Clearstone honored to sponsor SCV Startup event!

About 60 entrepreneurs and investors gathered Wednesday at Embassy Suites for a seminar on starting business.
It’s very simple, said Brad Feld, a veteran entrepreneur, investor and author who co-founded TechStars, the No. 1 tech startup accelerator program in the United States according to

“The best entrepreneurs are ones that are completely and totally obsessed with the product they create,” Feld said. “Period. That’s it.”

That was the takeaway from Feld, this month’s guest speaker for SCV Startup, a six-month-old accelerator program that provides resources, knowledge and guidance for local tech startups. Feld’s book on creating a startup, “Do More Faster,” is the gospel for SCV Startup Founder Erick Arndt and was the catalyst for the group, which aims to create 12 startups in the next 24 months – and as a result, more jobs and business for the SCV.
After creating and selling multiple businesses of his own, Feld cultivated a passion for mentoring and investing in budding startups. In four years with TechStars, he helped create 80 startups and 450 jobs in Boulder, Colo., and the program has expanded to four more metropolitan cities nationwide. Any metro area can create its own successful “entrepreneur ecosystem,” he said Wednesday.

“Essentially, every town in the U.S. was a startup,” Feld said.

Feld discussed his own philosophies on successful startups and the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. He also gave advice on ensuring SCV Startup reaches its goal of 12 startups by 2014.

A successful accelerator program “has to be driven by entrepreneurs,” Feld said, adding that agencies, such as local government, local colleges, venture capitalists and the media, have their place in the accelerator community. But those entrepreneur leaders must be inclusive of anyone who wants to engage with the group, he said.

Accelerators don’t just meet once a month either, he said. Feld and his tech-startup community in Boulder have weekly coffee sessions open to anyone, and he is on the board for Startup Weekend, events where developers, designers and entrepreneurs can brainstorm and launch new startups within a weekend.

In addition to his mentoring, Feld is a co-founder of Foundry Group, a tech-focused venture capital firm with an existing $225 million fund. The group also expects to create a second $225 million fund within the next year.

The most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make with investors, he said, are assuming that all venture and angel capitalists are the same and just considering them checkbooks without building relationships with them.

Feld fielded questions from entrepreneurs, including Dave Schmidt, a student at Moorpark College, who drove from Agoura Hills to check out SCV Startup and hear Feld speak. Schmidt has developed what he calls a “reverse Craigslist” for want ads and asked how Feld and the accelerator program could help him while he’s in the early stage of the startup.

Beyond the importance of passion and obsession with one’s product, Schmidt said he took away from the talk that if one fails, one just needs to keep going forward.

Failed startups “can’t kill you and can’t eat you,” Feld told the group. “It’s all right to throw it away and try something else.”

While it was mostly entrepreneurs in the crowd, representatives from the city, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. and various venture capitalist firms were present to hear what Feld had to say and learn more about
SCV Startup.

SCV Startup has attracted the attention and support of Clearstone Venture Partners. The firm, which is based in Santa Monica and Palo Alto, specializes in technology innovation and has hosted the last three local gatherings, saying it sees potential in the region.

“There aren’t a lot of places in Los Angeles that have the same standard of living as Santa Clarita,” said Jim Armstrong, managing director of Clearstone.

The group has also attracted the attention of Calvin Hedman, president of Santa Clarita-based Hedman Partners.
Hedman, who attends the SCV Startup meetings, said there is a high-tech element in the local community.

“It’s really great that people are also coming from outside the community to Santa Clarita and may start up their own businesses here,” said Jason Crawford, economic development manager for Santa Clarita. “We’ve been talking with (SCV Startup Founder Erick Arndt) about how the city can help.”