DSW DENtrepreneur: Dave Bacon, Founder & CEO, BWBacon Group

Next week, thousands of people will be learning, celebrating and chatting about all things startup at the 7th annual Denver Startup Week. Some of them will be founders. Translation: people who need investors. I figured a view from the top would be appreciated. I introduce you to our next DENtrepreneur: Dave Bacon, the Founder and CEO at BWBacon Group, which is anything but an ordinary staffing firm.

The Bacon family — covered in mud.

What makes a great founder?

Dave not only aligns people with their dream jobs, but also invests in area startups, including some of the 88 Downtown Denver companies that raised nearly $600M in funding last year alone. Is it luck that draws investment? Killer business plans? Sleek logos? In Dave’s opinion, how the founders show up is a big deal.

“I’m a sucker for a seriously persuasive leader. Someone who demonstrates infectious advocacy for everything they believe and has a certain clarity and conviction,” he says.

Dave also considers:

  • Does she/he bring the best out of others through empowerment and motivation?
  • Does she/he know her/his user market and their competitors intimately?
  • How has she/he handled adversity, been able to stay the course or, for that matter, changed the course?

Of course, his investment is not always monetary. Dave also helps job seekers, and some are from out of town. Like Google’s “Airport Test,” Dave has a test to see if newcomers will last in Colorado. Can you be stuck in a car with this candidate in mountain traffic? What conversation can spontaneously erupt? Does he or she give the impression that they can make things happen?

What I learned about Dave is that a person’s moral compass, zeal and awareness of their potential impact go a long way towards garnering investments of the personal and financial nature. The startup world is not always about the bottom line, but rather about developing people and supporting their ideas. It warms my heart.


What’s up with Denver’s Talent Pool?

It’s all good! The demand for quality talent is high around the world and “Denver is setting itself up perfectly to land them here. Our community is doing exactly what we need to do to attract and nurture this talent,” Dave says.

It might be surprising to hear, but Dave also says that many of the best founders of software or technical companies are not all that technical, and “that we should be appealing to upper level tech talent to come here with the strong prospect to complement founders at a very high level.”

With local daily headlines buzzing about company relocations, IPO announcements, and funding rounds, Dave definitely thinks more upper level talent is on its way to Denver. The recently issued 2018 Startup Report bears up his experience, showing that in the last year alone, the Denver metro area workforce grew by 58,000 people.


On the Flip Side

This is not at all to say that all upper level talent has to be imported. Dave makes a point to say that he and his team have done several nationwide searches for upper level technical talent and ended up finding the right people right here. Queen City of the Plains, represent!

As for the founders who call Colorado home, Dave says, “We’re lucky to be surrounded by a lot of great founders in Colorado who are really just getting started.”


Let’s Address Diversity!

“Dave works with candidates of all ages, genders, and abilities. His team at BWBacon is 50/50 male/female. He doesn’t want a pat on the back though. “I hope that 5 or 10 years from now, we can look at the decisions we make now as being formative to how we ‘look’ in the future.”

Dave thinks if we can make incremental steps year in/year out, then over time, we will see “real diversity” unfold. “It remains a constant and obvious effort,” for his own company as well as companies around town.

One workforce Dave draws special attention to is the aging population. They have “the ability to bring out the best in younger generations because I sense that they value time well spent. I feel like younger generations have a great zeal to be amazing, and they take stock in the experiences of those older,” says Dave. “I feel like the older we get, the more we let gratitude spread its wings and that can do a lot for a work culture.” Cheers to that!


Denver Startup Week

Dave has been involved as a participant of and attendee at Denver Startup Week since its inception. For him, the week is truly about discovering natural connections. His advice for newbies (and seasoned pros)? “Meet everyone from volunteers to the organizing committee. You will not only learn more about entrepreneurship but also all the efforts the community makes for DSW to happen.”

For those on the shyer side, Dave suggests to “leave bashful at home and open new doors.” Overcome those fears and ask questions. He adds, “I think it’s so awesome when someone is unsure if they should raise their hand — and they do it anyway.”

His favorite place to meet new people? But of course, Basecamp powered by Chase for Business. Make sure to stop by to co-work, rejuvenate and start those conversations.


Final Thought by Dave Bacon

“Seize the day, every day, and recognize when to seize the moment,” Dave says. “As people come and go in our lives, it is important to take advantage of each moment and opportunity. We got one shot.” Amen, brother!

And just think: Denver Startup Week might just provide you with that life-defining moment. Make sure you are registered before you go to speed up the line, and you tell everyone you know to come along!


P.S. Word on the street is that Dave can throw a heck of a party. If you’re looking for a professional connection, seems like Dave is a great guy to befriend!