Feld was born in Arkansas and grew up in Dallas, Texas. His father is a doctor and his mother an artist. As a child he loved school:
As a kid, I learned to work hard, be responsible for my own actions, and be curious about everything.
While in high school he starts an SAT tutoring business and makes $30/hour.
I made the same amount of money in four hours that my friends made working 40 hours a week, had control over my time, and could work on whatever I wanted.
His senior year in high school and first year in college he worked for a startup software company called Petcom as the first employee (they grew to 20 employees).
I got paid $10 / hour + 5% of gross sales of the software products that I wrote. As checks for $5,000 – $10,000 came to me each month when I was in college, I decided I liked that a lot better than working for a salary somewhere.”
Feld gains Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology . He chooses MIT in part because his eighth-grade girlfriend wanted to go there.
While while a sophomore at MIT he works part-time as a developer for a Dallas company. His work includes writing a management system for a very large dental practice with over 30,000 customers an engagement means he has to commute frequently between Los Angeles and Boston during school.
They paid me a royalty on all the software I developed for them, so I learned the value of being in business for yourself at an early age.
Felds lack of experience is his biggest challenge. After losing money for a few months in a row he fires staff, cuts costs and resets the business to grow more slowly and profitably. He credits his father and other mentors who helped him stay out of trouble.
Feld technologies becomes formalized when Feld and Jilk become partners. One month later they incorporate as an S-corporation. Together they build the company into one of Boston’s leading software consulting firms.
Feld: Brad, even though he could code, was out in the world trying to make rain. That’s oversimplifying what we did, but it was in large part our role in the business. There is no way I could make rain at all, and that is still not my strength. And, although Brad is capable of working on code, he was not motivated by it. He liked going out and finding clients, and having high level conversations.
After buying their wedding rings at the Pay ‘n Save, Feld and Batchelor exchange vows at the top of top of Ester Dome in Fairbanks, Alaska. They are officially married in the Boulder County Courthouse on June 21, 1996.
Feld Technologies, now at 20 people and just under $2m in revenues, is acquired by Sage Technologies (which becomes AmeriData Technologies). Feld becomes Chief Technology Officer. Feld Technologies becomes AmeriData Consulting. By 1997 AmeriData Consulting is a 400 person, $40 million organization and is sold to GE Capital.
With the proceeds of the sale of his company Feld founds Intensity Ventures, a company that helps launch and operate software companies. Intensity Ventures was a venture affiliate of SOFTBANK.
Invests in three vertical social networks – Shelfari (books), Dogster (dogs and cats), and Enthusiast Group.
TechStars (website), a mentorship-driven startup accelerator is founded by Brad Feld, David Cohen, David Brown, and Jared Polis. The company is established in Boulder in and holds its first 13-week program in 2007 with an initial 10 companies. TechStars mentors include Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, tumblr CEO David Karp, HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah, and Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. TechStars will take a 5 percent stake in each of the companies.
TechStars is the brainchild of Cohen and Brown, who pitched the idea to Feld and Polis.
Feld: I had never met David (Cohen). We had a random meeting and in 15 minutes, I was totally in love with the idea.
TechStars uses the revenue from successful exits to expand to four additional cities: in 2009, in Boston; 2010, in Seattle; 2011, in New York City; 2012, a “cloud” program in San Antonio; 2013 in Austin.
Foundry Group announces it has raised a $225 fund for investing in early-stage technology companies. Investors include Guardian Life Insurance Co., Morgan Stanley, Parish Capital Advisors, Procific and University of Texas Investment Management Co. The partners include Brad Feld, Seth Levine, Ryan McIntyre and Chris Wand. They launched Foundry after thier previous company, Mobius, didn’t perform well, and partners of that fund decided not to raise any more money.
Foundry Group, along with Union Square Ventures invests in Zygna’s Series A-1 investment of nearly $5 million. Zynga makes social games that run on mobile devices and desktops. Its most famous product is Farmville, a social game that allows Facebook users to create a virtual farm.
In an interview, Feld talks about the challenges for early-stage investors when raising funds:
There’s a sense among entrepreneurs that there’s a set of things that you need to do in response to what you hear from from venture capitalists that increase your chances of getting funding. Particularly challenging for first time or early-stage entrepreneurs that are going through that cycle, where they get feedback that says, ‘if only you had this, or if you only had that…’ And usually what that means is that the person you are talking to is probably not going to fund you and you should look harder for somebody that’s actually interesting funding you at the stage that your at.
In partnership with the White House Startup America initiative, Techstars leads the development of the Global Accelerator Network. The Network consists of only the highest quality independently owned and operated organizations from around the world that utilize a mentorship-based startup accelerator model.
The Foundry Group announces the launch of a second fund, Foundry Venture Capital 2010, L.P., which totals $225 million in partner commitments and is the same size as the group’s other fund. The firm says that investment strategy with the new fund will remain the same as the initial fund.
Feld and Cohen identify the key issues that first-time entrepreneurs encounter, and offer proven advice from successful entrepreneurs who have worked with the TechStars program. The authors organize the most critical issues into seven themes: Idea and Vision, People, Execution, Product, Fundraising, Legal and Structure, and Work and Life Balance. Many of the examples are personal experiences from the entrepreneurs themselves. Throughout the book, they debunk numerous myths about startups and reveal some surprising truths.
Feld and Mendelson compile blog posts with new material to create a guide for entrepreneurs seeking Vventure capital financing. The book includes analysis of the Term Sheet, details the differnt stages of the fundraising process, explores the venture capital ecosystem and gives tactics for negotiations.
My favorite entrepreneurs to fund are those that have had at least one success and one failure. While it is a cliche, failure teaches the big lessons. Most importantly, entrepreneurs that have some failure under their belt have humility and perspective that I think is deeply useful in the creation of the company.
Feld appears in this digital short
Feld leaves the Zynga board. He is replaced by Paul, a partner at Spring Ventures.
Zynga debuts on the NASDAQ Global Select Market at $10.00, and trades between $9.00 and $11.00 during the day. Foundry owns 6.1 percent of Zynga before the IPO, or 34,560,060 shares. Foundry invested less than $5 million in Zynga, but today it holds around $345 million worth of Zynga shares. This is on top of an earlier $22.58 million buyback and $25 million generated via the sale of shares in the IPO.
Feld runs the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run and finishes in an official time of 11:57:37, just under his goal of 12 hours.
The Second Edition of Venture Deals is released. The book builds on the first edition by outlining the essential elements of the venture capital term sheet, introducing readers to the various participants in a funding situation, and includes strategies to getting to a fair deal
In Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur, Feld and Batchelor, share their personal experiences of living in an entrepreneurial relationship. The book offers strategies for balancing entrepreneurship with relationships, including waiting for a good time for real conversation, life dinners, quarterly vacations off the grid, no TV in the bedroom and always answering your phone when your beloved calls.
Feld and Batchelor are interviewed about Startup Life.
Feld and his partners contribute $100,000 to help relief efforts in Boulder, after massive flooding. Feld asks entrepreneurs in the area who have had a meaningful financial success to consider money or 1% equity through EFCO to the Boulder Flood Relief Effort.
Foundry forms FG Angels, a vehicle to fund startups on AngelList. An AngelList syndicate allows investors to co-invest with other notable investors. People who back a notable investor’s syndicate commit to invest in their future deals, and agree to pay them carry, a fee for managing the fund.
Foundry is committing $2.5 million with a goal of making 50 investments before the end of 2014 in companies that list on AngelList, a well known hub for startups to find contacts and financing. Foundry Group will invest $50,000 of its own money in each company and the balance from the syndicate. The syndicate is capped at $500,000.
Feld talks with Morton about dealing with depression and how diet and lifestyle changes such as cutting out coffee, alcohol and not traveling too much help, and how his wife supports him.
I’ve had three [depressive episodes]. One in my mid-20s that overlapped with the time I sold my first company. Which was a succesful company, but I got very bored near the end of it. And another in my mid-30s right around 9/11, through the end of the year. I was in New York at 9/11 and was never in any harm’s way, but the pressure….my business world was really under siege because it was the Internet bubble collapsing, so I was really struggling with lots of things in lots of different places. And most recently, in the first half of this year basically, where I really didn’t acknowledge that I was depressed.
Feld appears in a video promoting Foundry’s portfolio companies
Portland’s OnTheGo Platforms, a business that announces a $700,000 seed round from SK Ventures, Rogue Venture Partners, Social Leverage, Portland Seed Fund and GMO Cloud. Also included in this round is a $330,000 commitment from Foundry Group‘s FG Angels AngelList Syndicate, which marks the first investment by the firm’s Syndicate fund on AngelList.
OnThe Go’s aims to improve the Smart Glass user experience by using the glasses’ front-facing camera to recognize gestures so people can “interact naturally with smart glasses.” Using a swipe of their hand, users would be able to bring up apps and then share photos or videos with another swipe gesture.
In a LinkedIn article Feld explains how he increased his productivity by replacing business travel for videoconferencing.
Feld, who is on the board of Moz, a Seattle-based provider of search-engine and social-media optimization software, writes about the company’s commitment to openness:
Lots of people talk about being transparent. Lots of companies espouse principles of transparency. Lots of statements start out with “I like to be transparent” or “I’m being transparent when I say …” And several years ago the notion of transparency became the new in thing, especially around the VC and startup worlds. Most of it is bullshit.
Feld points to Moz’s Moz’s 2013 Year in Review, which gives insider-level numbers of the company’s operations, despite the company managment’s disappointment with their results.
…when you talk about being transparent, it’s often useful to have a standard of ‘real transparency’ to compare yourself too. I’d put Moz at the top of that list in my book.
Feld talks about travel, startups, and communities.
I would have traveled a lot more around the world when I was younger. I travel for work in the U.S. a lot, but I’m actually quite uncomfortable in much of the world other than Europe, because I just didn’t travel that much to other parts of the world, and I think that especially today, with the globalization of business, and the amount of entrepreneurship happening everywhere in the world I think that inhibits me because I’m uncomfortable and I’m a little nervous about it. There’s some places I don’t want to go to because it seems to hard at this point in my life.
On building communities:
I’ll put energy into a startup community without knowing what I’m going to get in return. It’s not altruism. I expect to get something back. But I don’t know what, in what currency, form whom, or over what time period I’m going to get something back…I’ve gotten back so much more by taking a give-before-you-get approach than if I had defined everything transactionally up front.
Feld says that his biking days are over after a crash that leaves him unconscious and in the hospital.
I have no memory of what actually happened. The last thing I remember, after much prompting, was turning left onto Iris from Broadway. While the 911 calls were all for a hit and run, there’s no real evidence of that since my bike is generally fine and nothing, including me, looks like it was hit by a car. At this point, I’m guessing that I took the turn too wide and must have hit the curb and lost control of the bike. Maybe I squeezed my breaks and went over my handlebars. Or maybe I crossed over into a parallel universe for a little while and when I came back landed on my face.
I’m doing ok today. Nothing is broken and according to the hospital I don’t have a concussion. I’ve very banged up. I’ll probably have two black eyes, I have a sprained thumb, and lots of cuts and bruises everywhere. My face is very swollen and my head is very bumpy and weird from all the swelling. I have a persistent headache, no matter how much Advil I take. My glasses are destroyed so I’m wearing some old ones, which probably isn’t helping…My biking career, short as it was, is officially over.
Feld announces that he and Batchelor are funding the first year of an an entrepreneur-in-residence program at Colorado University, Boulder. The EIR program is a way to help founders and entrepreneurs who aren’t US citizens get the necessary visas to stay, work, and build innovative companies in the US without having to worry about immigration issues. The program uses a loophole in immigration law that allows visas to be granted to foreign graduates working in some capacity at a local institution of higher learning, while they are also building a startup. Foreign entrepreneurs will be employed part time by CU-Boulder, making them eligible for visas sponsored by the school.
I’ve gotten worn out on the federal level immigration fight. I’m happy to continue to participate in advocacy for change around visas for entrepreneurs, but I’ve decided to focus my energy, and money, on exploring and experimenting with state-oriented solutions.
In an interview with Innovation Hub, Feld says rather than moving to Silicon Valley, young entrepreneurs should build a business where they live and get opportunity to chase them.
I’ve had a deeply held belief that you can build a startup community in any city — it’s phenomenal to see it happening all over the world…In the book Startup Communities I talk about The Boulder Thesis…There are four principles. The first is that the leaders of the startup community have to be entrepreneurs. the second is that those entrepreneurs have to have a very, very, long-term view, at least twenty years. The third is that they have to be inclusive of anyone who wants to engage in the startup community at any level. The fourth is that you have to have activities and events happening all the time that actually engage people in actually doing entrepreneurship, rather than just talking about it.