Last Friday I scrambled up to the first floor at Fishburners to hear the “Fireside Chat”-no fire but a good chat-with Dean McEvoy and Brad Feld.
Who? For those who don’t know………
Dean McEvoy is a Sydney based entrepreneur with several startups under his belt, including Spreets. He’s also the CEO and Co-Founder of TechSydney, a member based industry group whose mission is to make Sydney one of the top 10 startup ecosystems in the world. (You can join for $100 techsydney.com.au).
Brad Feld is a stalwart of the US startup community, cutting his teeth in the industry while studying at MIT. He has started, sold and funded numerous tech companies, and has been involved with venture capital, accelerators and several not for profit organizations. Brad is a highly regarded speaker and author on venture capital and entrepreneurship, sharing his wisdom to bright-eyed and bushy-tailed entrepreneurs around the world.
OK enough of the intros….
After being to 100+ talks and seminars in the startup space (read: sign up now and you’ll get a once in a lifetime, special discounted limited edition price on our blah blah blah), this fireside chat was refreshingly different and really resonated with me and others I spoke with afterwards.
Brad didn’t talk about how amazing he is, he didn’t talk about how much money he’s made and he didn’t give us any rah rah of “hey you can do it, you’ve just got to believe in yourself!”.
Nope, instead he spoke about a really personal journey-from falling in love to divorce, literally begging to get paid from a client and how he had suffered from depression at various stages of his life. He highlighted the fact that many people struggle from depression and it can really impede what someone can achieve as a human being. He also mentioned that mental health issues should be de-stigmatized and talked about.
Brad also gave some great insights into what investors are looking for and budding entrepreneurs around the room hung off every word that’s passed his lips. A great tip is to be obsessed by what you do. Passion is not enough and can be easily faked by great sales people and is obvious to the savvy investor.
Diversity is a hot topic in the startup ecosystem and I loved Brad’s view on it. He is a big advocate of diversity and acknowledges the importance of it in all organisations. He highlighted that diversity based on gender, ethnicity, race, and sexual identification are important and are easy to identify. But what is also important are less easy to indentify such as diversity of thought, frame of reference, socio economic background and education.
The 2+ hours that Brad shared with us flew. He was engaging, charismatic and the real deal. As an added bonus, I didn’t have to sign up to any courses or buy any books at the end!
Melissa is the Founder of The LightBulb Lounge and is an active member of Australia's startup community. She runs events and coaches teens and adults on how to get their ideas out of their head and pitch them.