Denver Startup Week 2018!
Heading to Denver Startup Week? Let’s connect!
After several years of attending Dreamforce, I decided that this year I’d escape from the Bay Area craziness and head to Colorado for Denver Startup Week instead. Each year, the conference brings together nearly 20,000 entrepreneurs for hundreds of programs and events. This year, they’ve invited me to speak as part of their Ambassadors Program, and I’m SUPER excited about it.
In case you’re unaware, Denver has an AMAZING startup community and a long history of hyper-growth startups. The sales teams at Zoom, Lyft, Gusto, Autodesk, SendGrid, and many others call Denver their home. I’m hoping that I might catch a sense of what helped those teams scale so fast while I’m out there. Also hoping to catch up with some old friends while I’m here, too.
On Wednesday 9/26 at 8:00 AM, I’m participating in a panel entitled Ramping Up: Implementing Scalable Sales Processes at Early Stage Startups with a few other sales leaders. We’ll be discussing our own experiences in helping small companies scale big. It’d be great to see you there if you’re in town!
Update: The Denver Startup Scene is Unbelievable
Wow. Denver Startup Week was unreal. Startup ecosystems everywhere could really learn something from this city.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been interested in startup scenes outside of Silicon Valley for a while now. The Bay Area is great, but I’m always curious about how people are doing it in other places.
And Denver definitely didn’t disappoint. The startup scene there is unlike anything I could have imagined. From accelerators/incubators like Techstars and Galvanize to companies like Gusto, Lyft, Slack, as well as all of the startups I encountered there, the people in Denver are really doing something special.
Here are a few things I was super impressed with:
1. Startups Rooting for Each Other
It was great to see so many folks championing the success of their peers, rooting for one another, and even creating opportunities for each other.
I had an enlightening conversation about this with Natty Zola, the Managing Director for Techstars in Boulder. #givefirst, Techstars’ mantra of sorts, is centered around giving to the community before you expect anything back. The organization values giving so much that they offer an equity back guarantee to all of the startups they work with.
As I learned during my time there, the earliest iterations of Denver Startup Week were organized by startups and for startups. So, it was nice to see that the same energy hasn’t gone away, even now that the event attracts more than 20,000 people.
2. Young Startups and Veteran Startups Existing in Harmony
Before I got to Denver, I expected there to be a lot of competition between seed-stage companies and established, scaled companies, particularly in regards to talent. I mean, Slack just signed the lease on an 80,000 square foot office…how could a small startup compete with that?
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of talent and no cutthroat competition. A company like Well Data Labs (whose founder Joshua Churlik actually played a key role in organizing the first DSW events) can exist peacefully next to big players like Slack and Lyft.
Which, speaking of Lyft, Dallas Hogensen, told me that when he posted the first job listing for their Denver office, he received 480 applications in the first 45 minutes. But, there seems to be more than enough talent to go around.
Other Highlights from My Week in Denver
My conversation with Erik Mitisek, CIO for the State of Colorado as well as one of the organizers for DSW.
An interactive talk at Galvanize where Chris Franks and I walked a startup through their business strategy and discusses their journey. Big shoutout to Time Wrangler for being brave enough to volunteer for that!
My fireside chat with the founders of Gusto. Josh Reeves, the CEO, talked about how the company considers Denver to be a second home, a place where you can “take your shoes off and make yourself comfortable”.
Thanks again to the DSW Ambassador Program for hooking me up with a flight from Southwest Airlines, a room at the AC Marriott, and entry into some awesome VIP parties (especially the closing dinner at Polsinelli).
It was a truly amazing experience and I can’t wait to see the great stuff that comes out of the Denver startup scene.