New Book: The Startup Playbook

My longtime friends Rajat Bhargava and Will Herman are launching their new book today. I wrote the foreword and was a reviewer.

I’ve worked with both Raj and Will for over two decades – as a co-investor, co-founder, board member, and co-director. They both are incredibly experienced founders and entrepreneurs, so I was delighted to be involved in their book.

The book is called The Startup Playbook and it’s their personal how-to guide for building your startup from the ground up. In it, you’ll find a collection of the major lessons and shortcuts they’ve learned that will shift the odds of success in your favor as you build your business. They are sharing their tips, secrets, and advice in a frank, founder-to-founder discussion format.

Startups are incredibly difficult, as we all know. In fact, Raj and Will claim that 9 out of 10 of them fail. My view is that is optimistic. Regardless of the odds, Raj and Will focus on the steps that founders can take to improve their chances of success.

Not only do I think that this book is an important read for all founders, but I think founders should hand copies to their startup team. Execs, early employees, and anyone interested in creating or working for a startup can learn a great deal about how to build a startup.

The book is available via Amazon for an introductory price of $0.99 (Kindle version) for its first week of sales.

I know that Raj and Will would love to hear any feedback. Comment here, or email me and I’ll get it to them.

Nima Peanut Sensor Pre-Order

Less than a year after releasing its first product, Nima announced its highly anticipated peanut sensor is now available for pre-order, adding an allergen to its connected food sensor platform. If you have a peanut allergy, Nima is a must have.

Pre-order before March 8 to get the product for $229 ($60 off the retail price). More here about the science behind the peanut sensor.

Nima launched on the market a year ago with the Nima gluten sensor, the first company on the market to create a connected food sensor for consumers. Nima has enabled thousands of gluten-avoiding folks to test food for gluten at restaurants and packaged foods. The device takes an eight-step lab process and shrinks it to a little device that fits in your pocket.

With Nima, you can test your own food but you can also see what thousands of others are testing through the Nima iOS mobile app. To date, more than one out of four foods that are labeled or indicated as gluten-free are testing positive for gluten by the Nima community.

Let Nima take the first bite so you can enjoy mealtime with peace of mind.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Amy arrived home from Africa yesterday evening around 6pm. She had been gone for 12 days and, while she had an awesome trip, we missed each other terribly.

She arrived home to a bunch of early Valentine’s Day stuff like a hot bath.

I figured it was Valentine’s Day somewhere in the world yesterday at 6pm Colorado time like, well, in Kenya, where Amy was.

It’s great to have Amy back home. For some reason, Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Love is better than everything else.

JumpCloud is Hiring 50 Engineers in Boulder

JumpCloud, one of the fastest growing companies in Colorado, is looking for awesome Developers, QA engineers, DevOps admins, and Customer Success Engineers. Over the next year, they are planning to hire 50 people for the engineering team and about 70 across the entire company.

JumpCloud is focused on delivering cloud-based directory services via a SaaS model. They are trying to solve some very difficult problems around identity, authentication, security, and cloud scaling.

JumpCloud’s mission deeply resonates with me because they are disrupting a two decade old monopoly in directory services and giving IT organizations freedom of choice with their IT solutions. It’s an exciting space and we (Foundry Group, OpenView, and Techstars Ventures) are betting that the JumpCloud team has the winning approach.

Since 1994, I’ve worked with the CEO, Rajat Bhargava, on eight companies and I’m psyched about the company and culture that the team is building there.

If you are up for a new challenge leveraging modern technology platforms at a well-funded startup in Boulder, drop the JumpCloud team a note or feel free to email me and I’ll connect you up with them.

The Greater Colorado Venture Fund

Announcing the Greater Colorado Venture Fund!

I am proud to share that the Colorado Venture Capital Authority (VCA), in conjunction with the Office of Economic Growth and International Trade (OEDIT), has selected the Greater Colorado Venture Fund to steward the state’s rural venture capital allocation.

Following a competitive application process, the state will be funding an initial $9.1 million of a target $15 million venture fund to be invested in startups across 54 eligible Colorado counties. This fund will be a cornerstone in the state’s larger initiative to support entrepreneurs in smaller communities in Colorado, an effort I have been heavily involved in.

Led by Marc Nager, former CEO of Startup Weekend and UP Global (where I was on the board, now part of Techstars), the GCVF team members are already leaders in Colorado’s Rural Startup Community. Since joining the Telluride Venture Accelerator in 2016, Marc has already led many initiatives for entrepreneurs outside of the Front Range. Marc is joined by Cory Finney, the fund’s full-time Fund Director, and Jamie Finney, Venture Partner. The Finney brothers, originally from Durango, are sixth-generation Coloradans and partners at Kokopelli Capital. Together, this team is already at the center of Rural Colorado’s rising startup.

Having worked with the team throughout the application process, the GCVF’s application embraces this fund’s national spotlight, while remaining grounded in rural Colorado communities. They have earned endorsements from local leaders across the state, as well as national players such as the Kauffman Foundation, the Economic Innovation Group, Village Capital, Seth Levine and myself.

As I first documented in 2012 in my book Startup Communities, Colorado has become a leader in building entrepreneurial ecosystems. In selecting the GCVF to invest its funds, the state is showing its commitment to building healthy communities by empowering entrepreneurs first. I look forward to collaborating with the GCVF team to redefine venture capital in small and rural communities.

This Is A Really Good Place To Be Right Now

As I was meditating this morning, the thought “this is a really good place to be right now” came to the front of my mind. As is my way when I meditate, I noted that I’d had the thought, placed it on a leaf, set it on the virtual river flowing in front of me, and let it drift away. Then, I brought my attention back to my breath.

I took a shower right after I meditated and the thought came back to me. This time I let it stay with me.

As I sit in our TARDIS at Foundry Group, listening to Let It Be, and catching up from a typically intense week, the thought came back to me again.

No matter how shitty, busy, or tense my day is, there are a few moments in the day where this is true. Sometimes it is long stretches or even the entire day. Other times it is only brief moments.

But we are alive, on this planet, even though we are 1 of 7.5 billion or so people, distributed across a surface area of 196.9 million miles squared, in a tiny corner of a galaxy that has a radius of 100,000 light-years, in a universe that has a diameter of 91 billion light-years (at least the observable universe.)

This is a really good place to be right now.

What Denver Should Do When Amazon Doesn’t Choose It For HQ2

Ian Hathaway, my co-author for my next book – Startup Communities 2: The Next Generation – has a great blog post up titled The Amazon Bounce Back.

Colorado, specifically Denver, is in the final 20 cities bidding on Amazon’s HQ2. This open bid process is an absolutely brilliant move by Amazon for a variety of reasons.

  • Enormous branding: Everyone, everywhere, is talking about Amazon. Amazon Amazon Amazon. We love Amazon.
  • Absurd market information: The amount of data about each city that Amazon is getting out of this is incredible.
  • Visibility into what cities are willing to offer: Amazon knows where its future leverage points are when negotiating with individual cities.

While I’m glad Denver approached it the way they did, focusing on strength and resources of the community rather than by throwing dollars at Amazon, our state government still provided plenty of financial incentives.

Amazon HQ2 could qualify for huge Colorado tax incentives. From the article:

“Colorado’s main tax incentive used to lure “Amazon HQ2” could add up to at least $458.9 million rebated back to the Seattle-based retail giant over several years and could top $860 million if the company’s HQ2 campus were to grow fast enough. The figures are based on the pay scale Amazon predicts at HQ2 and the formula for Colorado’s “Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit” program.”

Since I think the chance of Amazon actually choosing Denver is 0.0001%, I have a suggestion for the Colorado state government for when Amazon chooses someplace else.

Give 100% of the benefit (economic and otherwise) you are offering to the Denver-based business community, with special focus on high growth scaleup companies.

Steve Case has a brilliant Memo to the Cities Amazon Passed Over. Julie Lenzer explains how everyone can have a trophy, or how to make the most of NOT getting Amazon HQ2.

In the context of be careful of what you wish for some economists are now weighing in: Amazon HQ2 finalists should refuse tax breaks, say nearly 100 economists, professors. There is only going to be one city that ends up with Amazon’s HQ2. For everyone else, especially Denver, use what you were willing to do to drive real long-term economic growth and health for your city, rather than retreat in defeat.

Like Minds…Leaders Take Action

Tomorrow night I’m the keynote speaker at the AllHealth Network event Like Minds…Leaders Take Action.

I will be discussing the challenges of entrepreneurs around mental health issues and how the stigma associated with it creates an additional layer of difficulty. I’ll also share my own story around mental health issues and talk about the power leaders have to influence culture, particularly as it pertains to mental health in the workplace.

There are a few tickets left so if you are interested please register and join us.

Ask yourself the following question: Why is there stigma associated with mental health but not with diabetes or cancer?

I felt no joy as I struggled with depression and the stigma that came with it. When I first had a major depressive episode in my 20s, I was ashamed, embarrassed, and incredibly secretive about my struggles. Over the years, the help and support I received inspired me to work to erase the stigma that comes with mental health issues, especially in the workplace.

As we move to change the image of mental health and educate people around it, I encourage leaders to engage in “Mental Fitness” – if you want to be a great leader you need to invest not only in your physical and intellectual fitness but also your mental fitness. This holds true for every member of the team and needs to start at the top of an organization.

AllHealth Network is a 62-year-old Englewood-based non-profit healthcare organization that provides a full spectrum of mental health and substance use services in 10 unique settings. AllHealth Network serves more than 17,000 clients annually, offering counseling for individuals and families, group therapy and substance abuse treatment in addition to a myriad of resources for leaders in business and their employees.

As part of its Like Minds movement, AllHealth Network launched a CEO/Leadership Pledge which calls on business leaders to support workplace mental health. They are also introducing “In My Mind…” – a campaign comprised of a collection of photo essays with insights expressed from the mind of a person personally touched by mental health challenges, whether direct or indirect. These faces and voices reflect a range of human diversities, acknowledging that no one is left untouched and this human experience can unite us.

Like Minds…Leaders Take Action will be held on Jan. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. at History Colorado. To purchase tickets, please visit http://www.allhealthnetwork.org/like-minds-brad-feld.

Adele and Everything After

Long Haul Films is the video production company that does our videos like Bored Meetings, Worst of Times, and I’m a VC. We are huge fans of Melissa and Tom.

They have a new documentary coming out called Adele and Everything After. It is an award-winning documentary about Marty, a woman with an untreatable heart condition that made her pass out every day, and Adele, one of the world’s first cardiac alert service dogs.

Pre-order it today or visit Adelemovie.com to find out where else you can catch this inspiring film when it’s released on January 30th.

Whopper Neutrality – The Burger Based Version of Net Neutrality

If you are still having trouble understanding why Net Neutrality is important, Burger King has made an awesomely funny – and extremely informative – video using the Whopper as an example. It’s just brilliant.

In more serious news, the New York governor signs executive order to keep net neutrality rules after the FCC’s repeal. This follows on the heels of the Montana governor signs executive order to keep net neutrality in the state. Last year I wrote about the coming battle of states rights vs. federal rights, and this is a great example of the complexity of it.

At the same time, AT&T CEO’s net neutrality plan calls for regulation of websites. AT&T supports bans on blocking and throttling, but not paid prioritization or data cap exemptions. I think he needs to watch the Whopper video.

Apparently the GOP is working on a net neutrality bill would allow paid fast lanes and preempt state laws.  According to an article in ArsTechnica the “Open Internet Preservation Act” would ban blocking and throttling but allow ISPs to create paid fast lanes. The Republican bill would also prohibit the FCC from imposing stricter regulations on broadband providers and prohibit state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws.

There’s that pesky states right thing again. And more whoppers.