Sky's the Limit 14 Nov 2023

How to Correct the Venture Capitalist Diversity Problem with Seth Levine


Seth Levine is the Co-founder of Foundry Group, a venture capitalist agency focused on making early-stage technology investments, participating in select growth rounds, and identifying and supporting the next generation of venture fund managers. Seth is an active participant in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving as a board member and advisor for multiple global venture funds, including The Unreasonable Institute, Lagos-based Ingressive Capital, and Sadara, a venture fund located in the Middle East. His book, The New Builders: Face to Face With the True Future of Business, considers how the nature of entrepreneurship is changing in the US.



Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Seth Levine shares pivotal moments in his career that fostered responsibility 
  • The lessons Seth learned from the risk of launching Foundry
  • Advice for entrepreneurs preparing to meet with professional investors 
  • What inspired Seth's book The New Builders?
  • How Seth’s recent business venture will provide financing resources for new businesses
  • Practical tips for managing stress as a business owner

In this episode…

Entrepreneurialism is the precipice for business-minded individuals. Owning a business has benefits that standard corporate positions can’t contend with, such as cultivating a company culture and controlling your calendar. Although these factors appeal to many business professionals, many entrepreneurs have abandoned their dreams due to insufficient resources and funding.

There is a widely held misconception that startup founders in the US are primarily Caucasian males. The truth is that women, people of color, and immigrants dominate the US entrepreneurial landscape. Seth Levine, a venture capitalist, explored this phenomenon in his book, The New Builders. In his research, he discovered the venture capital industry suffers from a diversity problem — overlooking the nuances of entrepreneurs in varying industries. To correct this oversight, Seth aims to support small business founders with the resources and funding needed to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey.

On this episode of The First Buck Podcast, Nicolas Cary welcomes Seth Levine, Co-founder of Foundry Group, to discuss the current entrepreneurial landscape of the US and his plans to better support small business owners and the economy at large. Seth also offers advice for entrepreneurs preparing to pitch their business ideas and tips for managing stress as a business owner.

Sponsor for this episode:

This episode is brought to you by Sky’s The Limit, one of the largest nonprofit programs for underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs in the US. Sky’s The Limit is a quick-growing digital platform that connects entrepreneurs with their peers, volunteer business mentors, training resources, and funding.

Our goal is to develop the social capital that founders need to chase their business dreams.

To learn more, please visit today.

Episode transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to The First BuckPodcast, where we feature stories about entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Now, let's get started with the show.

Nicolas Cary  0:20  

Hello, and welcome to The First BuckPodcast brought to you by We feature stories about entrepreneurs and the people that support them. Today we're joined by Seth Levine, a partner and co-founder at Foundry Group, focusing on making early stage technology investments, participating in select growth rounds and identifying and supporting the next generation of venture fund managers. In addition to his work at Foundry, Seth is an active global entrepreneurial ecosystem participant and a founding board member of the Unreasonable Institute and advisor to the Palestinian focused venture fund SIdora, an advisor to Lagos-based Ingressive Capital, as well as an advisor and mentor to a number of other venture funds and companies globally. Lastly, Seth is a published author, his recent book, The New Builders, tells the stories of the next generation of entrepreneurs. Seth is a very busy guy, so we're very lucky to have him today. Seth, we've got a little tradition around here. Can you tell us how you earned your first buck?

Seth Levine  1:17  

I love it. Nick. First. Thank you for having me. It's great to be here. Yeah, well, I mean, I It's funny, you You told me you were gonna ask me that question. And I like three different things popped to mind. But

Nicolas Cary  1:30  

I know from your resume, I bet it'd be hard to figure out where it started.

Seth Levine  1:33  

Yeah, and I don't remember which was first but I was I grew up. Yeah, I grew up scrappy. And you know, yeah, trying to make a little bit a little bit of money. I think my favorite example, and it's probably was my first first book was I raked and shoveled snow when I was a kid for the neighborhood. And, and I realized when I was snow shoveling, I was probably in, wants to still be in grade school, maybe a sixth, sixth, seventh grade, something like that. But I had this deal where I would, people would pay me a fixed rate, I grew up in the Northeast. And so some, you know, some years, it snowed a lot, some years did not. And I had a bunch of people who paid me a fixed rate on a monthly basis, and I would shovel their snow, you know, every time it snowed. And I had I got to that by just, you know, going door to door and asking people, you know, I could show their walk for five bucks. And I had a couple people that that sort of would be like, well come to me first, right and next time. And I was like, well, aha, how about you become a subscription? You're a subscriber to you know, whatever Seth shoveling. Eventually, I actually had a couple of friends working for me. So I would, I would grab them when the when it snowed, and I would pay them hourly. And anyway, it was it was not a particularly big operation, but it certainly worked well.

Nicolas Cary  2:49  

I love it. snow shoveling as a service. It's like predates sass. Perfect. Absolutely. Yeah. The original sass. No, exactly. All right, cool. So let's talk a little bit about your professional career. You know, from the time you went on, from shoveling snow, to going to school and graduating, maybe talk to us a bit about kind of the pivotal moments that helped you evolve into greater amounts of responsibility.

Seth Levine  3:14  

It was the first great little moment was actually what got me away from academia and into business. I was, I was a psychology major, and sort of by the theoretical econ major, I would score the Midwest. And I was I went to this sort of lecture series, that was a really big deal was a political science thing. It's like an endowed series or something like that. And they brought in this professor from Northwestern who was going to talk about welfare policy. And I thought, well, that that sounds really interesting. I was I was good friends with someone who's like on a student who's on the committee, there's a big dinner big to do. And the lecture was in the chapel, there were I mean, it was standing literally was probably 500 people sitting in the ER sitting and standing in the chapel, to listen to this woman speak. And she got she kept promising, she was going to have some, like policy thing that she was going to talk about, she got to the end, and she didn't really have it, right. She had, like, we should just we should value, you know, work more something like something very generic. That not that I disagreed with it. But it was like that there's no policy there. Sorry, that was a little disappointing. So like, two days later, there was another lecture, not a big series, there was no Darrell beforehand. But a woman who had been on welfare she wrote up and, and pulled herself out of welfare, a single mother, by your bootstraps, and she wrote a book about it. And I thought, well, this will be a perfect job to position to, you know, the academic side of hey, this woman studied welfare and then here's this woman that lived welfare happen to be in the same chapel. So same same set, and I might have been one of 15 people have showed up to that. And then that was a moment where like, everything changed for me where I was like, I I don't want to be in the fancy room with the 500 people talking about it. theoretically, I want to be in the room where people who have experienced it are actually trying to do something about it right. And so it totally changed my life. Like, I mean, I was going to go be I was going to go to grad school for psychology to be a professor. And and it was that moment where I just decided, You know what this is not, this isn't what I want to do with my life. So fortunately, I had enough time it was an econ major to which was helpful. Evading this as long time ago. So was, there was like, only so many jobs, you can go get that were like business type jobs after school. But that's what set me on a track, I decided to go do something completely different. And I ended up getting a job at an investment bank, which was an interesting experience, in and of itself. But but you know, that's kind of what set me on this, this business. Or, in fact, I had the great fortune of I mean, really true fortune of getting lucky a bunch of times in my business life, one of which was, I worked for a big bank in New York, they offered to let me skip business school with driver getting that job was near impossible. And that's maybe a story for another podcast, but but it was very interesting experience, not the greatest experience as an analyst, right as a lot of ad in 100 hour weeks, but but they actually offered to let me stay and skate business school when I was about to do that and just remain a banker. And for a bunch of different reasons, didn't do that. I ended up calling a company that I'd done some work for. It was in Colorado, I wanted to move there and my grandparents, were there. And I wanted to spend more time with them. And, and I got he offered me a job, I ended up working for this guy that gave me a ton of responsibility. I did a lot of m&a, I was doing really large, m&a deals when I was you know, in my sort of early 20s, if you will, and and then my boss left to restart another company, he pulled me in to do corporate development for them. And I think three days after I start, he fired the guy that was the CFO, the CFO, essentially, because he didn't, I don't know, trust Him or something like that said, I want you to do that job, right. It's not it wasn't a CFO title, it was the corporate finance half of the CFO job. And then it was an accounting, we hired a Chief accounting officer, and we split the job. And you know, and again, I'm in kind of my mid 20s. And so, you know, I had a chance to do that. And we went, we actually went public and sort of in the height of the bubble, and I led that process raised a bunch of other money from some other investors. And yet, Texas Pacific was one of our investors, and just a lot of interesting people. And then then they decided after the bubble kind of burst, they changed their business model and, and they were gonna go sort of focus on one part of the business, they put the entirety of the rest of the business underneath me, and had me run it for about a year while I kind of cleaned it up, and then sold it in a couple pieces. So I, I did, I got this great operating experience where I ran a $55 million business, I don't know, 250 people were worried about through my organization. And that was also a really interesting experience. And then after that, I got incredibly lucky because someone introduced me to a guy named Brad Feld, who many of your listeners probably know about, and, and I ended up kind of taking a big step back in my career. I mean, I did it very purposely, but I thought, you know, I want to try this venture capital thing. And Brad, I ended up working for Brad for probably four or five years, and he was an incredible person to learn from and that again, lucky because I went to Brad and and sort of quit, like, Why didn't quit, and said, Hey, I'm, I'm not going to quit today. But I just wanted you to know, I'm not going to stay at the firm is called Mobius. Not gonna stay in Mobius. So I, I'm sort of like, I'd been promoted to this, like Super Junior, like super junior partner. And I just said, you know, I'm, I appreciate the opportunity I've had here. But basically, I was married at a kid at that point, I was like, I gotta go, be on a different trajectory here. This isn't really I don't want to be a tiny part, I get to do one or two deals in this fund. And he said, Well, actually, I don't know the funds coming together. But I think I'd like to go do something. You know, what do you think about joining me? And I thought, well, that sounds pretty interesting. So that's, yeah. All right. So that's what started the conversation to that with it ended up being Foundry. So it was, I think what I'm describing to you, Nick is a lot of luck in a lot of different places. And, you know, I don't know, I don't know what would have happened, right, that sliding doors if things had gone differently, but but I'm sure happy they went the way that they did.

Nicolas Cary  9:29  

Well, it's interesting to hear you have that pivotal moment, you know, in the audience in a small room where you, you know, you sort of become reminded that that lived experience. Stepping into the arena is where you're going to really be tested, and the consequences are more palpable. And you really learn to add all these lessons across your career and they prepare you for the next thing. And for anyone that doesn't know Brad Feld wrote, really a definitive book about fundraising for you know, for entrepreneurs that are seeking to venture capital. And it's one of the books I recommend to almost everybody I talked to there's a young entrepreneur on this thinking about facing off against venture capitalists. So a great read, and I don't think I ever knew the the founding story for you guys. So I'm glad to learn that today. So a follow up question to that is, you know, I think we got through like the kind of pivotal, you know, pylons through that story, but can you maybe hone in on one where you had to take a risk? And, you know, it was scary at the time, it was an investment of either, you know, the company's capital, or one of the founders, you know, one of the businesses that you were involved with, and which one led to soar, like the biggest ROI, and what were sort of the most important lessons from that experience that you would convey to others about taking risk? And, and in what to look out for?

Seth Levine  10:50  

Yeah, well, let me tell you the story about the rest of the story about founding Foundry, because that what are the biggest risks that I took? Right? I mean, I again, I was, you know, a scenario that I'd had, I think we had two kids at that point. And it was not, it is not inexpensive to start a venture fund it was it was even more so back then you need we needed to create an offering document, etc, etc. And, and, you know, we I had, on paper made some money in the in the internet bubble, but it all got away. And so I had a little bit of money saved. I mean, we weren't, you know, we've done we've done okay, but but not a ton. And, and to founded Foundry, for me was an all in moment, right, I took my entire life savings, which again, was not a ton at the time, and put there on the table, because it cost a lot of money to get all of that going. And obviously we had travel for fundraising, etc. And I think that that you sort of have to think back to this is 2000 2006 when he kind of came together and decided to do it. She doesn't seven, we were fundraising. There weren't emerging managers in a way that there are now at we were organized in Colorado, that was they were trying to start a national venture capital firm also developed several things in Silicon Valley, New York really barely hit the scene at this point. So it was an unconventional move to do this in Colorado, for sure. Absolutely. And you're again, you're right to point out that it was really Silicon Valley based, right? I mean, there was nothing at all in New York that had had that had sort of made its mark, right. I mean, Fred Wilson had started Union Square just for that, I mean, there were 30, there were firms that would become on to become or become iconic, but they weren't at that point. And the world is really centered around Silicon Valley, and the conventional wisdom amongst venture investors was you needed to be in one of the top like five or six names, or it sort of didn't know where you're gonna find the tech deals in California. And so and the result of that, where the FBI was started fundraising in January, by about May of 2007, it was pretty clear that it wasn't going to happen, right? We've been turned down a budge. We were sort of, I wouldn't say running out of people to call but you know, we'd had a lot of meetings and we not had a lot of results, right, but maybe had five or 10 million soft circled for what had at the time, we were trying to to make 175 million dark fun, actually remember coming home and talking to my wife about it and say, Hey, I'm we're gonna have to start over a little bit here. Like we're, you know, I think I lost the life savings. It wasn't like, we're gonna lose that house sort of moment. But it was, it was a pretty existential like, I don't know, I didn't have to get another job I got up here I were going to do. And it was it was tough. She was obviously super supportive and was like, that'd be mostly she was like, Hey, I think it's going to come together give it a little bit more time. But, but I do very vividly remember that moment of like, I think I might have sort of blown it all up. And this was him, this was the culmination of years, several years of like, having changed my trajectory, having taken salaries that were much, much lower than other offers I'd had because I wanted to be in venture and sort of, there were moments, many moments there, in that kind of spring of 2007, where I thought it wasn't coming together. Now, what ended up happening was one big investor said, Hey, I believe that you guys have like, 20% of your fund. And then all of a sudden, a whole bunch of other people said, Oh, well, you didn't go University Texas once in I think we're pretty interested too. And we ended up raising $225 million. And so when I tell that story to get into supporting, right, we really, you know, it really didn't look like it was going to happen. I think sometimes thing people that are familiar with the venture world think like well, founder was always successful, right? We manage almost four and a half billion dollars right now and, and, you know, we sort of just snap our fingers and raised our for fun. And that really was not the case at all.

Nicolas Cary  14:39  

I think in almost every entrepreneur in the world can relate to those moments that are just so scary, where you're just not sure and you've done all this work. You had all the conviction in the agency and the planning and the strategy. And then it's just, you know, there's this weird moment where there's just limbo for a while, and then it can all come together.

Seth Levine  14:58  

So and you really have to Believe in yourself, right? And by the way, sometimes even when you believe in yourself, it doesn't work out. So I'm not saying it's as simple as just like push through. But obviously, I'm glad we push through, right. I mean, we were, you know, we had some conversations about, okay, how much longer? Are we going to do this before we decide there's just not a market for this? Yep.

Nicolas Cary  15:16  

Well, I think thank you for demystifying some of the myths around venture capital firms just pulling money out of thin air and you know, immediately becoming successful, it's, I think, it's, it's really good to hear that, you know, it's not easy on both sides. Let's talk a little bit about the venture capital space, because we've had a few angel investors on the podcast. But what is maybe a tip you would have for a first time founder to make a good impression when meeting with a professional investor?

Seth Levine  15:43  

Well, let's back up from there, Nick, and just remind everyone who's listening that venture in terms of the funding landscape is tidy, right? It's one 1% of companies take money from VCs, and in the vast majority of companies shouldn't take money from a venture capitalist. And that's due to a bunch of different factors, right? It's not always, it's not always the best deal for companies, right? There's a timeframe to it, right? You got to you know, VCs, like me, exist to eventually sell companies, our funds have 1012 year lives, right. So I'm get extended a little bit. But But still, even if it's 15, like you're the clock starts starts ticking. And the seeds got a lot of control over companies, no matter, you know, if they buy 51% or 5% of the business. And so oftentimes, for many entrepreneurs, it's not the right form of capital. Because you really need to have a big idea that is going to grow and grow rapidly and 66% of venture funded deals failed to return the capital that was invested. Right? So. So VCs make money on a small number of deals that are wildly successful or not, there are many people listening who say, hey, that's, that's what I want to do. That makes sense. And that's fine for them, if they want to do that. But I just remind people, that venture isn't always the way to go right there. There's obviously there's bank financing, there's friends and family money, there's customer revenue, which is a really good way to to fund your business, right? A lot of people start maybe, and they do some consulting, and they use that money, whatever it is. But there are other ways to fund a business and sort of bootstrap a little bit more, that could be maybe a better way for companies to grow. But to your question, specifically. I mean, it's so interesting to think about this next. So we, we see at Foundry, probably somewhere between five and 8000 business plans a year. So it's a lot, it's really hard to stand out in that. And I think that the answer is you want to think about quality over quantity, right? I mean, I've received notes of all different types. The worst ones are dear investor, or even worse, year, John, right, they've forgotten to change the who it's for. And it's a very generic, this is what I'm doing. You know, the best ones are really thoughtful, hey, sci fi, whatever I was reading The New Builders, this really resonated with me, I am actually doing something that's related to that. And I would love to get your advice on it would, you know, something like that. And so I think that's, that's the better approach is, is to do something that's meaningful and intentional. And I'm taking my own medicine on this, I mentioned before we started recording that I'm also a business founder, I'm starting a company right now. And we are, we're in the process of reaching out to pre seed investors, so foundries not previous seed investors. So it's a different, different universe than I necessarily work with, although I overlap with it. And we're doing the same thing, right, we're being very deliberate about who we're sending notes to, we're spending real time doing research, I, you know, I might spend 10, or 15 minutes doing research on a venture firm, before I actually write the note to them. Some of the note, of course, is the same everyone cuz I'm describing the distance that we're working on. But a bunch of the note is very specific to why we're, and I think that that's a better approach.

Nicolas Cary  19:02  

That makes a lot of sense. And thank you for reminding our listeners that the funding landscape is wide and broad. And venture is definitely a very specific type of funding. It's in, like you said, I think, you know, it's so important for founders to really explore the entire breadth of different ways that they can finance their businesses. We'll talk a little bit about that in a minute. But speaking of your book, you are just recently a new published author, and books called The New Builders. Tell us a little bit about this book. And I know this is something really near and dear to your heart, and maybe you can kind of tie it into this new business you're launching. Because I think in many ways, it's quite mission aligned with the work we do here at

Seth Levine  19:45  

Yeah, I would imagine it very mission aligned. And I think that I hope that it will resonate with with your listeners as well. I mean, really, The New Builders describes the landscape of people starting businesses in the US. It's a sort of US focus book. There It is much more diverse than I think people give it credit for and much more centered away from the venture market. Right. And we talk about that, well, 99% of businesses are venture backed. And that's not to take anything away from venture backed businesses very important. They power many of those 99% businesses. But the truth is that women and people of color and immigrants are starting businesses at significantly higher rates than white men. And you wouldn't really know that if you read the business press, the United States, which is much more venture focused venture has a diversity challenge diversity problem. And so many of the stories of the founders that you hear about are stories of white men. But the truth is, if you look more broadly, across the startup landscape, all sorts of different businesses, the kind of company the kind of business that you might pass, if you walked down Main Street in your hometown, those businesses are significantly more likely to be started by women and people of color women start four times the number of men 64% of businesses started by women are shared by, by black women, specifically, black women are the single fastest growing cohort of new entrepreneurs in the United States. And then immigrants are also about twice as likely to start businesses as, as people born in the US for a bunch of different reasons. But and again, that's not to take anything away from the people listening. They're saying, Hey, I'm starting, you know, a business and I'm, you know, you look like you and me, of course, there's plenty of those as well. But the story just hadn't really been told of entrepreneurs that were a bit more diverse. And so we felt, my co author, Elizabeth MacBride, and I felt like, like that was the story that needed to be needed to be talked about. And interestingly, part of that story was that entrepreneurship in the United States was was lagging, and we actually were struggling with, with business starts, net new business starts in the United States, really, for the first time, sort of in our in the history that we count, right. So that's, you know, about 80 years of history. And, you know, we described in that in the book, The reason one of the reasons is access to capital, right, we don't do a good job of getting capital to new builders, to people that look like, like new builders, or people that are straight businesses. And we sort of we talk about the implications of that pretty deeply in the book, you mentioned the business that I'm on the process to starting. And it's really to address that, right I was I did a, we did a book tour as one does. And I would often say on the book tour, like, hey, there's a big business to be built here, if someone couldn't figure out how to better finance, new builder businesses, because they struggle for financing, right. And in large part, that's because the communities from which they pull capital, don't have the resources that other communities that have historically started businesses have, right, it's, as you I'm sure know, the average black family has 1/10 of wealth, the average white family, the average, Hispanic family has 1/7 of wealth, the average white family, these disparities shrink a little bit, but they're still huge, even when you control for income of head of household and education headed out. So this is not a who has the best jobs kind of thing, this is a 456 100 years worth of stuff is that racism results in these massive wealth gaps, we're not going to fix that overnight. But if you're, you know, a black female founder, and you're going to your community to raise a little bit of money. That community doesn't have as much money on average, as me going as a white male founder. By filling that

Nicolas Cary  23:29  

gap is just so critical to the American economy, in supporting the next generation of American entrepreneurship. And like you said, All businesses in these new startups are the ones that clothed the fetus to provide the services, they become bigger businesses that reinvest in their communities, it creates this for to this cycle of wealth creation. That's so critical for us. And also, most new jobs are actually created in the small and medium sized enterprises and businesses across the United States. It's a myth that big giant companies actually stimulate the economy, we need a lot more small businesses that looks a lot more like the composition of our society to be supported to get access to capital, and to grow their businesses heading into the next century. And so I'm a big fan of what you guys are doing. Talk to us a little bit about how you're going to approach solving this problem on the business side with this new company. If I can, if I can mention it. Would love

Seth Levine  24:24  

to hear a little bit about that? Yeah, yeah, this is so I'm starting a business with our order business called Good Bread. And we're going to try to address this now it doesn't address the zero day problem, which is, I think, a separate problem. And I know, one that you guys had Sky's the Limit are really thinking about and by the way, you're 100% right. There have been a number of studies that have shown that 100% some cases more than 100% of net new job growth comes from small business. So it's a critical part of the US economy by the way, it's 50% of one and a 42% of GDP. So it's it's also you know, They're there. They individually are small, but together, they're mighty right. And I think that that's something that people sometimes forget. And so, so anyway, but to Good Bread, so we're going to try to find a way to solve the financing problem for small businesses. And well, we heard when we were researching The New Builders over and over and over again was many of these businesses need a relatively modest amount of money. Right. 5000 $200,000. And unfortunately, that doesn't really work in the US banking system, right? It's not the way that that banks think about the market, they're not able to make loan sizes for the most part. CDFIs are a little bit of an exception, but but to make loans, loans in that size, if you look at the SBA data, right, the average SBA loan, right, which is a great way to, to raise money, if you can, but the average date, SBA loan is nearly $600,000. Right? It's out of the reach of most businesses. And again, the truth is that small businesses are actually not the ones that are you know, even though there's an SME SBA, that there are not the ones largely accessing the capital. So anyway, our hope is to change that by creating a underwriting methodology that blends financial underwriting, so traditional, you know, how would your credit score kind of stuff with character based underwriting we've been working on a model that we put together that we hope will be quite predictive of people's propensity to repay, right, it's grittiness, it's likely to its obligation to repay things like that, and measure across the inventory of about 100 100 or so questions. And so we're going to try to combine those two things in an application that is relatively easy to manage and maneuver for small businesses. So we can make quick financing decisions. And we can kind of get into that sweet spot of, you know, let's say 25 to $75,000, loans, loan size, and the kinds of things we're talking about our you know, you are a trainer, and you want to open your first first gym, right you aren't, you

Nicolas Cary  27:04  

don't need $600,000 To do that, you know, you'd be out a mall or amount of money to test that idea out.

Seth Levine  27:10  

100%, right, you own a food truck and you want to buy a second one, right, you are a restaurant tour, and you need to, you know, whatever do upgrade your, you know, your kitchen. You know, things like that are the types of things that we plan to fund with this, with this money. So that's the idea. We're in the process of raising our own capital for that, in our case, we are going to be scenes for that, as I mentioned, and so, you know, we're very early in that process. But our hope is to get it launched soon. And

Nicolas Cary  27:44  

amazing. Well, we're rooting for you guys. And we'll be keeping a keen eye on that project and hope to check back in with you at some point, to talk more about how we can support early stage entrepreneurs from across the country. I think we have time for one or two more questions, being conscious of our time here. So I want to ask them, you know, we share a few mutual points of contact. And, you know, one of the things I always like to ask people about is, you know, who was an important mentor in your career, and maybe talk to us a bit about the relationship and how it helped you across, you know, different times of hardship or growth for you personally.

Seth Levine  28:22  

Yeah, it is, it's really hard to point to anyone other than Brad, I mean, I've had some great mentors over my life. But Brad Feld, who's still now my partner, you know, there's been instrumental in my life and career I learned a lot about is this from him, I've learned, I learned the craft of venture capital, by you know, sort of running around with the methods associated and going to board meetings, and I've learned a lot about life from him. And just in terms of how he approaches things, and he's just, you know, I just obviously, I had the great fortune of spending time with someone who I think is going to code down as, you know, one of the greatest venture capitalists of our generation. And so, given that, that's, you know, what I've devoted now 22 years to and then in terms of a career, I couldn't couldn't imagine a better mentor then then Brad. And it's really an it's interesting, too, because our relationship has evolved, right? And I started by working for him. And, and then we became partners, but I never I didn't it took me a little while to feel like God was really his partner. And then it went through a period where I felt like God just constantly living in gravity or any complex. No, absolutely. And I eventually actually wrote something about this. I called it shadow boxing and I I described the sort of like getting over that right like, like, realizing that it wasn't a competition and that it I didn't need to become Brad I needed to be my own person. And, and I think that's when I stopped worrying about our famous Brad was but I wasn't and you know, whatever, like in the venture world, and It just sort of decided to focus on the stuff that I cared about. And and that I think was both helpful for me helpful for our relationship. And you know, I mean, grant me, Brad and I've been business partners now for 2020 something years, and we were very, very close friends. So I that's a probably a longer answer than you want it. But definitely, oh, thank you

Nicolas Cary  30:17  

for sharing that. Let's, that's very cool to hear about. All right, maybe one last question here. You know, entrepreneurship can seem very scary to anyone sort of taking that step, you know, to go test it out to try their idea and see whether or not it gets traction. You know, what tips would you give our listeners for how to maybe manage some of the stress that comes with running their own business or taking that leap? And, you know, switching their context and getting, getting a little bit uncomfortable with with changes in their lives?

Seth Levine  30:50  

Yeah, so it's funny, I would prep it with a few questions, I thought you were going to ask me about sort of one of the one of the books I've read recently that really resonated with me, but actually, the answer, I think, will will dovetail with this, as I think about a big part, because I think, you know, sometimes you could hear me talk for 30 seconds on something but, but maybe reading more about it, I read a lot. And so I had, I had a few to choose from, but one that really resonated with me. And I think this is important for entrepreneurs as well was a book called Subtract this by an author called Leidy Klotz. And it really talks about when you're mostly humans are wired to think about adding, right, what more can I do? I can change something, I should add something to what I'm doing. And this is the part that's responsive to your question about sort of how to manage your time, your time and your life as an entrepreneur. And I think that and I definitely fall prey to this, which is maybe why the book resonated with me so well, because it made me reorient orient my thinking to make the add on to talking about I'm going to take a vacation in there that I'm going to do less I'm talking about long term changes to what you're doing. Yeah, maybe you need to add something, maybe that's a walk every day or meditation or something like that. But but maybe it's also taking some things away. Right? You have tried to too much. And so I would say that for and this is true, not just for entrepreneur entrepreneurs, but for all of the people I know, I often, you know, sort of listen to them talk about something they're stressed about, and I think, what could they not be doing right? And then then I realized when I'm complaining to someone, they're probably having the same sort of dialogue in their own heads that I've started trying to, to ask myself that question a is the answer to what I've been doing to to add something to my life, or is it really to like create simplicity and take some complexity out? So I'd recommend that as a concept in that book.

Nicolas Cary  32:48  

All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing that Seth. Now, I'm going to be thinking about that all weekend. Really appreciate it. Okay, well, really appreciate your time today, and I'm sure listeners will be grateful for all the wisdom that was shared Sky's We connect underrepresented entrepreneurs with volunteer business professionals for free one on one mentoring. We also provide guides to all of our members monthly funding opportunities, so you can sign up today for free. And if you like what you heard, please subscribe and share. Thanks, everyone.

Outro  33:19  

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