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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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Boulder Conversations at the Boulder History Museum on Wed 2/12/14

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BCEP2013-2014It’s always an honor to be asked to participate in something to do with the history of the town one lives in.

As a relative youngster (I’ve only been here since 1995) it was especially humbling to be asked to part of the “Boulder Conversations with Extraordinary People” Speaker Series. This year’s series includes Ceal Barry, Josie Health, Gary Neptune, Bob Sievers, Ann Cooper, Jim Guercio, and Frank Day.

My session is Wednesday, February 12th. The event is happening at the future home of the Boulder History Museum (2205 Broadway, corner of Pine & Broadway). We’ll talk about Boulder, how I got here, and what this incredible town means to me.

Grab a ticket here - all ticket sales go to running the event and the museum, nothing goes to me.

For the record, I’m not old enough to have come to Boulder by train, although I would look fantastic for my age if I did.

BookShout! at the Boulder Library – November 14th

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As a part of Startup Phenomenon, I’m going to spend a half hour with Jason Illian, the CEO of BookShout!, on Thursday, November 14th at 4:30pm. It’ll be at the Boulder Public Library, which is right across Boulder Creek from the St. Julien and downtown Boulder.

We’ll be talking about the Startup Revolution book series (which include Startup Communities and Startup Life), as well as the wonderful platform that Jason and his team have built.

I’ve been a fan of BookShout! for a couple of years now.

As an author, I’m always looking for ways to connect with my audience. I spend time with the people from the local startup scene all the time but connecting with aspiring entrepreneurs from around the country, and around the global, is an entirely different beast. Comments on Amazon are one-directional, and definitely do not encourage reader-to-reader interaction. Buying a book in a bookstore is an individualistic experience. Getting a book at a conference means reading it after the conference is over, which doesn’t leave any time for in-person discussion or engagement.

Enter BookShout!. First glance, it’s nothing special. Simple but effective distribution of books. All the goods when it comes to commenting and rating. Where BookShout! really shines is how it brings an audience and an author together, on the same page – both literally and figuratively – and allows them to have an unfiltered conversation around the content of the book.

It’s a powerful tool for authors and an interesting site for readers. If you’re either, check it out.

And if you’re in Boulder tomorrow afternoon, for Startup Phenomenon or not, come on by the Boulder Library and hang out with me and Jason.

See you there!

RSVPs are requested. Please do so here. While you’re there, check out some of the Master Classes that Startup Phenomenon is offering.

Getting a New Receptionist with TextUs.Biz

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While I have nothing against receptionists, I’ve always felt like it was a thankless job that should be able to easily be replaced by the machines. Many of the people I know who are receptionists spend their time doing lots of other things and I’ve always felt like it would dramatically improve their life if they could focus on all the other things, rather than split their attention between those and being a receptionist.

We’ve never had a dedicated receptionist at Foundry Group but our office was oriented so the people “in the line of fire” were constantly interrupted whenever someone came in the office. So, we asked a local startup, TextUs.Biz to solve this problem for us.  They came up with an iPad app called “Receptionist” which freed up anyone from having to pay specific attention to the front door. As a result, we redesigned the entrance to our office with “Receptionist” front and center, a new lobby, and a Mezzanine room.

The team at TextUs.Biz hasn’t slowed down. They have taken the idea to market and recently launched TextUs.Biz Receptionist for the public (it’s available in iTunes now.) The functionality and feature set of the app are intuitive. Visitors can ping who they are here to see and can directly interact with the person or their assistant. It also has some fun tricks like taking a picture of the visitor and storing it automatically in the visitor log for future reference.

We like the gang at TextUs.Biz – they did great work for us. The machines have taken over the world anyway, so why not let them help check people in? Check it out the app here and their AngelList profile here.

The Return of Random Day

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I woke up late today (yay – 12:06 hours of sleep) to the last 15 minutes of the elite women in the NYC Marathon. Watching them finish and then watching Mutai crush the men’s field over the last six miles was pretty inspiring. I haven’t run a marathon since October 2012 when I ran the Detroit Marathon but after a year of struggling to get into a rhythm I’m once again motivated – and interested – in doing another marathon. I’ve committed to being one of the 14 in 2014 that run the Boston Marathon – there’s a gang of well known tech entrepreneurs and investors that are doing this together as part of a big fundraiser. I’ll definitely try to get at least one marathon in before then just to be confident that I’ll get it done.

Last week I added back in something I used to do regularly, but had stopped for a year or so given my schedule and then ensuing depression. I did a full day of random day meetings on halloween. I sat at Amante Coffee all day, mostly in my cookie monster outfit, had random meetings, drank coffee, and ate cookies. I had a blast.

If you’ve never heard of random day, I’ll meet with anyone who signs up for 20 minutes. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade – it’s part of my “give before you get” philosophy that’s deeply embedded in the Boulder Startup Community psyche. I have no expectation of what I’m going to get out of these meetings, but some pretty magical things, including the creation of Techstars, have occurred as a result of them.

During the course of the day I had 12 meetings, three cups of coffee, a yogurt, a burrito, and two cookies. I met with the following people.

  • Friend starting a COO / CEO search
  • Attorney in town thinking of starting a seed fund
  • Founder of a non-profit I recently supported
  • Person looking for a new BD gig
  • Founder of a natural foods company I just invested in
  • BD person looking to get into the VC or Boulder scene
  • Tech entrepreneur I hadn’t seen in a decade describing his new thing
  • Content marketing person looking to be plugged into Boulder
  • Founders of non-profit looking to expand outside of Boulder
  • Partners in a non-profit looking for support for a robot competition
  • New VC in town in the natural foods market
  • Two entrepreneurs just starting their tech business looking for feedback

I was immediately able to help at least six of the 12. I have no idea what will come from the other meetings, but that’s part of the fun of random day.

I plan to do this again six times in 2014. So that’s about 80 random meetings – people I wouldn’t have met with – and who wouldn’t have had some time with me. If one powerful thing comes out if it, then it’s worth it. Regardless, I had a good day on Thursday and feel like I did something that contributed to the glue in the Boulder Startup Community.

Startup Phenomenon, November 13th-15th in Boulder

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An event called Startup Phenomenon is happening In Boulder on 11/13 – 11/15. It gets to the heart of how startup communities are developed and I’d love to have you join me at it. If you register to come, use the code “feldfriends” for $100 off the $995 price.

You may have seen the recent Kauffman Foundation study that ranked Boulder tops among all cities in the U.S. in terms of tech-startup density. That Boulder was number one was interesting, but what’s more exciting is that there are so many emergent startup communities around the United States that it’s now worth ranking them.

Startup Phenomenon is designed to bring attention to these communities, from small towns to large cities, as we explore how this startup phenomenon works. We’ll cover topics including:

  • The Finance Chain: How VCs, angels, crowdfunding models, and all the rest fit together
  • Startup Kitchens: Transformative accelerators, incubators, and mentorship programs
  • Big data: New tools for measuring growth, investments, and economic activity
  • Networking models: The meetups that are truly improving the businesses of those who attend
  • Case studies: Entrepreneurs and investors who are building startup communities around the world
  • Culture: The major shift taking place away from hierarchical structures to collaborative networks
  • City governments: Why some are better than others at nurturing local startups
  • Corporations: How large, established companies can help startup communities
  • The silos: Biotech, food, the Internet of things, clean energy, and all the other sectors providing fertile ground for entrepreneurs and investors

On the third day of the conference we will provide a deep look into what’s going on here in Colorado. That Kauffman report of densest startup communities actually had four Colorado cities in the top 10 (Boulder, Ft. Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs.) And you may have seen that the New York Times recently dubbed Boulder “Silicon Valley for Ad Agencies.”

The speakers list is awesome. As a special treat, I get to interview Jim Collins author of Built to Last, Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and Great By Choice who happens to live in Boulder.

This will be a great opportunity for you to bring attention to your work and to learn about the entrepreneurs and investors who have come together around the world to build vibrant, open startup communities.

Build something great with me