Nearly 19,000 budding entrepreneurs, gracious volunteers and daring developers descended on Denver Startup Week (DSW) during September 25–29 this year. Not only was I impressed by the sheer number of local businesses and co-working spaces that opened their doors to this crowd, but also by the generosity and authenticity of startup employees, panelists and volunteers. A collective self-awareness permeated the city that week: Denver is determined to be a top-tier technology hub and great businesses will continue to come from the city. Their minds are open and arms outstretched to both candid critiques and zealous encouragement.
I was invited to be in the first group of Startup Ambassadors for DSW. We stayed in the heart of downtown Denver and met 49 other passionate entrepreneurs to begin our whirlwind tour of some top-notch early to mid stage startups. The team at Ibotta shared their vision for building a more connected and intelligent retail world. GoSpotCheck showed us their brand new office and shared their story for how they refined their business model. Guild is closing the loop on employee education and worker retention with a unique benefits system. These founders and visionaries have built and scaled companies in Denver and are excited for more great things to come.
It is obvious that inhabitants of Denver and the surrounding area are eager to build a strong, supportive community of entrepreneurs and business leaders. Denver may not have the sheer volume of venture capitalists that the Bay area does, but funds who set up shop there are bullish on the outlook of their portfolios. There may not be as much C-level talent, but the city is growing quickly thanks to skyrocketing property values on the coasts and copious quality of life advantages like sunshine and skiing.
Not only has Denver developed an outstanding community, they have created a dialogue. If other cities around the US follow in their footsteps by investing in community and empowering startups, we could motivate individuals, create jobs, and increase economic output. Denver has started the conversation and it is paying off.