Video: Internet Investor Brad Feld on Entrepreneurship, Startups & the New VC Reality

13 Comments

With the rise of new angel investors and early-stage venture funds, the venture capital industry is going through a revival, according to Brad Feld, one of the founders of the Boulder, Colo.-based VC firm, Foundry Group. “It’s back to the basics,” Feld told me during a video interview in which I discovered that both of us love Robert Graham’s somewhat over-the-top shirts. Feld is a great interview subject, mostly because he marches to the beat of a drum that is uniquely his own.

After all, it’s not every day you get to talk to someone whose startup investments spawned esoterically labeled sectors such as “Glue,” “Human Computer Interaction,” “Protocol” and “Distribution” by backing companies such as Oblong, Memeo, PogoPlug, SimpleGeo and Zynga. Foundry also invested in Sling Media, which was subsequently acquired by Echostar for $380 million.

During a 20-minute video chat he talks about his journey from Boston to Boulder and says that while it isn’t important for an investor to be in an early-stage startup’s proximity, it is important to be in the flow of things. His approach is unusual; the conventional wisdom on Sand Hill Road is to invest in companies that are within driving range.

We also discussed the myths of entrepreneurship, notably why sometimes people look at first-time successes such as Mark Zuckerberg and forget that entrepreneurship is a life-long endeavor, not a “two-year game.” We also talked about why fewer and fewer people think about the long term at all, instead focusing just on what’s coming up next.

After our conversation was over, it occurred to me: Feld talks the same way he writes on his blog, Feld Thoughts.

Here are some of the gems from our conversation, which include some great advice for startups and entrepreneurs:

* Focus on doing something you’re passionate about.
* Entrepreneurship is not a two-year game.
* Learn how to do something you’ll apply over and over again.
* A chip on your shoulder can be good
* Break out of the context you’re in and look broader.
* Pick your 2 percent — then own it. (That one comes courtesy of Feld’s dad)

Video shot and produced by Chris Albrecht

13 Comments

Steve Bell

Om, great job you pulled some new “Gems” out of Brad. I interviewed him late last year, it’s condensed into four ~6-minute videos on my homepage at StartupTrek.net

When Brad covered his four non-traditional investing themes in our interview, I told him “i’ve never met anyone that thinks like that!”. And boy, has it ever worked for him. He is a “Think Different” guy, for sure.

FreeRange

@gigaom – your video implementation is horrible. I am originally from Denver and know Brad but I’m sitting in Beijing trying to watch the Brad Feld interview and it is incredibly choppy – so much so that it is painful to watch. Please dump the crappy video player / system you are using and get something competent that properly caches and streams, or even downloads.

Corey Recvlohe

Gigaom always has great VC interviews. Keep up the good work.

Kyle

Trying to view this from my iPhone and only get Gigaom’s video opening.

Chris Albrecht

Hey Kyle,

Thanks for pointing this issue out. I’ll look into it right now.

MyLocator ®

Entrepreneurship is a Lifelong Endeavor. good advice. 3 years from now I will be 15 years deep in my entrepreneurial endavors. Failure is an entrepreneurs tuition.

Eddie

Thank you Om. The interview with Brad Feld absolutely rocks, not merely because of the answers he gave but due in large part to the questions you posed! A lot of people don’t deeply understand the importance of posing the right questions. Om you are a guru with the refined art of asking the question(s)!

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