Inclusiveness is Critical in Startups: Brad Feld


Brad Feld
Photo: TechVibes

Brad Feld needs no introduction for those interested in entrepreneurships and startups. An entrepreneur since 1987, Brad co-founded the Foundary Group, a venture capital firm investing in IT companies, and the Tech Stars, a mentorship driven startup. Feld spoke to Gagandeep Ghuman about what Squamish Startup can do to ensure success.

What would be your advice to those who have just started Startup Squamish, any particular dos and donts?

Don’t try to be too organized. If you follow the Boulder Thesis that I write about in Startup Communities, then you know that you are building a network, not a hierarchy. Inclusiveness is critical.

Allowing people to do whatever they want, and supporting each other, especially at the beginning makes a huge difference.

 How can the community support them?

The community can show up and participate. Anyone who wants to engage in entrepreneurship in any way should be able to.

What are opportunities for a small Canadian town to connect with the resources in larger, more successful startup groups (towns/incubators)?

Again, show up. Don’t expect for them to come to you – you should go to them. I often hear that (angel) investors are investing more in the individuals behind an idea than the idea itself. 

Is it more about the people behind the incubator/accelerator than it is the format/structure/idea of the accelerator/incubator?

At Techstars ( we like to say that it’s “people, people, people, idea.” Ideas matter some, but the driver is the people.

 How can Startup Squamish help in developing innovative new businesses within the community?

Assuming Startup Squarmish is an organization led by entrepreneurs, then (a) take a long term view, (b) be inclusive, and (c) have a lot of activities and events that engage everyone in the entrepreneurial stack.

How many years should the Startup Squamish people give themselves before they can declare their efforts a success or a failure? Is there a particular time frame?

You have to have a very long term view – at least 20 years. So don’t bother trying to determine “success or failure” – just take action.

Should they approach our local government for help. How can the local government help?

I’d encourage you to talk to you colleagues throughout Startup Canada about how local governments are helping in other parts of Canada. It varies a lot by country and there are lots of folks in Canada trying to figure this all out.

What are the key ingredients required for a community to be successful in creating new businesses?

Recognize that the community doesn’t create new businesses, entrepreneurs do. So the community should do whatever it can to support the entrepreneurs creating these businesses.

Can a smaller community create and support start-ups and compete with larger cities?

Squamish looks like it’s about 20,000 people. You can definite support startups with this population. However, don’t set things up as a competition against other cities. Do your own thing and take advantage of what is great about Squamish.

When are you visiting us in Squamish ?

I’m not traveling for business right now so I have no short term plans.



  1. Auli Parviainen says:

    Cheers to you Gagan for tracking Brad Feld down and doing this interview. Inclusiveness and collaboration will be needed to propel Squamish towards a thriving and diverse new economy. We have entrepreneurial, independent spirit in spades here, great to see such committed effort like Startup Squamish beginning to provide the environment and setting where we can all succeed. Yes!