The second annual Denver Startup Week launched Monday, September 16 with considerable clout and attendance, continuing the run of bringing together the most innovative and well-connected innovators in Colorado and beyond. Throughout the week, projections have been exceeded and events overflowed with more than 5,000 startup community members engaged in some 125 community-driven events all with the goal of celebrating everything entrepreneurial in the Mile High City. The six day event, which concludes with the 2013 Create Denver Expo at the McNichols Building on Saturday, boasted Denver’s vast startup population, so vast that a new startup is born every 72 hours in Denver. Hundreds of active startup companies took part in workshops, mentor office hours, resource fairs, hack-a-thons, happy hours and much more.
The celebration attracted some of the best and brightest speakers, panelists, and companies that focused on four main tracks: technology, design, manufacturing, and business. The Denver Post asked readers on Tuesday morning, “Could Denver Startup Week…grow into an event that rivals the likes of South By Southwest Interactive?” Attendees answered with a resounding “Yes!”. More than 800 people attended the Kickoff Luncheon where renowned author and serial entrepreneur, Seth Godin, told the crowd that Denver Startup Week is incredibly unique. “This event is pretty rare,” he said of Denver Startup Week. ”It’s not just rare for me; it’s rare for the world.” Denver Startup Week is sponsored by the Downtown Denver Partnership, Colorado Technology Association and Chase.
Denver Startup Week is designed to be part educational, part inspirational, part motivational, and part celebration. The week is organized by three co-chairs, Erik Mitisek (CEO, Colorado Technology Association), Tami Door (President & CEO, Downtown Denver Partnership) and Ben Deda (VP of Business Development, FullContact). Events throughout the week are organized by both the Denver Startup Week Organizing Committee and the community at-large.
“Denver Startup Week, both 2012 and 2013, surpassed all of our expectations,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership and co-organizer of the event. “Providing the framework for the startup community to convene, collaborate and communicate will encourage growth, innovation and attract the best and brightest to Denver; the weeklong event is a testament to the excitement and the energy that is already permeating our center city.”
For the second annual Denver Startup Week, the expectations were set even higher: more events, more community outreach, more companies involved and, overall, more ways to connect and fuel Denver’s burgeoning startup population. Noted speakers and startup experts chimed in throughout the week, such as TechStars CEO David Cohen; Brad Feld, Managing Director of Foundry Group; Ping Identity CEO Andre Durand; Karla Tartz, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at the Colorado Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade; Governor Hickenlooper; Marc Nager, CEO of Startup Weekend; and Bart Lorang of FullContact.
Denver Startup Week Basecamp launched by Chase
One major addition that added to this year’s successful event was Startup Basecamp launched by Chase, which hosted over 2000 Startup Week attendees, leaders and innovators throughout the week. Basecamp served as the epicenter for the week’s activities and invited people to drop in, charge up and connect. It was also the place to be for the spotlight leadership series, mentoring sessions, and press events that took place throughout the week.
”The addition of a central meeting place for all of the Denver Startup Week attendees was crucial as the community needed a place to celebrate, convene, engage and educate,” said Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association and co-organizer of Denver Startup Week. “The addition of Basecamp not only unified the community but amplified the stage to showcase the best startups in our community.”
Basecamp hosted the Leadership Spotlight Series that allowed participants to hear the stories behind the people that are changing what it means to be innovative in Denver. Attendees got an intimate look at high profile leaders in the entrepreneurial community like David Boger from Jiberish, Lara Merriken of LaraBar, Mark Goodman of Boyers Coffee and Joel Appel of Launch Pad. Basecamp also provided mentoring sessions that gave attendees free and priceless counsel in an informal setting with experts in fields most critical to the startup community.
Grand announcements were made throughout the week from Basecamp, including:
Waste Farmers named the winner of the Denver Office of Economic Development’s JumpStart Biz Plan Competition: The honor includes $50,000 cash, one year of office space at Galvanize, 35 hours of legal counsel provided by Polsinelli, 60 hours of strategic marketing services from dovetail solutions, and entrepreneurship mentoring from TiE Rockies and Rockies Venture Club. Waste Farmers is a sustainable agriculture company that cultivates solutions to meet food demands while decreasing agriculture’s burden on the environment.
Southwest Airlines’ crowns Startup Week Cocktail Napkin Challenge Winner Patty Whittemore: Patty is an entrepreneur well on her way to launching her business that encompasses wellness, sustainability, and innovation. The grand prize includes two round-trip tickets to Dallas Love Field Airport, hotel accommodations, transportation and one-on-one meetings with a Southwest executive who is the most relevant person for helping the selected business concept succeed.
Six Colorado charities share $150,000 in Chase Community Giving: Denver Startup Week Edition: From a pool of 13 non-profits focused on innovation, education, and entrepreneurism, the following charities were selected by Denver Startup Week participants who voted during events throughout the week:
So were expectations once again surpassed? You decide:
Wall Street Journal
Denver Business Journal
As far as what you can expect of future Denver Startup Weeks, the sky is the limit! Plans for the Denver Startup Week 2014 are already underway with tentative dates being set for September 2014.