By Nick Casares
Last month, I attended Denver Startup Week and served on the experience committee for DEMOgala, the annual technology conference hosted by the Colorado Technology Association. Anyone who follows the tech startup scene knows that Denver is becoming a hot spot for startups such as ibotta, FullContact and Forkly. What people might not know is just how hot the Denver scene is getting.
Denver and Boulder are just minutes apart, but their tech scenes are evolving at a much different pace. Boulder is home to a number of mature tech companies and has a startup scene that’s been fostered by incubators such as TechStars. Denver, on the other hand, has a fairly young tech scene that’s exploding at a rapid pace due to a great investor pool, a well-educated workforce and a great work/life balance in an attractive city . As a Denver native, I’ve watched the Denver tech community evolve from a small handful of startups to a burgeoning community of hustlers, movers and shakers. The amazing community and turnout for year’s Startup Week really reinforced Denver’s position as the up-and-coming “place to be” in tech.
During Startup Week, the community hosted more than 70 events (all free and open to the public) that showcased technology, collaboration and innovation along the Front Range. The week kicked off with an all-star panel of speakers, including Brad Feld (of TechStars fame), Gary Vaynerchuck (social media pro) and Colorado’s own governor, John Hickenlooper. Denver startups hosted classes, talks and workshops on various tracks including business, design, entrepreneurship, community and, of course, tech.
Throughout the week, I attended a handful of events on various topics and was especially happy to see the Denver UX community pulling together to host, collaborate, learn and network. I’m a firm believer that excellent design is key to creating great user experiences for digital products, and the Denver UX community really stepped up their game to embrace Startup Week. Several of my colleagues volunteered, taught and offered advice to startups in UX workshops.
DEMOgala was one of the highlights of my week. CTA is a fantastic resource for Colorado technology entrepreneurs that helps connect founders with talent and resources. I had the opportunity to serve on an experience committee for the show, and it couldn’t have been more fun. My volunteer crew and I spent about 6 weeks prepping for the show, working with exhibitors, and planning the show space. The show was an absolute hit, and attendees got to connect one-on-one with some of Colorado’s premier tech companies. A full day of talks and tech demos culminated in awarding a $25,000 check to the Colorado tech company showing the most promise. I was thrilled when Otixo (a CX cloud storage partner) was awarded the grand prize.
The week ended with the Denver Startup Crawl — an open house of 25 Denver startups that literally opened their office doors and graciously allowed the community to stroll through their offices to get a “behind the scenes” look. In true Denver form, the Startup Crawl started at the Denver Beer Company with a frosty microbrew. CX Director of Engineering, Dan Smoker, and I made the rounds and had great conversations with some really awesome folks at MapMyFitness, AlchemyAPI, and SendGrid.
Denver Startup Week was an awesome event that really showcased the talent, innovation and tech community that’s growing in Denver. Needless to say, I feel quite lucky to live and work in Denver, and I’m happy to represent CX with a little Colorado pride.