He bet on MakerBot in a time when you didn’t want to be investing in hardware, and he recently was a part of the group that bought Blue Bottle Coffee, which isn’t exactly a tech company at all. So what makes him tick?
Makerbot, which recently sold to Israel-based Stratasys for $403 million, was not a sure-fire investment at the time he made it. Bre Pettis, the company’s founder, was untested, and nobody knew if there would be a market for a consumer-oriented 3D printing product.
So why invest? Because Conrad believed in the energy Pettis brought with him in 2010.
“He was building this product that really captured my imagination and our imagination, but he also had a set of values and ideals about how he was going to impact the world,” said Conrad, speaking at the START conference in San Francisco this week.
If you think your startup has the chance to be the next Makerbot, how do you successfully pitch to Conrad? You have to be the sort of founder that he wants to invest in. And that means having vision.
“I think that vision is so important for founders early on, and so lacking, often, in how you want it to be,” he said.
At the end of the day, what sets apart those who have vision from those who don’t is how big they dream.
“There are some people that are starting a company, and there are some people that are starting a movement,” Conrad said.
Check out the full video of Conrad’s talk below.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.