At SkyDeck, we kicked off our new SkyTalk series with a conversation with Brad Feld. An entrepreneur, early stage investor, co-founder of Techstars, and author of many books about startups, Brad is one of the most experienced minds in the startup community. SkyDeck Executive Director Caroline Winnett spoke with Brad in a fireside chat format.
The talk started out with the question of how Berkeley can best cultivate a startup community. Brad noted that being a premier University, UC Berkeley attracts a large group of especially smart people. What’s unique about university communities is that each year we attract a large crop of new members to our community, i.e. freshman and new grad students. These are people who are coming for big, life changing experiences, which is the perfect mindset for startups.
Brad related a story of how he went to an early customer at one of his startups at the beginning of his career. His startup was running out of cash and he needed revenue. Brad sat in the lobby for most of the day, despite regular reports that his contact was “unavailable today.” Sometime in mid-afternoon, he got an audience. And a check. It was a great and on-point “never give up” anecdote.
Caroline asked a probably atypical question, “Which Picasso period is your favorite?” Brad answered that he liked the Blue Period because that’s when Picasso took the next step beyond all forms of painting that he had learned. Picasso leapt into new forms that were untried and way off the usual menu of art forms.
Sounds like what a disruptive startup does.
SkyDeck and our teams send our thanks to Brad for joining us on a rainy winter afternoon for a lively and fascinating talk with one of the gurus in the startup business.