Video Interview: We Suck Less

Steve Bell of Startup Trek came to Boulder about a month ago and did an interview with a bunch of Boulder people, including me.  Following is part one (12 minutes) of the interview where I talk some about my history, my first company Feld Technologies, and the Feld Technologies’ motto (“we suck less.”)

I also spend some time talking about how I first learned how to do deals, acquire companies, and make angel investments.  You get to learn how I met Fred Wilson, Rich Levandov, and Jerry Colonna.  And, as a special bonus, you get to see a reasonably tired version of my avatar sitting in one of the chairs in my office.

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  • Phil Sugar

    Brad…our comment is always…we might suck……but they BLOW

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  • jon

    Brad, were you aware of Steve's affiliation with the Keiretsu forum before agreeing to talk to him?

  • Yup.  And he and I talked about it some and agreed to disagree on our perspectives on it.  I found Steve to be a thoughtful, intelligent, rational guy that had plenty of entrepreneurial experience.  So even though I strongly disagree with the behavior of Keiretsu forum with regard to entrepreneurs, I have plenty of personal (and professional) regard for Steve.

  • Thanks for the nice comment, Brad – you da' Man! The respect is mutual, and I understand how people would be completely irate, given the lack of information about how the Keiretsu actually works. The idea of "Angels charging entrepreneurs" for their own benefit is indeed enough to make anyone naseous. But that's not what's going on at all, as I've explained in a number of articles on my blog. It takes a lot of time and $ to be the largest Angel group by any measure, and 85-90%+ of the costs are born by Keiretsu members like myself. I can't speak for other groups, or other chapters outside the ones I attend.

    Jon, as far as my "affiliation" – I'm one of the 850 Keiretsu Forum members; I also attend several other Angel Groups, and the usual valley stuff (SVASE, Churchill, et al). FYI there are many very cool people in the Keiretsu – fellow serial entrepreneurs, mostly. The vast majority of them are rooting for the success of the OAF, as there is plenty of room for more Angel investors (there are currently about 1M Angel investors in the USA, but not all of them are members of the ~800 groups). I don't know about the other Chapters, but the people in Bay Area, and Seattle-area K4 chapters are energetically behind entrepreneurs like ourselves, and they pay the majority of the Keiretsu's operating expenses. The idea that K4 members somehow profit by charging entrepreneurs, is absurd. The K4 is more of a gigantic charity for entrepreneurs, than anything else. Besides the $, the amount of time, elbow-grease, and work that goes into it is immense. It's the best quality forum of it's type that I've found in almost 30 years in the tech business, and it's been very good to (over 200 funded) startup companies.

    There are 800 different Angel groups in the USA today, and there are many different "recipes for doing business", some better than others. Many of the different recipes are uniquely suitable for different types of startups, and none of the models are "perfect"; there are tradeoffs. For example, the Keiretsu only very rarely deals with pre-revenue startups. I see it as very much more of a direct competitor to the local bank, usually financing startups that have substantial revenues and profits already; and the majority of the funded companies are non-tech businesses. Very different from the vc model, too.

    On another topic – sorry about this – the "We suck less" interview video went black today. Kaltura cut off our video hosting (understandably) after we over-ran the bandwidth of our plan 250% 🙂 We have an upgrade in process – should come back online by mid-day tomorrow. Two more interview segments with 'Brad the Man' on tap, too!


    steve bell |

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