Andrew Feldman is a true serial entrepreneur. He has already created and exited over $1 billion in startups and has raised $200M for his next venture.
We got together for a recent episode of the Dealmakers podcast. Andrew shared his unique start in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the challenges, and successes of raising capital in a bear market, how to pick investors, the art of listening and the biggest mistakes he’s made.
Born At Stanford
Feldman was literally born and raised on the Stanford University campus.
Both of his parents were faculty members. He was embedded in the school’s exciting entrepreneurial ecosystem. A special place, where this is a lot of passion and firm belief that young entrepreneurs are capable of achieving amazing things.
He still goes back to recruit and give talks there. It’s where he took on his undergrad and began his Ph.D. in organizational behavior, before going to business school.
Although he always had an entrepreneurial spirit, creating ventures like surf and skate t-shirt businesses, he expected to become a professor like his parents. Then he realized that a life of writing academic papers really wasn’t for him. It wasn’t a source of happiness. He began pursuing business.
The $280 Million Business Plan
While living in the Bay Area during business school Andrew’s housemates who were working for Intel approached him for advice on starting their own company. He recommended they find a Stanford MBA to help write their business plan. The people they approached for help ended up writing a plan for a competitor instead. So, they kept pressing Feldman to help.
He did. They set out to build a gigabit ethernet networking company. They created among the first switches to drive the cost of communication to almost zero.
They raised money from Sequoia and others. A year and a half later they sold the business for $280M. Andrew was still just 27 years old.
Once An Entrepreneur, Always An Entrepreneur
As a part of the exit, Andrew moved with the acquirer. He was no longer the CEO of the company. He was just the Head of Product and Marketing.
In these situations, you inevitably go from a tight team who is passionate about building an extraordinary product in startup culture, to being in an organization of thousands that is ruled by politics. As with all true entrepreneurs, he quickly decided that wasn’t the environment for him.
They spun another company out of that. He was a part of the leadership team that took Riverstone to be a public company in late 2000. Another great win that created wealth for the team, though which also meant the distraction of being in a highly regulated environment versus the focus on being in a startup.
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