10 Things I Learned at Boulder Startup Week 2017
Boulder Startup Week is controlled mayhem spread over 5 days every May since 2009. During the event participants have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of panel discussions, networking opportunities and workshops. No matter your interests, anyone who attends the event will tell you that they leave with new knowledge, new relationships and their entrepreneurial spirit invigorated.
1. BSW is like no other Startup Week event
Hundreds of events. Thousands of participants. Local, local, hyper-local. Eight years ago, the Startup Week brand was born — right here in Boulder. Found in cities from Kalamazoo to Kosovo— Startup Week has since grown into a global brand. But the Boulder-born event beats to the heart of it’s own drum. With the dramatic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder has an independent and forward-thinking vibe that supports a unique entrepreneurial community.
2. Investors and top tech talent are committing to social impact projects across Boulder
I was dazzled by the Innovation + Impact Pledge 1% pitch competition, which recognized 5 local nonprofit projects solving local issues facing Boulder County. With a generous donation that doubled the contest prize from $10K to $20K, Brad Feld (Managing Partner of Foundry Group) and Amy Batchelor (co-author of the book Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving) invited audience members and judges to cast their vote. All non-profits profited — $10K to El Centro Amistad; $5K to Boulder Food Rescue; $2K to Community Cycles; and $1K each to the other three nonprofits.
3. The event is a great place for anyone looking for new opportunities
Snowing one morning to t-shirt wearing later in the afternoon—Boulder offers a lot of unexpected opportunities. There are many open and free events, ranging from happy hours, to lectures and panels, to pitch competitions, jam sessions, and morning meditation. If you’re looking to meet someone new or hear about local companies tackling the issues you are passionate about, BSW is a great place to start.
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4. I learned how to give a 5-minute Ignite-style talk on the topic of “Failure 101”
Julian Ramlal brought Robin Behrstock (founder, iZen and copper mugs), Marshall Hayes (President, Ampilio), Ben Travis (Marketing Manager, Viget), and myself to explore some of the bumps and bruises experienced along the entrepreneurial journey. With 5 minutes counting down on the clock, I showcased my Instagram reel from the last year: wrapping up a Kickstarter, accepting the Austin Startup Award, and my move to Boulder. Big takeaway—as long as we have a story to tell, we're not alone in our journeys.
5. I ate some really tasty tacos
Over at Impact Hub, as B Corps are thinking about certifying, we gathered around brews and tacos. Recommendation: spicy pork taco from the Tacos Del Norte truck whenever it’s out.
6. Go to Galvanize to network, Impact Hub to hang out, and Boulder Public Library to listen
Boulder’s got some great local venues and hip spots where events happen year-round. BSW was a showcase for businesses and spaces around town.
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6. Gorilla Logic hosts epic monthly music jams and Dojo4 has some pretty sweet dance parties for hard-core techies
After I stopped by the lively Tradedesk office during Startup Crawl, I made my way over to visit the Gorilla Logic office for rumored live music. Little did I know that this is the place for monthly impromptu Boulder Geek Jam Sessions. Stu Stern, co-founder and CEO of Gorilla Logic, invites all walks of life over to get funky.
7. Subject matter experts dominated Boulder Ignite 32
The lineup for Boulder was true to its vision to enlighten us, but make it quick. Jason Cole shared the power of intentional giving, committing a percentage of his family’s income to “donation funds” every year. Sonya Iverson taught Slacklining to draw lines between refugees in the US to Syria and Lebanon. Researcher Matthew Arnold shared findings on the power of sweat in combating depression. The Ignite speaker series was founded by Brady Forrest in 2006, and like the Startup Week brand, has expanded to roughly 150 locations in various cities around the world.
8. Anyone interested in meaningful jobs in Boulder should spend time on the BSW website or check out our Jobs Page
Trish Groom spoke to over 100 people about Gloo’s purpose and working to help champion the growth of another. The event was overwhelmingly energetic and a great way to get Gloo’s name into the Boulder culture. For anyone looking to get in with a Boulder startup company, look no further than homegrown events like Boulder Startup Week.
9. Participating is important
Whether you are an entrepreneur, designer, technologist, or simply invested in relationships with the community — The 5 day event sets the stage to exchange ideas, form new connections, and build momentum for ideas.
Each year, publications across the country recognize what we all know: #Boulder is simply the best. Brainiest city in America? ✅ Best place to build a startup? ✅ Best Cities for Entrepreneurs? ✅ What solidifies our rankings? It’s the unique culture that our #community has curated. #BSW17 is an integral part of the culture that has so many people singing our praises. Learn how to get the most out of your BSW experience by reading our blog post on the site.
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10. Key Takeaway: Connecting & Developing Relationships
The best way to do this is to bring entrepreneurs together in a way that they can connect, share and bond. By discovering they are in a special community— one that has a support network that can make the difference between failure and success. Develop meaningful relationships with the community These can lead to business deals, great candidates and insight The larger community also benefits by bringing people together to connect