Brandon Shelton’s job is to take risks.
He’s the Founder and Managing Partner of Task Force X Capital Management, a venture capital firm that invests solely in Veteran-led technology startups. And he makes big bets on companies that are building technology to change the world.
But he's not a technical software expert.
So, in the process of calculating his risks, he realized he needed a technical partner — someone who could crack open the code of a potential investment and determine whether the technology itself is sound.
Enter Dualboot Partners.
Brandon launched TFX in 2015. A Veteran himself, he wanted a way to support his fellow vets while also capitalizing on the value they bring to the business world.
“Less than 1% of the population serves in the military, yet Veterans lead 10% of all small businesses. Veterans clearly possess a skill set that makes them very good entrepreneurs,” Brandon said.
But that doesn’t mean every Veteran-led startup is a worthwhile investment. And just as Brandon enlists financial experts to dig into the books of a potential investment and lawyers to assess any legal issues, he needed a technical partner to examine the technology.
“I’m looking at it from an idea and strategy standpoint. I couldn’t tell you if the technology is scalable. I couldn’t tell you what kind of code base it’s written on,” Brandon said. “I wanted someone to hammer on the software and say, ‘This is stable. This is not stable. And tell me all that in a format fit for dummies.'”
That’s exactly what we did: We designed a technology assessment scorecard for TFX — a system of analyzing the good and bad of a potential investment, what should be fixed, the priorities for future development and the company’s overall development approach and strategy.
From that analysis, we create a report that spells everything out — with specifics and readability foremost in mind — and give that to Brandon and to the head of the company in question. We also offered to meet with the Founder to talk through the report in detail.
That last piece was critical to Brandon. As an investor, he’s not only interested in whether a company generates a return; he wants to do whatever he can to get that company and its Founders to the next level.
“I want them to hand something to the company to make them a better business,” Brandon said. “It shouldn’t just be, ‘Let me diagnose you,’ and then they walk away. I want them to be transparent about what they’ve found.”
THE ADDED VALUE
But once a company becomes part of the portfolio, the investor strategy shifts, from protecting themselves to protecting their investments.
That’s where having a technical partner can provide added value. For instance, Dualboot can step in to provide technical support to a portfolio company or even spearhead that company’s technology development as a fractional CTO — like when the CTO of one of Brandon’s portfolio companies left and that company needed a stop gap.
It was Brandon’s first experience working with a hybrid onshore and offshore team, and it sold him on the value that model can create.
“The feedback on their developers is really high,” Brandon said. “They’ve known the team offshore for a decade, and you appreciate the fact that they have invested in their assets overseas at the people level.”
TFX is growing. In the last year, the firm has brought on another partner and a head of operations. It’s built a rotational internship program with the Citadel, and TFX is raising a second fund.
Part of that growth has meant improving their processes and increasing their network, and engaging Dualboot Partners has been core to both. It allows TFX to invest with confidence, and it gives the firm access to quality tech talent when the need arises.