Thursday 18 April, 2013
The inaugural Denver Startup Week was held in Denver in October 2012. It was the first ever event of its kind and it attracted much more participation than anyone expected. It was filled to well over capacity and the results for attendees were unexpectedly good. Denver Startup Week provided an opportunity for the entire start-up community to rally together.
All told, there were over 3,500 participants with more than 500 companies involved. The event was for startups of any kind but it focused on showcasing businesses based on technology, design, business, and social entrepreneurship. There were a total of 70 separate events spanning six days.
Meeting of the Minds
Denver Startup Week included lots of help for small businesses. During its six days, a number of high profile entrepreneurs gave speeches about starting a business. The keynote speaker was Gary Vaynerchuck, a much sought-after speaker, social media consultant and wine entrepreneur. Other speakers included Andre Durand, chairman and CEO of Ping Identity, entrepreneur and UsingMiles.com founder Krista Paul, and Alex Welch, founder of Photobucket.
Denver Startup Week was kicked off by Denver mayor Michael Hancock, who used the opportunity to unveil Denver Capital Matrix, a new directory of funding sources for area-based startups.
Networking and Consulting
A huge part of Denver Startup Week was networking. Entrepreneurs went there looking to make connections and many of them walked away with valuable contacts. There are stories all over the blogosphere of how small business owners met just who they were looking for during the events.
Aside from networking, there were opportunities for businesses to raise capital directly. Many investors attended Denver Startup Week with the aim of finding businesses to fund. Entrepreneurs could make connections and talk to consultants at the many parties and get-togethers thrown throughout the week. The final event was a big party thrown by Galvanize, a new Denver-based organization aimed at providing resources and helping small businesses raise funding.
Other events during Denver Startup Week included mentor office hours where entrepreneurs could meet more established peers and get consultations. There were also workshops, resource fairs and hack-a-thons.
Bringing Workers and Investors Together
Denver Startup Week was sponsored by SendGrid, the Colorado Technology Association, the Downtown Denver Partnership and PayPal. The idea to create the event originated with the Downtown Denver Partnership, whose stated goal was to attract the tech-savvy 25 to 35-year old workforce. This twinkle of an idea gained momentum as others became interested. Denver is highly ranked as one of the best cities for young adults and is known for its highly educated high-tech workforce.
The second annual Denver Startup Week is planned for September 2013. With the successes of last year’s event, it’s expected that the second one will be even bigger.