Interview with Brad Feld of TechStars

Interview with Brad Feld of TechStars
Brad Feld Techstars
Brad is one of the managing directors at Foundry Group, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage software / Internet companies throughout the United States. He is also the co-founder of TechStars, a mentor-driven accelerator, author of several books and blogs, and a marathon runner. Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures, a company that helped launch and operate software companies. Brad is also a co-founder of TechStars.Brad currently serves on the board of directors of BigDoor, Cheezburger, Fitbit, FullContact, Gnip, MakerBot, MobileDay, Modular Robotics, Oblong, Orbotix, Rover.com, SafeInstance, SEOMoz, Standing Cloud, and Yesware for Foundry Group. Previously, Brad was an executive at AmeriData Technologies after it acquired Feld Technologies, a firm he founded in 1987 that specialized in custom software applications.

How crucial is business planning for a new business idea?

BF: A classical business plan is not useful at this point. Instead, I recommend people use Eric Ries’ Lean Startup Methodology and Steve Blank’s Startup Canvas approach.

What are your impressions of the start-up scene in Asia, and what are the challenges these companies face in being competitive against those in Silicon Valley?

BF: I don’t know the startup scene in Asia specifically well enough to have any deep comments.

What are the three most important things for startups to get right?

BF: People, product, and customers.

Can entrepreneurs be taught? Or are the skills innate?

BF: It’s both. There are an immense amount of educational opportunities available now – the immersive ones are by far the best. Things like Startup Weekend and accelerators like TechStars – where you get to deeply engage in creating companies while surrounded by mentors.

What are the biggest causes of startup failure?

BF: The wrong people on the team. A lack of understanding of what the customer really wants. And – running out of money!

What trends do you see in tech startups at the moment?

BF: Many more seed stage companies are getting started, which I think is awesome. The barriers to getting started continue to come down dramatically.

What are you looking for when you invest in a new startup?

BF: We have a set of themes that we use as our primary filter – Take a look at http://www.foundrygroup.com/themes for what we are interested in.

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