and RIAs. These groups are hands-on in providing value to our portfolio companies; as they seek ways to be accretive in their investments. We are grateful for having long-term investors, as we view our relationships with our LPs as multi-fund partners.

VCWire: What do you like to see in founders?….And what don’t you like to see in them? I
mean, is there something which impresses you at a first glance?

We fund promising founders or leaders with the grit and vision to build strong companies. As we look at companies, we look at the leaders. We look for a culture of teamwork, collaboration, intent, and attention to detail. We are looking for entrepreneurs who are driven and have moxie. We ask ourselves: Is this someone we can build a company with?

VCWire: Please, tell us a bit more about the portfolio. You can list five startups whose
paths have made you particularly proud of.

Our portfolio invests in cutting-edge industries, from aerospace and robotics to advanced energy and artificial intelligence and many more. We are proud of each and every one of the companies within our portfolio, but here are a few we are particularly proud of:

  • ID.me was one of our first major investments, and we love that they provide identity solutions to the IRS, VA, Treasury, and other government organizations with over 124M registered users.
  • Unite Us is helping to identify the social determinants of health within communities, deliver those needs, and reimburse community-based organizations.
  • UbiQD is an advanced materials company. Their quantum dots provide low-waste, high-efficiency solutions, including providing a layer of light that helps plants get more from the sun.
  • De-Ice Technologies is an MIT spin-out that has developed a novel electric method to heat materials that are otherwise very difficult to heat. De-Ice is first applying this technology to on-ground aircraft de-icing to eliminate chemical spraying and the associated departure delays. The company will then use its technology for other applications like wind turbines.
  • EnCharge AI is a leader in advanced hardware and software systems for AI computing. EnCharge’s robust and scalable next-generation in-memory computing technology provides orders of magnitude higher compute efficiency and density compared to today’s best-in-class solutions, at a fraction of the cost.

VCWire: Which sector/s would you bet 2 cents on in the next five years?
We really believe in dual-use frontier tech, which is a broad sector that includes areas such
as artificial intelligence, autonomy, robotics, and advanced power and energy. Companies in
these sectors will be life-changing–even if you don’t realize it yet.