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CTRL/ALT/Disrupt: Brad Feld

CTRL/ALT/Disrupt is a knowledge sharing series from Koch Disruptive Technologies that brings thought leaders, tech entrepreneurs and disruptive pioneers to Koch – to share innovative ideas and business principles with employees and the public.

October 17, 2019

min read

For his 13th birthday in 1978, Brad Feld received an Apple II computer. He quickly bonded with the idea of humans and computers interfacing to solve problems and create a better future. He also began developing a relentlessly independent and entrepreneurial drive he has used identify and to fuel countless tech startups while helping nurture and grow startup communities ever since. It’s that drive and purpose that inform his approach to taking risks and entrepreneurship. And it has paid off. His achievements as an early stage-investor and entrepreneur include either founding or cofounding various successful companies, among them Foundry Group, Mobius Venture Capital, Intensity Ventures and TechStars.

Brad’s path recently brought him to the Koch Industries headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, where he shared his wisdom and experience on the topic of disruption, transformation and the entrepreneurial, startup culture mindset with employees.

Brad Feld on entrepreneurship


Brad Feld on fear

One of Brad’s keys to being successful, personally and professionally, is acknowledging and facing fear realistically. “The essence of being an entrepreneur is self-actualization. One of the biggest inhibitors of self-actualization is fear. And one of the biggest challenges for human beings is to actually confront and explore their fears. This is particularly important in an entrepreneurial mindset.”


Brad Feld on failure and experimentation

When you’re an entrepreneur, the failure often comes with the territory. Brad believes the ability to deal with failure in a realistic and healthy way, and to experiment, is key to a long-term successful entrepreneurial journey.


Brad Feld on goals

Having goals is important to achieving anything in life. Yet in Brad’s view, going beyond traditional goals to focus on what is meaningful to you personally is key to being a successful entrepreneur and finding your purpose.


Brad Feld on giving first

Among Brad’s principles for startups is the idea of “give before you get.” In his book “Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in your City,” Brad explains “…by investing time and energy up front without a specifically defined outcome, I have found that, over time, the rewards that come back to me exceed my wildest expectations.”


Brad Feld on predicting the future

“In my view of inside Koch industries, you have a massive advantage over so many other companies because you have a consistent, coherent set of operating philosophies and principles,” said Brad.

“It's not about ego fulfillment, it's about thought leadership. It's about studying the thing, building the thing, iterating on the thing. The only way you can do that is with a prepared mind. Willingness to take in lots of different things. Continue to explore. Ever change. Put things out there, keep trying them, have some work, have some not work, own your failures. Keep moving forward.”


This story is part of the CTRL/ALT/Disrupt speaker series presented by Koch Disruptive Technologies. Access past sessions on Koch Newsroom here and the entire series on KDT's website here.