It’s not easy to follow Steve Wozniak — unless you’re Brad Feld.
Next week, on May 22, business people from throughout the Pikes Peak region will gather in Colorado Springs to celebrate innovative professionals and their technology companies.
The Celebrate Technology event, which is sponsored by the Colorado Springs Business Journal and others, will take place at the Gold Room (18 S. Nevada Ave.) of the Mining Exchange hotel and will feature an awards ceremony as well as a keynote speech from an industry expert.
Last year’s keynote speech was delivered by Apple Computer co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak. This year’s speaker, Feld, is a Coloradan equally as impressive in the realm of venture capital and entrepreneurialism.
“Brad ignited a passion in Colorado Springs almost four years ago that is still burning in us today,” said Chris Franz, president of Peak Star tup and CEO of Franz Venture.
“We saw the vision of where we could be as a startup community and people dove in to push us there. Our community is fundamentally changed to be more accepting and supportive of the startup risk-takers.”
Feld got into the game at a young age.
Now 49, he said his first brush with startups came more than 30 years ago while attending high school in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.
“When I was in school, I was always very interested in computers,” he said. “I worked for startups in high school … and wrote software and started doing some consulting work.”
That interest carried him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he began in 1983 to pursue a bachelor of science in management science.
He went on to earn a master of science degree in that same field before prematurely leaving his Ph.D. program, which he said had a big impact on his fledgling career as a businessman.
In 1987, just after his first round at MIT, Feld founded his first tech startup, Feld Technologies.
“I started my first company right out of high school at MIT,” he said. “Then I got my management degree and got kicked out of a Ph.D. program.”
He had never considered selling the business, but, in 1993, that’s exactly what he did. The business sold to AmeriData, for which Feld became chief technology officer, which gave him his start in the world of venture capital.
“I had some money and decided to start up a lot of other companies, and the best way to do that was angel investing,” he said about selling his company.
Then, in 1995, Feld and wife Amy Batchelor decided to move to Boulder, where he continued to invest in various companies and worked with another startup called Interliant. Feld helped operate Interliant in the late ’90s and early 2000s before it folded in 2002 with the pop of the “dot-com bubble.”
After moving to Boulder, Feld co-founded a series of entrepreneurial and investment groups, including Foundry Group, Mobius Venture Capital, Intensity Ventures and Techstars. He was an early investor in companies including Harmonix, Zynga, MakerBot and FitBit and currently supports popular brands, including Mile High Organics, Justin’s and others.
Feld regularly maintains a blog (feld.com) on entrepreneurial topics and, with the help of his wife, has co-authored a series of books in the same subject area.
He also works with several nonprofits, including the National Center for Women & Information Technology, Startup Colorado and UP Global, and is a world-renowned speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurialism.
When he isn’t working or volunteering his time, Feld avidly collects art and is a long-distance runner. He has completed 24 marathons and hopes to compete in one in each of the 50 states.
Feld said his CelTech keynote will likely focus on the “evolution of the startup community” and how companies and organizations can help keep their momentum going into the “next wave.”
Although Feld doesn’t regularly visit Colorado Springs, he said that “from a distance … it seems similar to many cities in that there is a real resurgence of entrepreneurs.
“I think Colorado Springs has a lot of good examples of that resurgence,” he said. “There is a lot of heat … and the economy is in a good place again.”
Feld, who has been investing throughout the country for 20 years now, said geography is irrelevant as long as the concept is solid and the business model has potential for success.
“Our investing approach is thematic,” he said. “We’re interested in certain themes.”
When asked if there is any one geographic market that he finds more satisfying or lively than the rest, Feld harkened back to one of the reasons he and his wife chose to relocate to the Rockies two decades ago.
“I’ve been investing all around the U.S. since 1995,” Feld said. “I think Colorado has always been a great place for investment, especially in the tech, natural foods and bio sectors.”
The Gold Room
(18 S. Nevada Ave.)
5:30 p.m. May 22, 2015