Feld on Fiber: "I want to see what people come up with!"

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Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 12:00 am

Brad Feld speaks at Thinc Iowa (now called Big Des Moines) October 11, 2012.

Following Wednesday's news that Brad Feld purchased a home in Kansas City's first "Fiberhood," we reached out to the notable venture capitalist to learn more about the backstory of his purchase and his interest in Google Fiber.

"I met Ben Barreth at Thinc Iowa. I loved his story and the Hacker House idea," Feld said in our email interview, referring to his appearance at our event last October and a project by Barreth that gives entrepreneurs a free three-month stay in Kansas City.

"I told him I'd be interested in helping any way I could. This thought bounced around in my mind for a month or so at which point I emailed him and asked if there were any other houses in the neighborhood for sale," he said.

His inquiry prompted a deeper discussion between him, Barreth and Lesa Mitchell of Kansas City's Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, an organization Feld said he's had a relationship with since the mid-1990s.

Without ever visiting Kansas City to look at the house, Feld closed on the property (4437 Cambridge St.) Monday, and two days later in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation he announced a competition for entrepreneurs to live in the house rent free for one year.

"I have a couple of very specific goals," Feld said Wednesday on his personal blog. "First, I want to set an example using some of the principles I talk about in Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. Next, I'm fascinated with Google Fiber and the idea of 1GB Internet access to the home so I want to experiment and see what smart entrepreneurs can come up with."

Feld, who expects the entrepreneurs will move in before summer, told us he will visit the house a "few times over the year." His first visit will come in early April in conjunction with his appearance at the U.S. Sourcelink annual conference.

As to what application of Google's ultra-fast internet Feld gets most excited about, he said he still doesn't know yet. "That's part of why I'm doing this. I want to see what people come up with!"

He said he hasn't yet seen a startup that effectively puts Google Fiber to use. And when asked if through this project he foresees investment opportunities for his venture capital firm, he said he has "no idea" at this point. 

Applications to live in Feld's "Fiberhouse" are open until March 22.

For more, read our post: "Brad Feld buys KC house with Google Fiber, opens contest to live in it".


Credits: Photo by Anna Jones | Art of Photography and Phillip Harder.

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