1. RTD takes you there. In a city known for cleantech startups, the array of public transport and light rail were the perfect companion for a week of connecting with the tech community. While most events were within walking distance of the Chase BaseCamp, Denver’s excellent transport saved many weary feet throughout the week.
2. Funding is within reach. An event called VC for Breakfast offered direct access to a large and representative group of venture capital and private equity partners from the Denver area. Once the panel of 15 VCs were introduced, the individual conversations began in earnest. This was a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs to engage a broad swath of the VC community in one open environment, a real benefit to startup founders who may not otherwise have a proverbial foot in the door.
3. Beer is your business partner. With Startup Week following right on the heels of the Great American Beer Festival, showcasing 154 Colorado craft breweries (and hundreds more from around the country), this plentiful libation lends local flavor and a laid back atmosphere to networking events. Beer is big business in Colorado and the breweries themselves are great examples of entrepreneurship to learn from.
4. Free business advice. Mentor sessions are typically a standard part of these kinds of events – local business leaders, bankers, attorneys, CPAs and seasoned entrepreneurs volunteer their time to meet 1 on 1 with attendees, offering years of collective wisdom and expertise. I watched as one determined pair of startup cofounders made their way around the room meeting with every single mentor on hand, soaking up invaluable business advice. With mentor session scheduled throughout the week, a tenacious entrepreneur could gain eight hours of free advice.
5. Social has support. Social media can be one of the trickiest aspects of growing a startup business, especially if you don’t identify as part of the “digital native” generation. Denver Startup Week offered several informative sessions with panels of social media, traditional media, marketing and public relations experts. They covered best practices and cautionary tales related to a wide spectrum of online engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders.
After wrapping it’s fourth year, Denver Startup Week attracted a record 11,000 registered attendees, proving this startup ecosystem is thriving and vibrant. If you didn't make it to the event this year, be sure to mark your calendar for 2016!