Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #10 – Brad Feld of Mobius Venture Capital

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Some venture capitalists keep a low profile, preciously guard their e-mail addresses from needy entrepreneurs and put on a jacket for publicity photos. Not Brad Feld. Brad started his career building his own technology consulting company with nothing but $10 and a 19-year-old’s ambition. He grew his business to the level that it was an appetizing acquisition target, worked a bit for the company that acquired his firm doing acquisitions for them, did some angel investing, and is now a managing director at Mobius Venture Capital. All along, he’s been vigorously growing businesses — and sharing his know-how through his popular blog — and now on this show.

Show notes:

1:15 Life as an entrepreneur

  • Started first business, Feld Technologies, in Boston and sold it in 1993.

1:55 Growing a consulting firm

  • ‘We determined that the profit level we were generating at 20 people, well, if we grew to 40 people we’d obviously double the revenue, our profit would probably be exactly the same.’

6:45 Sold first business

  • ‘I acquired my way out of a job.’

9:50 Entrepreneur or investor?

12:00 Working with a CEO as an investor

13:45 Mobius Venture Capital

  • All partners have founded or have run companies themselves.
  • ‘With the exception of really two decisions, I’d like to think that we work for the CEO of the company. The two decisions we really get to make are, one, the capital allocation decision (Do we want to keep funding the company or not?), and the other is do we support the CEO (Do we support the CEO or not?).’

16:00 Pitching your business to Mobius

  • Currently investing a $1.25 billion fund that’s 80% invested — still a lot of money left to invest.
  • The best way to get their attention is to get an introduction.
  • Happy to take a quick look at anything someone e-mails him.

17:55 The business plan

  • ‘I personally don’t care about the business plan at all — especially for an early stage company.’
  • ‘However, I think the business plan is a really, really useful tool for an entrepreneur in terms of framing out what he or she is thinking about building.’

20:20 What to look for in a VC

  • ‘Honesty and integrity is paramount.’
    ‘Intellectual horsepower has to be tempered with experience. If you’ve got a really, really smart person that’s very inexperienced, that’s often way, way more dangerous then an experienced person who’s still obviously intelligent to be in the venture business, but not as smart.’
  • ‘I look for people that are genuinely excited about creating companies.’
  • ‘Having been doing this for a while, I look for people that are fun.’
  • ‘I’ve worked with people that are at top tier firms that are just disasters.’

23:45 Term sheet

26:45 Lawyers

  • ‘An experienced attorney that knows how to work with VCs and entrepreneurial companies will never hold up a deal.’

28:20 Geography

  • Everyone in Mobius is in Palo Alto except for Brad who’s in Superior, Colorado.
  • Spends summers in Homer, Alaska.
  • ‘I’ve been an investor on both coasts, and it’s cliché-ishly different.’

34:00 Always on?

35:30 Style

  • ‘I always wear a t-shirt.’
  • ‘My wife likes to say there’s only a few things she wished were different about me and one was that I actually had some fashion sense.’
  • ‘Much to my father’s chagrin I still don’t dress up at weddings and funerals.’

37:00 Today’s agenda

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