Denver Startup Week: An Interview with the Founder

Denver Startup Week returns September 28-October 2, with a full week of programming fostering culture and entrepreneurship in Colorado. The event was founded by Erik Mitisek, CEO, Colorado Technology Association; Tami Door, President and CEO, Downtown Denver Partnership; and Ben Deda, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Galvanize.

To learn more about the event and what we can expect this year, we caught up with Door. Read on to see what’s new this year and why this event is so important to Denver’s growth.

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We identified that there was a tremendous amount of entrepreneurship bubbling up, but in all different segments. These different groups were not necessarily working cross functionally. By creating a week like this, we could bring everyone together to showcase the magnitude, build relationships, and allow people to leverage those relationships. We called for the creation of some sort of business conference that could be recognized on a national scale.

The other big reason is that we wanted to make sure we were giving entrepreneurs across state the opportunity to access the best resources and meet people in the community to help grow their businesses to perpetuate innovation and entrepreneurship. We also wanted to democratize the process by offering it for free to all attendees. It’s the largest free entrepreneurship event in the nation. Our core promise is that there should be no barrier to entry to meet the best and brightest and be inspired. We wanted the community to really own it.

In order to grow a city, you have to grow companies. When you do that, the city and community will grow. For a city like Denver, we need to make sure we are taking all that innovation and those ideas and creating a platform so they can grow. That’s why it’s so important to put resources out and make it really accessible, because you never know where that next business is going to take off. We have some great success stories. One speaker is going to talk about that they wouldn’t exist if they didn’t come to Startup Week three years ago. There are a lot of those stories. We need to showcase—not just to ourselves—the power of entrepreneurship in this region, and this is a great platform to show the nation what’s going on here. When you have 8,000 to 10,000 people show up, you are telling the country there’s a lot going on here. In some cities, startup weeks focus on specific industries, but the real power comes in when you integrate the maker movement and tech movement and put together and leverage what each other is doing—also combining private and non-profit. That’s where power is, in the mashup of all different parts of entrepreneurship. It opened the door to people’s eyes in what’s going on here.

The breakfast, because of the new angle of highlighting some of entrepreneurial leaders, not just two individuals in an entrepreneurial world. We will inspire people in the audience when they’re building their companies. There are big things coming out of Denver. We have the founder of Siri who will be speaking at the Commons on Champa (1245 Champa). I’m also very excited about Basecamp this year; we highlight individual leaders, and we also have panels. It’s an intimate setting, and there’s energy in that space drives what happens throughout the week. We created Basecamp to be the epicenter of the week. There is a hub of energy and people coming and going throughout the week. This year, there is a different approach, with higher major success stories right out of Denver—a lot of showcasing homegrown talent on national level.

The quality of the speakers and the sessions is outstanding. And there are times people might assume otherwise since it’s no cost. Our goal is to bring best quality speakers to Denver, to bring them in a way that’s accessible and free. If people spend time to go through schedule, they’ll be extremely impressed. Sometimes people think because it’s free, that quality of experience matches that. But the reason it’s free is to democratize entrepreneurship. Many care so much about helping other companies grow, that they donate their time, skills, and expertise to helping them grow.

Also, sign up early, and be strategic about what to attend. It’s important to take time to review the schedule and find things most relevant to them. Set aside time to meet with people, as many impromptu meetings occur. Build in time not just for sessions, but to pop into basecamp and build relationships. At the end of the week, people are in awe of how much is going on.

View the entire schedule and register online. 


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