For Brad Feld, MIT will always remind him of Necco wafers and the friendships he forged while living in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house on Mass Ave. “ADP and the smell of Neccos are inseparable for me,” says Feld, an early-stage venture capital investor and cofounder of Foundry Group, based in Boulder, CO, where he currently serves as managing director.
In ADP, Feld lived with other future entrepreneurs, including John Underkoffler ‘88, SM ‘91, PhD ‘99, and Kevin Parent ‘87, cofounders of Oblong, a company that makes gesture-activated computer interfaces; Foundry Group has invested in it since 2007. Other housemates included iRobot founder Colin Angle ‘89, SM ‘91, and ATG cofounders Jeet Singh ‘85 and Joe Chung ‘86.
“I got to spend four years with extraordinarily smart, talented people,” Feld says. “Their companies are the evidence of that. But beneath the success stories, there are formidable emotional and intellectual bonds that form among people at the Institute.”
By 2004, Feld was interested in backing startups that focus on user-generated content. “I deeply believe that I should have a good understanding of what I’m investing in,” he says. So he started a blog, Feld Thoughts (www.feld.com).
“To me, learning how this stuff worked wasn’t just reading about it and observing but actually participating,” says Feld, who also blogs at www.askthevc.com. “Blogging is hugely valuable to our business. We’re visible, we’re approachable, we’re transparent.”
In his work for Foundry Group, Feld serves on the boards of startups such as Gist, Gnip, Zynga, and Oblong. Previously, he cofounded Mobius Venture Capital and, before that, served as chief technology officer of AmeriData Technologies, which bought his successful software consulting firm, Feld Technologies, in 1987.
Feld and his wife, writer Amy Batchelor, live in Eldorado Springs, CO. They collect contemporary painting and sculpture and read voraciously. Feld also runs as enthusiastically as he invests. His goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states; he’s completed 14 and plans to run in six in 2010.
But Feld’s heart–or at least his nose–remains on Mass Ave. “Sometimes,” he admits, “I actually miss the smell of Necco wafers in the morning.”