“As a kid, I learned to work hard, be responsible for my own actions, and be curious about everything,” says Brad Feld, remembering the influence of his parents – his dad a doctor, his mom an artist. To them, “education was really important – and that formed my view of the value of learning something new every day,” he says. “I loved school.”

Born in Arkansas, Brad grew up in Dallas, TX, and migrated to Boston when his love of learning brought him to MIT -- that, and the fact that “my eighth-grade girlfriend wanted to go to MIT.” His undergraduate and masters degrees, both in management science, allowed him to combine his interest in computer science and business.

Feld Technologies - Brad started Feld Technologies in 1985, when a sophomore. He had been working part-time as a developer for a Dallas company. “They paid me a royalty on all the software I developed for them, so I learned the value of being in business for yourself at an early age,” he says. “I ran all my consulting to them through Feld Technologies and landed a few other gigs.”

One gig he remembers with pride: writing a management system for a very large dental practice (at the time, about 30,000 active patients). The engagement meant lots of commuting between Los Angeles and Boston during school. “They started using the system I developed for them in 1987, and remarkably they still use it today,” he says.  

Brad counts the real beginning of Feld Technologies as 1987, when a partner (Dave Jilk) joined him. They built the company into one of Boston’s leading software consulting firms before selling it to AmeriData Technologies, where Brad served as CTO. In turn, AmeriData was acquired by GE Capital in 1995. That’s when Brad headed to Boulder, CO.

Quiet hippie city - There wasn’t a whole lot of high tech action in Boulder back then. But that slowly changed as Brad became a driving force in a movement so successful that “the quiet hippie city… has become a serious technology hub.” (Ben Casnocha’s “Start-up Town,” in The American magazine, ably recounts the tale.) His own investment activity was initially through Intensity Ventures and later Mobius Venture Capital. The current focus is the Foundry Group, which got started in 2007 when he and his four partners raised $225 million.   

“My deep belief is that entrepreneurs drive the vast majority of innovation.”

Given Brad’s love of entrepreneurship, the path to venture capital seems inevitable. “When I think back on the three ‘jobs’ I’ve had, I’ve been (a) an entrepreneur, (b) an executive in a company that acquired mine, and (c) a venture capitalist,” says Brad. “The thread of entrepreneurship runs through all of these, and my deep belief is that entrepreneurs drive the vast majority of innovation.”  

Feld Thoughts - That belief shows up in his writing, too, as recent posts “Entrepreneurs vs. VCs” and “Be An Innovator” attest. Brad started his blog, “Feld Thoughts,” in 2004 “just to learn more about the technology – specifically RSS, user-generated content, and the idea of self-publishing,” he says. ”Of course, in 2004 blogging was still a relatively novel thing, so I’ve learned an enormous amount from it over the years,” he adds. “A number of our RSS-related investments – including NewsGator and FeedBurner – came directly from my experience with blogging. But mostly I just blog to get my thoughts about entrepreneurship, innovation, and venture capital out there in the world.”

Contemplating his work habits, he says, “I use a bunch of stuff -- it’s always changing – to manage all of my ‘social media interactions’.” However, “the term ’social media’ doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore.” It’s like so many other terms – it comes to mean “everything that is hot and trendy today.” Furthermore, “my brain doesn’t really work this way – I don’t really value broad categorizations.” That said, “I have always been an ‘always online’ kind of person,” he adds, “and find the evolution of all the stuff I use on a daily basis to be awesome and fascinating.”

Typical day – Each day he’s up at 5 a.m. – “regardless of the time zone I’m in” – to begin “a two-hour information routine.” This is the only time during the day that he spends “consuming information on the web.” He goes through his daily web pages, all his daily info sources, and his feedreader. He also catches up on any outstanding email.

“I then try to run (usually 4 or 5 days a week), and then I get on with my day,” the balance of which is meetings, email, and phone calls. “I find I work much more efficiently when every call is scheduled,” he says, “and I have a superb assistant who keeps things moving.”

The running is serious. “I used to run as a kid and really liked it,” he says. “I gained a bunch of weight during the Internet boom and decided to get rid of it,” and “running marathons is a way to do it.” Plus, he likes the “meditation time” that running affords. To date he has run marathons in 14 states and he’s shooting for membership in the “50/50” club: “I  feel confident that I’ll get all 50 states done by the time I turn 50.”

“I never watch any news or information-related shows on TV.”

“I’d rather read” - Brad gets through each day by being “disciplined about keeping relevance high.” He’s a voracious reader who is “systematized – both in terms of how I process information and when I process – so it doesn’t distract me during the day.” And “I never watch any news or information-related shows on TV; I’d rather read -- much faster, much better content,” he says.

Recent reads include Madeleine Albright’s ‘Memo to the President Elect’—“taught me more about foreign policy than the cumulative information I’d been exposed to over the past 43 years”; ‘Daemon’ by Daniel Suarez—“probably the best techno-thriller I’ve ever read”; and ‘Enough’ by John Bogle—which “gives a great perspective on, well, Enough.”

Brad Feld. Another blogger we’re delighted to have as part of our MyVenturePad community.