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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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Announcing the iWear Fund

Comments (33)

Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how people communicate with each other.  As an active user of all computer based communication technologies such as email, IM, web collaboration, and twitter, I realize that direct, bite size communication is often effective.  However, given the lack of persistence of data in these mediums, I’ve felt like something was missing.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of t-shirts and have an extensive collection.  I’ve noticed that the vast majority of my entrepreneurial colleagues prefer t-shirts over other types of dresswear.  Finally, the t-shirt industry has grown nicely alongside of the software and Internet industry, as most companies have accelerated the growth of the t-shirt industry through their use of swag.

I’ve concluded that the opportunity to transform this market is ripe. Fundamentally, I believe that technologies like instant messaging are going to be replaced by t-shirt messaging.  After much thought, I’ve decided to work with my partners to create a new fund we are calling the iWear Fund.  This fund will be a first mover in the market, investing in the best young t-shirt designers, thinkers, collectors, and technologists.

We’ve already identified several promising young companies, such as VCWear and StartupWear.  We are very interested in companies that have deep intellectual property in this area, especially patents, as we think this is an underserved market for patent trolls and if we can get out ahead of them, we can help our portfolio companies create an unassailable position. Like most investors, we expect there to be some overlap in our portfolio due to the proximity of similar technologies (such as VCWear’s new line of StartUp t-shirts) – we’ll work to resolve those conflicts when they arise.

As part of our investment thesis, we are focused on helping create several new platforms to enable the expansion of the t-shirt industry.  We realize that these platforms may have applicability outside the t-shirt industry, but expect that this fund will – at least for now – limit itself to only t-shirt related technologies.

While forming this new fund, we looked for deep thinkers in the intersection of the t-shirt and software industry.  Simultaneous with the announcement of the fund, we are honored to announce that Dan Primack is joining as an advisory board member.  Dan writes the very popular PE Week Wire and was one of the first industry insiders to identify the huge potential of the t-shirt market. While Dan’s first effort to create PEWear was co-opted, we know that he has  a collection of dozens of t-shirts, including some from the rock concert and professional sports sectors, and will be a huge help to us in identifying promising new t-shirt segments to invest in.

We’ve been asked by some whether, given the current credit crisis, now is a good time to launch a fund dedicated to t-shirt investing.  While we expect there to be a slow down in certain areas of the market, especially around LBOWear, HedgeFundWear, and AuctionRateSecurityWare, those areas have historically not been meaningful consumers of t-shirt technologies beyond generic white undershirts, so we are not concerned about our timing.  All markets are cyclical and we expect to be investing in t-shirt companies for a long time to come.

  • Dasher

    Nice April fool's joke!

  • http://www.rassoc.com/gregr/weblog Greg Reinacker

    Where do we send a pitch? :-)

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I’m happy to receive them directly at brad@feld.com

  • John Minnihan

    My new company is Tweet-Shirt. Pick a single day & we'll print every one of your tweets (even the really dumb ones) on a T-shirt for you. We'll then send you a Twitpic of the shirt & debit your Paypal account for $250. If you want the actual shirt, that's $500.

    Please send the round (cash – large bills please – they're easier to pass thru customs on the way in/out of Boulder) to my suite at the St.J.

  • http://www.onlineaspect.com Josh Fraser

    How big is the fund?

  • http://embroideryblog.corporatecasuals.com andrew callen

    I LOVE it!….obviously

  • Amit Pradhan

    Brad, this is a very competitive market you are entering. Too many VC funds are focused on T-shirts already. But I like your blog. So I'll give you guys first dibs at my new t-shirt venture. It brings together t-shirt messaging, bionic communication, carbon-footprint reducing fabric and last but not the least, automatic delegate rendering for certain America states. You say brilliant? I say 'cut that check now'. Oh, just so you know, it's $5 mil pre, at the facebook valuation. But you knew that already.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I'm skeptical of the carbon footprint reducing fabric angle. Now – if it was made of hemp – that would be a whole different ballgame.

      • Amit Pradhan

        Did I forget to mention the hemp? My apologies. Hemp it is. And this needless to-and-fro is only pushing the price up Herr Feld. Ja wohl?

        • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

          But is it carbon neutral hemp?

          • Amit Pradhan

            Come now, Brad…. would a guy who's managed to “bring together t-shirt messaging, bionic communication, carbon-footprint reducing fabric and last but not the least, automatic delegate rendering for certain America states” use anything other then carbon neutral hemp? The answer is a resounding 'yes'! I'm so damn clever, I've managed to use carbon-negative hemp. I still dont see signs of that check though?
            Seriously though, great job with everything you do, including this blog. (y)

  • michael beirne

    I want the angel investor t shirt where the devil killed the angel.. lol only the finest of the top 2 & 20th % wear it…

    I like the timely announcement… on a truth stranger then fiction front, take a look at http://www.customink.com, a pal of mine's company that has boomed the last 5 years out here in N Va… (seriously)

    thanks for the effort to get a chuckle!

  • Aziz Grieser

    Hahahahahaahahahaha!

  • http://rachit.tumblr.com Rachit Shukla

    When can I expect the check? The Gulfstream G550 are waiting to be fueled.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      We already have a very large backlog of deals to process so I’m not sure how quickly we’ll be able to get to you.

  • http://www.billerickson.net Bill Erickson

    I should send you a business plan for Activist Apparel, it fits your investment thesis perfectly:

    http://wearactivist.com

    Hah, wish I had time to update the “buy” links, haven't officially launched yet. If anyone wants one, just send me an email.

    Brad, you should get a “Change the World” shirt :)

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      As a VC, especially with a super trendy fund like iWear, I’d expect you’d be willing to send me a sample to pique my interest.

  • http://theconvergingnetwork.com Mitchell Ashley

    I'm sending over my business plan to you right now… printed on a t-shirt.

    Ignore the sales numbers because those are always wrong in any pitch to a VC anyway. :)

  • http://theconvergingnetwork.com Mitchell Ashley

    I also have a second backup business plan to help expand the emerging ecosystem; iWash.

  • Anne

    About 10 years back, the way to tell whether a new Cisco Business Unit should be taken seriously was to compare its annual revenue numbers to the annual sales numbers for Cisco T-shirts. It wasn't such an easy bar to climb ..

  • Wylie

    HAHA!
    I think I'll start a social networking website so people who wear these t-shirts can interact.

    Long time reader, first time comment. Best blog out there, and this was your best post yet.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Ah – a social network for our t-shirt thematic investing. That works – we’d definitely be interested in taking a look.

  • Zeroth

    Hmm, I know its an april fool's joke, but this leads me to wonder and think about wearable computers. Imagine looking at your sleeve, and your emails and social feeds are displayed right there for you to see. A little palm computer in your pocket, connecting by ubiquitous mesh wifi that we've been promised for five years now. Then, using an array of Wearable LEDs(patent pending, patent pending, patent pending), one could display the information.

    I'll take the money in Canadian denominations please.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I don’t know that your patent will be valid. I already have a t-shirt that I can press a button and play pong on. That seems like it might be prior art.

      • Zeroth

        Patents for electrical engineering all depend on the method by which you cause something to happen. If my method is demonstrably different from there method, then I can get a patent. ;)

  • http://www.komar.org/ alek

    “… we expect to be investing in t-shirt companies for a long time to come.”

    My guess is that you'll actually close down the Fund tomorrow, April 2nd … but possibly bring it back a year from now. Do I win a Founder's T-shirt for my amazingly accurate prediction?!?
    alek

    P.S. Great Post! ;-)

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Ah – it’s April 2nd and I’m still commenting and looking at t-shirt deals. But – you are right, it’s less interesting to me today then it was yesterday.

  • John May

    To those wishing to remain in the more formal wear category, we are also launching I-Tie which will also print the same mesaages on ties.

  • Pete Laurina

    “I don't mean to pitch you bro”, but I'm starting a new “web 2.0″ t-shirt company I think you'd be interested in. My revenue model is based on advertising. I'll be giving away plain white t-shirts and I believe I can get major companies like coke, pepsi, microsoft, google, nike, etc to pay me to put advertising on the shirts for them.

  • http://andrewhyde.net Andrew Hyde

    Many samples will be dropped off at the office today :)

  • http://www.vcwear.com Matt Emmi

    mmm, iFunding, so much better than regular Funding.

  • Laura "Pistachi

    GREAT fund, you will make gazillions. F8ck it, I'll fund that! Where do I swipe my credit card? Had to wash a big load of PEWear just this morning, as my 2 1/2 year old, S, took her diaper off in the middle of the night. Sheesh. :-)

  • andrew callen

    I LOVE it!….obviously

  • Dasher

    Nice April fool's joke!

  • Amit Pradhan

    Brad, this is a very competitive market you are entering. Too many VC funds are focused on T-shirts already. But I like your blog. So I'll give you guys first dibs at my new t-shirt venture. It brings together t-shirt messaging, bionic communication, carbon-footprint reducing fabric and last but not the least, automatic delegate rendering for certain America states. You say brilliant? I say 'cut that check now'. Oh, just so you know, it's $5 mil pre, at the facebook valuation. But you knew that already.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/joshfraz joshfraz

    How big is the fund?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/greg_reinac2315 greg_reinac2315

    Where do we send a pitch? :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I’m happy to receive them directly at brad@feld.com

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/john_minnih5395 john_minnih5395

    My new company is Tweet-Shirt. Pick a single day & we'll print every one of your tweets (even the really dumb ones) on a T-shirt for you. We'll then send you a Twitpic of the shirt & debit your Paypal account for $250. If you want the actual shirt, that's $500.

    Please send the round (cash – large bills please – they're easier to pass thru customs on the way in/out of Boulder) to my suite at the St.J.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I'm skeptical of the carbon footprint reducing fabric angle. Now – if it was made of hemp – that would be a whole different ballgame.

  • Amit Pradhan

    Did I forget to mention the hemp? My apologies. Hemp it is. And this needless to-and-fro is only pushing the price up Herr Feld. Ja wohl?

  • michael beirne

    I want the angel investor t shirt where the devil killed the angel.. lol only the finest of the top 2 & 20th % wear it…

    I like the timely announcement… on a truth stranger then fiction front, take a look at http://www.customink.com, a pal of mine's company that has boomed the last 5 years out here in N Va… (seriously)

    thanks for the effort to get a chuckle!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/billerickson billerickson

    I should send you a business plan for Activist Apparel, it fits your investment thesis perfectly:

    http://wearactivist.com

    Hah, wish I had time to update the "buy" links, haven't officially launched yet. If anyone wants one, just send me an email.

    Brad, you should get a "Change the World" shirt :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aziz_griese5636 aziz_griese5636

    Hahahahahaahahahaha!

  • Rachit Shukla

    When can I expect the check? The Gulfstream G550 are waiting to be fueled.

  • Amit Pradhan

    Come now, Brad…. would a guy who's managed to "bring together t-shirt messaging, bionic communication, carbon-footprint reducing fabric and last but not the least, automatic delegate rendering for certain America states" use anything other then carbon neutral hemp? The answer is a resounding 'yes'! I'm so damn clever, I've managed to use carbon-negative hemp. I still dont see signs of that check though?
    Seriously though, great job with everything you do, including this blog. (y)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/zeroth8105 zeroth8105

    Hmm, I know its an april fool's joke, but this leads me to wonder and think about wearable computers. Imagine looking at your sleeve, and your emails and social feeds are displayed right there for you to see. A little palm computer in your pocket, connecting by ubiquitous mesh wifi that we've been promised for five years now. Then, using an array of Wearable LEDs(patent pending, patent pending, patent pending), one could display the information.

    I'll take the money in Canadian denominations please.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mitchell_as5509 mitchell_as5509

    I'm sending over my business plan to you right now… printed on a t-shirt.

    Ignore the sales numbers because those are always wrong in any pitch to a VC anyway. :)

  • alek

    "… we expect to be investing in t-shirt companies for a long time to come."

    My guess is that you'll actually close down the Fund tomorrow, April 2nd … but possibly bring it back a year from now. Do I win a Founder's T-shirt for my amazingly accurate prediction?!?
    alek

    P.S. Great Post! ;-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Ah – it’s April 2nd and I’m still commenting and looking at t-shirt deals. But – you are right, it’s less interesting to me today then it was yesterday.

  • Andrew Hyde

    Many samples will be dropped off at the office today :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    We already have a very large backlog of deals to process so I’m not sure how quickly we’ll be able to get to you.

  • John May

    To those wishing to remain in the more formal wear category, we are also launching I-Tie which will also print the same mesaages on ties.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mitchell_as5509 mitchell_as5509

    I also have a second backup business plan to help expand the emerging ecosystem; iWash.

  • Rachit Shukla

    You can buy it at http://www.startupwear.com

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    As a VC, especially with a super trendy fund like iWear, I’d expect you’d be willing to send me a sample to pique my interest.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    But is it carbon neutral hemp?

  • Matt Emmi

    mmm, iFunding, so much better than regular Funding.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/zeroth8105 zeroth8105

    Patents for electrical engineering all depend on the method by which you cause something to happen. If my method is demonstrably different from there method, then I can get a patent. ;)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/wylie8104 wylie8104

    HAHA!
    I think I'll start a social networking website so people who wear these t-shirts can interact.

    Long time reader, first time comment. Best blog out there, and this was your best post yet.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I don’t know that your patent will be valid. I already have a t-shirt that I can press a button and play pong on. That seems like it might be prior art.

  • Anne

    About 10 years back, the way to tell whether a new Cisco Business Unit should be taken seriously was to compare its annual revenue numbers to the annual sales numbers for Cisco T-shirts. It wasn't such an easy bar to climb ..

  • Pete Laurina

    "I don't mean to pitch you bro", but I'm starting a new "web 2.0" t-shirt company I think you'd be interested in. My revenue model is based on advertising. I'll be giving away plain white t-shirts and I believe I can get major companies like coke, pepsi, microsoft, google, nike, etc to pay me to put advertising on the shirts for them.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Ah – a social network for our t-shirt thematic investing. That works – we’d definitely be interested in taking a look.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/laura_quotp8172 laura_quotp8172

    GREAT fund, you will make gazillions. F8ck it, I'll fund that! Where do I swipe my credit card? Had to wash a big load of PEWear just this morning, as my 2 1/2 year old, S, took her diaper off in the middle of the night. Sheesh. :-)

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