Brad Feld

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Be In Love With Your Business

Aug 08, 2011

Amy and I spent the last week in Tuscany with some friends, including Howard Lindzon. Howard is the CEO of StockTwits, a company we’ve been an investor in for a few years. I was an investor in Howard’s previous company WallStrip, met Howard through an introduction from our mutual friend Fred Wilson (it’s a pretty funny story, as are many things with Howard), and have worked closely together on a bunch of things including TechStars where Howard has been a great mentor and investor since the beginning.

We had an incredibly wonderful week last week and Amy has a great post up on her blog titled Our Revels. If you know Howard, you know he’s an always on, mostly hilarious, sometimes crazy (like a fox), super high energy except when on ambien guy. After four days of Tuscany, Howard was completely chilled out and more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him.

But don’t let this totally chilled out Howard fool you. He was on his computer a lot. Whenever I looked over at him, he was on the Stocktwits web site communicating with the stock community he’s helped create and loves. As the market was gyrating around he tweeted up a storm, put up a bunch of content on StockTwits, did some trades in his hedge fund, and wrote a few insightful (and funny) blog posts about the market including his discovery that the Tuscany VIX is always less than 10.

Howard loves Stocktwits. He loves his business. He loves stocks. He loves the community of people that care about stocks. And he’s creating a company – a really interesting and important one – around his passion. It’s wonderful, infectious, fascinating, exciting, and awesome. And yes, today is adjective day.

While Foundry Group generally avoids investing in vertical markets, we make an exception for our Distribution theme. One of the key attributes of this theme is that the company must be led by an entrepreneur who is completely obsessed with a vertical market. They must be thinking – every single waking moment – about how they are going to change the way the world interacts with the vertical market they are attacking.

Howard defines this type of entrepreneur. It was incredibly inspiring to be around. We had a blast doing non-Stocktwits / non-stock stuff, but when he was working he knew exactly what he was going to work on.

We have either recently closed (but not announced) or are about to close several other investments with entrepreneurs who have similar characteristics. None of them are in our Distribution theme, which is pretty cool, as the entrepreneurs are completely obsessed with the problem their business is addressing.

When an entrepreneur is trying to decide between a couple of different ideas, I often ask the question “which one are you in love with?” If there’s a quick response, then the answer is easy. If the answer is none of them, that’s the answer to which one he should pursue.

Howard reminded me of this again last week. Thanks Howard.