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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Fostering a Startup and Innovation Ecosystem

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UP Global just released a great new white paper titled Fostering a Startup and Innovation Ecosystem. As you might know, I’m on the board of UP Global and think they are doing amazing things for startup communities around the world.

Our friends at Google for Entrepreneurs helped with this and I’m doing a hangout with Mary Grove (Director, Google for Entrepreneurs) and Marc Nager (UP Global CEO) on Tuesday September 23rd, 2014 11am PDT for 40 minutes.

Join us as we discuss thriving startup communities and creating alignment and not just density in your community.

Enjoy the white paper and join us for the hangout.

Using Startup Next To Get Your Company Accelerator-Ready

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Getting into an accelerator is increasingly difficult. While there has been a proliferation accelerators around the world, there has simultaneously been a dramatically increasing number of companies applying to accelerators. In my world, supply and demand never balances out, so if you are on the application side of this equation, it’s important to do everything you can to improve your chances.

UP Global, an organization that I’m on the board of which is the umbrella organization for Startup WeekendStartup EducationStartup Digest, and Startup Week, has just rolled out a new program called Startup Next. I participated in an early version of it and am psyched to see it ready for prime time.

Startup Next is a five week program that acts as a “pre-accelerator” – something between a Startup Weekend and a Techstars. Over the five weeks, there is a weekly three hour session. Through a structured approach of group discussions, mentor sessions, and weekly pre-work deliverables, startups walk away with the skills needed to validate your business idea, a clear understanding of your customer development strategy, a completed market and competitive analysis, a MVP and, an investor ready pitch deck.

Once the five weeks are over, the best teams get to present their companies to the heads of various accelerators. This is being done in partnership with the Global Accelerator Network which is a network of over 50 of the top accelerators in the world.

The accelerator route is not for every entrepreneur, as there are as many different paths to building a startup. But if you want to go through an accelerator, it helps to stack the deck in your favor and I think pre-accelerator programs like Startup Next can be really valuable, not only in helping you fine tune your business, but getting you broad exposure to some of the best accelerators in the world.

I’m excited to see my friends at UP Global and the Global Accelerator Network teaming up on this. And look for some magic accelerator stuff from FG Press coming in July.

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%.

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!

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