Imagine that when you were a kid, someone told you that your dreams are important for the world and that what you do matters right now.
Now, match that with an epic adventure of creating future realities, throw in rockstar mentors, entrepreneurship skills training, tech, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and you have Dream Tank.
Big things happen when someone imagines an awesome new reality. While adults can do this, we are often stuck in a system that is limited in its thinking and driven by incrementalism. We are oppressed by the now, rather than inspired by what could be.
Kids see things in a different way. Take a look at the student climate strike that a 16-year-old girl in Sweden started. Greta Thunberg, who is currently on the cover of TIME magazine, started striking from school on Fridays last fall. She started a movement where 1263 strikes happened in 107 countries last Friday, May 24. The message is clear: why should I be studying for a future I won’t even have, so let’s take collective action now!
Dream Tank is a summer program designed for kids and teens who want to launch and implement their ideas to address real-world challenges. Like many other entrepreneurial things I’ve been involved in, it has its roots in Boulder. It is currently expanding to offer year-round accelerator-for-kids-and-teens programming through summer camps, after-school programs, and a homeschool program for teens.
This summer, Dream Tank has partnered up with different Boulder institutions such as the Museum of Boulder, The Riverside, Niche Workspaces, and Peregrine Crypto Cafe to create specific activities for different interests. Each program is designed for kids to choose a social or environmental issue they want to address. All of the summer programs end in a demo day event where the community is invited to listen, support, and partner with the kids.
Amy and I support Dream Tank because we want to support radically innovative new ideas for the future. If you want your kid or teen to have a voice, have fun, and learn some tools that can make their dreams a reality, sign them up for a summer camp at Dream Tank.
We’ve run the course four times now and have had over 15,000 people take it. Both Jason and I make several guest appearances (online) and I always get lots of email (and try to respond to all of them) with questions during the course.
It’s free, although it’s recommended that you have a copy of our book Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.
The course runs for seven weeks with the following syllabus.
- Week 1 – Introduction of key players/Form or join a
team Week2 – Fundraising/Finding the Right VC
- Week 3 – Capitalization Tables/Convertible Debt
- Week 4 – Term Sheets: Economics & Control
- Week 5 – Term Sheets Part Two
- Week 6 – Negotiations
- Week 7 – Letter of Intent/Getting Acquired
If you are interested, sign up now and tell your friends who are interested in venture deals.
Amy and I are long-time supporters of the Boulder International Film Festival. The 2019
Bias, one of the documentaries that we helped fund, is making its Colorado Premier and showing on Saturday, March 2,
Robin Hauser, the director, is spectacular. Amy and I supported her previous moving Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, which was dynamite, incredibly informative, and very accessible.
I expect Bias to be even better. I encourage you to buy a ticket and go see it at the BIFF 2019.
I arrived this morning to a downpour and a city that feels exceedingly waterlogged. I’m sitting at a coffee shop in Berkeley in advance of a talk I’m giving on Startup Communities, a topic that to me suddenly feels even more relevant than before given the self-inflicted chaos going on at a macro level in America. As things unfold, I’m calmly pondering the next 20 years as I put the final touches on a presentation for a talk at the Greenspring Associates annual meeting later this week.
My partner Ryan is going to the NewCo Shift Forum while I’m theoretically covering SaaStr (and doing a brief speaking bit tomorrow there and then at the Strictly VC event.) While reading Fred Wilson’s post Capitalism At A Crossroads, John Battelle’s efforts and conference spiked in relevance to me. But it’s too late to shuffle things this time around.
Last week was sunny in LA at the Upfront Summit. Mark Suster and team did an amazing job – I think this was one of the best two day conferences I’ve ever been to. If you want a quick taste, read Mark’s recent posts titled Why Was Winter in Venture Capital Funding so Short? and How Glenn Beck Won the Audience Over at the Upfront Summit.
My version of VC Conference Season ends on Friday, as there are endless opportunities in the next few months to spend two days to pretend to work while sitting with a bunch of other people at a conference, waiting to participate in a 30 minute panel or doing a fireside chat. I’m wrapping this week up and then I’m done for a while, as I shift my extra energy to maker mode. In this mean time, I’m pretty sure I won’t need a shower tomorrow to fit in around the bay area – I’ll just need to go outside and walk a few blocks.
If there’s one consistent concern I hear from the companies I work with, it’s the shortage of qualified tech talent. But just like in so many other areas, a Boulder entrepreneur has come up a great idea to address the problem that not only adds to the talent pipeline, but also brings in more diversity — a personal passion of mine.
Too often, aspiring engineers who lack the funds to pursue a computer science degree from a university or take part in a bootcamp find themselves locked out of technology jobs, despite often severe talent shortages. Think about it: if you need to pay rent and buy groceries, it’s pretty tough to quit, or work part time, and pay either tuition or boot camp fees. To address this, Heather Terenzio, founder and CEO of Boulder’s Techtonic Group, developed Techtonic Academy, an innovative solution in the form of Colorado’s first federally recognized by the Department of Labor technology apprenticeship. Rather than paying thousands in tuition or fees, qualified individuals can get their foot in the door to a tech career while earning a salary from their very first day.
Techtonic Academy provides underprivileged youth, minorities, women, and veterans both technical training and mentorship to become entry-level software engineers and pursue a career in the technology field. It works like this: the program looks for people with an interest in and aptitude for tech but little or no formal training — think gamers, self-taught hobbyists and the like — and puts them to work as apprentices. They work with senior developers to gain coding experience on real client projects under careful guidance and supervision while earning a livable salary. They are required to earn a series of accreditation badges covering coding skills and are constantly mentored in “soft” skills — things like being on time or working effectively on a team.
After about six months, graduating apprentices are qualified junior developers, ready to work. Some choose to stay at Techtonic Group, where they become part of a team to build custom software, mobile applications and content-managed websites, while others move on to Techtonic Group clients. If a client hires an apprentice, Techtonic does not charge a conversion fee, which can run into the thousands for a junior developer hired through a traditional recruiter.
As Heather told me, “I have an Ivy League education, but that’s not where I learned to code. I learned to code doing it on the job.” I think many software developers share that sentiment.
Heather welcomes all technology hopefuls and works hard to bring diversity to the program, recruiting women, veterans and those who aren’t in a financial position to quit work to pursue a degree or certificate. The benefits are obvious. Apprentices earn a living salary on their first day, and we as a tech community can support a program that puts more coders in the market with a keen eye toward diversity and opportunity while getting work completed.
Heather’s got a great idea and it gives all of us the chance to both find help on projects and add new, diverse talent to our community. Reach out to Heather if you’d like more information.
As someone who disdains software patents and is appalled by universities, especially publicly funded ones, acting as patent trolls, I applaud the MIT Media Lab’s move.
Eric von Hippel, my PhD advisor at MIT (I didn’t finish) and one of my early mentors, co-wrote two of the seminal papers on how free and open source software (FOSS – and now FLOSS) impacts innovation.
- How Open Source software works: “Free” user-to-user assistance
- Open Source Software and the “Private-Collective” Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science
Joi’s punch line says it all.
“As an academic institution, we believe that in many cases we can achieve greater impact by sharing our work.”
I couldn’t agree more and applaud Joi’s vision and leadership.
A little over eight years ago, Eric Norlin and I decided to start Defrag. It all started with an email exchange, wherein Eric thought one of my posts would make a good conference, I told him how much I disliked tech conferences, and we resolved to go build one that was done the right way.
Since that point, Defrag has grown into what I think is one of the most influential conversations in technology. Several years back, we consciously decided to limit Defrag’s size (number of attendees) because we were afraid of losing the intimacy of the networking. The result has been the growth of a community that gathers every year at the Omni Interlocken for two days plus of really amazing ideas, relationship building, and conversations.
Along those lines, just take a look at some of this year’s speakers:
Chris Anderson, 3D Robotics (ex-editor of Wired)
George Dyson (author of “Turing’s Cathedral”)
Amber Case (Esri)
Penny Herscher (FirstRain)
Helen Greiner (CyPhy Works)
John Wilbanks (Sage Bionetworks)
Shireen Yates (6Sensor Labs)
Paul Kedrosky (Bloomberg)
Kin Lane (API Evangelist)
Laura Merling (AT&T)
Danielle Morrill (Mattermark)
In short, drones, robots, APIs, big data, mobile, and history all coming together in one compact place.
Defrag is a unique experience, and if you’re local to Colorado, it brings some of the most influential names in tech into your backyard.
Lastly, I’d like to recognize how much work Eric has put into achieving some level of gender parity on the agenda, especially at the keynote level. Far too many conferences these days are doing a horrible job at this. Defrag has been out in front of this issue for a long-time, and I know that we work every year to get better at it. And, if you’d like to apply for a “Women in Tech” scholarship to Defrag, you can do so here.
Don’t miss out. Register now. Use the code “brad14″ to get $200 of the registration.
Jason and I are once again doing the Venture Deals online class as part of the Kauffman Fellows Academy. The course begins on Monday (9/29/14) so sign up now if you are interested.
This will be the third time we are doing this course. We are having a lot of fun with it and love the dynamics of working with the Kauffman Fellows Academy. The feedback has been generally excellent and we’ve tried to take into consideration all the suggestions we’ve heard about what we can do better.
We’ll be actively involved with hangouts during the course as well as on the message boards. If you are interested in really understanding how venture deals and startup financings work, please join us for the course.
Larry is one of the originals in the Boulder biotech scene, having founded numerous successful companies including NeXagen (acquired by Gilead) and Synergen (acquired by Amgen). He’s been a professor at CU Boulder since 1980 and was the chairman of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department from 1988 to 1992. So – when you think of the evolution of the Boulder startup community around life sciences, Larry has been involved since the beginning.
I’ve gotten to know Larry over the past few years through a few different vectors. He and my dad (Stan Feld) have become friends and my dad participates in Larry’s annual GoldLab Symposium. He and I have spent some 1:1 time together and I’m blown away by how similar some of our values and deeply held beliefs are. In Larry, I’ve definitely found a mentor and someone whose path I can learn from as I get older.
Next week on February 18th, I have the honor of having a conversation with him as a part of the Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurs Unplugged series. He’ll be telling his story, and with the help of the audience, I’ll explore his background that resulted in a successful career. I encourage you to join us.
David Cohen (Techstars Founder) and I are doing a Google Hangout On Air that is open to anyone on 11/13/13 (what a prime day for something like this). It’s part of a Google Enterprise series on Colorado pioneers driving the local economy and culture. We’ll be talking about Techstars, Colorado, tech, and anything else that comes up.
This came out of a series of interviews with Google recently where we explained why Foundry Group takes venture capital to the cloud with Google Apps and how Techstars assists tomorrow’s entrepreneurs with help from Google Apps.
Come join us! Register here if you want to hangout.