Ask an Angel: Roo Harris, Scale Investors - LaunchVic

Ask an Angel: Roo Harris, Scale Investors


16 Jun 2023 by Holly Clark

Velocity, Ambition, Passion: Here’s what Scale Investors’ Roo Harris looks for in a founder…

Roo Harris is the Chief Investment Officer at Scale Investors, Australia’s first angel group dedicated to backing women founders.  

Over the last decade, Scale has tipped more than $20 million into 47 women-led startups, with a NASDAQ listing for Cognition Therapeutics and a 30x exit for Trademark Vision. 

In the first of our new Ask an Angel Series we spoke to Roo about levelling the playing field for women founders, and how to put your best foot forward if you’re looking to raise this year.   

Let’s start with the problem you’re addressing as an angel group. Why is it so important to have a dedicated angel group for women-led startups?

Oh my – where to begin!? It’s vitally important that we exist because women are still struggling to access capital for their start-up businesses. We know that globally, women founders receive approximately 3% of Venture Capital funding and that drops to about 0.7% for solely female founded teams. 

Meanwhile, data shows that women led teams outperform, making for a better return on investment.  And not only that, the economic impact for the global economy in terms of achieving gender equality for entrepreneurs, is estimated at over $2 trillion.   

We also think a lot about the goods and services being created today and the impact, appropriateness and access of those goods and services tomorrow. There must be a diverse range of people working and solving the problems of our generations that reflect the society we live in.  

We have an outsized opportunity here in terms of both impact and returns!  We don’t believe there should be an early-stage venture funding gender gap. 

Capital is being cautious right now. What advice would you give to startups looking to secure funding in today’s market?

It’s definitely tough out there!  

Expect the raise campaign to take longer than what you anticipate and, as such, start early and manage your burn carefully. Where you can, build a strong network of potential funders and other eco-system players in advance of your raise.  

Also, expect to need to be flexible on the structures you adopt and sources of funding you go to – for example, you might start out raising a mil and switch to $500k when the market won’t go for a higher sum.  

Talk to others that have raised capital before and preferably in tough markets; for every investor you meet, ask for 1-2 more potential connections. You could probably expect to also have to raise from more investors, so aim to widen your pool as much as possible.    

Demonstrating velocity, ambition and passion are key when attracting investors. Think hard about what kind of investor you are looking for too – it’s a long and windy road. 

What qualities do you look for in a Startup before investing?

At the early stages, we are looking for rock-star founder(s) with a clear connection to the problem, the right skillset and experience, and an ability to iterate.  

Beyond that, we want a scalable, innovative product that solves a genuine problem, ideally with proprietary features or otherwise a clear moat and a massive market – so our angels can realise 10x returns.   

Also, we need some traction to see that what you’re doing can be commercially viable.  

This varies with sector but some examples might be:
  • the number of clients the business has
  • the number of end users or trial participants
  • the number of pre-purchase orders
  • waitlisted customers or social media followers
  • the number of App downloads or monthly website visitors
  • Letters of Intent/MOU’s indicating an intention to purchase once in market
  • commercial partnerships
  • an advisory board or board comprised of domain experts and other leaders
  • registered IP
  • Customer Acquisition Cost and Lifetime Value
  • Average basket size….the list goes on.

If you’re successful in securing investment, how does Scale support its portfolio companies beyond that initial first cheque?

We will leverage our network to provide whatever support we can – be it warm introductions to customers and downstream investors, angels sitting on portfolio boards/advisory committees, mentoring and access to talent.   

Opening doors to networks is a specialty and the more specific your “ask” is, the more likely we can connect you! Be bold – if you don’t ask, you don’t get, what is the worst that can happen? They say no!  

To learn more about Scale’s mission to bridge the entrepreneurial investment gender-gap, visit