I am one of the founders of ElevatePoint, a Denver based start-up that has self-funded from 2009 until now. We were formed by a group of Microsoft Alumni and we have grown our consulting services business by word-of-mouth and by providing excellent service. Recently we started to put an emphasis on business growth and we were fortunate enough to hire a great sales leader. As we began planning we realized that we weren’t learning fast enough to achieve our goals for growth. There are many ways to bridge knowledge gaps but few are as concentrated and free as Denver Startup Week. As a leader, I am always concerned about carving out time for things that appear non-essential. After experiencing startup week for the first time, I would classify it as an essential networking and learning event. I wanted to offer a few thoughts about the experience and what our organization is taking away from it:
Startup week combines the thoughts and experiences of entrepreneurs and business advisors across the startup spectrum, making Denver a great place to gain the knowledge needed accelerate your business. Given the start-up friendly business environment and the excellent network of incubators and expertise, it may well be easier here in Denver than it is in my former home – Silicon Valley. Because of the amount of sessions and spectrum of topics, startup week can meet you where you are in terms of the state of your business and the next logical steps.
Although we are a successful small business in a self-funded model, the Denver Startup Week enabled me to see the value of pursuing targeted investment in the business. I attended an excellent discussion by Innosphere (in conjunction with Fairfield and Woods Attorney, John Leonard and Kent Dixon, Founder of Yonomi). Together they brought to the table a depth of knowledge and data about startup growth and acquisition that I had not heard elsewhere, along with specific recommendations about funding, legal structures, tax implications, cultural impacts and more. These were presented as lessons learned from local, real case studies. The best way to move past your current mindset is to see and hear about success from other startups. At a free event like Denver Startup Week they don’t need to sell you, they simply tell stories and you find yourself questioning assumptions and asking for business cards.
We got skills
There is a ridiculous amount of talent here in Denver. For a time the discussion had been about Denver emerging as a startup destination. It sure didn’t feel that way this year at startup week. The combination of public and private support as well as the programs put in place (The Commons at Champa for example) make a distinct statement about what we value as a business community…and we value startups.
Next year, more Denver Startup Week
This year I attended sessions at Galvanize Denver, the Chase Basecamp, Elevated Third, The Commons at Champa and Daniels College of Business. There were young students, bright-eyed entrepreneurs, VCs, Lawyers, Professors and everything in-between – the energy and talent were electric. Next year I hope to attend more sessions and find a way to contribute. Great communities are sometimes designed, usually based on shared values and always guarded and grown by those who are passionate about them. I am already looking forward to Denver Startup Week 2016 and grateful to be a part of the Denver startup community.