Firebrand was born out of John's experience as Managing Director for Techstars Kansas City. After investing in 30 startups across three cohorts, he realized that even exceptional startups struggled to raise seed rounds between the coasts. In 2016 John launched Firebrand, which invested in 27 portfolio companies in places like Austin, Boulder, Denver, Chicago, Des Moines and Kansas City.
Simultaneously, Chris was launching Blue Note Ventures in Boulder, Colorado, a seed stage fund serving entrepreneurs committed to authentic leadership. With two decades of venture experience investing in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond, Chris was committed to a strategy of backing passionate entrepreneurs who aspired to be self-aware, transparent, humble and courageous.
After co-investing in several companies together out of their respective funds, it became obvious that Chris and John not only shared a similar investment strategy, but also an underlying set of values around how they partnered with entrepreneurs. In late 2019 they decided to join forces and merged Firebrand and Blue Note.
Now investing out of the Firebrand II fund, we are steadfast in our approach of investing in trusted relationships with exceptional founders. We meet companies where they are and prioritize values such as integrity, transparency, and being a key resource for founders.
Most importantly, we're true partners in the startup journey. We're honored to get the late night text messages or weekend phone calls when founders need us. We invest early and are there to support entrepreneurs through the inevitable ups and downs of startup life.
First and foremost, we look to lead by example. We strive to form open and honest relationships with the founders in whom we invest. We also look for entrepreneurs who aspire to be great leaders and to create authentic relationships among their teams – something we view as crucial in the fast paced world of high-growth startups.
Honesty. Character. How you act when no one's looking. These traits may seem old-fashioned to some people - not us. Integrity is the starting point, the prerequisite. It guides everything we do and what we look for in every founder we support.
Our founders are our customers. Our #1 priority. Our true north. When we invest, it’s because we have 100% conviction in the founders’ character, skills, and vision. We're huge fans of great entrepreneurs.
We’ve been founders ourselves so we know there will be major ups and downs. We never expect a smooth, upward path to success. We roll up our sleeves and solve problems alongside our founders. We’re accessible and responsive. We do what we say we'll do. We don’t ghost.
Startups and venture are about the long game. Everything we do is geared towards creating long-term value. Same with our relationships - we invest time to build a foundation that will last many years.
From our investment process to our terms, to accessing our vast network, we’re an open book. Life’s too short to play games - we’ll tell you what we’re thinking and why. We strongly believe open communication is the basis for any great relationship.