My partner Seth Levine and his co-author Elizabeth MacBride recently wrote an important book called The New Builders: Face to Face with the True Future of Business. It is out and available.
Foundry Group is hosting an open virtual event to discuss the book. Seth and Elizabeth will be moderating the discussion with special guests Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper, Makisha Boothe of Sistahbiz, Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse, and Lorena Cantarovici of Maria Empanada.
Sign up here for the virtual event at May 18, 2021 12:00 PM PT; 1:00 PM MT.
Seth and Elizabeth have spent the past year talking to entrepreneurs all over the United States as they’ve developed their thesis around The New Builders. The Covid crisis has accelerated the growth and development of many high-tech companies, including the largest companies that were recently young, entrepreneurial businesses. But, unfortunately, the Covid crisis has decimated many local businesses and dramatically impacted communities everywhere.
The New Builders are the future of business that will emerge from the Covid crisis, and the book argues for the future of American entrepreneurship. That future lies in surprising places and will rely on the success of women, Black, and Brown entrepreneurs. However, our country hasn’t yet recognized the New Builders’ identities, let alone developed strategies to support them.
Join the conversation about The New Builders with Seth, Elizabeth, John, Makisha, Joe, and Lorena on May 18th.
Boulder has been our home for 25 years and we love it. Amy and I support numerous local non-profit initiatives through our Anchor Point Foundation. The following video captured my attention this morning and resulted in a bathroom-sized donation to Growing Up Boulder.
Bella and Mads – well done! You can call us Brad and Amy (not Mr. and Mrs.). This is a gift is in y’alls name. Vanessa Schatz – brilliant!
Happy Monday morning. Do something nice for your local community today. And, if you are a Boulder local, consider donating to Growing Up Boulder.
I received a lot of positive feedback on my post highlighting the 2nd annual Emerge Virtual 5k Run so …
It’s time for the 10th Annual Happy Smackah 5k Fun Run and Walk.
This would have been the 11th Annual, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we canceled the May 2020 event. But, it’s back, this time as a Virtual 5k in 2021. You can run it anytime between May 8th and June 8th. Register online!
Amy and I have been long-time supporters of Happy Smackah – a unique “focused giving” event in our community with a unique origin story.
Happy Smackah originated as a fundraiser for Dan Cribby, a Longmont educator who initially was diagnosed with strep, woke up days later to shoulder pain, and went to the hospital. He was becoming septic and was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis (“flesh-eating disorder”). He was air-lifted to Denver, where, to save his life, they amputated his shoulder, clavicle, and left arm, commonly known as a forequarter amputation. He was kept in a coma and required many surgeries to debride and skin graft his entire torso.
The community came together to support Dan through his ordeal. While he was enduring his surgeries and treatment, his wide social circle of students, teachers, and parents organized a 5k. Nearly 700 showed up that day for Dan, and Dan was there too, miraculously, fresh out of the hospital.
The event has continued over the past decade to pay it forward from the Cribby’s. The community nominates an individual facing medical hardship and provides them fundraising support to help with their situation. It also creates a powerful connection through people attending the 5k event, which generally has about 1,000 participants.
This year’s Smackah is Kaylee Stiffler, a senior at Longmont High School. A caring, clever, and down-to-earth teenager, she was born with congenital nevus, which is essentially a mole or birthmark on any part of the body. Kaylee’s is on her face, covering her cheek, nose, and eye. Four years ago, it started growing, changing, bleeding, and impacting her eyesight. She’s had 14 surgeries in the past five years. The Boulder Daily Camera just wrote a great update on Kaylee and her amazing attitude despite her challenges.
Together you can help us help Kaylee. Please sign up, find a great place to run or walk a 5K, get outdoors and do it, and prepare for an even better year as we continue to re-open our communities safely.
In 2017 I helped get the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator off the ground in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Amy and I have been supporters of TNC for over 30 years and Amy serves on their global board of directors. The program has been running in Colorado supporting pre-seed to post-seed stage startups at the intersection of conservation and technology since 2018.
This is a unique accelerator, partnering with the world’s largest environmental nonprofit, on a mission to supercharge early-stage startups who are protecting the planet, conserving our natural resources, and creating a world where humans and nature can both thrive.
This program invests in the following areas:
You can see the full investment thesis at A Tech Revolution For Nature.
Participating companies receive up to $120K in funding, personalized mentorship from Techstars and The Nature Conservancy, and much more. The program starts in September 2021. Learn more on the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator site.
Following are a few highlights that made recent press from some of the last class of alumni companies:
The Nature Conservancy is deeply involved in giving the startups access to the expertise of the world’s largest environmental non-profit. And Techstars brings a massive network of mentors, investors, and entrepreneurs on a similar journey.
Applications close on May 12th, so if you’re interested, apply today!
My mom is extraordinarily patient.
Several weeks ago, I bought her a brand new Mac as a mother’s day present. She was using a 2010 Mac, and it was time for her to use one that didn’t have an endless spinning pinwheel of Mac slowness on it.
I had it sent to me, although there’s a whole story in just that. I set it up, downloaded and set up all the apps she used, installed all the new stuff she needed to manage her passwords from now on, connected iCloud, and tidied and buffed it. Then, I figured we could use Zoom’s remote control, so I thought all I’d need to do was ship it to her, spend a few hours with her walking her through everything, and she’d be in great shape.
I can be so naïve. And, since I’m no longer young, I don’t qualify as young and naïve.
She and my dad got it, set it up, and connected it to the new LG monitor I’d gotten her along with the Anker USB extender. Cables and connectors – lots of them. It’s kind of remarkable how hard Apple makes the transition from devices (iPad – different cable, 2010 Mac – different cable, 2020 Mac – different cable, connect old external hard drive – different cable.) So many cables.
Eventually, it worked and, after walking through giving Zoom access to the right things on the Mac (click on the little lock in the bottom left; now check the box next to Zoom; no, the one next to Zoom. Yes, Zoom in the window to the right of the lock…) I was able to connect remotely.
Day 1 was fine. We spent three hours Sunday afternoon going application by application. I copied all the files on her external hard drive (which she lovingly calls “her Toshiba”) to the new Mac. I enabled iCloud to upload all the files to the cloud, and we spent a bunch of time discussing why that would probably take a few days over their slow internet connection, but then everything would be on her computer and in the cloud. We tested all the apps to make sure they were pointed at her documents as a default so she could find them. We went through the approach with the new password manager, which means she has three different passwords, one for her Mac, one for iCloud, and one for the password manager. But, once she has these three memorized, she won’t have to keep the rest of her passwords for all her individual apps “somewhere.”
We had a short discussion Monday night to refresh a few things. Last night was the first day of working through the list she’d made during the day of issues and questions.
We spent three hours on issue #1. Passwords.
It should have been simple. I foolishly made the Mac and iCloud passwords the same, figuring that would be easier for her. But, after Apple let me do that, it eventually told her she couldn’t have them be the same (hours later) and prompted her to change the Mac password. She wanted the Mac password to be a different one, so I assumed all I needed to do was change the iCloud password, then the Mac password and all would be good.
Two-factor authentication slowed that down. She has an Android phone, and the authentication is on her iPad, but that took me a while to figure out. I think we entered a different TFA code a dozen times over the course of three hours on her iPad. Then, I thought we were all set, but suddenly the Mac password didn’t work. And just like that, we were logged out of the computer, and Zoom was disconnected.
150 minutes of misery ensued. At the two-hour mark, I said, “just ship the Mac back to me, and I’ll start again.” Mom really didn’t want to do this or have to start from scratch, so I pressed on with a full password reset using iCloud. But, of course, the iCloud password was now no longer working. I have a feeling that Apple, in the background, invalided both of them somehow, but what really happened is still a mystery to me. The big hint was the endless “You have been locked out of …” message on iCloud and the regular prompts on the Mac to use iCloud to reset your password. Um – ok.
And, you guessed it, Zoom wasn’t able to connect us while she was logged out of her Mac, so this ended up be me dictating what to type, with her taking screenshots of her Mac screen and texting them to me since she was an on Android phone and we couldn’t simply Facetime.
Eventually, I figured out that I could reset her iCloud password on her iPad, which was still logged into iCloud (thankfully, I didn’t say “log out all devices from iCloud” when prompted over and over again. So we did that (more screenshots), we then did a full password reset on the Mac using iCloud (I never knew that was possible) and re-entered a new Mac password.
Three hours later, she got back into her Mac. We were exactly back where we started. Except now she was getting a message that the Mac couldn’t log into iCloud. Launch Zoom. Connect. Grant remote access. System preferences. Apple ID. Log out of iCloud. Log back in. Reboot (oops – bye Zoom). The bad message was still there.
Well, at least she can get back into her computer.
I’ll take on that last error message again tonight. And try to get to item #2 on her list. Maybe.
We all know the current approach to passwords and security is completely busted, but I just lived three hours of how incredibly broken it is.
And, before you say “just use the Touch ID,” neither of our fingerprints work. It’s not just Apple, it’s Clear, Global Entry, and the fingerprint process for a money transmitter license, so there must be something genetically wrong with us. Plus, I’m pretty sure that would have just made it worse somehow.
Mom – thanks for not chucking the new computer out the window and going back to your old one.
My long-time business partner Seth Levine has written a book with Elizabeth MacBride titled The New Builders: Face to Face with the TRUE Future of Business. It’s extraordinary – buy a copy now!
For many years, Seth has been frustrated about the entrepreneurial narrative around the White male tech founder. He’s been active as an investor and philanthropist around entrepreneurship in rural Colorado and with organizations, such as Entrepreneurship for All, that are focused on accelerating economic and social impact in communities nationwide through inclusive entrepreneurship. He’s been exploring this and investing both in the US and other places globally, including Africa and the Middle East.
Pre-Covid, he started working on The New Builders with Elizabeth MacBride. They made good progress, and I remember saying hello to Elizabeth in our conference room after she and Seth had taken it over for a few days of writing, back when we met in conference rooms. As the Covid crisis began, they started writing a series of OpEds that got a lot of play, including To save the US economy, policymakers need to understand small business 101, and Communities across America rush to save Main Street as federal relief for small business stalls. These articles foreshadowed what they were digging into as part of their research for The New Builders.
Seth and Elizabeth obliterate the myth of the White male tech founder. Through detailed history, current stories, and many interviews, they bring life to new businesses started by Black, Brown, Female, and Older people. These entrepreneurs, including immigrants, are the next generation of business owners. Post-Covid, they will be key to redefining our economy.
While this group of founders and business owners may not get the same press that tech entrepreneurs get, they profoundly impact their local communities. Their efforts are foundational to the health, development, and growth of American cities, enabling a future where people have the economic freedom to pursue their passions.
Seth and Elizabeth have issued a powerful wake-up call for America with The New Builders. It’s time to see, understand, and value the next generation of business owners.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve been involved in and advocating for legal immigration since 2010, when, with a half dozen other VCs and entrepreneurs, I co-created the Startup Visa initiative. Since then, I’ve been involved in many immigration-related activities, including the Global EIR program, a docu-drama called For Here or To Go, and direct involvement in helping many immigrants to the US get their visas and green cards.
When PSL started ideating on Boundless, I was lucky to be at the PSL office and participate in one of the extended sessions. I introduced them to Doug Rand, who I’d worked with during the Obama administration on several things, including Startup America and the USCIS EIR program. Shortly after, I met Xiao Wang, the entrepreneur PSL recruited to be the founding CEO of Boundless.
Working with Xiao and the team he’s built has been incredibly rewarding. In early 2017, the US government posture toward immigration took a strong negative turn, and from that point forward, Boundless faced massive headwinds at every turn. Rather than complain or fold up shop like several of their early competitors did, Boundless focused on a long-term vision of being the best possible resource for legal immigration into the US. As a result, their business grew with extremely high customer satisfaction while navigating the endless changes and stresses coming from the US government around immigration.
Last summer, Boundless acquired RapidVisa and significantly expanded its business and types of visas that it could support. Whenever a company acquires a similar-sized business, tough choices ensue as the two companies are integrated. The teams at Boundless and RapidVisa made these choices deliberately and thoughtfully, setting Boundless up for growth from a more meaningful base.
With the new Biden administration, the US government’s posture on immigration has shifted again. As a result, Xiao now finds himself as the CEO of the largest company in its category, with huge tailwinds after navigating and surviving four years of headwinds. I’m excited to be part of the next phase of Boundless’s journey.