Boulder Startup Week: Bonanza of Events and Conversations

Boulder Startup Week held May 15-19 was an exhilarating whirlwind of over 200 free events held in 71 venues throughout Boulder attended by nearly 8,500 eager participants.

A slew of over 400 start-up leaders shepherded discussions on a battery of wide-ranging topics spanning everything from startup funding, culture, and survival to stress management and living in Boulder. Alongside the exuberant flurry of panels and networking events, there were mentoring sessions, art performance, job fair, coding sessions, parties, improv theater, yoga breaks, and bike rides. Major attractions included Ignite Boulder, Startup Crawl, Techstars Boulder Demo Night, House of Genius, Startup Bus Finals – and the first-ever Founder Fights. The industries ranged from tech and natural foods to nonprofits and cannabis.


There were also a number of panels discussing visions of the future – Future of Adtech, Future of Entrepreneurship in Boulder, Year Ahead in Global Tech Policy, Future of Wearables, and the Future of Media.

Here’s a snapshot of talks that had the audience buzzing:

Future of Media

During this standing-room-only event held in the Madelife meeting room, Arlynn Ilgenfritz, director of marketing at Brandzooka introduced moderator Adam Edelman, founder, co-chairman, & CEO of IMM, who kicked off the discussion by highlighting the explosion of digital media and adtech by reminding the audience, “In 2010, five percent of ad budgets were spent on digital and now it’s 30 percent.” Where do we go from here?



CEO of Cinebody, Scott McDonald, remarked that companies now need to create not just distribute mobile content and that emergence of microinfluencers in social media are critical to their success. It is “creators, not brands or agencies that are the future,” he argues.

VP of Innovation at The Tradedesk, Mike Davis, discussed the importance of media buying and the emergence of holistic buying, optimization and measurement across channels, i.e., omnichannel and cross-buying.

Technologies that make content creators better storytellers were the focus of Ari Kuschnir, executive producer and founder of M ss ng p eces, focused on interactive video and Virtual Reality (VR) technology as the wave of the future.


Agreeing with him, SVP of Strategic Partnerships for SpotX, Jeremy Straight, elaborated on the power of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) and the immersive, interactive experiences that are propelling us from the age of information into the experiential age in which audiences “want to do rather than be told.”

Finally Ted Babitz, VP of supply at xAd Inc, talked about mobile location advertising using GPS that is making advertising more relevant to audiences.


Creative Entrepreneur: Stories & Insights from Startup Front Lines

Cutting-edge coding school and co-working space, Galvanize, was venue to this overflowing event, which was hosted by SheSays, a meetup group on a mission to connect “amazing, rock star women” with other talented women to fuel community, inspiration, learning, and opportunity to build the leadership of women in tech. Co-organizer of SheSays, Mandy Godown, accompanied by co-organizer Kecia Benvenuto, led the event and introduced amazing female startup leaders who talked briefly about their personal, inspirational, and often humorous experiences.


Takeaways included:

Jane Miller, CEO of ProYo: She has extensive experience in the natural foods industry and offers career advice for millennials. Through her new venture, she’s learned “Don’t have fear. You’ll develop more guts than ever before and you’ll get to the ‘Yes.’”


Lianne Haug, Co-Founder & CTO, Pana: Founder disputes often lead to the failure of startups. Try using Enneagram, a model of personalities, to learn which behavior patterns manifest when you and your colleagues are under stress. Enneagram can help you nip it in the bud before it gets out of control.

Denise Franklin, CEO of Kindara: She grew up homeless but went to college through sheer determination. Be helpful, lean in. Ask higher-ups and mentors for opportunities. Create your own reality. Embrace change, confront fears, and make hard decisions.


Promise Phelon, TapInfluence:  She has not been afraid to explore her failures and share her experiences in order to show that every person needs help to get where they want to be. Have a mentor to lead you, an advocate to root for you, and a partner to help each other succeed. You don’t have to take it on alone and you’ll likely be more successful by doing so.

Alicia Robb, Kauffman Foundation: The Kauffman Foundation empowers women to become a driving force in the startup industry. If women become more aware of the opportunities they have and can invest with confidence, then we can increase the influence women have in the venture capitalist arena and the startup realm.


How Boulder Startup Week Looks at Digital Marketing (Real World Case Study with Metrics)


Zach Duckworth, Co-Founder, CEO, DigiZen Marketing Group

Valerie Goren, Digital Marketing Manager, DigiZen Marketing Group

Simone Johnson, Marketing Manager, Quick Left


A time for self-reflection for the marketers of Boulder Startup Week held at Bohemian Biergarten. Marketing for Boulder Startup Week is done on a volunteer basis so the marketing team was pulled together only 3 weeks before the event. The team discussed the different aspects of their campaign including content strategy and development, social media, Facebook advertising, email marketing, web tools, and analytics. They also highlighted their successes and what they could do better in the future.


Founder Fights

Founder Fights was a boxing spectacle launched for the first time ever at Boulder Startup Week in conjunction with Corner Boxing Club. Spawned by PivotDesk CEO David Mandell who took up boxing for rehab and stress reduction under the tutelage of Corner Boxing Club Co-Founder Carrie Barry, Founder Fights was part charitable fundraiser, part fisticuffs, and a massive shindig of rowdy fun. Fully sanctioned by USA Boxing, the event’s brightly lit professional boxing ring set up in Boulder House was surrounded by crowds of captivated spectators brimming with anticipation.


The evening started off with amateur boxers from elementary school to age 16 while the second half of the evening featured headlining founder fighters. The evening’s top “heavyweight” fundraising stars were Kristen Solomon and Techstars’s Nicole Glaros who were both quick on their feet and packed a punch. Celebrated startup guru Brad Feld dressed in shimmering gold athletic gear danced his way across the ring as the “round card” carrier. Other fighters included Made Movement’s Graham Furlong, Ariel Solomon of Premier Mortgage, and nTopology’s Greg Schroy. Click here to see the full list of fighters.




The Corner Boxing Club is Colorado’s first community-centric club run by Colorado’s only Level 3 USA Boxing Coach and Fellow of Applied Functional Science (AFS), Coach Carrie Barry. She is joined by co-owner, coach, and general manager Kirsten Barry, and three-time Olympian and coach Khumiso Ikgopoleng.

Corner Boxing Club logo

Corner Boxing Club - Team


Boulder Startup Week 2017

Ready for May of 2017? Planning has begun! Boulder Startup Week is heading into its 7th year. As the original Startup Week, Boulder Startup Week sets the tone for how startup communities come together.

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