Josh Felser

Josh Felser

Co-founder of Freestyle, an early stage VC

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 10, 2015

Discussion

Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
I'm Josh Felser, co-founder of Freestyle, an early stage VC. Previously, I co-founded Spinner (sold to AOL) and Grouper/Crackle (sold to Sony). I also cofounded @hashtagclimate, a non-profit using social media to battle climate change.
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
@joshmedia Hi Josh, Thanks so much for sharing wisdom at the AMA today! Freestyle is known for ‘telling it like it is’ and not sugar-coating things. What is ‘real mentoring’ and what is the most common non-sugar-coated feedback that you give to founders that you think most investors wouldn’t give? Thanks! Sydney
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
Sydney, I tend to say no quickly when I am not interested. I hate the conversation because i am letting someone down. leading them on is so much worse
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@joshmedia For those founders that we invest in, I am known for giving unvarnished feedback about product early and often. key is doing it in a way that emphasizes we are all on the same team vs being some asshole VC that just wants to hear him or herself talk.
Sara Haider
Sara Haider@pandemona
Hi Josh! What do you look for in an investment, and what's your biggest investment regret?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@pandemona thats such an unfair question when you already know the answer. Other than periscope.... two friends of ours started this little company focused transportation. We liked them but there were legal challenges and cap table challanges. rather then putting those issues in perspective, we allowed them to dominate our decision. Our 100k investment would have been worth $600mm today. #uber
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@Joshmedia - what have been the challenges building or investing in companies that aim to battle climate change?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
Erik, the challenge with anything climate change-related is that you have to get people amped up about something that is intangible, in the future and driven by a model. hard to create an emotional connection especially amongst techies
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@eriktorenberg Erik, the challenge with anything climate change-related is that you have to get people amped up about something that is intangible, in the future and driven by a model. hard to create an emotional connection especially amongst techies
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
Hi Josh, Thanks for taking the time today! I'm curious, what cultural attributes do you think are super important to engrain at an early stage?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@corleyh emphasize the team vs catering to individual rock stars. Sounds easy but hard to do especially if you are the ceo. emphasize results vs long hours. that allows you to include employees who have families who might be on different schedules.
Giacomo Migliori
Giacomo Migliori@migliorigiacomo · CEO & Co-Founder at Skipodium
@joshmedia Hi Josh, good to talk with such an experienced entrepreneur! Based on your experience, how relevant is a team compared to the initial business idea (considering that a great number of companies change their business models on the go)? Thanks! Giacomo
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@migliorigiacomo I would choose a great team with a mediocre idea over a mediocre team with a great idea every day.
Giacomo Migliori
Giacomo Migliori@migliorigiacomo · CEO & Co-Founder at Skipodium
@joshmedia I totally agree with you! Thanks for that! I am a first time founder myself and I firmly believe in putting together a team of passionate people and doers that always keep their feet on the ground.
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@migliorigiacomo our first company was a rocket to the moon and everyone was pretty upbeat the whole way. our second company had to pivot and we had huge emotional challenges as we tried to create workable path for the company. Its because we were honest and direct with each other that we were able to survive the storm
Giacomo Migliori
Giacomo Migliori@migliorigiacomo · CEO & Co-Founder at Skipodium
@joshmedia Very interesting takeaway lesson, Josh!
Judith Straetemans
Judith Straetemans@judithstr · Product Manager @ Addapp
@joshmedia Yo Josh! When you sell a company how do you evaluate whether the offer is good enough?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@judithstr such a tough question and so personal. i founded two companies with the same dude, my current freestyle cofounder, Dave Samuel. Every time we would consider raising a round, dave and i would ask ourselves what our price was. our "price" was a mix of what we wanted to get out of it and what how much we felt the market valued us. when those forces aligned we sold
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Josh! Welcome! Back in March you tweeted about Meerkat, referencing one of my favorite hyped startups, turntable.fm: "turntable.fm was fun in the beginning and we know how that ended." What do you think of Meerkat and the future of user-created, livestreaming video?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@rrhoover Hey Ryan. I am a huge believer that the future will be broadcast live. What is less certain is the business model that makes it profitable. As even youtube has found, its tough to make money off UGV.
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@rrhoover I have the distinction of being the first person to Periscope while dog-sledding near the North Pole
Brent Summers
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
Hi @joshmedia - if you were just out of college and could move to any city in the US, what city would you choose and why?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@brentsum great question but if you want start a tech company, SF is still the ideal place. It may be expensive but still has the best startup infrastructure on the planet. I've been here since 1996 and it still feels like I am living a dream
Sathya Peri
Sathya Peri@gosathya · on a leave of absence
What were some difficulties you faced when creating a company?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@gosathya greatest challenge is finding an amazing cofounder. I have worked with the same guy for almost 20 ffing years. It cant be forced because founder divorces can be really ugly.
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
Thank you Product Hunt for the opp to field such great questions. Thanks to all of you who participated. Hope it was helpful
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
over and out
AJ
AJ@alanaut24 · Engitrepresigner
@Joshmedia Thanks for doing this AMA. How do you go from an idea to doing? What is your process?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@alanaut24 I usually surround myself with people smarter than i am. I like to live with an idea for awhile before I actually try to make it real. that jump to reality is the most important step
AJ
AJ@alanaut24 · Engitrepresigner
@joshmedia Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@alanaut24 wish there was a more magical answer here. some founders dont share their early ideas with enough people because they are worried about someone stealing them. I was a paranoid entrepreneur too. Now I realize I was overly anxious and the benefits of sharing my idea with more people outweigh the copy danger
AJ
AJ@alanaut24 · Engitrepresigner
@joshmedia Great advice and no worries! :) I try to share one idea a day that I have. Too many and not enough Alan's to execute.
Matt Lugo
Matt Lugo@wwmld · Customer Experience/Operations
@joshmedia Thanks for taking the time to do the AMA today. How do you manage and prioritize your time?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@wwmld I suck at that. I am a VC so I shouldnt have to work hard. :) We have two offices: one in SF for meetings and one in Mill Valley for thinking. that physical separation seems to work
Jason Stirman
Jason Stirman@stirman · Co-founder and CEO, Lucid
@joshmedia Hey Josh! What does your meditation/mindfulness practice look like?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@stirman whats up jason. I meditate every morning for 20 minutes right when i wake up, otherwise my day gets in the way
Laura Gluhanich
Laura Gluhanich@lauraglu · founder, signal camp
@joshmedia Have just started up with meditation. Do you have a preferred method? Guided, silent, lead by anyone in particular?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@lauraglu whatsup laura. I tend to do mindful meditation since quieting my mind is what i am seeking. honestly whatever keeps you doing it day after day
Gary Duncan
Gary Duncan@prayerpatrol
@joshmedia How did you make your money to get where you are today
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@prayerpatrol When our first company, Spinner, got acquired, I had 50k in credit card debt. So I guess I made my first dough then
Ivan Raiklin
Ivan Raiklin@ivan_raiklin
@joshmedia will you be at TechCrunch, TAP Conference, Launch or Launch IoT in the coming weeks?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@raiklin I have judged at techrunch in past years but this year I must have pissed someone off because I wasnt asked back. :) I may still attend but I dont usually do conferences because they are so noisy
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@joshmedia I might go to launch because jason creates such a spectacle :)
Gary Duncan
Gary Duncan@prayerpatrol
@joshmedia for the small guys out here, how did you make your first 50,000, and build up from there. Did you just co-found a start up with nothing and it grew from there?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@prayerpatrol My path was a little different. I worked for News Corp (fox and SkyTV) for 4 years and then jumped. I co-founded spinner but living off a 50k salary quickly put me into debt. wasnt until we sold the company that I actually had any money
Jon Arnold
Jon Arnold@jonarnold · product manager
@joshmedia What do you look for when it comes to investing in early stage companies? What about those who have already done a Series A round?
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@jonarnold We spend about 60% of our DD on the team. We like to see more than one founder. we look for anything in their past that reveals potential future success. as the company moves to series A, we start to focus more on the business and execution more.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@joshmedia Hey Josh! What is one of the craziest stories you've heard in a pitch meeting? (that you can tell us about)
Josh Felser
Josh Felser@joshmedia · Cofounder
@bentossell I got pitched laser-shooting robots as a replacement for DJs in nightclubs. It was an awesome mixed media pitch and the founders couldnt have loved what they were doing more.