Brad's Books and Organizations

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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Venture Deals Class With The Kauffman Fellows Academy – Version 2

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This spring Jason Mendelson and I taught a class called Venture Deals with the Kauffman Fellows Academy. It was a blast so we’ve decided to do it again.

KFA uses NovoEd as their platform. Jason and I spent two days recording videos around our Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist explaining each section and going deeper with Q&A. The course is a MOOC that includes significant Q&A that I participated in throughout the course, along with a weekly Google Hangout covering different topics.

Some of the reviews from the course kind of say it all:

  • “It’s one thing to read a book, blog, article, etc about venture deals but the process of assignments with a team is like doing a virtual reality journey – you feel as if you are actually pitching a VC. Can’t compare this to reading an article.”
  • “Team based, good chance to interact with other students”
  • “The quality of the video content, as it complemented the book, was fantastic.”
  • “Straight forward approach to learning about VC deals “
  • “A course at a university would have charged $2,000 to $3,000 and likely not have the caliber of instructors.”
  • “These Google Hangouts are priceless and Brad Feld has been outstanding on this course.”
  • “The Venture Deals class is awesome because it bridges the trust deficit between Founders and VC’s”

Sign up for the course now – it’ll be running from June 16th to August 2nd. Use the discount code 2VD20 to get 20% off the price of the course.

In Downtown Las Vegas at the UP Global Summit

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I just landed in Downtown Las Vegas for my first trip for business in over a year. I’m here for the UP Global Summit and then our UP Global board meeting on Sunday. I’m most definitely NOT in Las Vegas (which I don’t like very much) – instead I’m in Downtown Las Vegas which is a magnificent experiment in revitalizing a downtown city that was more or less left for dead a while ago.

My decision to come here isn’t part of a grand plan to start traveling again. Instead, it was a result of being inspired by Boulder Startup Week 2014. Andrew Hyde, the original creator of the Startup Week concept, came back to run BSW 14 and then joined UP Global to roll out the Startup Week concept around the world. It’s already happened organically in a number of cities so we’ll just be adding the proverbial fuel to the fire.

During our Q2 Vacation last week I mentioned to Amy that I kind of wanted to go to the UP Global Summit in DTLV. I was a little nervous about what her reaction would be – we’ve been having an amazing time being together almost all the time and the no travel, after 20+ years of non-stop travel, has been delightful.

She was excited that I felt like traveling again. She correctly realized that it meant that I’m feeling really rested and rejuvenated, as well as in a great mental health space, which is a huge contrast from 18 months ago. Her support on this, and so many other fronts, are so important to me, as she knows and can read me better than any other human on this planet.

So I sit here in my hotel room, freshly showered after a very early morning flight from Denver to Las Vegas, excited about seeing 500+ members of the UP Global extended community, while exploring DTLV, meeting about startup communities, startup weekends, startup weeks, and lots of other things related to startups.

It feels good. Now, if I had only remembered to bring an iPhone charging cable, I’d be at 100%.

Books I Read On My Q214 Vacation

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Wow. I needed a vacation. Amy reminds me that I say that on day three of each of our quarterly weeks off the grid. It doesn’t seem to matter how I try to pace myself or how recent my previous week off the grid was. On day three, when I’m not looking at email, anything on the web, or checking my phone, I just breathe deeply and say “wow I needed this vacation.”

Oh – and I decided to get over my fear of horses. I’ve been afraid of horses since I was a teenager. As a kid growing up in Dallas I rode a lot, but my brother had a nasty fall when we were riding together and that was that for me. Amy loves horses and has started riding regularly now that we live in horse country outside of Boulder so I decided it was silly for me to continue to be afraid of horses. So we spent a week at Miraval where I could ride every other day and do a few of their horse specific activities.

For example, here’s me painting a horse. Bonus points if you figure out what I painted on him (his name is HeartWind). Hint – count the vertical lines carefully.

As with most of my vacations, I read about a book a day. Here’s the list, in order, with short commentary.

Red Bang: I wanted to love this book. From the review it felt like a current day version of Microserfs: A Novel or JPod, two tech culture masterpieces by Douglas Coupland. While some of that came through, “The Company” (a thinly designed version of Microsoft) was too over the top ridiculous and many of the satirical moments fell flat for me. It was ok, but not great.

Sting of the Drone: I’ve devoured all of Richard Clarke’s fiction and they are all well written, incredibly relevant, and better than what a modern day Clancy treatment of the topic would be. The only issue I had with this one was the ending – it was too contrived, too many good guys died while the bad guys got shut down, and the neat tidy bow that wrapped everything up consisted of almost all of the protagonists dying in a fireball ending. Boo – more reflection after the climax needed, but otherwise outstanding.

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph: I don’t know Ryan Holiday, but I heard of this book from Tim Ferriss and was intrigued by the description so I decided to dose myself in some stoicism. Dynamite book – I’m glad I put the time in. Holiday covers the topic well in a very accessible way.

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising (APenguin Special from Portfolio): I figured I’d read the cannon on Holiday so this was next. If you don’t know what “growth hacking” means, this is a good intro. But if you do, this is a waste of time.

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises: This was the heavy one of the trip – it took three days. Geithner has always been a cipher to me so I figured his autobiography and memoir on the financial crisis would help me understand him better. He did an amazing job with this book, both explaining what happened while explaining himself. The depth of his own introspection and understanding of his own being came through in the midst of incredible pressure and crisis. Once you realize he’s a deep introvert in a context that begs for extrovert energy, a lot of the puzzle pieces about him slide into place. After reading this book, I’m glad he was at the head of the NY Fed and the Treasury for the past decade. Regardless of your position on what went down during this time, this is a book worth reading for a clear perspective from Geithner’s point of view.

Sleep Your Way to the TOP: *and other myths about business success: I finished my trip by reading the final version of the second book from FG Press, our new publishing company. I’ve probably read the book a half dozen times during the edit cycle, but I hadn’t yet read the final version on a Kindle. More soon, but I love this book and Jane Miller is an absolutely star.

The Largest Startup Community In The World

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As Boulder Startup Week 2014 comes to an end, I have been reflecting on the power of startup communities today.

When I wrote Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, I made some assertions about how to build startup communities and what the impact of them would be on society. As I sit here at the end of a week pondering everything that is going on in the world around startup communities, I believe I have vastly underestimated their potential impact. And this makes me feel very happy.

Startup Week is a great example of an activity and event that I talk about in my Boulder Thesis. It was also another creation from Boulder, just like Startup Weekend, Techstars, and the Boulder Thesis. Andrew Hyde, the founder of Startup Weekend, was also the founder of Startup Week. After a hiatus of a few years, Andrew came back to run Boulder Startup Week. But he is also about to do something magical with Startup Week – look for more on that soon. And, if you enjoyed Boulder Startup Week, go check out Fort Collins Startup Week which is happening from 5/20 – 5/25 and looks awesome.

This reflection led me to think about how to wire up the largest startup community in the world. Geography is one boundary, but the Internet allows us to create a global startup community that is a network of startup communities. UP Global, which I’m on the board of, is doing just that.

You might know UP Global by the names of the two organizations that combined to form it – Startup Weekend and Startup America Partnership. This combination happened about a year ago and the progress in the last year has been remarkable.

I encourage you to take a look at the UP Global 2013 Impact Report. It’s 28 slides and when I looked at it early today it blew my mind. Here are a few key metrics:

  • 310,000 alumni and volunteers
  • 4,500 mentors
  • 132,000 businesses
  • 87,000 developers
  • 39,000 designers
  • 501 cities
  • 126 countries

Go look at the UP Global 2013 Impact Report. It’s insanely wonderful how many people and startup communities this organization has touched.

The network is getting incredibly strong and powerful. I believe that networks are now more important in our society than hierarchies. Sure – we’ll have hierarchies forever, but I’m going to spend as much of my time as possible in the network. And for everyone who is part of the network of people engaging in startup communities, thanks for all your efforts on this mission!

Launch Party for Sleep Your Way To The Top And Other Myths About Business Success

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Jane Miller’s launch party for her first book (and FG Press‘s second title) Sleep Your Way To The Top And Other Myths About Business Success  is happening in Boulder this coming Tuesday, 5/20 at eTown Hall.

Profits benefit the CU Leeds Professional Mentoring Program.

Around the Foundry Group offices we’ve been referring to Sleep Your Way To The Top as “Sheryl Sandberg meets Chelsea Handler.” Jane is an awesome CEO (who just sold Rudi’s Organic Bakery to The Hain Celestial Group) with an incredible amount of experience on the front lines building and guiding businesses. Her writing style is hilariously funny but packs a serious punch.

Jane will reveals the tips and tricks she learned on her journey from small town Illinois girl to shattering the glass ceiling at more than one male-dominated corporation. She’ll cover myths such as:

MYTH: Size Doesn’t Matter
MYTH: You Have Nothing To Learn From Barbie
MYTH: Only Extroverts Win In The Corporate World
MYTH: If She Plays Dirty, Play Dirty Back
MYTH: Bad Guys Are Just In The Movies

Jane offers specific steps and practical advice for grads, pre-grads, and new or seasoned execs. She shows us where it’s easy to get tripped up, who might trick us, and how to make it past the pitfalls on our way to the corner office.

If you’d like to join Jane and the FG Press team for the celebration of Sleep Your Way To The Top’s Book Launch Party – rsvp here: http://janemillerbook.eventbrite.com

I’ll let you know as soon as Sleep Your Way To The Top hits the virtual book shelves or pre-order your copy here: http://bit.ly/sywtbook.

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