Last night, we attended a great talk with Brad Burnham, a partner at Union Square Ventures and a veritable staple of the New York startup scene. The talk was held at our office, General Assembly, and took place as part of a lecture series called Founders @ Fail. The series focuses on learning from the failures and various experiences of industry veterans.
In front of a packed GA main room, Brad touched on a wide range of topics and lessons derived from both his experiences as a VC and as an entrepreneur. One of the most interesting topics he addressed was the complex relationship between the investor and the entrepreneur, especially in relation to the way failure is handled, addressed, and identified. It is difficult to make the call as a group, he explained, because the entrepreneur has only one bat to swing, while the fund has an entire portfolio. Later, Brad told a few stories about his early entrepreneurial experience at AT&T ventures. Another interesting observation he had was about the tighter relationship between marketers and developers that today’s tech game demands. As Brad explained, the tech game is now as much about social engineering as it is about electrical engineering. Finally, before taking questions from the audience, he went into his views on certain key policy issues, such as net-neutrality, copyright, and patent reform. Brad and his partners care deeply about these issues, and he emphasized the important role that all of us in the startup industry must play in the fight for net-neutrality. Personally, we couldn’t agree more – the stakes are high for tech and web innovators, who rely on equal access to online consumers and networks. This summary only covers a small fraction of what Brad addressed last night. He really left us thinking and brought a good group of people together for post-lecture chatting. Thanks to Founders @ Fail and, of course, GA, for another great learning experience.