Brad Feld

Tag: do more faster

Our friend Howard Lindzon (StockTwits CEO, TechStars Mentor and Investor) did an interview series with a number of the contributors to our book Do More Faster.  I’ll post one each day or so over the next week.  They are all short (15 minutes or so).  Howard starts the series with an interview with me and David Cohen (TechStars CEO and co-author with me of Do More Faster.)

This interview happens via Skype when David and I were at my house in Keystone (where we came up with the idea for the book) during the recent TechStars Managing Director retreat.  In NY starting tomorrow is the annual TechStars Alumni Retreat (gang – sorry I’ll miss y’all) followed by TechStars for a Day for folks that have applied to the New York program.

If you are an entrepreneur I hope this stuff inspires and informs you.  Or, in the worst case, occasionally amuses you (if you listen carefully around minute 9, you’ll learn about my “fuck me once” rule along with why I think work-life balance is important.)  Enjoy.


If you are in Boulder, come to my community hours today between 1 and 5 at the Boulder Bookstore on Pearl Street.  David Cohen (TechStars CEO and co-author of Do More Faster) and I will be hanging out all afternoon, talking to whoever shows up about anything that is on your mind, and signing copies of Do More Faster until the Boulder Bookstore runs out of them.

As readers of this blog likely know, I do monthly community hours (also known as random days) where I’ll meet with anyone for 15 minutes about anything they want to discuss.  Usually they are scheduled – today’s is an open free-for-all.

Come hang out, buy a book, and talk about entrepreneurship with me and David.


As part of our Do More Faster book tour, we’ve been having a pitch session each day called “Pitch More Faster.”  During the hour, we hear four pitches that are five minute each and give direct feedback / suggestions on the pitch itself (not the content or the business, but the pitch.)

In my experience, most people suck at the five minute pitch.  It’s really hard to do well.  There are lots of variants of suckage, including cramming a 30 minute pitch into 5 minutes, doing a 5 minute pitch for the first time (and having no comfort with the material), or talking at 732 word per minute and being impossible to follow.

We’ve done Pitch More Faster in about ten cities now and it’s been really interesting.  I think we’ve been helpful and have found that when everyone is in the room (e.g. all four companies that are presenting) the conversation becomes even more impactful and robust as by the fourth presentation everyone is weighing in with feedback.

I’ve noticed one consistent thing in virtually every presentation.  It’s what I call the “read vs. listen” problem.  Most of the presentations have slides with lots of words on them.  Since the presentation is only five minutes long, the stuff being said is important.  Most presenters know not to simply read their slides, so they say things that are not necessarily on the slides.  And that’s the essence of the problem.

I learned a long time ago (probably junior high school) that I learn by reading, not by listening.  In college, I was a “go to the minimum number of lectures that I can get away with but read everything” guy.  As an adult, I’d much rather read and write email that talk on the phone.  When someone wants to explain something to me, I’d much rather they just email me.  And when I want to really understand something, I need to sit quietly and read it (or about it).

Furthermore, when you talk to me, if you don’t keep my attention, or if I don’t purposely focus on you, I drift quickly.  If you’ve ever interacted with me, you may have noticed the look in my eyes when I drift.  It’s sort of the equivalent of my eyes rolling up into my head.  It’s definitely a me problem, not a you problem – it’s just hard for me to process a lot of verbal information for a continuous time.

Now, map this to the five minute pitch context.  I can concentrate on you for five minutes.  But if there are words on the screen, I go straight to the words and start reading them.  And then I can’t hear anything you are saying.  If there are a lot of words, I spend all my time on it trying to read everything and absorb it.  And I hear nothing.

It turns out there are a lot of people like me.  Many of them don’t realize it.  When you are presenting, you probably have a mix of “readers” and “listeners” in the audience.  In a five minute pitch, you want me to listen the entire time since your goal is to get me to engage and want to spend more time with you.  So the words on the slides are a distraction.

I’ve long been a fan of minimalist slides – a few words and/or a picture to use as a guide for whatever is going on.  I never completely understood why – now I know.  If I close my eyes the next time you are presenting to me, it’s because I’m trying to concentrate, not because I’m falling asleep.


David Cohen and I will be hanging out at the Boulder Book Store from 1pm to 5pm on Thursday 11/4/10.  Come see us, buy a copy of Do More Faster (and we’ll sign it), and ask us any questions you want.  It’ll be a chaotic version of my Community Hours – instead of having 15 minute slots I’ll just talk to whomever shows up.

If you are based in Boulder, come support your local community bookstore and have some fun with us.


As week two of the Do More Faster book tour winds down (with a full day at MSNerd doing the 2010 version of ADPrentice with Sameer Gandhi from Accel Partners and Mark Siegel from Menlo Ventures), I’m starting to feel like Caine from Kung Fu.

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?

Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.

Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?

Caine: No.

Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?

Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?

Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

Week three begins in New York on Monday, home of the newest TechStars program.  David Cohen and I have a series of events throughout the day, starting with Pitch More Faster, TechStars for an Hour, and Angels in the Architecture being hosted at Cooley’s office.  In the evening, we are having a TechStars party at The Hill from 6pm – 8pm being hosted by David Tisch, the Managing Director of TechStars New York.

I then travel to Quebec to give one of the keynotes at The Quebec City Conference.  Yes, I brought my passport.

On Wednesday I join up in the DC area with David Cohen to do the Pitch More Faster, TS4AH, and Angels in the Architecture Drill again at Cooley’s offices in Reston, followed by a party there.

Thursday finds us in Chicago at the Tech Cocktail Startup Mixology Conference followed by Tech Cocktail Chicago at John Barleycorn Wrigleyville.

I’ll be back in Boston for Friday for an NCWIT board meeting and a bunch of other stuff, followed by what I hope is a very chilled out weekend.


I love my partners at Foundry Group.  They keep me humble.  Very humble.  I speculate that the following video is the work of Jason Mendelson.  Payback will be sweet.


On a more serious note, Andrew Warner has a great interview with my co-author and TechStars CEO David Cohen up on Mixergy.

Oh – and if you haven’t already, go buy a copy of Do More Faster.


Well, week 1 of the Do More Faster book tour was a blast, but I’ve contemplated renaming it the “Do More Faster And Then Sleep All Weekend to Recover Book Tour” based on the empirical data from my 24 hour sleep session from Saturday at noon to Sunday at noon.

The book tour is in Boulder on Monday and Tuesday, then Denver on Tuesday night, and then Boston on Thursday.  If you haven’t yet signed up and want to come, there are still some slots open as follows:

Monday Night – 10/18 – Two Guys and a Book – Beer with Brad and David.   We’ll be at the Dairy Center for the Arts (2590 Walnut Street) from 7pm to 9pm tonight handing out book, drinking beer, and having fun.

Tuesday – 10/19 – We have two events during the day at the TechStars Bunker.  If you are interested in TechStars, come to TechStars For An Hour from 2:30pm – 3:30pm. Then from 4pm – 5pm we’ll be having an event called Angels in the Architecture where we will discuss the local angel and VC landscape with co-panelists Howard Diamond, Brad Bernthal, Dave Carlson, Ray Crogan, Ari Newman, and Paul Berberian.  Howard, Brad, Ari, and Paul also contributed to the book so come and get them to sign your copy!  You need to register for each event – TechStars For An Hour or Angels in the Architecture.

Tuesday Night – 10/19 – We are having the big Boulder / Denver event at the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup on Tuesday night.  As of now 425 people are coming so don’t miss out.  We have a bunch of the contributors from the book attending – maybe I’ll make them read their chapters.

Finally, on Thursday, I’ll be in Boston.  We are doing an Angels in the Architecture event from 2:30pm – 3:30pm and then heading over to the MASS Challenge from 5pm – 9pm.


David Cohen and I were interviewed on KRON Channel 4 in San Francisco for Do More Faster.  It was our first TV interview around the book and was fun.

It’s a good example of giving more than you get and letting the universe do its thing.  Gary DiGrazia, the CEO of Mindjamz, emailed me with some questions about his startup.  I didn’t know Gary but as is my habit I gave him some quick feedback.  We went back and forth a few times and then he told me that he helps produce the KRON 4 Weekend Morning News show and asked if I wanted to do an interview about Do More Faster on it.  Um – duh – yeah!  Two weeks later we tape an interview which just aired.

Karma Matters.  Oh – that’s one of the chapters in Do More Faster (written by a long time friend of mine, Warren Katz, founder/CEO of MaK Technologies.)


I periodically write the first column for PE Hub.  Dan Primack, who is now writing a great column at Fortune called Term Sheet used to do this; there are now guest writers (including me) who do this column.  Yesterday, I wrote a column about the book that David Cohen and I just wrote called Do More Faster.  Enjoy!

Writing a book is hard. Really hard. Much harder than I thought. So I’m extra satisfied that “Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup” is finished.

Ive been helping create software and Internet companies for over 25 years, starting with my first company, Feld Technologies, in 1985 when I was in college. By 1987 I had a partner, a mentor (my father) and a company that was capitalized with $10. (Yes, 10 dollars.) We bootstrapped the business because we had to and by 1993, when we sold the company to a large public company, we’d built a nice, consistently profitable business.

Since then, Ive been involved with creating and funding hundreds of companies both as an angel investor and a VC (now at Foundry Group). Four years ago I co-founded TechStars with David Cohen (CEO of TechStars) to help first-time entrepreneurs create new software and Internet companies while simultaneously working to energize the Boulder, Colo., entrepreneurial community, which was vibrant but small. Boulder’s population is just 100,000.

Over the past four years, my partners at Foundry Group and I have spent a lot of time talking about, thinking about, and studying how software and Internet companies get started. We’ve done this through our seed investments as well as through our activity at TechStars, starting in Boulder, then expanding to Boston, Seattle and New York.

A year ago, David and I decided to try to put our thoughts down in a book. Ive been blogging–along with my partners–for a number of years. So it seemed logical to organize some of our thoughts into a book. One weekend about a year ago, David and I holed up at my house in Keystone and sketched out the first draft of what became “Do More Faster.”

We decided to write a book by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Rather than preach, we gathered first-person accounts from the entrepreneurs who have gone through the TechStars program and their mentors. It is primarily made up of 80 short chapters (two to three pages each) and organized by seven themes: idea and vision; people; execution; product; fund-raising; legal and structure; and work/life balance. David and I then wrote a bunch of connective tissue between each chapter to create a cohesive narrative.

The title of the book comes from a common phrase heard around TechStars. Startups have an important advantage over larger companies when they use the philosophy of doing more faster. By trying more things in a short period of time, they can adopt their product better to the market and their customers. It’s also related to the idea that TechStars is a three-month program and doing more faster is a survival skill for both the program and for early stage entrepreneurs.

“Do More Faster” is also the title of one of the chapters, while the other 79 take as their titles other one-liners from TechStars, such as “Trust Me, Your Idea Is Worthless,” “Usage Is Like Oxygen For Ideas,” “Hire People Better Than You,” “Be Tiny Until You Shouldn’t Be,” and “Seed Investors Care About Three Things.” Each of the chapters stands alone and includes a first-person account from me, David, a TechStars entrepreneur or mentor. While we originally envisioned that “Do More Faster” would target first-time entrepreneurs, now that it’s finished we are hopeful that it is valuable for any entrepreneur, investor, and early employee of a startup.

When I reflect on the process of writing this book, I realized that I accomplished several goals at the same time that are all related to my lifetime commitment to continually learn, with a specific focus on entrepreneurship. At the most obvious level, I learned what it took to write a book and become a published author. But the process of writing the book gave me a lot of time to reflect on what it takes to create a new company, the attributes of a successful entrepreneur and how entrepreneurial communities work.

Most importantly, it exposed me to the deep thoughts of over 70 other entrepreneurs and mentors who contributed to both TechStars and the book. Hundreds of companies later, I’m still learning all the time from other entrepreneurs, especially those doing it for the first time. I hope you will also.


One of the events on our Do More Faster book tour will be something we are calling Angels in the Architecture.  Mike Platt from Cooley (one of our book tour sponsors) came up with the idea of doing an hour long session with a panel of entrepreneurs, angel investors, and VCs discussing the dynamics between angels and VCs.  Having been all three, I find this a particularly important topic and it’s something we spend a lot of time discussing at TechStars in the third month as the teams gear up for their financings.

We originally had these as closed events, but we ended up with some additional space and decided to open them up.  While the west coast ones are short notice (e.g. Tuesday in Palo Alto, Wednesday in LA, and Friday in Seattle) if you are interested I hope you can make it.  The Eventbrite signups are below:

Palo Alto: Tuesday 10/12/10 – 5pm – 6pm: Angels in the Architecture

Los Angeles: Thursday 10/14/10 – 4pm – 5pm: Angels in the Architecture

Seattle: Friday 10/15/10 – 4pm – 5pm: Angels in the Architecture

I hope to see you there!