What is Startup Colorado?
The Front Range is abuzz with people talking about new company creation and strengthening Colorado’s long-term economic base by building a dense entrepreneurial ecosystem. Many of these conversations are prelude to what many believe to be an incredibly bright entrepreneurial future for Colorado.
But these conversations elide a fundamental aspect of entrepreneurship. For all of its attendant buzzwords and hyped economic potential, entrepreneurship is an intensely social worldview that emphasizes people, community, and culture as much as it cares about technological innovation and return on investment. Against this backdrop, we’ve launched Startup Colorado.
What is Startup Colorado?
Startup Colorado’s ambition is to better connect entrepreneurs throughout Colorado’s Front Range by improving access to entrepreneurial resources, accelerate mentorship, and improve entrepreneurial education.
As the Executive Director of Startup Colorado, I have had the good fortune over the last several months to work with a variety of entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers who desire to build a stronger sense of entrepreneurial community permeate the Front Range. An impressively high number of these people have enjoyed the kind of professional, personal, and economic success that many people only dream of. Yet despite their success these people still put time and effort into community. They donate strategic vision to foundations and community programs, they support a wealth of educational opportunities, and they participate in a variety of community-focused events, fundraisers, and projects. Perhaps most tellingly, they devote to other people time as mentors, educators, supporters, and friends.
This commitment to playing a meaningful role in the lives of others underscores a key element of entrepreneurship: it is, at heart, predicated on the view that other people matter. Entrepreneurs may have egos, attitude, and sometimes maniacally singular focus on their goals, but those qualities are undergirded by a passionate engagement with ideas, industries, communities, and people. Indeed, as Phil Weiser has noted, “in Boulder and the surrounding areas, there is an amazing willingness of successful entrepreneurs to help the up-and-comers.” That spirit is one of Boulder’s strengths, and as this story about Reid Hoffman demonstrates, people who care about connections and community are a key part of any successful entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Rather than have a grand vision with no action, we are focused in year one on a range of specific projects. Brad Feld is correct that an entrepreneurial community must be led by entrepreneurs. To that end, we have entrepreneurs helping on the following initiatives:
- Expanding new tech meetups, open coffee clubs, and community office hours in Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs
- Creating an entrepreneurial summer camp in Boulder (talented college students from throughout Colorado will work as interns for Boulder startups)
- Support entrepreneurial education in the Front Range
- Evaluate current barriers that entrepreneurs face, including an assessment of what best practices are in place at entrepreneurial communities around the US and world
- Engaging larger companies in the entrepreneurial ecosystem through commitments to help entrepreneurs
- Building the Startup Colorado website to be a user-friendly, thorough database for information and connections
As Startup Colorado moves forward in the coming year with its various initiatives, our hope is that we can leave an indelible mark on entrepreneurship in the Front Range. Remembering that entrepreneurship is ultimately about impacting the lives of a great range of people is a great way to start.
By David Mangum, Executive Director, Startup Colorado