Brad Feld & David Cohen: "Building Techstars" | Talks at Google
You. Hi. Everyone how are you today. Doing. Well so. My name is Mary Grove and I'm the director of Google, for entrepreneurs and, it's my pleasure to welcome you to today's, talk before. We get started just a quick administrative. Note we are live streaming and recording this, so if I could ask you to please silence. Your phones and computers so the pings don't get, captured as well that'd be great. So. It's my pleasure to introduce two. Of the amazing, leaders in our industry who, really need no introduction, David. Cohen and Brad Feld of TechStars. TechStars, has been one of Google for entrepreneurs strongest. Partners for. Several years now and we are huge fans and appreciative, of all they've done to develop startup, ecosystems, worldwide, just. A bit of background on David, David. Is the co-founder and co-ceo, of tech stars he. Is a serial entrepreneur with, two successful exits, he, founded pinpoint technologies, acquired by Zola, Medical Corporation and, ear. Peter comm, a music, service that sold to sonic suave David. Is also an active startup advocate advisor, author board. Member you, can read many of his thoughts on these topics at, David, G Cohen comm he. And Brad also co-authored, do, more faster techstars, lessons, to accelerate, your startup a bit. Of background on Brad Brad. Is the co-founder of tech stars an early, stage investor, and entrepreneur, himself since 1987. Prior, to co-founding. The foundry, group he co-founded Mobius. Venture capital, and intensity. Ventures Brad. Is active on several boards he, is the chair, of the National Center for Women and information technology, and he's, on the board of path forward, the Kauffman fellows and défi ventures Brad. Is also a prolific speaker, and writer he's. Written a number of books as part of the startup revolution, series you, can check out his thoughts and more at the, blogs, fell thoughts and venture, deals so, without further ado please join me in welcoming David, Cohen and Brad Feld. Thank. You very much. Lots. Of familiar faces in the room for you guys yes welcome, back to Google feels. Warm and comfortable. Absolutely. So. Lots, of topics I'd love to cover today and also take questions from our audience as well so let's start just with a bit of background I'd love to hear a bit, about the founding story behind tech sarees what was your mission when, you started and how has that evolved. Sure. You. Know the whole thing's been an evolution but the founding, story that's kind of fun is I had never. Met Brad before at that time but it was reading his vlog like I'm sure a lot of people do still. Because. It's an amazing resource, have. This idea around tech stars being this mentorship driven, you, know accelerator, process. But. Really didn't have much beyond that in terms of the network around it so I went. To get a meeting with with, you and, your. Assistants said no problem you know Brad does these random days that he'll meet with literally, anybody so I guess I qualified, for great great, and. It took me just a short, four months. To get the meeting the. Assistant picked, a time so 15 minute meeting I remember she were you were doing them back-to-back all, day long and I. Walked into that meeting and slid a piece of paper across the table it's folded, in half and it was basically the idea for tech starters and I said I'd love to have you involved in, some way and. Ten. Minutes into the meeting we, were done because Brad. Had said I'm in I love the idea as long as you're. Not a crook or a flake, because. We had just met so I'm not sure where you are on those those topics, today still learning it's still learning what, year was this this was. 2006. I, think and. You. Know from there you, know Brad helped connect a lot of the mentors into that first program. That would later become known as an accelerator, that word didn't exist back then and we, apologize for creating the word that. Got used to know reused and of, course from, there that network build we built the accelerator, programs and it's really grown from there over ten years, I'm. Interested in you know the evolution of accelerators. Generally, and they we sort of saw this big proliferation. Five. Or six years ago we saw the business models sort of, fail. Around that what's, what's your current thought on the landscape what models are working what have you found that works well in terms of running. Scaling, growing. Accelerators, I. Would. Have a pre, lude to that and then let you sort of talk about current reality.
The. Evolution, of tech stars from, where, we were in 2007, to where we are in 2018. Is. Important. Because it's like the evolution of many you, know really successful, startups right you created. It with a premise, I, would, suggest that most startups have no idea whether the premise is valid, or not no, regardless, of the enthusiasm of the founders including us at the time, we. Also, had our, view. Of a downside case where. The downside case was we lose all our money but we make some friends right. So it's sort of our worst case and running that first program in Boulder in 2007. Was that we did we'd make some new friends with, entrepreneurs. The. 2007. Program was very successful and, we decided to do exactly the same thing in 2008, so, rather than go, on a journey to start to expand, or you. Know turn it into something different we're like yeah we're not we did a bunch of things right we did much things wrong we. Can improve a lot of stuff let's let's do this experiment again and we, didn't really start expanding, TechStars, until, 2009. When. We got pulled by some entrepreneurs, to. Boston and that was when we did a second program so all of a sudden we've got a program Boulder program Boston we. Then got pulled to Seattle, so we had a third program. We. Then got pulled to New York so we had a fourth program he, language. Is important here we use, the word pull deliberately, was we were having essentially, other people, who we wanted to participate with pull us to do it versus. Us say we're gonna expand, into, these vectors. The. Same phenomena, happened with our. First, corporate, partners we had never really thought hard about corporate, accelerator, the dynamic of what, those relationships might look like. And you. Know the very first one was somebody who came to us and said we want to do what you're doing but. With with our ecosystem. Programs. Like Startup. Weekend you. Know which. That's how we met you know that's how we met and how. You know Google, for entrepreneurs has, been incredible, supporter of it for very long time similar. Kind of phenomenon right it was something that you. Know the very first program, happened in 2007, in Boulder during that first Boulder program because a couple of people said oh let's try this let's see if it works I have no idea if it's interesting or not but what the hell my.
Role In that first one was that, I provided. The funding for the food. Very. Important, and I'm sorry if I didn't have the funding for the food because my partner south of line provided, the other half the funding for the food but. We hung out you know you sort of have this thing that unfolds, over timing gets pulled in. Lots of different directions and I, think that's a a key. Operating. Perspective. For not just tech stars but for many of the, companies. That go through tech stars or many startups, is that the, ones that are really successful get, pulled and, you. Know as a start-up if you feel like you're pushing into something, looking. Harder, for the place where all of a sudden like, to say people people, won't let you hold on to it they just want to rip it out of your hands cuz they want it so badly whether it's a product or a service or, a technology, and as. That. Phenomena, starts happening then, layering a strategy, of what you're doing on top of that is key because now you have enough to work with, versus. Sort of the you, know maybe maybe, it's sort of historical, business, context, creates your framework figure, out your strategy what's, your product going to be what's the market gonna be and you basically create this hypothesis, completely, in the absence of any real data and. So our journey really from the beginning to current reality, and, sort. Of hand it to you to talk about current reality and what success looks like is the, dynamics, of pull. Versus. The dynamics, of push it's, an excellent observation and, you know to that point davidann in terms of painting the portrait of current reality there, are so many components techstars from. The city programs, to the corporate accelerators. To the community. Programs the venture fund can you just give us the quick penas the map of who is tech stars today what's your scale in real I'll tie it back to the sort, of other the, other topic so, today, you know we're 10 11. Years and almost. People. Know us for the accelerators, there's about 40 of those that, we run so about 400 companies, a year. Being accepted into those in, 11. Countries about, 40 locations. You, know the the tens, of thousands of companies that apply there we're picking from that view, right so a lot of those are coming through the Startup Weekend activity. Which. Now having, started in Boulder Colorado the same summer, that techstars started has. Grown to be this global phenomenon as well, that's. In about a thousand. Events, a year now in, 120. Countries so literally, all over the world. And. Then you also have the the venture capital piece which. Follows on in our own companies, sort of capital, that's targeted, and you know participating. In their success as they grow so, those are the pieces and when we think about it today is very different from how we think about it back then you. Know I think, if. It were an accelerator, in Boulder, Colorado it, wouldn't be very exciting, business but, what it is as a product, today is really a network right. And it the, way we describe it is it's the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and to, do that we have to be everywhere that entrepreneurs, are and want to succeed and build. Products along their journey of entrepreneurship, from the moment they are inspired, all the way through IPO, right. And so today. A lot of scope and scale back then I think like so many accelerators. Today on the market thinking. About it as a, thing. In a place that does 10 companies a year or whatever you. Know it turns out wasn't really a business the real business is all of that put together, we've. Seen tremendous growth and sort, of the. Corporate vector that Brad was describing they. Were running accelerators, now for lots of major corporations. And. Really getting to work with some amazing entrepreneurs. To the point where yeah. Today when you think about the scale of it about, 1 in 20 of the series, aids that happen in the u.s. the 5 million and up tight financing, start with us as, the first investor, so, it really, really. Is something that now has impact across the, entrepreneurial ecosystem I did had a couple things into that key. On the the word Network that David used in one. Of the operating principles from the beginning was this idea of a network model, versus. Any sort of hierarchical, model. Book that I wrote in in 2012. Called startup communities, talked. About this notion of how startup, communities. Evolve, as networks versus hierarchies, you can't organize them, there isn't a CEO of a startup community, and. For tech stars we've tried to build this very very broad network as part, of that phenomena. We've, scaled horizontally.
Instead Of vertically right. Which is something that should be near and dear to Google because. I think you, know Google is probably maybe, one of the first companies to really to, really start to scale horizontally in, terms of technical architecture, in a significant, way and. If you think about it instead of having you. Know 10 companies go through the boulder program in, 2007. And you, know 50 companies go through the ball to program in 2018. We have 10 companies go through the boulder program and that. Horizontal scaling, where each program has 10 companies but now we have 40 companies happening, all over the world generates, 400, companies a year that effectively. Techstars is investing, in through the. Accelerated program it, allows that network to grow worldwide. And it's built on a principle. Which I know that Mary shares from. All the stuff we've done in the past which is that entrepreneurship, can. And should exist everywhere and that you, can build vibrant, startup communities, and significant, companies all over the world and, I think that's been something you know we've included. In our thinking from the very beginning you know in 2007. You, know the idea of starting, a company in Boulder Colorado, and, not that insane. But nobody would look at Boulder and say Boulder is this incredible, place to start companies. You. Know people are certainly headed your way these days well and and they you know today you know Boulder as a data point if, you look, at what I think is a really interesting number, which, is not the amount of dollars, invested in a geography, or the amount of companies created into geography. But. If you think about entrepreneurship. And entrepreneurship. Over. A long period of time it's, the, number of companies, per capita, in a geography, and if. You actually look at the number of companies per capita, in different, cities around the world, boulders. At the top of that list not number, two not number three but at the top lists of relatively, small plays with, this incredible, density, but. It's not only that go back to this network model, right, google has now a very big presence in Boulder, just. Finished a campus, there you know that can house a couple of thousand people I think it's twelve hundred people are so going to three thousand, and that, came from the acquisition of a 40-person. Company, in 2004. Called at last, that. Was based in Boulder you may know the Sketchup Sketchup. Right, and so the you know the expansion. Of that and the integration, by, the way Google in Boulder is an extraordinary. Corporate. Citizen, Scott. Green we, have the sort of local you. Know people, of the year entrepreneur of the Year businessperson the year award he he got one. Of the couple of awards yesterday. And. You, know it Scott's a good example of that network, model, right, and continuing, to engage not just in the context, of whatever I'm going to do here is for me as a Google employee but, I'm part of this geography and, so I want to make sure that the activity. And vector and interaction, around technology entrepreneurship. Innovation is, something that's broadly distributed I think that's been an operating principle of this as well for us let, me build on that you know you talked about the density you talked about the the talent pool Boulder. Is a great example so let's zoom out a little bit and talk about your, perspective at the ecosystem level and you you have been really. Investing, globally, in these communities can, I ask what are some of the key ingredients you know aside from talent and density that you think are required for, start-up communities to really thrive and take off, so. I. Have, a very. Very. Simple, starting point from the book that I wrote in 2012. I'm. In the process of writing a sequel to it that'll come out later this year, around. The notion of how to create a startup community anywhere and it's been very interesting a lot of what I've learned over the last six or seven years has also come from the work with startup weekend and up global and Google for entrepreneurs so, there's a lot of reflective, learning.
The. Core principles, are really easy and, they're. A little, bit counterintuitive to, conventional. Wisdom conventional, wisdom was that you had to have a really strong research university, of the the center of it or else nothing, would happen. Another, piece of conventional, wisdom was that it had to be in a place. Excuse. Me where there was a lot of sort, of top-down economic. Activity, and influence and it. Turned out neither of those two things are true the. The, key principles, are first. That the leaders of the startup community have to be entrepreneurs, so, you have to have this motive force of entrepreneurs. Who are continually. Investing. In building in their startup community, not, government, not university. Not, big companies, not, nonprofits, that are organized around it those are all support, functions, I called, them feeders in that book which is a word I probably wouldn't use again because it was too pejorative, relative, to how people interpreted, it but, this idea that they're different they play different roles in this if you don't have entrepreneurs. Who are playing that leadership, role the. Startup community won't grow any progress the. Second, is that you have to have a very, long term view, at. Least 20 years and people talk about for example Silicon. Valley and the Bay Area the Bay Area is 110, 120, years into its entrepreneurial, journey you. Really, have to have this very, long-term view of what you're trying to do and so many organizations. Again. University, government, even, big companies run, on rhythms, that are short term right, quarterly, annually, how, much progress did we make this year what are the metrics that show that our startup community grew doesn't. Matter right. Play a much longer game, the. Third is that you have to be inclusive of anyone, who wants to engage in any level and you, know the notion of inclusion. And diversity and inclusion in the last I. Say. 24 months has started to become something that is a front, of mine conversation. But, this idea that anyone, regardless. Of you. Know gender race socioeconomic background. Educational, background, experience, can. Be and should, be able to engage in the startup community is key and in fact the more diversity you have going, on in that mix the more vibrant that startup community, is and. Then the last is that you have to have this super saturation, of activities. And events going on all the time that engage people around entrepreneurship. Not, just entrepreneurs. So, it's again this notion of inclusion, around the system of anyone, who has any interest in entrepreneurship. And innovation, the. Interesting, challenge, here. Which. Is, really important is that as. Entrepreneurial. Activity. Increases, and as startup communities become more vibrant often, the, signal-to-noise ratio, gets really out of whack a lot, of noise not enough signal and you see this especially in. Places. Like the Bay Area where there's just an enormous amount, of stuff going on you can't figure out where you should engage or, you can engage in everything and then never get anything done because you're spending all your time running around doing stuff that has nothing to do with making forward progress and, so, in, the context, of the startup community and, the maturation, of them making, sure that the signal, stays high and making. Sure that the leaders are not, necessarily curating, what happens but, that, everybody can do what they want but that there's still an engagement, model that such. Including. By the people who have been engaged and involved in the startup community for a long period of time. Thank. You Brad and we can't wait to read more about that in your next book which comes out when, this year later, later. This year. So. David building upon that you know brad touch briefly upon diversity. Inclusion and its, importance to tech, stars i know in, today is of course International, Women's Day thanks for spending it with us can. You talk to us a little bit David about the culture of tech stars and how how, you were addressing building. Inclusion within your team part 1 and part 2 how do you advise you, know you're working with entrepreneurs or building companies from the ground up how do you advise them to think about layering. This mentality and from the get-go you, know it's funny because we didn't, think enough about it I think in the beginning of tech stars there. Are four founders they all happen to be men, and. I think you know if, thinking about it early is that the first piece of advice so we've been building a lot of content.
And. A lot of process. And programs to help startups. Who are at, day one sort of to think about this stuff because, in the end it's it's not only the right thing to be thinking about and do but it's gonna make the, companies better which is gonna make us better as investors in, those, companies so, you, know over the over the years, certainly. Worked. On ourselves so, that when we work on our, portfolio it. Has it sort of hits home with them I think you know four. Years ago now something, like that we. Launched something called the tech stars Foundation, which Google's been a huge supporter, of. And that is focused on diversity. Inclusion in, tech, and. So we've been experimenting. With what's the right model there you know we think one of the things we're good at is, identifying. Scalable, organizations. Startups. Right they can go and have impact. If. We can do that by finding organizations. Or early on, that. Are going to have this impact long term then we can support them and that's useful and helpful so now. We've funded that with, a bunch of our own money our companies, have funded it we've, had incredible. Support, from partners and yet. Today it's a reasonable-sized, foundation. That has, made on. The order of 10 or so grants. But also has its own programs, to try, to, help. Have an impact, very. Early one. Of those was to five enters which is now something that the whole venture community really, understands, and talks about but. Back then yeah, we were a very early supporter, of it so I think we we, can play that role in helping identifying, something that can have an impact, what, defi does brad's. Now super involved so maybe you could you, could do their commercial, if you'd like interests, an amazing organization yes it's a lot of fun so. Happy to and then I'll make another comment sort of especially specifically. On the gender, gender. Diversity dynamic, that's something that I've learned from my my time at and see with, which. Google also has been a good, long-term support, on defy. Provides. Programs, for, entrepreneurial. Programs for people who are incarcerated and, a. Bunch, of Google folks, have gone to defy programs now a couple hundred two hundred three hundred yeah. So it's become a Rick, and I've been friends for a long time and. I think the first program, that you went to the one in Lancaster, that I want you the first time right so we both went for the first time do the same program and what you do you've been in prison they've been in prison together. The. Program is called, training IITs, or entrepreneurs, and training so, you, know the people who are incarcerated. Go, through a six-month process that's, in in, prison, it's. An educational, program. In. California. There's quite a wide number of programs, there's, a couple of other states where it's pretty prevalent now Colorado, and Nebraska are two of the ones that are growing quickly.
That. Six-month, program, has, a bunch of mentoring, interim, mentoring, periods, or sort of business mentoring activity. The. Curriculum. Is called become CEO of your life and the ideas around the notion of second chances so, there's a book that just came out last week called second chances by Kat Hoch who's the CEO of defy and it's it's, cat story but cat story against the backdrop of her own second chance and against. The backdrop of giving people who have been incarcerated second, chances. The, culmination is, graduation. Day which is a full day it was 12 hours for us we spent at a prison the first one in Lancaster. That. Was a level 4 maximum-security, prison, with, 50 EITS, there about 75, volunteers and, it's. A combination of a pitch competition a, graduation, and then a bunch of socialization, exercises. And for. Those of us who were the volunteers, you. Do, a day like that in any sort of new, context, and maybe you'll have one insight or two insights and you'll get those insights, over and over again throughout the course of the day so, you're like wow that's I never thought of the world that way before but. Then that gets repeated my. Experience, the first time I did this program with defy was I had 20, different epiphanies. Over the course of the day so they just come at you from all kinds of different directions in all kinds of different contexts. And it's, a reflective, phenomena, so the EITS, are having the same experience. That you're, having in, terms of multiple, epiphanies, from them and how you engage here's. A great. Example from, a program we just did in Colorado where, our governor governor. Hickenlooper came, to it and there's an exercise called walk the line where you get a bunch of questions asked and if the answer is yes you go to the line if the answer's no you walk back from the line and and. The questions become pretty intense but one of them had was have you ever been in jail and. Our. Governor walks up to the line and of. Course everybody on all the EITS are on the line and they're looking at each other like our governor, and he, admitted it right. And was his story there no you. Don't ask the story right and. By the way his his team of which it was a half dozen people they're like the. Governor just watch. Right, so but you have that moment over and over against it's extraordinarily, powerful, and if you have any interest in it its. To 5n chores is. The name of the organization and, I'm Brad it felt calm so you can send me a note I'll get you plug into it it's, creating entrepreneurs, where there were none and that the EM the impact. Of it is I don't know the numbers you may know him but recidivism, meaning, how you're going to go back to jail once you're released that rate is very high normally, I think, it's like three or four percent after you define. Those people it's like three percent yes sir seventy, percent and. I think it's in California maybe you asked seventy percent recidivism, within. Five years for. People who have had violent crimes it's, under five percent if they've gone through the defy program and it's enough numbers now where that's actually relatives together you're trying to support things like that that are gonna have this long term scalable, impact really, change you know really change how things work and by the way doing a pitch competition.
With. With an, you know the, the prisons I've been in have been all men with these guys is absolutely, fascinating because like you see these guys who are totally, comfortable in certain contexts just like completely. Terrified. Nervous, uncomfortable. And like having to work through that and just their own self-esteem that they're working through that and that different, context, then wherever. They land the, other one I just want to do quickly was National, Center for Women and information technology. Especially in the context, of International. Women's. Day I I've. Been involved in at organization, for over a decade chair, for a number of years it's. About a ten million dollar a year nonprofit. Based in also, in Boulder but. But worldwide and its goal is to help more girls and women get involved in computer science started. In the mid 2000. So before people, were really focusing on that it's it's an organization, that's been very. Inclusive so, instead, of it trying to like control the programs much of the money that we raise we give to other organizations. To. Fund and help support programs they are doing, as. Part. Of that I learned a very powerful thing that is, said. Some but I don't think it's being said enough right now, around. The dynamics, of role roles, men can play in the, context, of gender diversity and it's especially true like you know when you have to claim your own identity as a 50 year old white guy right. I mean that's what I am and that's I'm gonna be. 52. Trying. To take a couple. And. I'm barely on my for. The. Phrase we started using a long time ago and so you went through and you it's a research based organizations, they've done ten our research around this and if you again you're interested in see which org, is, a website and just do a search for male advocate, and the. Freights today that's being used as male allies I think it's a more accessible phrase the male advocate, but the phrase we use for a number of years was male advocate, and this notion of, the.
The Mistakes so many men make around gender diversity is they try to solve the problem, hi. Here I am I'm now going to solve this problem and that's, completely wrong, the, right approach, from, an advocacy or a lie approach is hi, Here I am I understand, and acknowledge that there's a problem I'm going, to participate, in helping find, a solution to this problem and, this. Sort of notion of being an advocate or an ally rather, than the one who's trying to control, or develop, is so incredibly, important, and I think it's one of the reasons why me to, hit. A tipping point is that, me too was generated, by women, in basically. In Hollywood that, amplified. This, phenomena, that had been going on but, it was driven by those women and the men who have supported it didn't, co-opt it didn't control it didn't try to change it and. I would just use that as a metaphor that I think is so important, around this idea for me at least of inclusion, when you're part. Of essentially, a privileged, part of the cycle, is to, try to be an advocate, and Ally rather. Than the controller, or solver, which, again for a lot of people in position to privilege your position of power is hard that's a difficult frame, of reference to be in but, it's a really important, starting point I appreciate. That so much I think it's it's. Exactly, the right way to frame the challenge, the opportunity, and you guys have been at, the forefront of leading on many parts and I think on the techstars. Foundation, piece specifically, there. Aren't there, are no other organizations, I can think of who are investing, it's, almost like seed funding for nonprofits, right now we're working towards diversity and inclusion in tech and so you. Know I applaud you and thank you for those efforts I want. To zoom out a bit and talk about policy. You're, both active and sort of advocating for entrepreneur, friendly tech policies, what's, the the current. Climate. Around tech policy what's one sort of, anything. You're highlighting for your entrepreneurs, at the moment and how they can be. Active advocates. We're. Not being sued by the, speak. For yourself like. The. Action. Isn't there's there's an, emotional. Reaction I have to the questions I'm gonna have the emotional reaction first. Government. Especially. Federal. Government makes me very tired. And. It's. An emotional like. That's my my emotional reaction it makes me very tired not, because I'm cynical. Angry, unhappy whatever. It's just slow, and. That's. Actually by design in the US right, like our democracy. The one of the operating, principles of it it's hard to change things lots, of things change right, but it's hard to change the long arc over time for, good or for bad right. Both sides of that so it's it's it is, a thing that I've learned by being involved. On a couple of vectors, for, me personally the two things that I've cared the most about, as. It applies to tech. Are. Immigration. Reform. And. Patent. Reform on immigration. Reform front personally, I believe that a human, being should be able to start, a business wherever, in the world they want and a, human being should be able to go anywhere they want in the world and, you, know work for where they want to work like that mobility in the US the sort of mobility across state, borders, is something. That's made our country incredibly. Powerful, the, ability, to have people who for many many years everybody, wanted to come to the u.s. to start their business, and the. US was the innovation engine of the US was so enhanced, by that like, the idea that there's any, meaningful, friction, for somebody who wants to come to the u.s. to be able to number. One come to the u.s. number two start a business in the u.s. is. Ludicrous. To me if you, wind the clock back to, even. 2009, 2000 10 if. You're an entrepreneur in, another, country, and you want to come to the US you, have to navigate this Byzantine system. To get the appropriate, visa to. Be able to start. Your company in the US and there's very few ways to do that it's, very difficult and so there is a group of us in 2009. Or 10 that started, something called the startup visa movement, to, try to get a visa that. Allowed entrepreneurs. To come to the u.s. to do it and one of the things that stimulated, that for me personally was, to techstars companies.
That. Had non-us, founders in our second, program, two. Of them were from Canada really, really, scary country, lots. Of dangerous people, I build a wall up over though yeah. One. Direction and then, the, other the other founders. Were from Europe one the one I remember was from France I think one was from England and. They. After techstars was over they wanted to stay in Boulder and they couldn't get, visas to stay and had to go back to Canada and Europe, to run their companies and I thought that was insane, so. I've put a lot of energy personally. And I'd say sort, of around the system. Within tech stars we've gotten reasonably, good at helping. Founders. That are non-us founders be able to figure out how to stay in the u.s. after they've gone through the program but, we've also expanded, geographically. Very, aggressively. To make sure there's lots of places around the world where we, can engage from. A policy, perspective I think this is the biggest. Industry. Policy, issue, that. Has to do with long-term u.s. competitiveness, because. I think what's happening, on, a very systemic, basis you've argue already seen these massive, shifts of movement of capital to other parts of the world and yes, the amount of capital that's, being deployed against startups and technology, companies is growing very rapidly but. That ratio is, changing, equally rapidly, away from the US and there, are many many entrepreneurs that. I know internationally. Who don't, aspire to come to the u.s. to start their companies anymore. And I think that's a that's a tough one the, the, other one that I care about which is his patents, I. Would. Say personally I. Am. I'm kind of at the the, patent system is so, tangled. Up in itself that, it'll just sort of work itself over time there. Are then second, order issues which are happening right you know I mean Google I know is in the midst of sort of all the dynamics, around the election and, news and news curation. You. Have this whole phenomena, around. Cryptocurrency. And, how, to think about cryptocurrency. Um. Many. Of these things are from. My frame of reference around. Innovation. Areas. Where. Entrepreneurs. Should be respectful. Of the current context. That they're operating in like our advice is be respectful, of the context. But. At the same time don't be unwilling, to challenge. Whatever that context, is I. Think, a mistake that plays, out over and over again is entrepreneurs. Ignore. The context, completely, pretend, like the context, either doesn't exist or is irrelevant and then, downstream, you. Might end up being very successful as a business, but you create an enormous, dislocation. Second-order, effects, by not being respectful, of that context, going in Thank, You Brad thank you I'm avid readers of both of your blogs and, David. I interesting. Post you made about a comment, about making. Sure to have a pessimist, in the room can you tell us a bit more about that. Sure. I think I consider you not to mist, you. Have to be to be an entrepreneur right but, it's it's also important to surround, yourself with, at, least one person in a, decision-making context, that's, not necessarily, one of these pessimists, that's like you know that'll never work but. More the you know look, I'm really worried about this, or that and I think too many entrepreneurs. Surround. Themselves with people that are like, themselves. Not. Enough diversity in the room of diversity, of thought in this case, to. Where if, you don't have that you end up just you, know going down the wrong path and it can be this asymmetric, risk where that. Thing didn't work out and it ends up blowing up everything and the stakes can high as these companies grow and I just had a couple recent examples, of, witnessing.
That And. Just a little reminder to have somebody in the room that that's very smart very respected. That, isn't, necessarily, just an, optimist, right says well yeah. Maybe this could go wrong and let's at least think about what could happen I've. Seen it save companies so that's what I wanted to write about it that's great I had, one just quick thing is it, important. On, the, dimension of diversity is, that you. Know there is a whole. Language around culture, and you want to add people to your people your company, that fit your culture and I, think that's nonsensical. If, you are simply adding people that fit your culture especially as a start-up what, you're doing is you're homogenizing. Your thinking and you're. Actually gonna. Sort, of recede. To the norm in terms your thinking you're not gonna have people challenging, what's going on you might have different. Frames of reference on specific, things but, you're not going to get a broader view the. Phrase we like to use is culture add so. Instead, of getting. People into your company that fits your culture, everybody, that joins your company adds to your culture and instead. Of using, the word culture I personally like to use that word the phrase cultural, norms because, there's, a difference between culture. And cultural norms and your. Cultural norms are you know your stated, value, system, the way you're going to behave that sort of thing and so if you're continually, adding, to your cultural, norms that's a pretty dynamic thing. And that, will cause you to be more, inclusive of, other frames of reference, which, will also include having people who will tell you that you know I don't agree with that idea versus. You, know a very, consistent, homogenized. Group which, one you're three or four people may or may not matter but when you're twenty or thirty people has, a big influence on what goes from 30 people to a hundred people in a successful case on, cultural, cultural, add I, first. Heard that from Mitch in Frida Kay Bora right, talk, about that a lot and I think we've really tried to adopt that and help companies try to think about things that way that's that's just a great way, to think about it. So. In a few minutes I'm gonna switch over and take questions from, our audience if, you want to start thinking, of those in teeing those up but just a couple quick fun, ones all I have you I want to get some life hacks here, so tell. Us so when.
You're Not writing books what. Book are you reading right now I. Am. A fairly. Promiscuous. Reader I. Read about a hundred, a year and I read lots of different stuff, my, favorite, books to read are science, fiction, so, I try to every three or four books read or a random science, fiction book. In, terms of a. Recent. Book that I read that was really. Thought-provoking. Was. A book from an, MIT series, of shorter shortish, books 100 hundred 50 page books. Called. Post truth, and, it's a series of books around specific topics, right so they have a book on robotics. And a book on artificial intelligence that, somebody wrote it's sort of a primer, and this, one was on on this idea of post truth and and how, post modernist thought post-modernism, and post modernist thought plays into the way today. We talk about what, is truth or what is fake. News or what is not truth and yeah, that was that was an interesting. One if you're if you're had. A lot of bias in it too by the way so you had to sort of read through the bias although the author exposed. His bias at the beginning right so even like this is his bias okay I got his bias Lupus, I bumped into his bias again like that that was a good book one. Other book if you're, interested. At all in history, or interested, in whatever is happening, currently, is. A book by, will, and Arielle Durant, it's about a hundred fifty pages they're the ones that wrote like the 12 volume, 10,000. Page books about. The, history of, society. It's called lessons of history and it's, basically ten short chapters, on different topics right government. Education. Religion. Morality. And they. Used the all, of human history to, show that it's, the same over and over again and, in. Very very sort, of short bite-sized, chunks and it was actually very for. Someone who has, moments, of regular. Moments of anxiety. Around. You, know whatever's happening, it's very reassuring. To. Read something like that and realize that over the course of human history yes, we've made progress on. A bunch of dimensions, but yeah, a lot of the shit's the same and, we survived yeah we survived David, three three apps you can't live without, give. Me the book one first I'll just give you titles because they're so great. So the one that our whole team is reading right now which we do as a team sport I have no idea how you read a hundred books a year. No. Kids I guess that must be it I don't I don't I don't you know electronic are probably it three, kids. How. We decide such as emotional decision-making, which is an older book but so it's super, impactful, if you haven't read it and then the one that really changed, me recently is called the soul of money this. Is sort of you are what you spend and how, you can use money to have impact so, really interesting, three, apps, give. You one and I'll try to think of others I'll give you I know. Gmail. Yeah you should use that. One. That I use it actually, people. Don't know. Much about is called voxer. It's. A voice, message back and forth really quick so we're 200 people all, around the world small, company but very distributed biggest. Offices maybe like 20 of us so. It's a way to have hallway conversations. Brad's. Gonna demonstrate apparently. You, know just like I'm whatsapp that has that tiny little button that no one pushes for The Voice boxers.
Got A big button and that's why I like it so you guys use this within texting we literally, have, run the company on it. With. Google, right now yes. Sir, is listening, they can totally, tune into the strategy of TechStars just, by you. Know stealing, our data and listening so. That's a big one that I think helps. Us a time because you can't when you're so distributed, you, can't have that sort, of meaningful conversation in, the hallway so let's, let's do that and I love it my. Last question for you I'm just so curious you know how you scale how you manage your time scale yourself, we're always looking for life hacks you talked earlier about when, you first met that Brad had a couple days set aside for meetings. With anyone in 15-minute intervals. Do. You have any any hacks tips for people who are juggling, you, know a million things how do you prioritize and run your life guess, what Brad wrote a book, he's. A book salesman I am I. Wrote, a book with my wife a book on every topic not quite not quite I have a book, I wrote with my wife Amy bachelor called startup life, surviving. And thriving in a relationship, with an entrepreneur, is the subtitle so if if. That sings to you. It's. Available at all booksellers. Named Amazon. And. Others as well I'm from for, me the biggest and. There's a bunch of hacks in that book by the way Amy, and I do a thing called. Four. Minutes in the morning where. Each morning we spend you. Know like four minutes together sort of first thing just getting set we play we don't have kids but we play with our dogs and we talk and sometimes we have a cup of coffee together but it's it's, linked to whoever wakes up last so whoever wakes up last, that's a prompt for the person who woke up first to stop whatever they're doing and just, spend a few minutes together as a way of grounding ourselves, in a relationship, you can also do it in three minutes to save time and, use for so. Nothing the the the most profound, thing that that I've incorporated into my life in, the last couple. Of years around, this is, I. Used, to be that person who woke up at 5 o'clock in the morning every morning no matter what timezone I was in I worked. All, the time you, know the the 24/7. Thing. And and. I had ego attachment, to the fact that I was always getting up at 5 o'clock even, if I flew cross-country, and needed, to sleep for another couple hours, and. I, was always available I'm, very very. Responsive to email try to sort of always, engage and. I'm. I'm, Jewish but not religious, and I. Got very depressed at. The end of 2012. For, about six months the price of episode in 2013. And. Some of that was just there a bunch of things that played into it now leave that rib for another day but, two, things that I did that were, really. Powerful life hacks is I stopped. Waking up with an alarm clock and. What. Happened was I slept 12 hours or more a day every, day for the next six months so I did, not realize, how physiologically. Exhausted, I was and I. Love sleep and so, I'm really, now very focused, on making sure that on a regular basis I'm getting at least eight hours of sleep a night so, sort of valuing. Sleep especially as you start to get a little bit older um. There's now a there's, a good, book about this rare that relatively recently came out. But. There's just so much evidence, now that sleep is a critically, important, thing around both, physical health mental health and productivity, like your ability to be conscious trade for extended, periods of time the. Other thing that was profound for me on this dimension is and. It, ties back into the Jewish thing is that, I started, having a, digital Sabbath, so. From Friday nights sundown, to Saturday night sundown. No, email, no. Phone calls, no. Meetings, I. Just, have. Time for me for, a me for, my, dogs for friends for reading for what you that's how I read somebody's. No. Kids but if I had kids I would play if my kids like I'm or. I give them to somebody else so I'd have some free time actually I probably sell them if I bring my kids over you know please, don't do that but, that one day a week of, complete. Disconnect, from the digital world that we're in has. I don't watch television, right.
Just Disconnect. And. I have time, for myself. The, the. First, four. Or five months of doing that each weekend, is excruciating. Right like oh my god I might miss an email it's oh it's only 9:15 I've got a. Day still to not check my email but, after a while you really get into this place where it, creates in this enormous, amount of space and. When. You sort of reengage, with the world and I often stretch it to Sunday morning I kind of reengage with the world Sunday morning what you start realizing is you, didn't miss much right. And every now and then there might be something that and might have been additive, if you had had, some involvement there's, occasionally, things that I have project, stuff that have to one Saturday but, the point, I would make of this life hack is making. Sure you're giving, yourself real time each week for you however. You do it and I I saw phrase in in a book somebody else wrote that I'm proofreading for him or you know giving a pre-read, form that's. He, shifted from twenty-four seven. To. Twenty four six and I. Loved that idea and I, don't care whether you distribute, the, 24. Hours across the week or you. I think it's easier to distribute across a day but, to disconnect. From all the nonsense that, we're dealing with all the time and all, the stimuli, so that we can remember that we're human and we can spend time with the people we want to spend time with especially. Ourselves, and allow. You to then have the energy to go after the next six days of whatever that intensity, is your. Your message to Google employees work less less. Sleep more. Twins. Read your comment, about sleepless, making me very very nervous. I. Dated. Any any. One. Pack is if you're gonna write a bunch of books you should totally outsource, the chapters, of those books to others like Brad did with the startup life book. Startup. Release yeah. If. You read any of my books faster, we did this there's a bunch of sidebars in them and basically. AB is a typical. Hardback, book is about fifty thousand words and I, figured out that you can get other people to write about twenty thousand of the fifty thousand words so you got me to write in the chapter in that book which, was always, have a light at the end of the tunnel you know we get in these periods of time where we. Work really hard and and I found in my family, just knowing there's there's always a thing coming up that's really exciting a trip or time, off or whatever it is just don't, ever not have one of those no matter how far out it is and it helps everybody stay sane or in the context of these busy periods that we all go through, great. Advice thank you any, live, questions from. Our Googlers yes, I have a microphone here they. Believe one questions. Well. Thank you guys it was it was fantastic to have you here um I find, myself thinking. A lot about something you said at the beginning Brad in. All the new projects that I start I find. Myself pushing, and pushing and pushing and, then you were talking about the dynamic of pulling. What. How do you think about that is it an indicator that this, is a normal thing you have to push at the beginning or maybe my ideas are not so great well. I, I. Actually think most ideas at the beginning are totally irrelevant. Right. And they're just way overrated right you start with an idea and. You. Know my partners and I joke about this I have. You. Know a hundred, shitty. Ideas, for every good idea that I have and the. The thing, that works its magic is, I let the hundred shitty ideas out, right.
I Don't hold them or I don't grab the first one and then anchor on and try to turn it to good idea now. In. The context of a project, you, could say well but this is a project I'm gonna be working on for six months like that's the thing and what I would say is break it down like you know an engineering problem make it reductionist, until lots of little ideas and run lots of little experiments, knowing that most of the experiments are going to fail or most of your hypotheses, are wrong early on and you're. Running a bunch of them because, you're looking for one to grab hold now. The, mistake, would also be or another mistake would be to assume, that pull is something that happens programmatically. Yeah. You have to come out there and hustle you have to talk to people you have to experiment you have to try to convince people that this is interesting for them to even try it and if. You do that and time, after time quickly, it's all not interesting, and you're not getting any feedback back, that's. A problem if, you're getting feedback back then you're constantly adjusting, right. And so you're playing that hundred ideas until, you get the thing that you land on where all of a sudden people are calling so, at the very beginning no you're, not gonna have something spring fully formed out of your mind that everybody's gonna get excited about and if they don't you should walk away from it but, try to keep breaking down to smaller and smaller chunks. The. Experiments. That are causing you to learn and modify, the fundamental. Premise of your idea until all of a sudden you find people trying to rip it out of your hands. Thanks. For being here guys, I was a former, TechStars participant. So thank you for. Organizing that, I guess question, I had top of mind what does success look for you guys I would look for you guys for tech stars in like 10 years where, do you want to see yourselves and what impact you won't have on the world, yeah. So when we think about you, know building this this big network it's really helping more entrepreneurs, succeed so figure out more ways to do that certainly. It's it's more worldwide, we, want to be, investing. In many more places today. 400 companies a year we want to really see that scale, and. I think we need to help them in more parts of the entrepreneurial, journey so. Today we have products, that are very. Helpful in the very early stages we. Get a little bit helpful as they sort of grow and then eventually, we hope maybe someone else comes along and is great and helps that company succeed. And. Connecting them to those people as part of what we do but I think we can play more of a role in.
Showing. The world that there are going to be more great startup communities that great, companies are going to be built everywhere and that there's, a role perhaps we can play throughout, that entire journey, and not. Just at the beginning of it. Number. One final question in the back. Hi, so. You. Know textiles, obviously has a huge mentor, and volunteer network and so on and. If. You had to give advice to someone who wants to sort of build the necessary skills to get into that space what is what. Would you say that they start off with. When. You say that space just like, in, the. Accelerator, space as, a mentor. As or so all-india and so on so what. Kind of skills would you say that they should start start, off with or start, building on. To. Become, a mentor and help other entrepreneurs yeah, so, there's. A post. That that, I. Guess, I curated, on, my blog a lot of people contributed, to called. The mentor manifesto. That. We try to sort. Of list you know what what is it that you should be doing as a mentor and I think you know one of the things that people think about when they hear that word is that. This is somehow you know you've you've been a person that's built a billion-dollar. Company and, you have this amazing outcome, and my. Argument is now everybody's, a mentor you. Know every single person in this room there's there's someone who knows a lot more about something, than that I would know about that thing so. Everybody has something to contribute some. Expertise, some. Advice. That they're speaking from experience on, I think, that's the key to being a good mentor is recognizing. Where. Do my experiences, lie you, know what areas can I be helpful in and it's, okay that I don't know everything right, I can come and be helpful in in a context, in a situation, but. The mentor manifesto, does a pretty good job of laying. Out sort, of what. I think of as the social norms for, sort of being a mentor you. Know don't, come in and and try to answer all the questions try to stay in areas you understand. Listen. Write as much as you talk right. And there's a whole list of things that you can read about in that post but, I think, everybody can contribute, to the success of others in that way when. One thing, to add to that is. Practical. Things you can do is, engage, write. And do things with other people, who are interested in entrepreneurship. You. Know Startup Weekend is a great example of it go. Do stuff right, like reading. Watching videos talking, to people sort. Of trying to learn on, a receiving side is so different than actively.
Practicing. The, activity, of entrepreneurship, especially. If your mentor. Engagement, is not necessarily, as an entrepreneur, but, as a domain expert in some area where, you can help other entrepreneurs because. Of your domain expertise, um, understanding, how entrepreneurs think. Work what it feels like by, doing is, so much more visceral than, observing. Or studying. Thank. You David, Brad thank you so much for your time today thank you for all that you do for the ecosystem I see you know Don Loeb John beetle from tech star thank you to the whole team and thanks for being a great Google. Partner thank you. You.