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Brad Feld

Fondry Group

Brad Feld

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. today. I'm here with Brad Feld, Brett, how you doing?

Brad Feld  0:11  

I'm good, Gabriel, nice to see you.

Gabriel Flores  0:13  

Nice to see you. So you are the managing director of the founder group. Now we're gonna get into that in a little bit. But first, I would love to the world to go ahead and get a little background. Brad, where you're calling from give us a little background introduction. Who is Brad?

Brad Feld  0:28  

I'm calling you from Boulder, Colorado. My wife, Amy bachelor, and I have lived here for 27 years. So this is very solidly home. I've been started started off as an entrepreneur sold that company to a public company in the mid 90s, made a bunch of angel investments. Started a couple more companies all tech related, became a venture capitalist. started investing as a VC in 1996 had a wild ride up during the internet bubble and a wild ride down after crashed and have have continued to be an investor since then. I started foundry with three partners in 2007. And I'm also co founder of TechStars, which I started with three other guys in 2006.

Gabriel Flores  1:18  

Nice. So what was that first business that you had that first entrepreneurial endeavor?

Brad Feld  1:22  

first business was an excruciatingly named company called fell technologies excruciating because I learned over time that when somebody is unhappy with you, they don't they call for Mr. Fell, my partner's last name was joke and they never call. When you're pissed off at us, something really screwed out. But that was a software consulting business that was bootstrapped, self funded, we started it in 1987, I was a senior in college. And we sold it to public company in 1993. And I had never invested in the company, I'd never bought or sold anything. So it was a really transformative experience to end up, you know, having having built this, you know, modest size where 20 Something person, couple million dollar your company, but that we built from scratch to all of a sudden now being part of the executive team of this very rapidly growing public company,

Gabriel Flores  2:11  

how did you scale a company, you know, in school to become a 20, employee company, million dollar revenue generating,

Brad Feld  2:19  

day by day, week, by week, month by month? So my partner David I, for the first year and a half or so it was just us. So we, you know, we made some really bad mistakes early on, we hired a half dozen or so people part time. You know, we had some illusion that we were going to be generating our business for everybody. And of course, all we did was lose a bunch of money, the first couple of months, we had, we had no money. So like I didn't know, like, what can we do, we didn't have money to lose. So we fired everybody. And I think, you know, started every month, you know, we make 3000 bucks, revenue and you know, pay ourselves a tiny bit. And then you know, next month, we make a little bit more, and eventually you're making 10 or $15,000, a month top line. And at some point, we hired a, you know, a first our first employee guy named Sean who joined us and just systematically built the company, we we had to make money, though every month because we never raised any outside capital, we only raised $10. From Dave, myself, and my father was an adviser to us, we had 10 shares of stock, and each was worth $1. And we sold the company, we still only had 10 shares of stock. Fortunately, they were worth more than $1 each. But you know, we just we just had to build a business by you know, having a product that we sold to customers and made more money each month and we spent

Gabriel Flores  3:37  

you let's let's talk about the shares for a little bit. You mentioned you had 10 shares, how did you like it? How does a company define or determine how many shares are going to issue

Brad Feld  3:44  

completely and totally arbitrary, we could have issued 10 shares. For $1 Each, we could have issued 10 million shares for a 1,000th of a penny each year 100 1,000th of a penny each, it's just arbitrary. And there is a nuance a tax nuance if you incorporate in Delaware or some states that you incorporate where you have to pay what's called a franchise tax. And in some cases, the more shares you have, the more your franchise taxes. So having less shares, but that's sort of technical legal issue that happens depending on where you incorporate the company. But it's arbitrary. And you know, the interesting thing about a company is, as a founder, you think about it as how much what percentage of the company do you own? Right, so in that first company, I had six shares. So I own 60% of it, they've had 30% of my dad had 10%. And an important thing to realize is you can only have 100%. So if you sell equity to somebody, regardless of the amount of shares they have, the total percent ownership of the company still has to add up to 100%.

Gabriel Flores  4:46  

Very true. Now let's talk about first let's talk about the Foundry Group. What is it and then how did you create it?

Brad Feld  4:54  

Sure. So Foundry is a venture capital firm. We invest in more Mostly early stage tech companies, although 25% of our capital is invested in other early stage venture funds. So what are essentially pre seed and seed stage investors, we're typically investing in the series A or sort of, after a company has raised some money from a seed investor. We also occasionally do a later stage investment. We have six partners. Today, we're all equal partners, we have about four built a little bit over $4 billion, across all the different funds that we've raised, going back to 2007. We invest all across the US. So we don't really invest internationally, I did some of that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and just got my head handed to me. And at some point, I realized, you know, I was both not good at it. And it was just really, really, really difficult to deal with the geography and the different different countries. But you know, we have companies all over the United States that we've invested in, and we, we don't own and control the companies, we tend to own 10 to 30% of them. And we try really, really hard to work closely with the founders and the leaders of the company and support them in whatever way they need. Versus view it is our company where we're trying to direct people.

Gabriel Flores  6:15  

So it sounds like your target audience is already individuals that have tested, they're tested their product and actually begun to Mekhi in production and starting to move beyond like you mentioned beyond the seed process. So they kind of tested and true. Yeah,

Brad Feld  6:30  

generally not all, but most of the companies we've invested in, we invest in have product in the market already, although it might be very small, their revenue, you know, total revenue might be hundreds of 1000s of dollars a year. They don't have to be significant businesses yet. They might be, you know, 1015 20 people, but they're usually beyond now, the idea phase, the funds that we've invested in, we've invested in about 50 of them, those funds tend to invest at the very earliest idea phase, as does TechStars, which were a large shareholder. And so we have exposure to companies that are today. But we're tending to write our first direct check into the company when they've made a little bit more progress.

Gabriel Flores  7:08  

How does one start a venture capital fund? How did you decide to kind of go into and start foundry and bring in the partners and actually create this fun to be able to go out and provide venture capital to others?

Brad Feld  7:20  

Yeah, there's different ways to do it. So I probably talking about my my experience, because it's one of the pads. I was, I was living in Boston, after I sold that first company, which would which we built created in Boston. And I took most of the money that I made from selling that first company, I made a couple of million bucks. And I invested between 1994 1996 in 40 companies spent one a month and I was essentially the very first investor in many of those companies. My checks were small, maybe I was running a 25 or $50,000 Check. But I was usually bringing other investors alongside me. So I was that angel investor who put together a group or a syndicate of other angel investors, and sometimes it was a couple $100,000 Sometimes it might be a million dollars, but I was investing at that stage. And for I don't know, a handful of those companies. I helped start them I was a co founder and maybe I was chair of the company. But I didn't run any of them. I wasn't CEO, I didn't have an operating day to day operating role. And along the way, I got connected with you know, as I was making angel investments, obviously I started to get to know different VC investors who are investing after that stage. I also, bizarrely my first company had a bunch of venture capital firms as clients, we wrote a piece of software that a firm used for managing their portfolio. And really for reporting on their portfolio, which in the late 1980s. And early 1990s was mostly done like in a word processing document or a Lotus 123 spreadsheet, we wrote a piece of software that allowed you to actually enter the data and, and print out the reports that people are familiar with a company called carta today, which is a company that helps startups manage their cap tables and a bunch of other things we'd written, you know, a very rudimentary version of what carta carta so I, we knew a bunch of VCs because they were clients of ours. And as I was doing more and more angel investments, I ended up kind of randomly intersecting with a Japanese firm that was starting to buy companies in the US and make investments in what was at the time called digital media became very quickly called Internet companies, which is company called soft Bank, which today is extremely well known. In the mid 90s. In the US, it was nascent, it had no people in the US maybe one person in the US it was very, not very visible as a as an investor. And masayoshi son, who was the founder of SoftBank had bought a couple of companies and then a couple of those people organized a team to start making venture investment Once and there was a group of us, I was one of four people that became an affiliate. So in today's parlance in the venture landscape, it might be called a scout. And I was basically the four of us were basically doing our own investments. But we could bring things to Softbank and if Softbank liked it, they did the investment invested some money, and we got some economics on the money that they invest in. And that was me, a guy named Fred Wilson who is well known for writing a blog called ABC, but he's also the co founder of Union Square Ventures, which has been an extraordinarily successful venture firm, kind of Jerry Kelowna, who has ended up being Fred's partner in a venture firm called flatiron partners. Jerry lives in Boulder a mile from me were extremely close friends to this day. And then another guy named Mitch Levandowski, who was also a Boston based sort of investor angel investors. The four of us didn't work for Softbank, but we were making investments alongside this team. And in 1997, or maybe sometime in 1996, Softbank essentially ran out of money. And so a group of us, me and three of the people that work for Softbank raised a fund that Softbank sponsored, and it took us about a year to raise the fund, we raised it closed by the end of 97. That was a $300 million venture fund of which Softbank was 13 million of it. So we had to raise a lot of money separate from theirs. But that firm was called softening Technology Ventures. So for a couple of years, we were the us invest. venture was totally random. It was not deliberate, I didn't have a plan of action. I was very happy. And I'm very happy that I had the experience. There's a lot of ups and downs in the experience. And you know, Softbank when we started investing, even before we raised that first fund, and we're investing Softbank money or money that Softbank had raised, it was a very different kind of investing activity than the traditional venture capital investing activity in terms of PACE velocity, the number investments we were doing. I think, at our peak, we were doing about one new investment a week, which was kind of unheard of from a venture perspective at the time. But I just I learned a shitload of things both good and bad. And

that arc with Softbank continued for a while, but then eventually, in 2007, with three of the people I worked with at Softbank, we started foundry. So it was a decision. And as part of that, ironically, we continued and then ultimately, I continued to manage all the old Softbank funds that we'd raised, which we had renamed to now Mobius venture capital. So we at some point, changed the name of the thing. And we're just now shutting down the very last one of those funds. So venture funds can last a very, very long time. Whether you want them to or not,

Gabriel Flores  12:51  

you know, you know, it's interesting, because it sounds like you really been leveraging your own network as well to kind of build How important has networking been to venture capital and you as your career?

Brad Feld  13:05  

Oh, enormously. But networking is a vague word. So I'll be more precise, like from the 90s. And even the early 2000s, I was all over the place all the time. I mean, I traveled 75% of time. You know, three out of four weeks, I was in the Bay Area, I was co chair of a company that went public that was New York base. So I would take a read I across the country to New York. You know, I was I was very involved in lots of different companies. And so the network and the network activity built. And then of course, the network that we had, as a result of all of the soft bank linkages was quite powerful. And the network that came from the guys that bought my first company and the work that I got to do with them and all the people in that, that that landscape was very powerful. I continued to do that. And of course, you know, if anybody out there is familiar with TechStars, TechStars is, you know, a very, very large global network for entrepreneurs at this point. We've had over 3000 companies since we started 14 years ago. You know, it's in, I don't know, 1314 countries, we've got programs, we run about 50 new accelerator programs a year at this point, it's normal network. But one of the things that was different in in the networking activity that I did was I started writing very actively around 2004 2005. I started a And I blogged pretty much every day for about almost 15 years. And there are a few other people who blog like that Fred Wilson, who had mentioned earlier, started blogging a little bit earlier than I did maybe three, three to six months earlier, but sort of same type of pacing, just lots and lots and lots of blogs, lots of content around entrepreneurship and investment well before blogs were popular well before people were posting contents well before Twitter is This didn't people could, you know, pretend to drop pearls of wisdom in 140 characters, which I don't think can actually be done, I think most you can do with 140 characters is snark. And what what ended up happening was, I built a very broad virtual network. And that virtual network were people who were either connected to me through the physical interaction that we had, or the virtual interaction that we had, but I maintained it virtually. And if I wind the clock forward to today, I stopped traveling for variety of reasons around 2013 2014. And then I started traveling again and travel less, but regularly until COVID. And when COVID happened, I stopped traveling like everybody else did. And I just decided I was done, um, that I was never going to travel again, for business. So I don't travel for business anymore, I just do everything virtually, I do everything by video, if people want to see me in person, for some reason, like, I don't know why they want to, because it's no fun. You know, I'm happy to spend time with people, you know, one on one if they're if they're wherever I am physically, but that network and the network management wasn't a deliberate thing. I didn't have a CRM system that I was keeping track of people and making sure I reached out to people, it was just making myself available, being responsive, engaging with lots of different people being open to lots of different stuff. You know, doing things like this, where, you know, I don't, I have a phrase that's become the TechStars mantra, which is called give first, it came from a phrase, I had an a book from 2012, called startup communities. And the phrase was good before you get. And the idea is that my philosophy is you should be willing to put energy into the into a system without knowing what you're going to get back. It's not altruism, you expect to get something back, you just don't know when, from whom? Over what timeframe? In what form or consideration what magnitude. So if you're willing to put energy into the system, and just do that continually, without having to predefine the relationship, really wonderful things come back. And my own experience in business and in life, I'm in my 56, almost 37 years old, is that it's really a very satisfying and powerful way to exist.

Gabriel Flores  17:14  

Yeah, you know, and I kind of envisioned this podcast as similarly, right, where just kind of keep continue to create content, continue to create blog posts, doing almost 100 episodes now, getting close to 100 episodes, unsure what the end goal is, and what's going to come out of it. But I know something good is gonna come out of it. And I'm already kind of creating foundations building rapport, I'm able to have a conversation with you. Right? And so it slowly kind of grown organically by itself as well.

Brad Feld  17:40  

You totally get it. I mean, that's exactly what I was describing.

Gabriel Flores  17:43  

Now, you you also kind of mentioned, you know, about board of directors, and you've been sitting on a couple of Board of Directors. Now talk about talking about how does one scale a board of directors, how does one build a board of directors, you know, those I feel like board director positions are extremely important, because they're going to help, you know, drive the company, but how do you kind of build that up?

Brad Feld  18:04  

So I've been on many boards, I don't, I don't know the number anymore. But you know, more, more than 100, probably less than 1000. But somewhere in between those and probably closer to 1000 than 100. And I've been on some extraordinary boards, I've been on a bunch of mediocre boards, and I've been on some really bad boards. And, you know, like, like most institutional things, you know, they're they range and there's a whole bunch of things that are average. And there's some that are really extraordinary, and some that are really awful. The topic of boards was interesting. To me, I, again, wrote a book on in 2013, I wrote a book called Startup boards, and just came out with a second edition of it, which is also called Startup boards. And in it, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the board effective for an entrepreneur. And you know, what are the things around a board that are important, and I come back to over and over again, these are not for public company boards, but again, for boards of startups or companies that are fast growing companies, to a very simple philosophy that I've had for a long time as a starting point, which is, as long as I support the CEO, I work for her as a board member. I got government governance responsibilities, and I've got some formal legal responsibilities. But philosophically as long as I support the See, I work for her. If I don't support her, I find at one point that I'm not no longer supporting her, it's my job to do something about it. Which doesn't mean fire her it means work to try to get back to the place where I support her and as a as a board member as an investor and as a board. There's usually one tool available to to you know, to that the board as a whole which is to replace the CEO or fire the CEO not 100% of time. There are definitely some situations where the CEO you know controls is the largest shareholder and controls the company but in most venture backed comm Because that's, that's something the board the board can do. But that philosophy of, of working for the CEO, knowing that every CEO needs different things. And then to your specific question of scaling up a board, when the CEO views the board, as another team, she gets to us, it's powerful. So, you know, every CEO gets to have a management team. And you build your management team. And you, you know, one of your important roles as a CEO is to develop the management team and keep people in alignment and do all the work around that. Why don't do the same thing with your board, like view your board as another team? And yeah, that board can fire you. But that's sort of a secondary consequence of things not working. If you're actively engaged with the board, and you know, you're helping that board be an effective team, the chance of them firing you is pretty low, right? Because if they're involved with what's going on, if things are not going, well, they're involved in it, too, and you're probably not going to be the one to blame. You could be but I think that's the most important thing, view the board as a team. And then structurally, I think that way too many startup boards are either VC dominated, or there's just not much intent put into deciding who should be on the board, and then doing this work of building a team. So I like boards that are balanced. I like boards that for every VC, there's an independent director. And I like boards that have, you know, good gender, good gender diversity. So you've got both men and women on the boards. You know, I think in the last couple of years, I was sort of tuned into the notion of being much clearer, not just deliberative about gender diversity, but racial diversity in terms of board composition. And, you know, getting people that have different frames or differences, especially, depending on what kind of product you're selling, right? If you're selling us, you know, a b2b software product, versus you're selling a piece of consumer hardware versus you're selling a consumer service versus, you know, lots of different types of businesses, like think about what configuration of people and what skill set really helps you as the CEO, build and develop your company.

Gabriel Flores  22:16  

Yeah, that's a great example. In fact, you know, I'm currently the president of the board of directors for American Association of physician liaisons, which is a national physician Liaison Group for health care, because I work in the health care world. And it's true, you know, I'm sitting here, having this conversation with you. And I'm thinking to myself, the conversation I've recently had with the board and talking about my goals for this next year, recently being appointed president and stating, my goal is to actually add diversity to the board, right, I'm currently the only individual of color, I want to ensure that there's other individuals so we can kind of get their insight because cultural awareness and understanding what plagues their culture and their communities is important, especially in the healthcare world, right. Now, with that said, you know, you've kind of been talking quite a bit about, you know, the venture capital piece, and like choosing really trying to choose in a company that kind of seems like to align that you seem fast growing, how do you go about choosing who you're going to fund?

Brad Feld  23:14  

Well, I, again, varies by venture firms. So this is a personal, personal frame of reference. Historically, I was very focused on two things. One was the people and the other was the product. And I've gone through many sort of arcs and tried different things. And at Mobius, we had a very complex way of trying to decide what we're gonna fund and rating and scoring companies. And in the end, for me, it ended up being people in product with, you know, are these people I want to be partners with? And is this a product that I care about? And I, I've gotten to the place where I now describe that very simply as as having having kind of three, three pieces to it. One is, do I have affinity for the product? And it doesn't mean that I have to be a daily user of it, but do I care about it? If I don't care about the product, it's really hard to keep your head in the game when things go off the rails? Yeah. So I have to care, I have to think the product that's being created as one that matters, and that's useful, and that people care about. And there are plenty of products in the world that end up being very successful that I just don't care about, I'm not going to be a good investor for that company. The second is that the founders and the leaders of the company need to be obsessed about what they're doing. And I there's unhealthy connotations of the word obsession, but there's a lot of healthy connotations. And I like to focus on the healthy side of it, which is, if you're, you know, we're a question I'll ask people when they say what do you mean by obsessed is where you put on planet Earth to work on this problem. And you don't have to be working on this problem for the rest of your life. It doesn't have to be the thing that you are solely committed to doing. But at this moment in time, is this the thing that you were put on planet earth to do? And then the last for me is do they want to be partners with me as much as I want to be partners with them if they don't really want to be partners with me? or I'm just representing capital and there doesn't really, there's no engagement, it's less interesting to me and vice versa. You know, if they're super excited about me being an investor, I'm like, I don't really care about them that much as people. Same thing, like when everything's going fine. It's no big deal. It's when things go off the rails when things get really difficult, and it really matters.

Gabriel Flores  25:20  

You know, one of the things you mentioned, when you're talking about the board was your relationship with the CEO and ensuring that the individual, you know, they feel that they're part of, you know, your secondary team, right? The board is a secondary team to you, how do you actually help scale? A CEO? How do you how do you help scale yourself as being a CEO? Well,

Brad Feld  25:42  

two different questions. How do you scale a CEO as a board? And then how do you help a CEO scale? I don't think you can scale a CEO, I think the dynamics of helping a CEO scale or a CEO saying I need to, I need help scaling, I need to learn how to do this as much more interesting. And there's a couple of ways one is having that CEO have lots of peer CEOs, that that they can talk to including peers that are further ahead of them, but also ones that they can learn from. So this sort of mentor mentee dynamic, with peers with other CEOs is very significant. I think the vast majority of CEOs in our portfolio, have a dedicated CEO coach, there's not a full time person that works for the company, but it's somebody that they meet with, you know, once a week, once every other week, maybe once a month, but it's a coach, just like, you know, I'm a big, I'm a big runner, I have a track coach, and I have a nutritionist, and, you know, there are people who not only pay attention to what's going on with me, but helped me learn to help me improve, especially when we get into a new zone in terms of my, my fitness or exercise. And then I think the last is, and something that's become, I think part of the wiring in the last few years and in a healthy way, is sort of this notion of a CEO, being introspective about their their own strengths and weaknesses. You know, lots of different words like vulnerable and authentic and tossed around but But fundamentally, it's recognizing that, you know, we're all good at some stuff, and we're all shitty, and other stuff. And you know, when the thing that you're not good at is something that you need to be good at. It, most of those things are learned skills, not all of them, you know, I'll never be a professional NBA player. So there's definitely limitations that we have. But you know, if even if you're not gonna be a professional NBA player, you can become a pretty good free throw shooter, just by practice. Yeah, very good at focusing on your form, and by doing it a lot. So it's sort of just being aware that even though I'm not good at this thing, necessarily I could be, and I need to learn, I need to practice and what do I need to do to learn and practice and making that part of what you're doing?

Gabriel Flores  27:39  

You know, in the venture capital world, you're, you're giving away a lot of funds, right? You're helping startups? How do you define success? What is what is success for you, for a venture capitalist?

Brad Feld  27:49  

It's super easy, right? Are we have investors who we call limited partners, or LPs, they give us a box of money. And our job is to return a box full of more money to them. That's it. And as long as we do it legally, then we are successful, if we give them back at the end, you know, the end of the life of the fund, if we give them back a box with less money in it when we fail, if we give them back a box with the same amount of money in it, we fail because there's a cost of capital, yep. If we give them back a box with a tiny bit more money in and we failed, right? You know, we need to give them back a bigger box full of more money that is commensurate with sort of the risk return expectations they have, which in the world of venture, you know, people throw around numbers like IRR and multiple of cash, it's, it's kind of baseline expectation is, is that if you give me $1, when my fund finishes, which is usually you know, 1015 years later, I've given you back at least three times the money,

Gabriel Flores  28:43  

what's the hardest part of giving them back a box full of money?

Brad Feld  28:51  

Probably, it's easy to invest in companies, although it's hard to invest in the right companies, it's very hard to help the companies be successful. So I think the hardest part of it is sort of navigating that not just the internal issues that companies have on their path. But all the external issues. I'll just give an example of something that was totally new in my brain. I've been doing this for a long time, totally new in my world that came up. You know this earlier this year. And something If you'd said this is going to happen two years ago, to me, I would have just laughed out loud at you. We have a portfolio company that has a US based company, but they have a team in Russia in Moscow and they have a team in, in Ukraine. If you if you had said to me, there's going to be a land war between Russia and Ukraine. I would have laughed at you. Alright, so that happened. You know, like, Okay, so I've got teams of people that are working on product where some of the people are in Moscow, and some of the people are in Kyiv. And they're on the same team. Yeah. All right. How do you navigate that? And oh, by the way, there's all these exogenous factors, you know, you know, areas, value of money, availability of money ability of movement, we have one of the, you know, one of the Ukrainian employees can't relocate because he's military age. So he's not allowed to leave the country. You know, like just all these things you like, whoa, wow, what where did this come from? Yeah, I wrote a blog post a while ago. And the title a blog post tells the whole post, which is something new. Keyword new in my world is fucked up every day. So every day I run into something new, that's fucked up. And if by the end of the day, I haven't encountered it yet, I'm kind of curious what it is. Every day, every day, and it's something new, it's not the same thing day after day. It's something new and every now and then it's something completely new. I was sitting and working one afternoon around Christmas time, it was maybe a week or two before Christmas and the CEO of of one of our companies that had had at the time a consumer toy product that had huge amounts of business during the month of December, called me up and in a panic. He says I'm outside my building or building just broke. You know, fire engines come and call you back. I'm like how what. And, you know, fortunately, they got everybody out of the building, but it's two storey building this and one of the one of the pieces of steel that held the second floor up, I had had what I guess it's like a stress fracture or something had bent and the concrete floor underneath it, or above it shattered. And the whole floor sunk, jeez. And fortunately, there was nobody on the first floor in the building. So nobody got hurt on the first floor. And all the people in the second floor were now on a broken floor, and they had to go out of the building. And then the fire department condemned the building and said, you can't go back in the building. So people on the carpet in the building their their wallets on their desks, they have all their computers shit on Oh, wow. You know, and eventually, people were able to get their car keys in their wallets. You know, it's a office and everybody's working in their office. And this is well before, you know, COVID and remote work. And it's like, like, we got stuff to do. Sorry, you know. So, you know, you have to sort of navigate these crazy things all the time. And I think that's I think that's probably the hardest part of the work

Gabriel Flores  32:16  

hasn't been anything easy.

Brad Feld  32:22  

Man, probably not. I mean, I don't think business is easy. I don't think that word really applies. I think anybody that says, oh, yeah, it's easy, it comes naturally, we don't have any trouble. Everything's been great. From day one. It's all worked. And therefore shit. I mean, every successful company I've ever been involved in has had at least one near death experience. You know, one really, really terrifying moment that could have lasted for 30 days didn't have to last for one minute, right? And some of them are just stupid self inflicted things like you know the company that's doing it's got an incredible try to think about how say it generically but incredible online game, you know, that loses their domain. Yeah. But now all of a sudden, nobody can go play their online game. Well, how did you lose your domain? Well, we had it registered at GoDaddy for $9. And okay, so you're generating $10 million a month of revenue off your online game and you're trusting your go to GoDaddy for nine bucks and what happened? Well, it just nobody remembered that we had an expired and somebody else grabbed it. Well, duh, I and you know, you can you work through it, right? But it's even when things are going great. There's always stuff like that, that causes just abject fear and panic that you have to work through.

Gabriel Flores  33:37  

You know, that's a great that actually reminds me of now the Washington, commander's right the, the Washington football team, formerly the Washington Redskins, when they were looking for a new name, an individual over there in Miami, a lawyer in Miami decided to copyright all the names, he knew that they would probably try to use got them all copyrighted got all the websites. And so now they're the commanders, you know, and it was, it was a lot of great names that they he was able to, but again, to that point, you just got to be a little bit, you know, business is not easy, you gotta gotta be a little smart about it. Now, speaking of which, what motivates you to continue to work continues to motivate you to continue to go forward.

Brad Feld  34:22  

I've always really enjoyed being helpful to other people being involved with other smart people and learning from them. You know, when I was younger, there was a lot that drove me that was ambition. You know, that was sort of the ego dynamics associated with success as I've gotten older, and, and sort of had plenty of success and also had plenty of failure that those things have sort of fallen to the wayside. So it's more just the ability to learn the ability to teach and the ability to engage with people that I that I find stimulating and that hopefully I'm helpful to

Gabriel Flores  34:57  

nice now as a venture capitalists, what keeps you up at night?

Brad Feld  35:02  

Not much I sleep pretty well, you

Gabriel Flores  35:04  

know, I gotta take this question away every time I ask it or

Brad Feld  35:08  

not. I used to not sleep that Well, I used to think I was sleeping well, because I traveled all over the place. And I fell asleep on airplanes at the time that I'm on. And I thought I would sleep. So we hit the ground. And then I got very depressed in 2013. I was depressed for about six months. And I was very open about the depressive episode that I had. And I just stopped waking up with an alarm clock. I used to be the guy that got up at five o'clock in the morning, no matter what timezone I was, I just had a kid this again, he go attachment is probably the best phrase for it to that. And for six months, I slept more than 12 hours a night, I was just exhausted. And I think that really helped me understand just how critically important sleep was to help. And you know, I go to sleep, my wife and I, we don't have kids were early birds, we tend to go to sleep, you know, 839 o'clock. And I wake up each morning sort of naturally, yeah. 530 to seven. And you know, now that I'm in my late 50s, I wake up a couple of nights to go to the bathroom. And I you know, annoyed me a little while a little bit, but I fall asleep like within a minute after crawling back in bed. So now it's kind of like, Oh, it's 230 I get to sleep some more cool.

Gabriel Flores  36:21  

Around 230 And five.

Brad Feld  36:24  

Every now and you know every now and then I'll have something that really agitates me. And it's usually a very specific thing. And it's often irrational. Right? So when I'm agitated, it's usually because of an irrational thing that is causing me, you know, to sort of cycle on it. And I've learned enough about my own psychology that that usually just means that I'm tired.

Gabriel Flores  36:47  

Yeah, yeah, yeah, your body certainly does need the rest sometimes, right? And we can get to even when you're burning the candle at both ends, it tends to burn pretty quickly, unfortunately. Now, what advice would you give some of the listeners at home either, you know, board directors or board members, CEOs, individuals that are in the tech startup? What? What kind of advice would you give an inspiring entrepreneur?

Brad Feld  37:11  

Ah, see, we are all going to die. And as a result of that, be deliberate about what you spend your time on and how you spend your time. And know that you'll have plenty of time that you spend on stuff that doesn't work out or that isn't satisfying. That's just the overhead of being a human being. But work hard to put yourself in a position so you can spend time on the things you want to spend time on.

Gabriel Flores  37:38  

That's a great point. And you know, I've been finding myself recently, instead of consuming, you know, reels of tick tock and Facebook and things of that nature. It's trying to consume books, right pages, just to kind of break it up a little bit. So I think there's, there's a lot of static out there. And there's a lot of good opportunity in books, as well as networking and just meet with other people versus just sitting at home behind your phone or computer. Getting out there and meeting with folks. And as like you mentioned, you know, having individuals from Moscow and curve, you know, actually on the same team, we're in a global economy, right. And so, extending that handout to those with different cultures and different sexual orientations is okay, because at the end of the day, business is not easy. You know, as Brad was kind of saying, and doing it together as a lot, makes it a lot easier than trying to do it by yourself.

Brad Feld  38:29  

Well said, Well, Brad,

Gabriel Flores  38:30  

thank you so much. Before we go, where can all the folks find you? Where can they find you online? Where can they find you on the social

Brad Feld  38:37  

easy to be found? My website is felled And I've got 15 years or more of content there that you can boy yourself with all you want. I do have a Twitter account at be felled. I I do not. I follow zero people on Twitter. So I occasionally will tweet things out. Whenever I write a blog post, it gets tweeted out sometimes I'll retweet something that I see interesting, but I would not consider that to be an active place anymore. And I have essentially eliminated all the rest of the social stuff. I deleted my Facebook account a number of years ago. I still have trouble spelling tic tock. I tried to use snap whatever I did disappeared right after I created. It's going on there.

Gabriel Flores  39:27  

I love it. Brad, thank you so much. Again, for those folks that listening please subscribe to the newsletter. I will have Brad's information on there as well as a link to his website so you can find more information about the Foundry Group. And again, tech tech founders. Please be on the lookout for the tech startups. Those are also here in the Portland area. In fact, rich rosy if you're listening, go ahead and hit up rich rosy, I'm sure it will get you guys go in in the tech world. Brad, thank you again so much.

Brad Feld  39:52  

Gabriel. Shout out to Rick he's, he's a longtime friend and someone who's just awesome. So

Gabriel Flores  39:57  

you know, that's what I'm talking to small world now. Rick's great Rick He actually was on the show. A couple of years. He was one of the first founders of coming coming on the show. So big appreciation to Rick and what he's been doing here in this state of Oregon. Awesome. Well, Brad, thank you again so much for folks listening again, please subscribe to the podcast at the shades of You can also follow me on all that social channels including Tik Tok. Although I do not dance I keep telling y'all folks, I will not dance on that damn thing. Please follow me at the shades of E Thank you and have a great night.

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