Posts tagged ‘Brad’

May 8, 2013

SI2013 – Speaker Profile – Brad Burnham

Brad Burnham has been a big supporter of Iceland. He has invested quite a bit of time, influence and effort to push the idea of the Freedom to Innovate and Internet Enterprise Zone in Iceland. There have been many channels of talks, efforts to initiate projects and gather support through a research and development approach. Brad has also been providing a lot of leadership to policy makers on how to look at the internet. Union Square Ventures, which was founded by Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson, is a venture capital firm based in New York City. They are a small collegial partnership that manage $450,000,000 across three funds. Their portfolio companies create services that have the potential to fundamentally transform important markets. They can work with an entrepreneur whether she needs $250,000 to test an idea, or $25,000,000 to buy an undervalued asset. They invest in New York, San Francisco, London, or Berlin and most places in between. Here is Brad talking to RUV last year when he was participating in Startup Iceland 2012Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 6.50.13 AM

Here is Brad talking about how Policy matter for Innovation. I am extremely excited to see the developments in Iceland, maybe Iceland call pull it off but I am more excited to see that Brad is still committed to Iceland and has agreed to come back and talk about the Freedom to Innovate. I think everyone is Iceland is going to win big if Iceland become the leader is coming up with policies that foster innovation. We are very fortunate to have access to someone who has been looking at this since for a long time and he believes Iceland is a key player in this transformation.

February 25, 2013

Startup Life

Startup Life - Amy and BradI have been reading the new book by Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor on Startup Life -surviving and thriving in a relationship with an entrepreneur. I think Brad and Amy bring a level of conversation that I have not read in a self help or relationship help book. This is one of the must have book as a reference if you are an Entrepreneur or a Startup Founder or working in a Startup. It has many strategies, stories, sacrifices and simple advice on making things work while everything around the entrepreneur is moving at a crazy pace. I have been enjoying the book. I would recommend everyone to read this book. The contents of the book are not just for Entrepreneurs it is for anyone wanting to having a lifelong relationship with a person whom they love, respect and admire. Here are some excerpts from the book:

In a relationship with a hyperrational engineer type of entrepreneur, it can be maddening to have him try to solve your problem or figure out what has caused you to be angry. This is especially vexing when the gender dynamic around solving a problem versus providing empathy is tossed into the mix. Try to recognize when this is going on and shift into empathy mode to calm the savage beast, rather than problem-solving mode, which will likely inflame things.

Which couple has not encountered this before? and how many times have you asked yourself after a blow up what happened? what did I do? I have and I constantly try to remind myself that my wife cannot read my mind and I don’t have to solve all problems. When Brad is visiting Iceland this June we plan to have a small event – a dinner with a group of Entrepreneurs and their significant other. If you want to participate you need to participate in Startup Iceland 2013. Given that we will have a small number of slots for this event, I would like to hear why you believe you need to be in that group. Write to me and we will pick who gets to go… sorry, cannot get everyone on board but everyone can get the book and read it and interact with Brad and Amy when they are here in Iceland the first week of June, how cool is that?

September 22, 2012

Why build a Startup Community?

I started on this long term view that Iceland can be a fantastic place to create a Startup Community, some of my friends tell me that I

Image Source: Bloomberg TV

got desperate because I got fired from my banking job. Well, maybe… maybe not only time will tell whether this thesis is going to work or not. A lot of my actions towards engaging in the community and starting to push the envelop in Iceland are driven by well proven themes that have worked in other parts of the world. The famous statement made by everyone is “You don’t have a track record of building a startup community or starting a Venture Fund to invest in Startups“, well, that is true but neither did the first man who landed in Reykjavik or Iceland for the first time. Never the less he decided that he was going to live here. A community did get built and for all its flaws and issues Icelanders have a lot going for them compared to many other countries. Anyways, I digress… coming back to Startup Communities, Brad Feld‘s new book titled “Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City” is out and I believe it is a very clear road map of how to build a community, actually I want to say that Iceland already has a Startup Community and it was very clear to me when I met almost every entrepreneur after the Financial Collapse of 2008. All I am trying to do is to ensure that we implement the strategies outlined in the book. The famous question that follows is “Why are you doing this? what is in it for you?”, well let me think… I really don’t know, I want to follow Brad‘s advice on “Give – before you get anything back”. I have no expectation of what comes out of this exercise that I have undertaken but 10 years from now if we all can look back and say we were part of something that created a culture of entrepreneurialismwhere people living in Iceland or world over believed in themselves and created a sustainable system i.e a company or a business or a community that thrived and contributed to a better society then I think we can be proud of the effort and not only that we would have created a better environment for our children and our grandchildren… we would have created a legacy.

Image Source: TechStars.com

I come back to Steven Covey‘s teachings and the Legacy video that was provided as part of the resources section of the book “the 8th Habit”, I wish they had made it sharable… but it is not so if you want to see the video you need to register with at http://stevencovery.com and go to the Resources section and you should see the video link. I think those videos are inspiring and they are part of the 8th Habit book. Everyone needs to have a purpose in life and that drives us, I think all of us want To Live, To Love, To Learn and To Leave a Legacy. I think the purpose that I have undertaken for myself – “To Start a Sustainable Startup Community in Iceland” more or less addresses all those things. So, I am extremely selfish in being totally selfless in contributing my time, effort and resources… drives everyone around me crazy, but I just have a fire within that just wants me to push forward and I will continue to help any effort to support building a sustainable system in Iceland.

I plan to buy 100+ copies of the Startup Communities book, it should be available in Iceland in another couple of weeks, I think and I want to distribute it to every stakeholder that I think can contribute to building a sustainable startup ecosystem in Iceland. I am not going to stop there, I am going to talk to Brad and get connected with the publisher and make sure the book gets translated to Icelandic so those who are comfortable reading in Icelandic can also learn from this roadmap. The above video is of Brad, talking about the Boulder Thesis in Bloomberg… I think Brad is spot on. We have all those ingredients in Iceland, so what are you going to do to contribute?

June 12, 2012

Why is Policy Important

Policy frameworks are extremely important because it defines the rules of engagement. It provides the incentives and drivers for participants to engage. This blog post is to bring attention to what Brad Burnham was saying in Kastljos when he was here participating in Startup Iceland. In order for Iceland to really make an impact on attracting investment not just from Foreigners but even from the local communities, the policy frameworks need to provide the right rules of engagement. Whenever I speak to Icelandic investors, they are rather skeptical about the policy framework in Iceland and usually point to the currency controls as the biggest detriment to them investing in Iceland and this is by ICELANDERS! I find that strange because why should the Currency control matter if you are investing in companies that are creating value. I see the problem when an foreign investor like me but I don’t get it why Icelanders use that as an excuse.  I understand why currency controls may be detrimental to the environment of investing, but if one is an icelander and all your revenue and investable capital is in Iceland it should not matter. Maybe that is the real issue all Icelanders who have the capacity to invest do not have their investable capital in Icelandic Kronas! maybe all their money has already been shipped abroad before the collapse and they find no incentive to bring it in. So, how does one reverse this situation? Brad talks about this in the interview, it is only 6 minutes long so watch the video. The best way to beat the currency restriction constraint is to provide a better incentive or wider incentive to invest in Iceland, for example in the case of Personal Data. If Iceland were to pass a law that would protect individual data that would provide a strong incentive for Investors to look at Iceland as a logical choice to put their money because it would far exceed the cost of investing in Iceland. Many countries have not even started thinking about this and this in my opinion and of course in Brad’s opinion is the right time and environment to put a stake in the ground and start a global discussion on what is the individual rights on data and how should we implement it? There are two broad themes and I have written about it before on why I believe Iceland can be the First Internet Enterprise Zone and the individual right and freedom to innovate on the Internet.

June 10, 2012

Why you should be optimistic about the future

Dr. Randy Pausch

Dr. Randy Pausch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing Mark Suster as depicted in ...

Image by GRP Partners via CrunchBase

When I started on the Venture Capital education 4 years back, I started following Fred Wilson, Brad Feld and Mark Suster. I encourage all the entrepreneurs whom I interact with to do the same. Fred for Consumer facing web/mobile businesses, Brad for glue technologies and Mark for enterprise related startups. Although the lines blur when you look at their investment portfolio, each of these 3 individuals have a specialization and long term perspective on their respective cohorts. In addition, all of them are super super smart and regular contributors so one always learns reading their work and does not have a long hiatus between their blog posts. I finished reading an excellent analysis by Mark Suster with the title “Its Morning in Venture Capital” on why he believes the Venture Capital industry is not dead as is proclaimed by a number of organizations and pundits. I agree with Mark, the bad and inexperienced players will loose their credibility and/or their shirt when there are big market corrections… however the general trend to be optimistic about the Internet and the 3rd Wave of innovation is prevalent with many who are looking into the crystal ball everyday like Mark and his partners. I have had the previlege of interacting with Brad Feld and Brad Burnham, or “The Brads” as was called by the participants in the Startup Iceland Conference. Again there is enough evidence to go long on this thing called the Internet. Read the whole post by Mark to understand the entire dynamics of the interplay of the micro and macro, demographic and economic trends. I cannot image being in any other industry or applying these new infrastructure to traditional industries to disrupt them. It is going to be an awesome decade or two, if you have the stomach for it. It is going to be hard, bumpy and tough ride but whoever said this was going to be easy, nothing worthwhile is easy. I am big fan of Randy Pausch, the author of a fantastic book “The Last Lecture” where one of the chapter he talks about Brick Walls, basically all the hurdles one faces when you are trying to pursue your dream, ambition whatever… I love the way he puts it “…The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people“. Being an entrepreneur or part of a startup team is hard work, and a lesson in patience and perseverance. If one does not have the never give up attitude, it becomes doubly hard. If one wants instant gratification fugedabouddit… There is only one way to win in being an entrepreneur, have a long term vision about your goals, work with people you enjoy spending time with and do it in a place where you love living. To quote one of Brad Felds post “People Place Thing

Spend as much time as possible with PEOPLE you love in a PLACE you want to be on a THING you are passionate about.

All the macro challenges, Euro Crisis, US Government Debt etc will not matter if you followed the above simple advice and read Marks post on why you should really rethink where the world is going if you are stuck on a dead end job.

June 2, 2012

Startup Iceland 2012 – Done!

It was a crazy idea… to begin with. I had this epiphany that Iceland could host a conference focused on Entrepreneurship, Startups and Venture Investing. I have no background or experience in holding conferences or organizing large events. There was no tradition of doing anything like this in Iceland and I started conceiving this idea and started writing about it. I reached out to a bunch of people and started on this crazy journey. There were a lot of twists and turns and pivots on the road. But it ended up being a fantastic event, the entire community participated from members from large organizations to startups to students. We sold out almost all of the tickets a week in advance, our final registered count was 302, I think maybe 250+ showed up on the conference day and we packed 70 entrepreneurs on a Bus with Brad at 7:45 am in Reykjavik. The President of Iceland was inspiring and talked about the Third Wave of Innovation (more on that later), US Ambassador Luis Arreage was gracious and introduced our guests “The Brads” – Brad Feld and Brad Burnham. Speaking to them in a casual conversation format was great, they had so much insight and ideas that I believe can influence Iceland is positive ways. All the speakers were excellent, every agenda item went through smoothly and our Host of the day Magnus Ragnarsson was smooth as silk and I loved his Pink Master of Ceremonies Shirt and Velvet Jacket, I need to ask him where he got it. I was personally inspired, energized and ready to start the planning for the next year. There were many people who helped, it would be impossible to list all their names but here is the organizing team, they were phenomenal… I want to thank each and everyone of them for their contribution.

  • Ágúst Ingason – Vertu 
  • Alexander Richter – ThinkGeoEnergy
  • Andrés Jónsson–Góð Samskipti
  • Dilja Valsdóttir – Innovit
  • Guðmundur Bjarni Sigurðsson – Kosmos & Kaos
  • Guðmundur R Einarsson – GRE
  • Hamid Pourvatan – Reykjavik University
  • Haraldur Diego – Fagráð  (hluti Arnarflugs ehf.)
  • Haukur Guðjónsson – Búngaló
  • Hákon Ágústsson –Iceland Air
  • Kristine Helen Falgren – Reykjavik University
  • Kirstján Gunnarsson– NATAC ehf.
  • Kristján Kristjánsson – Innovit
  • Magnús Ragnarsson – GoGoGic
  • Matt Wilson – Under30CEO
  • Óli Örn Eiríksson – Kadeco
  • Paula Gould– GreenQloud
  • Sigurgestur Guðlaugsson– Kadeco
  • Stefan Örn Einarsson– NATAC ehf.

We would have never got this event done without them volunteering their heart, mind and time to come with me on this crazy journey.

Watch out for the blog posts, I have few exciting surprises for next year and I believe it will turn out to be a big event. I am starting to work on the concept and theme for 2013. I already have a support from the guests who have already participated in this years event. We have pictures and videos from the event being uploaded as we speak into LiveProject.me .

Hackathon

We had a bunch of firsts, we hosted the first ever hackathon in Reykjavik University, we had 4 teams participating. The winners of the Hackathon was Team  Tæknin? consisting of

  • Bjarni Benediktsson
  • Gunnar Jörgen Viggósson
  • Helgi Kristvin Sigurbjarnason
  • Daníel Fannar Guðmundsson
  • Ólafur Páll Geirsson
All of them were students of Reykjavik University and the solution they hacked has a number of viable business models and they achieved this in 12 hours whereas the company that release the API on which they hacked the solutions was planning to develop the same solution by the next quarter. This is the power of Hackathons – Time boxed, high energy and support to get teams to create valuable solutions in a short period of time. I was excited to announce the winners.

The runner up was Team Paper Dragon consisting of Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson and Már Örlygsson from The Beanstalks Project ehf. (PageKite)

May 18, 2012

Be on the Bus With Brad

For those of you who have been following the development, organization and planning, setbacks and triumphs around organizing the Startup Iceland Conference know the reason why we moved the venue to Andrews Theater in Ásbrú Enterprise Park facility.

We are planning to make this a FUN event, so Brad Feld has agreed to do a Road Trip. We are calling this event “Be on the Bus with Brad“, what we think is going to be cooler is that LiveProject.me will be roped into the bus ride and all participants can stream their experience of interacting with Brad Feld onto the Live Project platform to share with their friends who could not make it to the Event. In addition, we are planning to provide the access to LiveProject.me to all participants so they can capture their experience the entire time. On the way back we are planning to have a FUN Guitar Party… The team from GuitarParty.com has agreed to make this a fun, musical trip back to Reykjavik. Of course I am happy to get more suggestions on how we can make the trip to and from Keflavik fun. If you want to ride on that bus, you need to register for the Conference and let us know in the registration notes section that you want to be on the bus. For those who have already registered we will be sending out our email updates with instructions on how you can book your seat on the bus.

For those who think driving 40 minutes is a waste of time, having 40 minutes with Brad and interacting with him and listening to him maybe Rap or maybe dance or perform the top 10 single “I’m a VC“? and others interact is going to be a lot fo fun. There are so many questions one could ask and get wisdom of 25+ years in Entrepreneurship, Investing, Venture Capital formation etc. In case you don’t know Brad is a Voracious Reader, check out his book shelf… so it is highly likely that he has read more books than you and I and everyone in the bus put together. I just want to find out how he manages to do that. Would’nt you?

May 14, 2012

Brad Burnham – Speaker Profile

Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson started Union Square Ventures in 2003 after the destruction of the dot com bubble. I can only imagine the courage, insight and vision that they had to create a Venture Capital company focused on the Internet when everyone was running for the hills when you mentioned technology. Brad is a veteran, it does not take a lot to see the wisdom and leadership he continues to demonstrate. Check out this post by Fred Wilson about how the investment thesis that he and Brad created required discipline and this post describes why they picked thesis driven investing vs thematic investing and Fred always credits Brad for sticking to the thesis, that requires discipline, dedication and wisdom… Brad has plenty of that. I am extremely excited that Brad agreed to participate as a speaker in the Startup Iceland Conference on Building Sustainable Startup/Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Brad and Fred live in New York which was not known to the technology or the Innovation hub, however they have invested in companies like Twitter, Tumblr, Four Square, Etsy, Kickstarter, Zemanta, Zynga, Boxee, Duck Duck Go, Sound Cloud etc To get some glimpse of his wisdom, just read his post on Freedom to Innovate

Innovation depends on keeping the costs of innovation down, making sure that financing is available, and making sure that markets are accessible. It does not depend on R&D grants or targeted industrial policy. 

So the next time you see a piece of legislation that has an impact on an open Internet, software or business method patents, copyright enforcement, free and fair competition, open government, or cyber security, I urge you to see it through the lens of the competition between incumbent industrial hierarchies and emergent networks.

Consider who is sponsoring the legislation. Does it really protect consumers or does it protect the business models and cost structures of the incumbents?

Brad blogs in the USV Blog and also has a Tumblr Blog. One has to read through all the posts to understand the evolution of the thing we call the Internet. Brad has been a participant through out the entire short history of the Internet and he has incredible insight and wisdom about the Internet. He visited Iceland 3 weeks back and the reason why he is here is something that I blogged about.

Early Days

Brad Burnham began his career in information technology with AT&T in 1979. He held a variety of sales, marketing and business development positions there until 1990 when he spun Echo Logic out of Bell Laboratories. As the first AT&T “venture,” Echo Logic was a catalyst for the creation of AT&T’s venture capital arm, AT&T Ventures. When Echo Logic was sold in 1993, Brad joined AT&T Ventures as an Executive in Residence. He became a principal at there in 1994 and a General Partner in 1996. At AT&T Ventures, Brad was responsible for 14 investments including, Argon Networks, Audible, Avesta Technologies, Classic Sports Network, Multex Systems, Physicians Online, and Paytrust.

Brad is not much in the public eye, but his words are enough. I am excited to hear him talk about how they started in the early years in New York and what made New York the next best thing to Silicon Valley in terms of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurialism. Brad himself being an entrepreneur can relate to everything all of us go through as Entrepreneurs. I believe the best learnings are when you do something, the next best thing is to learn from someone who is currently doing it. Brad falls in the latter category and I cannot wait for May 30th. For those of you who have not registered yet for the Conference, you can do so by going to http://2012.startupiceland.com -> BOOK NOW

May 13, 2012

Brad Feld – Speaker Profile

This is a series of posts that are aimed at providing more background about the speakers who are going to participate in the Startup Iceland Conference on May 30th, 2012 in Iceland. The conference came into existence because we started asking the question How do we build a sustainable startup/entrepreneurial ecosystem so that successful companies can be created out of them. We are sure every country, city and town is asking this question given the devastation the financial crisis of 2008 has left on the world economies.
History has shown that entrepreneurs are builders and creators of valuable resources for their communities. Small entrepreneurial companies create more jobs than large companies, and jobs are the economic engine of every society. With that background we asked ourselves, are there best practices, methods and learning strategies that we could apply in our community here in Iceland? Are there examples of entrepreneurs who have solved this challenge, or tried and failed? How can we learn from this experience?
We reached out to Brad Feld through an open letter, to which he responded right away through his new blog Startup Communities. His encouragement and acceptance to come to Iceland made us look at creating an event around his participation. We have written about the troubles and tribulations and pivots of organizing an event like the one that we described but this post is about Brad.
Brad Feld to me is John Galt of the famous novel “The Atlas Shrugged” written by Ayn Rand. If you have not read the book, I strongly recommend reading it. It is still relevant and useful metaphor for what is going in the world around us.

Venture Capitalist

Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over twenty years. 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 and later became a venture affiliate of the predecessor to Mobius Venture Capital. Brad currently serves on the board of directors of Gist, Gnip, Oblong, Standing Cloud, and Zynga for Foundry Group. Previously, Brad served as chief technology officer of AmeriData Technologies. AmeriData acquired Feld Technologies, a firm he founded in 1987 that specialized in custom software applications.

Entrepreneur & Community Leader

Brad had grown Feld Technologies into one of Boston’s leading software consulting firms prior to the acquisition. He also directed the diversification into software consulting at AmeriData, a $1.5 billion publicly-traded company which was acquired by GE Capital in 1995. In addition to his investing efforts, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chairman of the National Center for Women & Information Technology and co-chairman of the Colorado Governor’s Innovation Council.

Speaker, Author and Blogger

Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship and writes widely read and well respected blogs at www.feld.com and www.askthevc.com. He has authored 3 books Do More Faster, Venture Deals and more recently Burning Entrepreneur

Notable companies that Brad has invested in and/or sat on the boards of include Abuzz (acq. NYT), Anyday.com (acq. PALM), Critical Path (CPTH), Cyanea (acq. IBM), Dante Group (acq. WEBM), DataPower (acq. IBM), FeedBurner (acq. by GOOG), Feld Group (acq. by EDS), Harmonix (acq. VIA), NetGenesis (IPO), ServiceMagic (acq. IACI), and ServiceMetrics (acq. EXDS). Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an avid art collector and long-distance runner. He has completed fourteen marathons as part of his mission to run a marathon in each of the fifty states.

Human Being

Brad the person is what inspired me personally to follow him and learn from him. Check out the post by David Cohen about Brad’s Random Acts of Kindness.

Media Coverage

Latest Media Coverage on Brad Feld

April 27, 2012

Screw Me Once Rule

Beers with Brad

Beers with Brad (Photo credit: nep)

I have written about how I take Brad Feld as one of my virtual mentors, and I am so excited to have gotten him to come to Iceland. I have been reading and re-reading the book written by Brad and David Cohen – “Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup”. Haukur reminded me of a rule that I had forgotten. It is the Screw Me Once rule… I am going to institutionalize this in my everyday working. For those who have not read the book I highly recommend it, here is the excerpt -

I live my life by a simple rule that I call the ‘Screw Me Once’ rule. I permit everyone I work with to screw me over once. When this happens, I confront them, forgive them, and move on. However, if they screw me over a second time, then I’m done with them forever. While the definition of screw me is vague, I put it in the category of deceitful or immoral behavior. The phrase ‘screw me’ is deliberately aggressive and hostile in this context; behavior that qualifies is also deliberately aggressive and hostile. 

I don’t consider someone letting me down, not following through on a commitment, or failing at something to fall into this category. Failure is a fundamental part of entrepreneurship and I embrace it as part of the process. I fail often and I expect people whom I work with to fail also-either dramatically, or in lesser ways such as not following through on commitments.

Systemic behavior that doesn’t correct, such as an inability to get closure on things, or a regular mismatch between the expectations that one sets and what one delivers, becomes a problem, but is not in the Screw Me category. Instead, this will decrease my desire to work with the person, lower my expectations about what will be accomplished, and make me cautious about my own engagement with them. But it won’t cause me to be done with them.

If you lie to me, deceive me, purposefully hurt me (or someone I care about), do something I consider immoral, or do something that is illegal, that’s one strike. However, I view addressing this as my responsibility because many people don’t realize they’ve done this, or don’t realize the potential impact and implications of their behavior. I try to be emotionally clear in my reaction – dispassionate, but not passive; direct, but not hostile; specific, yet not accusatory.

Occasionally, this approach simply doesn’t work. In these cases, I just disengage and assume I’m not going to be able to develop a substantive relationship with that person. In my experience, however, a deep and thoughtful conversation usually ensues, which also serves to build a much stronger relationship or at least the potential for one.

Once the confrontation is resolved, I’m in a happy place again and don’t ever think twice about whatever issue caused it. However, like a yellow card in soccer, you only get to trigger the Screw Me rule once. If it happens again, we’re done. Forever.

I’ve handed out plenty of yellow cards and received a few. In a number of cases, my strongest relationships are with people who have gotten yellow cards. Fortunately, the list of people who have gotten the equivalent of a red card from me is very short.

enough said… Brad is a wise man!

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