Brad Feld

Managing Director Foundry Group and Author of Venture Deals and Startup Communities

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 03, 2015


Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
Hi all. Brad here. I've been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over 20 years. I've written a number of books including Start-up Communities and Venture Deals. I've also completed 23 marathons as part of my mission to finish a marathon in each of the 50 states. Ask me about anything!
Alessio Santo@alessiosantocs · Tech entrepreneur, Anywhere
Hi Brad, Thanks for this amazing opportunity. My wife and I loved the book startup life. It was really inspiring for us and it supported and improved our relationship together. It's 3 years now and we've had a baby this year We've recently started working as co-founders and we can already feel how much this multiplies the challenges of our relationship. In your personal experience and seeing all the startups you have seen, is there anything you would suggest to couples starting a company together that want to be successful and still enjoy life and family? Thank you very much Alessio
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@alessiosantocs Have a clear set of rules for how you engage with work and not-work. Think about all the rules / tactics that Amy and I discuss in Startup Life. Have your our set / rules for engagement.
Linnea Passaler@linneapassaler · founder
@bfeld Thanks from the wife :)
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of
Hi Brad! Thanks for doing the AMA! You've put out a lot of great content: books, consistent blog posts, interviews, and more. I know you’re an avid reader as well. How much time would you recommend an early-stage founder allocate to consuming content (if at all)? During that time, what would be some of the staples you’d recommend founders to read to minimize mistakes/help the founder think in the right ways? Could be blog posts, books, videos, papers, even tweets. Thanks! Sydney
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@sydney_liu_sl You should always be learning. I'd encourage deep intellectual engagement in a set of things that you think will move you / your business forward and then light engagement in stuff that is relevant to you / your business. Don't get hung up paying attention to a bunch of noise that has nothing to do with you or your company, but is general prognostication about the industry, the macro, or the universe. And, if you are in tech, read a lot of science fiction.
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
@bfeld Hi Brad, thank you for talking so openly about depression in startup world. From your own experience, do you think there is a way to change startup culture to better deal with the signs of overwork, stress, depression? Is there a way to alleviate the pressure on founders and, if so, how?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@daniellenewnham I don't know how to specifically alleviate pressure in a generic way. However, identifying that it exists and doing a bunch of specific tactical things for yourself as a human can help enormously. The biggest mistakes are either (a) ignoring / being in denial about the dynamic or (b) believing that there can be just one way and one way only. And, I think talking about it and being vulnerable as a leader is a great start. For more - go listen to the podcasts - they are excellent on this dimension.
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
And - I'm done. Off to the next meeting. Sorry for anything I didn't answer. Email me anytime at
Graham Gardiner@gbgardiner
@bfeld haha this was pretty epic. Take a breath.
Varadh Jain@varadhjain
If you weren't allowed to invest anymore starting tomorrow, what would you be doing?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@varadhjain Read a lot. Hang out with my wife Amy. Write.
Kamil@kamilszybalski · Growth Entrepreneur. Was @Hootsuitelabs
@bfeld Brad, what books are you currently reading and what's on your shelf?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
Troy Shu@troyshu
Hey Brad, Found Venture Deals to be immensely helpful! My question to you is: what are a few changes you’ve made to your life that have resulted in the greatest sense of happiness (running-related or not)? Thanks!
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@troyshu I'm 49 so if I look back the past two years, the biggest change has been to dramatically curtail my travel. For 20 years I travelled 75% of the time. That totally fucked me up on many dimensions, especially my long term mental health. Also, I'm now only investing in companies where I love the product and want to have a long term relationship with the founders.
@bfeld Hi Brad! Curious to hear your thoughts on when/why it would make sense to do an MBA/Executive degree . I know you've done one with the MIT-Sloan school of management and would love to hear your opinion.
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@momusbah If you want a two year vacation from reality, go get an MBA. It's a great way to take a break and reposition the trajectory you are on in your work.
Drew Lawrence@drewlawrence · Director of Business Development
@bfeld I couldn't agree more. My MBA experience gave me the ability to re-center myself as a person, really find my passion, and gave me the opportunity to make that passion a part of my daily life. Oh, and I skied 50+ days while in school. That won't happen again for a while!
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Brad, Thanks for joining us today! In startups, books, and building communities, you have so much to be proud of. What's something you're _not_ proud of?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@eriktorenberg I'm not proud of my inability to set limits. I've always had a very difficult time being a moderator at ANYTHING (food, work, exercise, alcohol, travel) so I end up having to either be an abstainer or accept that I'm going to slam into periodic exhaustion.
Todd Saunders@toddsaunders · CEO @ adHawk
@bfeld Thanks for spending time with us at Techstars. Are you working on any new books? Loved venture deals, would suggest it to anyone on this forum.
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@toddsaunders No new books until 2016. I was totally burned out on writing after I finished Startup Opportunities. My next book will be #Give First (I'll start and hopefully finish it in 2016) and then I'll write Startup Communities 2. Jason and I are also likely to do a 3rd Edition of Venture Deals in 2016.
Nicholas Spinazze@spinoodle · CEO, Lynxus
@bfeld if you could start over your career today, which tech field would you work in? Also, what technologies are you most excited about being created in the next decade?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@spinoodle I've never viewed what I do as a career. If I was 21 again, I'd still be a software guy. I love being involved in creating software products. And all the hardware / consumer electronics products (like BB-8 from Sphero - have you noticed that yet? - are "software wrapped in plastic" in my mental model. I think HCI (human computer interaction) is the foundational area of excitement for me over the next 20 years.
Nicholas Spinazze@spinoodle · CEO, Lynxus
@bfeld I'm a huge Sphero fan! I got my little brother their new developer model for his birthday!
Nicholas Spinazze@spinoodle · CEO, Lynxus
Which I found on Product Hunt haha
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's your experience / what do you think about therapy? When would you advise people to do it and how often?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@eriktorenberg I'm a huge believer in therapy. I did five years in my mid-20s which changed they way I approach life and helped get me through a very deep clinical depression. I've been doing twice a month sessions for the past two years since my six month depressive episode at the beginning of 2013. I refer to it as "an hour on Planet Brad" - I get to sit with someone (my therapist) who HAS to listen to me talk about me for a hour (well - 50 minutes). He gets to be the tour guide for me on Planet Brad, but it's still all about me. And I find this incredibly helpful.
Chris Schroeder@cmschroed · investor
Your lens on the worlds of innovation are so unique in part because you are out of so many echo chambers. Silicon Valley and other eocosystems are extraordinary, but often risk becoming self confirming. As you look out the next five years or so -- what do you think conventional wisdom due to narrative bias in the US tech worlds are most missing?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@cmschroed We are (a) dramatically underestimating the impact on technology on the human race, (b) misunderstanding how it's going to transform wealthy and well-structured societies, and (c) struggling to understand how it will impact poor and chaotic societies. And we are no where near ready for the implications of how it changes our overall experience on this planet.
Josh Barkin@joshbarkin · Co-founder @
@bfeld What's your VC perspective on the Canadian tech ecosystem? Do you subscribe to "I invest only in local startups where I can add value", or do you see yourself as well as other U.S.-based VC's starting to looking at Canada (i.e. Waterloo, Toronto, Vancouver) more opportunistically?
Craig Stanford@craigstanford · Co-Founder & VP of BizDev @ StageHound
@bfeld If you were playing SV Unicorn Five Card Hold'em, which five companies would you want in your hand? And which cards would you toss? Why?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@bfeld Hey Brad! Thanks for doing this :) What is your craziest experience in a pitch that you can tell us about?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@bentossell At least once a year I get a letter from someone in jail pitching me something. It makes me sad to not really be able to help or respond in a useful way.
Phillip Yang@geekyyang
@bfeld Hi Brad! Love your blog and admirer of what you do. I recently watched an episode of featuring you. You mentioned that you're spirit animal would be a giant like polar bear. So my question is: - What would you say your second choice for a Spirit Animal would be? Thanks!
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@geeky_yang a brown bear
Phillip Yang@geekyyang
@bfeld Thanks for responding - Keeping it with the bear family! Sorry about the grammar error on my end :).
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@bfeld Thanks for doing this AMA, Brad. I have a non-business question. Are you back riding again? I remember reading a while ago (on your blog) about the serious biking accident you had. Just saw a serious accident the other day and was just thinking about how cities need to be redesigned to accommodate walkers/bikers/runners better.
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@erictwillis I will never ride a bike again. I had two bike accidents in two years. Both times I was making a left turn and just lost control. I clearly suck at riding a bike.
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
@bfeld what are some of your hobbies?
Brad Feld@bfeld · Managing Director, Foundry Group
@katesegrin reading, writing, tennis, being with my wife Amy
Nicholas Spinazze@spinoodle · CEO, Lynxus
@bfeld woohoo huge tennis fan! Who are your picks for the Men's and Women's singles champions at this years U.S. Open?
Tom Klein@tdrewk · Product founder: LOOP Messenger
@bfeld You're my #3 top entrepreneurial inspirer ;-). In all seriousness, your life perspectives have resonated a great deal with me. I truly appreciate the sharing of your experiences and hardships. Someday, I would enjoy to hit the courts and hit some fuzzy balls with you.