Imbibing Can-Do: Boulder Startup Week

Courtesy Boulder Startup Week

This week Boulder Startup Week is fanning the blaze of Boulder’s already on-fire startup community all week long.

Opening day, the Boulder Source caught up with one of the organizers, Rendl Clark, who teams with Startup Weekend founder, Andrew Hyde. Both work for UP Global — the non-profit company spawned to fuel startup weeks around the world.

Ground Zero for Startup Weeks Worldwide

Boulder’s first startup event, Startup Weekend, was in 2007. Eight years and a growing list of startups later—many incubated by TechStars—Boulder Startup Week is well established. This week is no exception, featuring over 123 events, most of which are full or nearly full. Sessions offer an unequaled opportunity for entrepreneurs to forge community connections and gain new skills and perspectives to help them thrive.

According to Ms. Clark, organic community networking is big in Boulder’s startup community, which is “quite tight knit and very supportive of each other.”

Events are organized in series of tracks that include topics from “Adventure” and “Change the Ratio” to “Mindfulness” and “New to Boulder.”

So it is in 568 cities and 112 countries across the globe that host one of the 1,248 startup weeks held so far. Whether Manila, Bangkok or Longmont, organizers choose events that jive with their city’s industries and gestalt.

This year presentations in Boulder such as ‘Rainbow Round,’ ‘B a Better Business,’and ‘Startups, Changes, The City of Boulder, Oh My!’ give a peak into the soul of this startup community.

Volunteers Make It Happen

The entire week is run by a core team of volunteers. Representatives from businesses and startup founders give talks, typically in panel discussions or tandem presentations, but not as a product pitch – the purpose is to share the wealth of experience. The exposure, press, and public interest is a boon to presenters and attendees alike.

“It’s phenomenal the amazing support from volunteers and sponsors who have come out to help us,” Rendl says.

In addition to robust local support, Boulder Startup Week’s ‘Fly-in’ program has been “wildly successful,” Rendl notes. People who live outside of Boulder apply to this program and the best candidates have their plane tickets paid for to attend Boulder for Startup Week and have a place to stay. Many of them find jobs and relocate to Boulder.

Standing Still While Your Hair Is On Fire

Naropa president, Charles Lief, introduces the keynote address.

Naropa president, Charles Lief, introduces the keynote address.

In the keynote address, introduced by Naropa University President, Charles Lief, keynote speakers, Jerry Colonna and Matt Stinchcomb, talked about how purpose and values are helping today’s top companies navigate the process of going public.

Both speakers have a lot to offer this crowd. Colonna is a longtime entrepreuener, venture capitalist, and executive coach, and Matt Stinchcomb is executive director of Etsy. Org.

Colonna, also chairman of Naropa’s Board and a Buddhist, says he and Lief share a passion that “entrepreneurship can change the world in meaningful and substantial ways.”

Keynote speaker and longtime entrepreuner, Jerry Colonna addresses a packed house at Naropa.

Keynote speaker and longtime entrepreuner, Jerry Colonna addresses a packed house.

During his talk, Colonna asks a series of questions, which lead the way to his nuggets of shared wisdom:

  1. Why are you here? Are you #terrified #excited #terrificited #lost? Nugget: Practical Skills + Radical Self-Inquiry + Shared Experience = Enhanced Leadership + Greater Resiliency
  2. Why do you do what you do? What kind of leader are you?
  3. What is work? Nugget: Work is a high stakes explosive experience that involves self-esteem and identity.

According to Colonna, for those working in startups, work is colored by unique experiences that fall into categories. Here is a description of those categories and a sampling of his wisdom around them.

People – You have to work with people and sometimes “hell is other people” (quoted from Sartre).

Art of Dysfunction – All companies start off unhealthy and dysfunctional , then become healthy and dysfunctional due to constant change, movement, disorganization, and then become healthy, functional, boring. You don’t want to become the healthy, functional, boring

Fear – What are we so afraid of? FAILURE. It all boils down to this. What do we think will happen if we fail? We will disappoint those who believe in us, become penniless, and be humiliated. The fact is 95% of startups fail.

Fear of success – Why do we fear success? Everyone else’s projection of success is different from your definition of success.

Finding Balance – To find balance you must identify what drives you.

Paradox of Caring – Caring creates energy, caring creates change. Ask yourself “Why Do I Do What I Do?”

And don’t overlook the Importance of Standing Still – the inner work of meditation. Your survival depends on developing the capacity to reflect and look inward.

Internet of Things with Brett Jurgens, Founder of Notion, a Techstars Company

4 -Boulder Startup Week - Internet of Things

Brett Jurgens, founder of Notion, says Boulder is moving beyond just tech companies and becoming a center for the Internet of Things.

In a talk held at BoomtownBrett Jurgens, founder of Notion, a Techstars company focused on sensors for smart home applications, says Boulder is moving beyond just tech companies and becoming a center for the next wave in tech – interactive connected devices – aka, the Internet of Things (IoT).

He described a group of companies that are on the way to creating an ecosystem of hardware and software that can interconnect devices around home awareness, such as temperature control and home security.  And, the connectivity hub is – you guessed it – your smartphone.

Such advancements include automation of devices and activities in the home, for example: Your garage door will automatically close if left open, or water will automatically shut off if there’s a leak.

And, just when you thought you had all the jewelry you need, wearables are becoming more present. One major area for wearables is in the use of sensors to help you monitor and manage not only your health, but your family’s health too.

Coming soon, IoT technology could be used for personalized medicine from data taken from a Fitbit, or assisting with home security, forest fire prediction and monitoring, natural disasters prediction, and the logistics of trash pickup so the trash is only picked up when the can is full.

So Go

The events are free and some spaces are available. Sign-up here.

TechStars is our Featured Friend for the month and have a strong presence at Boulder Startup Week. Read more about them each week here.

This story was a collaborative effort of Dana Leventhal and Tricia Fitzpatrick.