Brian Fioca has been bouncing around from one startup to another since he founded his first company, a job posting site called Jobby, in 2005.
Jobby was acquired by Jobster just one year later — and so began what has become a long and successful career in the startup trenches.
Fioca has now worked with nine different startups, from iPhone-optimized website builder Zapd (which was acquired by RealSelf in 2013), to time management app RescueTime, which he took through the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program.
Today, Fioca works for Madrona Venture Labs, the incubation arm of investment firm Madrona Venture Group. His job is to help form business concepts, build out the products, bring on customers and then handoff his startups to a founding team to scale. Fioca has incubated two companies this way at Madrona, including Spare5, and is working on a few others right now that he’s not quite ready to talk about publicly.
A graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Fioca has lived in Georgia, Pennsylvania, California and Alaska — though he says “Seattle is my forever home.”
Meet our new Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
What do you do, and why do you do it? “I help build great companies from scratch, prove them out, sell to happy customers, and help recruit great teams to bring them to life. I have the best job — and coworkers — in the world at Madrona. I can’t wait to come into the office everyday and learn new things and build new products and talk to new people.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Anyone can have great startup ideas if you practice! I used to be terrible at ideas. The best way to learn is to do. Talk to customers. Talk to experts. Get them to tell you what you’re doing won’t work, and why. Build something. Focus on one thing but think of everything. Be willing to throw it away and try again. Prove everyone wrong. Success is not zero-sum. Pithy statements are fun.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “Everywhere! Through new experiences, friends, my coworkers, by doing all the things. The more I expose myself to every aspect of the world and my job the easier it is to find patterns to match and pull together in new ways. Creativity to me is just taking pieces of things you see around you and combining them in new and interesting ways.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “It seems obvious but my iPhone — for all the reasons you can think of. In second place would be my electric car. I’m never going back to having exploding, noisy, wobbly machinery in the front of my vehicle.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “Efficient clutter? It’s a standing desk so I feel like I’m always leaning in and it’s easier to pace and think. It’s also right in the middle of the action around me.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “RescueTime! I have three alerts set: one for when I’m too distracted, one for when I’ve hit my daily work goal, and one to tell me to stop working so I don’t burn out.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Mac, please.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Riker!”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Time machine to travel to the future and get the other two.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “Get the Madrona Venture Labs team together and actually launch three startups.”
I once waited in line for … “A Nintendo Wii, for some reason.”
Your role models? “So many! Paul Graham springs to mind. Definitely one of the smartest, most generous humans on the planet when it comes to sharing knowledge. Sam Altman for being able to efficiently make the world bend to his will — for the better! Tony Conrad from True Ventures for his stealth sphere of influence. Tony Wright for somehow being able to pull off an almost arrogant confidence and self-deprecating humility at the exact same time.”
Greatest Game in History? “Myst.”
Best Gadget Ever? “Portable battery to power my other gadgets. It’s gadgets all the way down.”
First Computer? “Commodore 64.”
Current Phone? “Rose gold iPhone 6s.”
Favorite App? “Slack.”
Favorite Cause? “Bringing about the singularity.”
Most important technology of 2015? “Apple watch. Just kidding, but I love mine anyway.”
Most important technology of 2017? “Self-driving electric cars.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks? “Make something people want.”