As part of Silicon Flatirons’ Entrepreneurship Initiative, Phil Weiser, Professor of Law and Telecommunications, is engaging in a series of interviews with local venture capitalist Brad Feld on topics ranging from financing strategies for start-ups to the nature of innovation to managing work-life balance. Readers of Brad’s blog already appreciate that his insights and wit are not to be missed. This second session will focus on–appropriately enough for CU’s Entrepreneurship Week-what makes a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem and why living in one makes a difference.
The concept of an entrepreneurial ecosystem starts from the decision of a series of technology entrepreneurs to start related businesses in a particular community. This dynamic is the product of a competition for the “creative class,” as Richard Florida, has put it. Citing Florida, Ben Casnocha has suggested that the “desirable class of economic growth-generating talent–entrepreneurs, scientists, bankers, engineers–choose exactly where they want to live with great precision and care,” recognizing the importance of joining an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The famed Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter has highlighted the significance of such communities, encouraging business leaders to “look for locations that gather industry-specific resources together in one ‘cluster’ (think Silicon Valley or the Napa wine country) that can lead to competitive advantage.” For communities like Boulder, the question is not, as Brad has put it, how to be like Silicon Valley, but how to be the best entrepreneurial ecosystem we can be. On that score, as Brad has highlighted, there is a lot to celebrate. In this discussion, Brad will dissect just what ingredients are critical to Colorado’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, where and how it can still improve, and why being part of an innovative cluster can make a difference to the success of a high tech start-up.
About Brad Feld
Brad Feld has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over 20 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 Gnip, Oblong, and Zynga Game Network 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. 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.
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 thirteen marathons as part of his mission to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. 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.