We waited over 4 months to film Brad Feld due to the fact that he’s an incredibly busy guy who has had a huge hand in building the startup community here in Boulder, Colorado from the ground up. Brad is more or less viewed as a celebrity in Boulder and if you ask any entrepreneur or anyone involved with a startup within the community, they’re going to know exactly who Brad Feld is.
His reputation exceeds him outside of Boulder as well, being a well known figure in Silicon Valley and other startup communities around the globe. He has had a role in bringing products to market such as Fitbit and Trackr, and his investment firm Foundry Group has funded tons of innovative companies all over the world. He also co-founded Techstars, which is one of the world’s most prestigious accelerator programs, providing startups with funding, mentorship, and invaluable networks to help entrepreneurs change the world for the better.
Upon arrival at Foundry’s office, we were led into a huge executive board room with a long glass table surrounded by large leather office chairs. It felt like a Wall Street office, until we noticed the wall full of toys that the team at Foundry Group had collected over the years…everything from their portfolio company’s prototypes and products to custom Star Wars bobble heads of each member of the Foundry Group team. There was also a large remote control race car plugged into the wall in the corner. It was confusing for a split second, but we had been warned that the Foundry team was pretty laid back.
The first thing Brad did when he walked in was give us each a copy of his new book, Startup Opportunities, which he wrote alongside venture capitalist and author Sean Wise and the notorious Chris Sacca.
Having covered all of the chapter subjects that we had previously chosen for our curriculum with our mentors, we were struggling to pick a topic that would allow Brad to show his expertise and let his creative mind flow. We got the input from a bunch of beta testers and a fellow mentor, Jacqueline Ros of Revolar, to do a chapter on “Funding and Raising Money”. Brad answered every single question without taking a second to think.
Being a seasoned founder and investor across dozens of industries, Brad knows when it is right for a company to seek funding, how much a company should ask for, and where to allocate those funds once collected. He shares how funding is not always the answer for an early-stage company and when seeking outside money for your business does become necessary, all of the stars in your entrepreneurial world should be aligned.
“It’s important to recognize that the best way to fund your business at the beginning is either with money from customers or by not having to raise any money or spend much money at all. Your goal when you’re starting your business should be to make as much progress with no money or as little as you possibly can.”
Brad also explained how fundraising is not just having a good idea and getting the money to make it happen. It is a skill that has to be learned and practiced. When fundraising, you are quite literally selling a piece of your company, and you need to be able to capably sell it to whoever you are pitching to. Brad recommends knowing your business and your customers at an extremely deep and intimate level in order to fundraise properly and effectively. He adds that you are not only selling your product or business, but your vision for the future.
We concluded the interview by asking Brad if he had any final thoughts for aspiring entrepreneurs…he sure did. With that, we pulled together a preview of Brad’s chapter with his words of advice. Check it out!
We left the interview with Brad knowing that the credibility and quality of our product had doubled within the span of an hour. He had provided us with a perfect lesson on fundraising, as well as a bonus chapter titled “Final Tips for Entrepreneurs”. He is truly an inspiration to any entrepreneur and should be thought of as a reputable reference for learning the ropes of starting a business.
Want to learn more from Brad? Check out Startup Vault here.