Inside Thoughts


The Tao of Brad

Last week I was on a long mountain bike ride and wound up spending a few hours grinding away on a particular difficult situation one of the CEOs I work with was going through, when some advice Brad Feld gave me years ago popped into my head and I knew it was just what my […]

Financing Round Nomenclature Revisited

When I started investing in startups a long time ago, the labeling of financing rounds was as simple as the Sesame Street alphabet song – A is for Abbey, B is for Bert, C is for Cookie Monster; ok, you get it. The rounds were named for the purpose of identifying shareholder rights in a particular […]

Helping An Entrepreneur See His Work Come To Life

This summer, I had the privilege of spending time with my friend Chris Burkard in the remote Westfjords of Iceland which I wrote about here. Yesterday, Chris announced a Kickstarter campaign for his film “Under An Arctic Sky.” Here’s the trailer: If you’re an outdoor adventure junkie like me, you’re surely familiar with Chris and […]

A Beautiful Continuum

The first time I met Natty Zola was in the old Techstars bunker back in the summer of 2009. He and his co-founder Nate Abbott had recently started a company called Everlater and were going through the Boulder Techstars program. They told me their story about chucking their Wall Street jobs, traveling around the world together […]

Before Voting, Think About Your Daughter

My daughter turned 18 last month and I’m so grateful that she grew up in a country that has been steadily moving towards true equality for women. America’s slow march towards equal rights for all has fostered an environment where young women today, more than any time in history, finally believe they can accomplish anything a […]

Hacking Reference Checking 

We all acknowledge the critical nature of thorough reference checking as it relates to hiring or investing in someone. However, given that most people are reticent to offer a negative reference, most of us struggle with extracting the type of valuable feedback we’re seeking in order to make better decisions.  Many years ago, a mentor […]

The Music Never Stopped

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato Back in 2011, I walked into Topspin Media’s office for the first time and this bearded dude in a faded brown tee shirt popped out […]

The Toughest Person I Know

Two years ago, our dear friend (and my incredible assistant) Denise shared that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It had metastasized to other organs and she would have to undergo very aggressive treatments immediately. We were all stunned. Everyone except Denise that is. She took it in stride and simply wouldn’t […]

This Is What The Apocalypse Looks Like?

Back in Q1, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone advising startups that the world, as they knew it, was coming to an end. Venture dollars flowing to startups had decreased from $16B in Q3 ’15 to $12B in Q4 and VCs were telling anyone who would listen that nuclear winter was in […]

Finding Obsession in Iceland

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to spend two weeks in Iceland, a country I’ve long wanted to visit. My trip began with Startup Iceland, the annual event run by my friend Bala Kamallakhara. It was a terrific few days, starting with the launch of Ultrahack on Sunday night. On Monday, we were treated to opening […]

Some Gray Haired Insights For New Investors

There’s been a flurry of posts so far in this new year advising startups how to deal with what certainly appears to be the beginning of an inevitable market correction (based upon your point of view, feel free to substitute your flavor of panicked adjectives for “correction”). It seems that every VC who blogs is […]

Act Like You’ve Been There Before…

Recently, I saw someone share a tweet from a young, aspiring VC who posed a GIF on Twitter depicting an irreverent character in an effort to share his frustration that investors aren’t keen to invest in first time managers. My first reaction was to chuckle as it was indeed pretty funny. My second reaction was […]

Who Benefits From Your Success?

Since I started mentoring at Techstars back in 2007, I’ve sat and talked with hundreds of founders trying to raise seed rounds and I’m often left scratching my head at the lack of strategic thought that goes into figuring out who to pitch. Most founders defer to attacking a list of known investors with little […]

Taking The Plug Out Of “Unplugged”

Over the years, my wife Pam and I have developed a great system together: I plan our vacations, and she plans everything else. There’s no ambiguity. When we’re at home, I do what I’m told, go where she tells me and try my best to keep up with her. I love planning our vacations though, and […]

Why We Invested In Wevorce

Four years ago Michelle Crosby sat down in my office and told me about her plan to completely disrupt the divorce industry. Her story was fascinating: A child who watched her parents go through a brutal divorce becomes a divorce lawyer and winds up going through a divorce herself. She certainly checked the box for […]

Why We Invested In A Circus

Englishman Phillip Astley is credited with creating the first circus in 1768 in England. A war-trained accomplished equestrian, he parlayed his advanced riding skills into a post Seven-Years War career when he opened a riding school where he rode his horses in a circle (a ring) rather than the traditional straight line which allowed him […]

The Case For Priced Seed Rounds

When I was a kid, there were a series of memorable commercials from a company called Fram which made automobile oil filters. The message behind all of their commercials was that you could pay $4 for a quality oil filter today or pay hundreds or more to fix your engine later. If you’re over 45 […]

Communication Breakdown

Over the last few months, I’ve watched three separate episodes of blowups between co-founders or between CEOs and board members. In each case, it’s evident in hindsight that it wasn’t a single act, but historically poor communication which led to pent up anger that ultimately boiled over into fractured relationships. These wrangles have not only caused harm to the individuals, but […]

Boise Rising

As usual, I woke up early this morning, poured my coffee and started scrolling through my streams to start my day. I was really happy to see that my friend Jeff Reynolds launched Built-In-Boise today, his labor of love to showcase Boise’s terrific entrepreneurs.  I shuffled off to the gym and as I sat on the […]

Past Is Prologue

It’s almost surreal for me to think that exactly twenty years ago, I was a green twenty nine year-old working on the first startup financing of my career and that yesterday, we announced our new $150 million fund at Techstars. Many people have heard Steve Jobs’ famous speech about only being able to connect the dots looking […]

Why We’re Excited To Be Investors In Ello

There’s a good deal of buzz today about our latest Techstars investment in Ello and we’re really excited to be co-leading their Series A financing along with Foundry Group. However, this isn’t our first investment in Ello. We’ve actually been investors since January when we participated in their seed round along with Fresh Tracks Capital, […]

Drink When Served

There’s been a lot of buzz the last few days about the piece in the WSJ on Monday featuring Bill Gurley warning that it’s starting to feel a lot like 1999 again, including a follow-up article yesterday in which other VCs echoed Bill’s sentiment to varying degrees. There’s certainly no denying that it’s been a pretty good […]

Jukely: The Perfect Way to See Live Bands

I love seeing live music. I’ve got a steady group of friends I go see bands with and we’re always on the lookout to see up and coming artists playing in our town. Generally, we use an email chain to alert each other and drum up a group to see a show, often leaving people […]


I just drove back to Boise after a terrific family vacation in the mountains. If you’ve never driven along Highway 55 in Idaho, it’s one of the most scenic stretches of asphalt you can imagine. I’ve driven it countless times over the years but this was the first time I had a chance to experience […]

Searching For A Technical Co-Founder

Yale University Goldman Sachs Navy SEAL Officer and Instructor Harvard Business School Firefighter Personal Trainer Motivational Speaker Startup entrepreneur Sounds like a pretty amazing career, right? Meet Phil Black. You’re looking at Phil’s bio. Did I mention that he accomplished everything above before the age of 40? I’ve gotten to know Phil pretty well over the […]

Why Nike Gets Startups

Last week, I was in San Francisco for Demo Day for the Nike+ Accelerator powered by TechStars. It was actually the third Nike Demo Day I’d attended in a little over a week, the previous two were in Portland a week earlier – one for Nike executives at the Accelerator and the other at the […]

Seed Investing Doesn’t Buy You Series A Traction

During my first year at Techstars, I’ve spent a good deal of of time working with founders helping them to prepare for raising their first round of seed capital. I’m sure it’s not lost on anyone reading this that seed investing has been riding a pretty sizable wave over the last couple of years. This […]

March For Innovation

All four of my grandparents passed through Ellis Island, met their spouses and established life in America in the early 1900’s. If it wasn’t for the welcoming arms of the US, I wouldn’t be here today. We are a nation of immigrants. Today I’m joining with thousands of tech leaders, politicians from both parties, celebrities, […]

Feng Shui for Startup CEOs

Feng Shui: \ˈfəŋ-ˈshwē, -ˈshwā\ “A Chinese geomantic practice in which a structure or site is chosen or configured so as to harmonize with the spiritual forces that inhabit it”  Yesterday after our annual meeting, I was sitting with a handful of our portfolio CEOs and the subject of staying on top of what’s going on inside […]

Better Reference Checking

“Nearly every mistake I have made has been in picking the wrong people, not the wrong idea” – Arthur Rock (Davis & Rock), Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, Harvard Seems to me that among startups these days, solid reference checking is becoming a lost art, especially when making key hires. This is a little counter-intuitive […]

Nate and Natty

Last night was a special evening for me. The calendar finally cooperated and allowed me to have a long overdue celebration dinner with Nate Abbott and Natty Zola, two of my favorite entrepreneurs I’ve ever had the pleasure to know and work with. They’re amazing people and I feel lucky to count them as close […]

TechStars Seattle now accepting applications

TechStars Seattle recently opened applications for their next class. If you’re a new Pacific Northwest startup and want to accelerate your business, you should consider applying now to this great program run by my good friend Andy Sack. TechStars is a three month boot camp for entrepreneurs where you’ll receive intensive top-notch mentorship, incredible perks, and […]

Venture College at Boise State University

A couple of years ago, my friend Mary Andrews (Director of the Office of University and Industry Ventures at Boise State University) approached me about an idea of hers to create curriculum at BSU aimed at preparing students to launch startups either while at school or upon graduating. The more she described it, the more awesome it […]

Advice to my 37 year-old self

Last night, as I was having my second serving of dessert at a board dinner in New York City, the 37 year-old COO of the company asked me how I could eat as much as I do and stay fit. I told him that it was much easier for me at 47 than it was […]

What To Look For

One of the questions I’m frequently asked by entrepreneurs is “what is the most important skill set to look for in recruiting and adding board members for my company?” I’ve watched this debated by my colleagues as well – operational, sales or finance expertise, product knowledge, a vast network and CEO coaching skills are among […]

It’s The People

Since I joined TechStars a few months ago, the question I’ve been asked the most by my colleagues in the venture community is probably “who’s the next Managing Director of TechStars New York?” Despite the fact that we have equally fantastic programs in Seattle, Boulder, Boston, Chicago, San Antonio (Cloud) and also power accelerators for […]

Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down

For years, I regularly contributed to our firm’s blog at Highway 12 Ventures. Some posts were timely, others more timeless. I had an experience recently with an entrepreneur who was dejected over the challenges of fundraising and it reminded me of this post I wrote a few years ago. I think the advice still holds […]

We Are All Complicit

Like everyone else, I was shocked, saddened and outraged at the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT last month. The aftermath was predictable. Paid talking heads and everyone with an opinion took to the airwaves and social media to vent, opine and debate the merits of gun control and the dear price we pay for mental […]

Startup Life

I just finished reading Startup Life by Brad Feld who collaborated this time with his lovely wife Amy. Pam and I contributed a section to the book and it’s a great collection of wisdom from folks who have navigated the tricky waters of running a startup while trying to maintain a healthy relationship. Whether you’re considering working […]

A New Chapter

When I announced that we were not going to raise a third fund at Highway 12 Ventures eighteen months ago, I was fairly certain that the next chapter in my career would be something quite different from what I’ve been doing since 1995. Committed to managing our portfolio, I didn’t give much thought to that […]

50 Kilometers of Music

What do you listen to for seven or eight hours while running up and down a mountain? On Saturday morning at 6am, I’ll strap on a headlamp and attempt my first ultra-marathon. I enjoy running with music so here’s the Spotify playlist I put together to help make me through 50k and 6000 feet of […]

You’ve Heard Of Impulse Buying – What About “Impulse Saving?”

Last week, I spent a few days at TechStars Boston, getting to know the companies that are in the fifth week of the program. After sitting in on pitch practice, having dinner with the whole gang and then talking to them for a bit about financing strategy on Wednesday, I spent 45 with each team […]

The Charles River And A Bit Of Nostalgia

I’m in Cambridge, MA to spend a couple of days with the Boston Techstars crew and this morning I went for a run around the Charles River before a full day of meetings. I wasn’t on my run for very long before my thoughts drifted to my wife Pam and our very first date. I […]

Celebrate! (and then get back to work)

A couple of weeks ago, there was a tweet that caught fire in the startup twittersphere which said “Congratulating an entrepreneur for raising money is like congratulating a chef for buying the ingredients.” Look, I get the sentiment – the work is just beginning – but I think the message is misguided. Anyone can go […]

Hero Ride – Boise State & BYU

During the week of Sept 17 (BYU / Boise St game), the Thursday’s Heroes Foundation (see video below) is planning to ride from Provo to Boise. This ride is to raise awareness for an incredible non-profit foundation that helps cover medical costs for special needs kids. With so many negative things that are happening in […]

Startup CEO – The Loneliest Job

I’ve long believed that being the CEO of a startup can be one of the loneliest jobs in the world. For the first couple of years of a startup’s life (usually before a seasoned and senior management team is assembled, the CEO is looked upon as the captain of a ship in hurricane waters. Despite […]

The End Of The Road – One Year Later

It dawned on me this weekend that exactly one year ago we announced that Highway 12 Ventures (the venture capital firm I co-founded over a decade earlier), would not be raising a third fund and that we would be winding down the firm. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I made […]

Faces: Bob Moczydlowsky

I consider myself extremely lucky that my life’s work allows me to get to know some of the most amazing and driven people living on the edge of creativity in the startup corner of the business world. I thought it would be fun to share some of their stories by beginning a series of posts […]

Meat Eaters

Let me tell you a story about Albert. Albert’s a salesman. Has been for 20 years. He got his start in the early nineties as an entry level salesman for Oracle. They taught him how to be relentless; how to treat every no as being one step closer to a yes, how to eat nails […]

Hey Boise: It’s Time Again For The Mark Solon Challenge

A couple of years ago, David Cohen (CEO and co-founder of TechStars) was in Boise speaking at the WaterCooler and we challenged local entrepreneurs to get a company selected into the TechStars program (He dubbed it “the Mark Solon Challenge”). The challenge was first answered by an Idaho startup called Rewards Force from Coeur d’Alene when […]

“Where” Is Just As Important As “What”

Every spring, many college and MBA students from around the country reach out to me to inquire about the startup community in Boise and any internship/job opportunities that might be available.   Perhaps it’s the success in recent years and subsequent national exposure of our incredible Boise State football team or that the secret is […]

March 13 – An Important Day For Boise’s Future

In 2000, Pam and I decided we wanted to move west to raise our family. My mother recently retired after 40+ years as an eighth grade science teacher in the New York and Boston public school systems and despite her chagrin at having us move so far away, her research and subsequent findings about the […]

Kids, Google + And The Increasing Speed Of Innovation

When I started my career on Wall Street in the 80’s, I remember reading everything I could about Peter Lynch and his “invest in what you know” strategy. Peter managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990, during which time the fund’s assets grew from $20 million to $14 billion. More importantly, Lynch beat […]

Of Fathers, Sons And Superbowls

With two flights today, I finally had the chance to capture what I’ve been feeling since watching SuperBowl XLVI this past weekend. On October 14, 1976 I was sitting on our blue leather couch (hey, it was the 70’s) with my father watching the New York Yankees play the Kanas City Royals in Game 5 […]

1/20/12 – The Day We Took Our Country Back

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you know by now that our country’s Senators and Congressmen have come under enormous pressure regarding the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act – HR.3621) and PIPA (Protect IP Act – S.968) bills. I’m not going to go into the details of these […]

A Cow And A Deer

This past summer, Pam and I celebrated our 15th anniversary by spending time with our friends Brad, Amy, Howard & Ellen in Italy. Being a cyclist and having ridden there before (on a trip with Mimi, my wonderful mother-in-law – a story that deserves its own post), I was excited to show her the beautiful Tuscan countryside by […]

Connecting The Dots

As I sat at my Mac last night and watched the world pay homage to Steve Jobs, it was interesting to see how many people referenced his now very famous Stanford commencement speech and how different pieces of it have personally moved people. I often wonder if the graduates in the audience that day realized the […]

RIP “Miss” Betty

In 1996, Pam and I moved into our first apartment together in Boston’s South End. 529 Columbus Avenue was our first real home together. We were recently engaged and loved our three story walkup. It had a back porch with an amazing panoramic view of the Back Bay and our bedroom window looked down on […]

Jumping To Conclusions

For all the wonders and magic of the internet’s ability to disseminate information in real-time, with it comes the unfortunate consequence of the media’s (both traditional and social) need to jump to conclusions and cast blame regarding newsworthy events before facts are uncovered and time has had a chance to reveal something that resembles the truth. […]

Fourteen Plus One

Fifteen years ago this evening,  I stepped on a wine glass underneath a Chuppah to celebrate the best decision I’ve ever made, to marry Pam and begin a life together that I can only describe as a fairytale. A year ago today, we came within 24 inches of the end of our road together (both […]

Alone Time

This is a post I wrote on Highway 12 Ventures’ blog on the July 4th weekend a few years ago. As I head out on my bike for a long ride this morning, I thought it was worth sharing again… It’s very early in the morning the day before the July 4th weekend and I’m […]

Thoughts Are Things

Last week, I drove to Bend, Oregon with my pal Pete to meet some friends for a long boys weekend of mountain biking, golf and fly fishing. We left Boise Wednesday afternoon with a 300 mile road trip in front of us. The bulk of the journey occurs along Highway 20, a stunning two-lane ribbon […]

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