The long and lazy days of summer are almost behind us, meaning we are only FIVE WEEKS Out from Denver Startup Week 2018. Every day new sessions are added, venues are finalized, panelists are confirmed and the EXCITEMENT MOUNTS for what is shaping up to be our most innovative and diverse Startup Week yet.
If you haven’t registered yet, we know you’ll get RIGHT TO IT after reading what Conor Swanson, the esteemed Chair of the Developer Track, Chair of the Denver Startup Week Ambassador Program, Co-owner of tech recruitment firm Code Talent, husband of one and father of two, AND man about town in the Denver tech and entrepreneurial scenes, told us he had up his very capable sleeves for the week. Over his incredible career, Conor has founded three businesses, (serving as leader for everything from business development to product to operations), been named a TechStars Founder Alum, and spoken at events from Finovate to the US. Patent & Trademark Office Tech Fair. He’s also an Eagle Scout, so great to bring along camping.
Conor, how did you get involved with Denver Startup Week?
Well, Erik Mitisek [co-founder of Denver Startup Week] and I have been friends since college days at DU; in fact we were both recipients of the same scholarship. So when Denver Startup Week was first getting started, he recruited me in to help. My involvement has just continued to progress, from running the first Startup Crawl to chairing both the Developer track and the Product track, then to this year, when I’m focused on chairing the Developer Track and Ambassador Program.
You’ve got deep Denver Startup Week cred. What are you most excited about for this year?
The Ambassador Program, for sure. This is my second year of running it and it is just fantastic to see all the applications, read these incredible journeys of entrepreneurship and then get to personally know the ones we are lucky enough to bring to Denver. (Thank you, Southwest!) It’s just awesome. I’m particularly proud of how this program works to expose Colorado to viewpoints and opinions from other places, other people and other backgrounds. The Ambassadors challenge all of us to think through how we approach things and empower us to facilitate that conversation. It’s tremendous. We had nearly 400 applications this year and had to narrow it down to 50, which we are aiming to announce ASAP.
Who do you think should come to the Developer Track sessions?
Our sessions would be applicable for anyone who’s interested in learning about the inner workings of what makes technology happen. We’re all about making the engines run, whether its web development, mobile development, emerging technologies like AI or blockchain, data science — you name it. There is a lot of exciting content that will be useful to startups, enterprise organizations, and individuals that like to understand how things work.
What stood out to you most about the sessions submitted to the Developer Track?
It was definitely more diverse than in years past, both in subject matter and presenters. We had more females than ever before applying to speak in our track, which is so awesome. And the trends seem to reflect a growing local interest in data science, machine learning and blockchain.
That is awesome to hear. What are your ‘can’t miss’ sessions for the week?
There are so many! But if I had to narrow it down, here are five that I think are really key:
Why Decentralization Matters: Monday, 9/24 | 10–12 p.m.
The decentralized blockchain revolution is upon us. The blockchain layer of internet applications. Learn about the current trends in decentralization with leaders from ETHDenver and Colorado Blockchain.
Developer Track Keynote — A Discussion With Engineering Leaders From Slack, Strava, Gusto, and the Trade Desk: Tuesday, 9/25 | 4–6 p.m.
An exciting panel discussion with the leaders of California-based companies focused on building world-class engineering and product teams in Colorado. Learn about the challenges, opportunities, and reasons associated with these companies and their decisions to call Colorado home.
Moderated by Kelly Shuster, international technical speaker and software developer, and featuring:
· Michael Lopp — Vice President of Engineering for Slack
· Eddie Kim — Co-Founder and Head of Engineering at Gusto
· Steve Lloyd — Head of Engineering for Strava
· Zak Stengel — SVP of Engineering for the Trade Desk
Building Hardware-Enabled Startups at All Stages of Growth: Thursday, 9/27 | 4–5:30 p.m.
Getting a hardware-enabled startup off the ground is hard enough. Challenges only continue as you grow.
Hear from a panel of startup CTO’s all at different phases of growth about their experiences, learnings, and regrets. Topics ranging from hiring, manufacturing, team dynamics, engineering management, and other growing pains and how they evolved as the company grew.
A Conversation on Scaling With Keith Abrams: Wednesday, 9/26 | 12–2 p.m.
Keith Abrams, Chief Architect at Slack, will share insight and lessons learned while growing the business from small startup to global communication powerhouse with a valuation of $3.8 billion. If there’s an expert in scaling, it’s Keith Abrams.
Developer Lunch & Learn: Thursday, 9/27 | 12–1:30 p.m.
LadyCoders and WomenTechOver will host a technical lunch and learn for developers. There will be three technical talks, each 20 min, given by senior women and non-binary technologists. The talks will be timely and include the topics of cryptocurrency, augmented reality, robotics and AI.
Who is the Developer Track sponsor?
We’re so happy to have HomeAdvisor as our track sponsor. Having the Developer Track underwritten by a local company that has grown so much and been so successful in the marketplace is extra inspiring and really means a lot. Not to mention they’re about to move their headquarters to RiNo, which will further serve to further strengthen our downtown development community. Welcome to the neighb, HomeAdvisor!
You’ve been at Denver Startup Week every year since its inception. What is your best advice for how an attendee can maximize the experience?
I always advise that people make a point of putting themselves in a position to meet people. Oftentimes the larger social engagements, like the opening night party or keynote events, provide a lot of value in a short amount of time from a networking perspective. In addition, I recommend browsing the schedule and targeting the types of content you’re excited about so that you can map out exactly what you want to take away from the week.
Last question, Conor! What is the biggest lesson learned about Denver Startup Week?
We started DSW with a small idea, and it has exceeded it in so many ways. What really stands out is that this is a community that loves to assist and help each other and is constantly looking for ways to become increasingly beneficial to all types of businesses and backgrounds. There are amazing entrepreneurial forces at work in just about every aspect of our culture and we have a tremendous opportunity to learn as we share information between us. That’s what I’ve learned — and continue to learn — from Denver Startup Week.