BRAD FELD: You Want Failure? I’ll Give You Failure…


Entrepreneurs love failure — or at least I have yet to meet a startup-guy who isn’t obsessed with failure from either perspective.

There’s Francis Pedraza of Everest, who goes all contrarian and says that “failure is overrated.”

Then there are dudes like Brad Feld of the Foundry Group, who writes in a blog post that entrepreneurs shouldn’t “view their entrepreneur arc as being linked to a single company.”

He gives the example of his friend “Mark,” whose first company was successfully acquired. He didn’t hesitate to jump into a new startup, in which Brad led the funding of over $10 million.

The company recruited over 40 people during a several-year period, before things came grinding to a halt: revenue wasn’t progressing, and Mark downsized the company to twelve people to “restart the business.” Over the next year, Mark worked 20 hour days — while trying to balance a relationship with his new wife — and watched the funding money dwindle to around $1 million.

Apparently Mark “had never failed at anything in his life,” so of course, Mark’s head had to be rescued from his ass by ol’ tough-love Brad Feld. Feld told Mark to “turn off his cell phone, take his wife out to dinner, have a bottle of wine, and talk about whether it made any sense to spend the next year of his life trying to restart the business with the remaining $1 million.”

Mark made the prudent — but painful — decision to shutter the company, and returned five cents on the dollar to investors.

He then jumped back into the fray with a new business, which became “extraordinarily successful” — we want names, dammit! — and remains happily married.