So many reasons to start a business in Colorado

And, here's a Funding & Incentives Wizard and a list of reasons why from the Office of Economic Development:


Virtually every community in the country has something that they can point to that propels them to the top of some real or perceived hierarchy. The factor that makes Denver’s rankings enviably distinctive is that there are so many right at the top of anyone’s list of just about anything.


Colorado has nation’s lowest obesity prevalence among adults
(Trust for America’s Health, 2012)


Rank #2 in country in “Well-Being Index” (life situations, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors, work environment, and access to healthy living)
(Gallup and Healthways, 2012)

Denver is America’s healthiest city
Food & Wine magazine, 2012)

15 percent more people moved into Colorado than out
(Atlas Van Lines, 2012)


Denver is #6 nationwide for high tech startup density
(Kauffman Foundation, 2013)

Colorado ranks #2 among “states most supportive of innovation”
(U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2013)

Denver among America's top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs
(Under30CEO, 2013)

Best city for small business employees
(CardHub, 2013)

Colorado ranks 7th in “State Innovation Index”
(U.S. Department of Commerce, 2012)

Colorado ranks fifth in number of new businesses per 1,000 employees
(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012)

Denver is the 3rd best American city for startups
(VentureBeat, 2012)

Colorado ranks third in U.S. for proprietors as percentage of total employment
(U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2012)

Denver has more small businesses than most large cities; metro Denver is #3 among the largest 20 urban areas for having the fewest number of employees per business (14.38)
(American City Business Journals, 2011)

Metro Denver ranked 9th among the nation’s 100 largest markets for the number of new retail jobs
(American City Business Journals, 2012)

Colorado #1 in National Science Foundation funding; also tops State Technology and Science Index (STSI)
(Milken Institute, 2012)

Colorado ranks #3 nationwide in Small Business Innovation Research grants
(U.S. Small Business Administration, 2012)

Colorado ranks #3 nationwide in NASA Prime Contract awards
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2012)

Denver is ranked 13th in growth of women-owned firms
(American Express OPEN, 2012)


Colorado ranks third most attractive state for renewable energy
(Ernst & Young, 2013)

Colorado #3 in deployment of energy-efficient buildings
(CleanEdge, 2012)

Colorado is #1 state in the nation in solar jobs per capita; #2 state in solar jobs overall
(The Solar Foundation, 2011)

Denver is the 5th greenest major city
(Canada Green City Index, 2011)

Downtown Denver has more than 50 LEED-certified buildings
(CoStar, 2012)


Denver ranks in top 10 “least expensive” U.S. cities for cost of commercial space
(DTZ, London-based commercial property advisor, 2014)

Metro Denver ranked as the 2nd best residential real estate market among 20 major cities
(Case-Shiller Index, 2012)

Colorado is the nation’s third-most highly educated state for residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2012)

Blackstone Entrepreneur Network - Check out BEN's successes

BEN is based on the premise that density of networks creates economic growth. Based on what they've already accomplished and the people they've brought together, it looks like we'll have many more good years to come...

The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN) has exceeded expectations and has made 2,000 connections - adding over 120 Advisors, 15 Companies, and 20 Partner Organizations.


Guide for Boulder Tech Entrepreneurs

It's hard for these not to get outdated because we're growing so fast and there are so many new opportunities. That said, there are tons of events, organizations and a million resources all set up to create your success. Here are a few categories of incredible resources.  

Silicon Flatirons Center 
A Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship 
at the University of Colorado launched to bring these resources together.

This is what they have to say about their entrepreneurship Initiative: 

Something special is happening in Boulder's entrepreneurial circles, and the world is taking notice that Boulder is a world-class location to start a business. In support of this creative environment, Silicon Flatirons helps stitch together the entrepreneurial fabric for the area's software, telecommunications and Internet startup communities.

Says: Welcome to Boulder, a mountain town in the heart of Colorado with a thriving tech scene. This site is to help involve those new to the area or looking to meet new people, learn something new and give back to others. 


Boulder Startup Week

Boulder Startup Week is May 12-16, 2014!

Boulder Startup Week started in 2010 as the first Startup Week in the nation with the goal of connecting, educating, engaging and drinking with the best community in the world. Now in the fifth year, BSW aims to welcome newcomers to town and help make professional and personal connections. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates as they're released (which will be soon, so stay tuned!) 

Go to the site and RSVP for one of the 50 amazing events next week.

The Fort Collins Startup Scene


Fort Collins Startup Week, slated for May 20-25th, is bringing in the heavy hitters and cash resources to match, to make significant, positive economic change for one of the nations leading yet lesser known innovation hubs, Fort Collins, Colorado.

The event co-chaired and produced by Launch Haus, a local venture catalyst firm, kicks off the week with the well-known futurist and five-time author, Gerd Leonhard. General Admission tickets for FCSW are available at no charge at

So excited to be working with Chris Snook, Simla Somturk and a thousand others who are celebrating Ft. Collins in this month's Startup Week. No press yet and already 1200 people have signed up to attend. 

Fort Collins Startup Week Sees US Innovation Hubs Register for #FCSW14 States Launch Haus LLC

Cash Giveaways, Two-minute Trolley Pitches and Hot Topic Panels Drives Registration, Community Funding, Grammy Nominated Talent

A Street Care Named Inspire...Ever Pitched Your Innovation on a Trolly?

A new twist on the elevator speech...Competitors have two minutes, the time it takes for the trolley to drive from one stop to the next, to convince the four judges that their young company has the most promise.

Fort Collins, CO (PRWEB) April 28, 2014

Startup Communities nationwide are locking in their Fort Collins Startup Week plans in effort to stay in lockstep with the Northern Colorado innovation ecosystem. As a result of Fort Collins Startup Week’s itinerary, more than 1/4 of the United States has planned efforts in Fort Collins, Colorado. 
The event takes place in just under a month. Register for no charge at:

The Fort Collins Startup Week, using a crowdfunding campaign from local startup Community Funded ( has launched with tremendous success providing more than 50% of the needed budget in the first 3 days from 16 supporters.

"Colorado is a hub for innovation due to its world-class universities, leading entrepreneurial community, and pioneering spirit," said Chris J Snook, Organizing Chair for Fort Collins Startup Week. “It's all about local community and supporting the global startup community which expands beyond Colorado - we’re seeing heavy registrations in from Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Texas, San Diego, and even as far as Puerto Rico.” ( represents the typical profile of a nationally driven business showing support of the effort. The Texas-based company echoed the importance of the Northern Colorado ecosystem to their bottom-line. The executive leadership strongly believes in supporting the entrepreneur eco-systems - so much so that President, Paul Fleming, will dedicate his time mentoring, an option that’s open to other executives, visit

Innovative Pitches and Prizes: 
The CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is the richest business pitch competition in Colorado, with a grand prize of $250,000 plus a year’s worth of business mentoring. Presented by the Colorado State University College of Business and Blue Ocean Enterprises, the competition is a celebration of innovation, leadership development, and job creation.

FCSW is rolling out the perfect welcome party for Blue Ocean finalists coming from across the country who exemplify the entrepreneurial passions and game-changing ideas that are driving our growing economy.

A Streetcar Named INSPIRE, Presented by OtterBox: 
History meets innovation as 15 CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge collegiate competitors board the 95-year-old Birney Car 21 — the Fort Collins Municipal Railway’s historic trolley – to pitch their entrepreneurial ventures in a new twist on the elevator speech. Competitors have two minutes, the time it takes for the trolley to drive from one stop to the next, to convince the four judges on the trolley that their young company has the most promise.

The public is welcome to watch and cheer as competitors pitch along the rocking railway through Old Town Fort Collins on May 23, beginning at 1 p.m. at Blue Ocean Enterprises offices, 401 W. Mountain Ave. Prizes are $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third.

Talent Line-up Expands: 
Grammy Nominated Maxwell Hughes ( will open the kickoff keynote with a concert around Gerd Leonhard's keynote on day one.

Shatterproof (a recently incubated will headline the opening night concert in historic Old Town Square right in the heart of downtown Fort Collins. ( has also joined the list of Community Sponsors out of Boulder, CO to provide daily photo feeds and video coverage of the entire event

Fort Collins Startup Week Overview:

Presenting Sponsors Include: 
Launch Haus and Anchor Point Fund

Community Sponsor Level: 
Stevaker, Henley Development, Cooley, Social Global Mobile, LLC (SoGloMo) The City of Fort Collins, Downtown Business Association, Zayo, BausTech, Art Incubator of the Rockies-A.I.R. Dorsey & Whitney, CSU Powerhouse Energy Institute, Everyday Joes and Luscious Nectar which will be the home of FCSW’s "Launch Pad". Print Sushi, 23rd Studios, Cooley LLP and Homestate Bank

Brad Feld's Startup Community Catalysts: 
VHG, NetGenerative, LLC, P2BInvestor, SendGrid, Jobzology, CommunityFunded, Rocky Mountain Innosphere, Startup Colorado, Mugs Coffee Lounge, Semporal, StickerGiant, SpokesBuzz, Creative Alignments, TriNet, Everyday Joes, Phillip Hernandez of New York Life, Entrepreneurial Foundation of Colorado, and The Armstrong Hotel, the Official Hotel for FCSW14.

Keynote: Gerd Leonhard: Keynote: The Future of Business/Capitalism: 
12:00pm to 1:30pm Tue May 20, 2014

The State of Capital Access in CO Panel Moderated by Cooley LLP 
Inside the Beltway-A Federal Perspective on Innovation: Monisha Merchant Sr Business Advisor to Colorado Senator Bennet

Find a Job that Doesn’t Suck: Get connected to NoCo Tech Jobs and funded startup hiring managers throughout the week using the complimentary jobzology VIP assessment tool

Mentor Sessions brought to you by EFCO and Launch Haus where domain experts from I.P, Legal, Lean Startup, Growth Management, Product Lifecycle, Design Thinking, HR/Talent acquisition and more offer complimentary 20 minute sessions throughout the week each morning at the “Launch Pad”

Lean In to Funding? #WTFF Where're The Female Founders? Moderated by Cheryl K. Goodman, Founder of Panelists: Nadia Auch, Director of Social Innovation Challenge at University San Diego Center of Peace and Commerce, Kim Capounas, founder of GoLite & now head of the B Corp organization in Boulder/Denver.

How FoCo solves Big Problems Tour: V.I.P. R & D and Incubation tour of key local assets such as The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, CSU Research Innovation Center (BioScience Incubator) Rocky Mountain Innosphere (Capital Access Incubator) and Colorado Water Innovation Cluster, the CSU Idea2Product Lab, and the world-leading CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center.

The Future of Life: Internet of Things and Agriculture conference on Friday a.m. presented by The Van Heyst Group (VHG): Internet of Things and Agriculture is an immersive three hour workshop on the opportunities where IoT and the food supply collide.

The “LaunchPad” will be the hub of complimentary mentor sessions, registration, and serendipitous collisions. The event will explore and celebrate success from local leading companies, provide inspiring speakers, uncover real innovation and share game-changing ideas happening at the City, State and National level.

And, of course, it wouldn't be Fort Collins without a "Startup Crawl" brought to you by Built In Colorado.

Interested last minute sponsors for Fort Collins Startup Week should contact Chris J. Snook at c (at) ftcStartupweek (dot) co.


The CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is the richest business pitch competition in Colorado, with a grand prize of $250,000 plus a year’s worth of business mentoring. Presented by the Colorado State University College of Business and Blue Ocean Enterprises, the competition is a celebration of innovation, leadership development, and job creation. The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is open to collegiate entrepreneurs throughout Colorado – who compete for a top prize of $20,000 -- as well as startups and existing companies anywhere in the world seeking funding and business mentoring. More information is available at


Launch Haus, LLC catalyzes entrepreneurship and channels innovation through their global network of leaders and mentors and venture catalysts. Launch Haus is the developer of Launch Haus Manor-the Innovators BNB, and operator of Launch Haus Labs-a Private Tech Transfer and Go-to-Market Accelerator whose programmatic community offerings include the LaunchNoCo Meetups and Fort Collins Startup Week.

Inc. Mag: How Boulder Became America's Startup Capital

An unlikely story of tree-huggers, commies, eggheads, and gold.   BY BURT HELM

We had barely started our tour of the Chautauqua, Boulder's verdant 19th-century park, when my guide for the morning, local historian Carol Taylor, handed me the packet with the "cautionary tales." They were photocopied news articles, all from national publications, all featuring Boulder and all written--in Taylor's mind, anyway--by superficial out-of-towner nincompoops. "Namaste and Pass the Naan," read one's subhead. "You will be hard-pressed to find one person here, including your 85-year-old grandmother, without a six-pack," read another. Over four decades, as Taylor's packet meant to show, writers had missed the town for the lovely trees (and bike paths and mountain views)--unfairly reducing Boulder to a playground where smug eco-liberals puffed legalized marijuana and compared triathlon times.

"We're so much more complex than that," Taylor said. She gave me a gentle, pleading look. "Don't just go back and write that everyone rides their bikes everywhere."

Out from the gleaming sunlight, a Lycra-clad cyclist whizzed majestically by.

Let me just say, it's hard to keep a straight face when touring this idyllic mountain city--and interviewing its start-up founders and venture capitalists, its coffee-shop denizens and microbrew cognoscenti. It's so tempting to linger on the glorious hippie mane of the organic peanut butter CEO, or quote the impossibly outdoorsy venture capitalist ("I only invest in companies I can ride my mountain bike to!"). But I don't want to be unfair or stoop to caricature. It's not as if they were handing out free joints to everybody on Pearl Street, the city's main drag, on the day I arrived. (No, that was two days earlier. The event was called the Boulder Flood Relief Joint Giveaway.)

But easy as Boulder may be to mock, the city is impossible to dismiss. Boulder is an entrepreneurial powerhouse like no other. In 2010, the city had six times more high-tech start-ups per capita than the nation's average, according to an August 2013 study by the Kauffman Foundation--and twice as many per capita as runner-up San Jose-Sunnyvale in California. This vibrant culture has given Boulder a prosperous economy: Without the help of oil, natural gas, or any monolithic industry, Boulder County (population 300,000) ranks among the top 20 most productive metro areas in terms of GDP. Unemployment is 5.4 percent--almost two points below the national average and a full point below the Federal Reserve's goal for the nation. It is the home to a start-up incubator, Techstars, and a healthy venture capitalist community.

Boulder as start-up haven is not a new development, either. Since 1960, it has quietly nurtured nascent industries, including natural foods, computer storage, biotech, and now Internet companies. It's the original home of Ball Aerospace (one of the first NASA contractors), herbal tea pioneer Celestial Seasonings, StorageTek (later acquired by Sun Microsystems for $4.1 billion), and the biochemistry lab that led to Amgen.

But Boulder wasn't always so affluent, so collegiate, so pretty. The history of Boulder, the start-up haven, is a fascinating story of a community that built itself from scratch through a combination of individual effort, shared sacrifice, and counterintuitive choices (not to mention a near-constant urge to skip out of the office and get outdoors). Its success is a very specific, and in some ways limited, way of fostering a local economy. But it offers an unexpected solution to how cities all over the U.S. could make themselves a welcoming spot for start-ups.


When the Wall Street day-trading firm where Kate Maloney worked opened a location in Boulder in 2001, she jumped at the chance to move. “We’d wake up at 5:30 in the morning, tackle the market, and then go hiking up Sanitas, or rock climb in the Chautauqua,” she recalls. In 2007, Maloney founded TherapySites, a website design company that now sells Web templates to a wide variety of health care practices. Maloney has 34 employees, a handful of whom work out of her downtown Boulder loft.

Photographed by Matt Nager

When city fathers first laid out Boulder, the city was dry, barren, and unremarkable--a two-mile stretch of road at the mouth of Boulder Canyon that served as one of several mining-supply depots following the 1859 Colorado gold rush. Wrote Isabella Bird, a British travel writer, in an 1879 book: "Boulder is a hideous collection of framed houses on the burning plain."

But a streak of exceptionalism ran through Boulderites. They displayed a deep commitment to city beautification and education. In 1877, just six years after Boulder officially incorporated, citizens persuaded the state legislature to make it home to Colorado's first public university; 104 families donated land and money to build the campus. In 1889, the citizens voted to issue a $20,000 bond to build the Chautauqua, a place where visiting Texas schoolteachers could hike, picnic, and listen to lectures--a sort of bucolic TED Conference of the time.

In 1908, citizens hired landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (the son of the legendary creator of New York City's Central Park) to consult with them on how best to plan the city--a precocious move for a town of 10,000. His recommendations included putting wires underground and keeping streetlights beneath tree level, and he cautioned them about suburban developers, "dirty industries," and pandering to tourists. Above all, he said, Boulder must be beautiful--a prosperous town where people would spend their lives, not just make their money and get out. "As with the food we eat and the air we breathe, so the sights habitually before our eyes play an immense part of determining whether we feel cheerful, efficient, and fit for life," Olmsted wrote in his report.

Boulder might have remained a sleepy pretty college town, were it not for the communists. In 1949, fearful of a Soviet nuclear attack, President Harry Truman issued an order to stop the clustering of major buildings in Washington, D.C. The nation's basic research labs had to expand elsewhere. Boulder citizens, sensing an opportunity, bought up 217 acres of land and beat out 11 other cities to make that site the home of the National Bureau of Standards's new Radio Propagation Laboratory.

At first, the D.C.-based scientists bristled, considered it an exile. "They would say, 'Where do we go to see the Indians?' " says R.C. ("Merc") Mercure, one of the founding employees of Ball Aerospace, who was a physics graduate student at the University of Colorado at the time.


Alabama native Dale Katechis settled in Boulder in 2004 after he ran out of money on the way to Montana. He knew he was in love when he spotted the Flatirons mountains rising up behind the city, he says. Since then, he has started a brewery, restaurants, and a boutique bike company in Boulder. He has also developed his own take on vertical integration: His brewery’s spent grain feeds the cattle on his ranch, which is located outside the city. The cattle, in turn, provide the beef used in his restaurants’ burgers.

Photographed by Matt Nager

But the move put Boulder on the U.S. government's map. In 1952, the federal government made greater Boulder the site of Rocky Flats, a 27-building nuclear weapons manufacturing facility. After the Department of Defense ordered sophisticated rocket pointing controls from CU's labs, researchers, including Mercure, left to form Ball Aerospace, which filled those contracts and others. Eventually, the government made Boulder the site of theNational Center for Atmospheric Research, and IBM moved its tape drive manufacturing division out there, which later led to the founding of storage start-ups StorageTek, Exabyte, and McData. On the backs of these technology jobs, Boulder's population doubled from 1950 to 1960 and then jumped to 67,000 10 years later.

By the late '60s, scientists weren't the only new people moving in. Across the country, the hippie movement was under way, and as suburban teens and twentysomethings started migrating to beautiful places across the country, many chose Boulder. (In the first half of 1968, drug arrests in the city doubled.) To Mo Siegel, a Colorado boy who had grown up on a ranch 80 miles away in Palmer Lake, the assembled flower children were his kind of people--and, in 1969, a potential market. A health nut already, the 19-year-old began gathering herbs in the foothills surrounding Boulder, filling up gunnysacks with chamomile and red clover blossoms, sewing them into little muslin tea bags, and selling them, in 1969, as Mo's 36 Herb tea. It would become the first year of business of Celestial Seasonings, the brand that became known for teas such as Sleepytime and Red Zinger. (Siegel eventually sold the company to Kraft, bought it back, and then sold it again to Hain Foods for $336 million.)

Celestial Seasonings was among the first of many natural-foods companies, including White Wave, maker of Silk-brand soy milkHorizon Organic Dairy; and Alfalfa's, a specialty market akin to Whole Foods. For these sorts of entrepreneurs, Boulder was an ideal test market. Given its population of affluent, outdoorsy types, brands could test new ideas with a friendly group of consumers in the local markets, work out the kinks at low risk, and then take the successes to a more general market in Denver and beyond.

"I just got so much support. Everybody believed," says Siegel.

With industry picking up and the population booming, the city could have stoked the growth, welcoming developers in to build out new housing and offices. Instead, it did the opposite. In 1959, the city drew a line across the surrounding mountains, above which it would not provide water or sewer services--purely in order to protect the view. In 1967, residents instituted a special 0.4 percent sales tax to purchase "green space" around the city, stymieing developers, heading off major roadways, and preserving nature. Next, the city limited new housing starts to just 2 percent a year. Now the county manages more than 97,000 acres of open space. Boulder is in a bucolic bubble, with the Rocky Mountains on one side and parkland on the other.

Encircling the city with green space has had several implications for Boulder, some expected and some not. Though never exactly cheap before, the limited space has resulted in sky-high real estate prices--with a median price of $431,200, single family homes are 1.5 times as expensive as in Denver. Meanwhile, as the preserved space flourished, so did the deer population--and the hungry mountain lions, which commuted in to eat the deer and, occasionally, attack citizens of Boulder.


Mo Siegel started Celestial Seasonings in 1969. Back then, he sold his tea in health-food stores in Boulder (at the time, there were only three such shops). “Boulder was really conducive to the natural-foods industry,” says Siegel. “Everybody’s so healthy. If you don’t run or bike or ski--or hike or climb--you really can’t live here.” Now, of course, natural food is as ubiquitous nationwide as Celestial’s Sleepytime tea.

Photographed by Matt Nager

The green border, paired with the city's conservative zoning and development laws, has also meant that national retailers--or any monolithic competitor--have trouble finding good spaces to open in Boulder. Meanwhile, the city's hard line against expansion doesn't really allow its own start-ups to grow much past a certain size. The result? The town has made itself a physical incubator for small businesses. "After companies reach 500 employees, they either have to move out to the other side of the open space or sell," says Kyle Lefkoff, a general partner with Boulder Ventures since 1995.

But for those who can afford the housing, steer clear of the mountain lions, and squeeze into its limited office space, Boulder affords an incredible quality of life--along with a place to do business. The planning strategy, which at first seems antibusiness, simply favors those who are in it for the long haul--those who are thinking about raising families and living in Boulder until old age, and weeds out those that would dive in because of a juicy tax incentive.

There are entrepreneurs like Phil Anson, who came out after graduating from college purely to bum around and climb. A onetime line cook, he started selling premade burritos out of a cooler to support himself. In time, he found he liked scaling that business better than scaling rocks, and Evol Burritos, his 73-employee company, now distributes to supermarkets nationwide and rang up $12.4 million last year.

There were those who arrived in Boulder by accident and fell in love. Matt Larson, founder of Confio Software, moved there because his biggest investor told him he had to as a condition to getting funded (the man lived in Boulder and wanted to be chairman but didn't want to move). Alabama native Dale Katechis ended up in Lyons, the town just north of Boulder, after he and his wife ran out of money on the way to Montana. Katechis started waiting tables. Then he opened his own restaurant, Oskar Blues Brewery, and started brewing beer as a way to get his eatery's name out, and found the beer sold better than the food. (His brewery, which sells Dale's Pale Ale, made $33 million in sales last year.) Little Lyons "was like Mayberry in the mountains," Katechis says, his voice tinged with the last remnants of an Alabama drawl.

There are those entrepreneurs who moved to Boulder when they were older, when they already had money, almost as a reward to themselves. In 2001, the Wall Street day-trading firm where Kate Maloney worked opened an office in Boulder, simply because she and some co-workers thought it would be more fun. Six years later, she started TherapySites, a Web company she runs out of a loft apartment downtown. In 2006, adman Alex Bogusky moved a chunk of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the advertising agency he co-founded, from Miami to offices in Gunbarrel, a town eight miles northeast of Boulder. To Bogusky, outdoor sports lovers and entrepreneurs share a common DNA: "Thrill seekers are drawn to this place," he says. "Once you get out here, you want the ultimate thrill in business, too, and that's start-ups." By the time Bogusky retired from the agency, the Boulder office of Crispin Porter + Bogusky had swelled to more than 700 employees--many of whom had moved from Miami.

After earning three degrees from the University of Colorado in Boulder, R.C. (“Merc”) Mercure became a founding employee at Ball Aerospace in 1956. “Ed Ball took us aside and asked us if we would consider getting into the electronics business,” Mercure recalls. “A few of us said, ‘Why not?’ ” Ball went on to land a contract with NASA and helped put a solar observatory into orbit.    Photographed by Matt Nager

After earning three degrees from the University of Colorado in Boulder, R.C. (“Merc”) Mercure became a founding employee at Ball Aerospace in 1956. “Ed Ball took us aside and asked us if we would consider getting into the electronics business,” Mercure recalls. “A few of us said, ‘Why not?’ ” Ball went on to land a contract with NASA and helped put a solar observatory into orbit.

Photographed by Matt Nager

And finally, there are those who came out of the University of Colorado and couldn't imagine going anywhere else. The most famous is probably Marvin Caruthers, who, as a biochemistry professor in 1980, helped start the biotech firm Amgen. His co-founders decided to put company headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California, but Caruthers kept a lab in Boulder. Since then, the University of Colorado has become a destination for DNA and RNA research. Veterans of his department, of Amgen, and of the university's biology departments would go on to start biotech firms, including Applied Biosystems, Dharmacon, Myogen, and Pharmion, companies that sold for more than $6 billion altogether.

I wish I could point to some municipal entrepreneurship program or other business initiative that enticed these people to start companies in Boulder. But the thing is, entrepreneurs claim the city stymies them more than it helps. Mundane parking regulations hindered business early on, says Niel Robertson, CEO of $12.6 million-a-year Internet advertising start-up Trada. The city, in its efforts to reduce congestion, gave Robertson's 17-employee company just three parking permits. (The company, which now has 15 employees, has since moved to a building with a parking garage.)

Anson, the burrito maker, says it took eight weeks just to get a permit to install a new refrigeration unit at his plant. "They're so conditioned to say no to everything," he says. "It's a massive pain in the ass." But leave town? No way. "It's a dual-edged sword," says Anson. "It's harder for me to run my plant, but it's also why people can't build mansions and block each other's views, so we have a balanced city."

Of course, Boulder's not perfect. Many businesses would struggle to exist there, especially those that require heavy equipment or a low-wage work force. Its regulations, and its constricted land area, heavily favor small companies. In fact, several start-ups, including Internet security firm Webroot and StorageTek, grew out of the town, choosing to move out to a sprawling office across the green space in neighboring Broomfield. But many other entrepreneurs decided to sell out and stay--and join Boulder's growing number of angel investors and venture capitalists, the next step in the city's development. Mo Siegel now invests in other natural-foods companies. Caruthers helped start Boulder Ventures, which invests almost exclusively in Boulder entrepreneurs.

All together, venture capital firms invested $587 million in Colorado in 2012--a far cry from major venture hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York City ($11 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively) but significant. They would rather do that than move to some tony retirement place--because in their minds, Boulder beats 'em all. That's the thing. Pretty much every entrepreneur told me he or she started up in Boulder or stayed in Boulder for that same reason: It's a beautiful place to live. And it's beautiful not because the city forefathers had some nifty pro-start-up policy--but because they had the foresight to plant lots of trees, welcome a university and federal science labs, buy up lots of parkland, and then stay disciplined about preserving the beauty they had created. The idea was simple: Make a city a great place to live, and people figure out how to make a living there.

Correction: Internet advertising startup Trada has 15 employees. An earlier version of this article noted its size prior to layoffs that occurred after the magazine went to press.


2013 Colorado Startup Report: Over $1B Generated through Exits

posted by Elyse Kent

The 2013 startup report, released today by Built In Colorado, includes yearly data proving that Colorado’s digital ecosystem is quickly earning a reputation for itself as a unit. Startups from Denver, Boulder and other Colorado communities altogether raised a total of $461 million in 2013, keeping pace with their performances in 2012.

Denver digital startups led the way in 2013 with 70 companies raising $305 million, stepping up their game from 33 Denver-based companies raising capital in 2012. Boulder’s digital startups, of course, kept their steady, significant contributions with $147 million raised by 43 companies.

The 28 digital companies that exited in 2013, including 27 that were acquired and one that went public, generated more than $1 billion, a drastic increase from the number of exits and the amount generated by exits in 2012.

The biggest player of last year was Ping Identity, the cloud identity security company that raised $44 million. Online interactive learning platform Sympoz and storage solution company SolidFirealso made huge contributions to the community’s funding total with $35 million and $31 million raised, respectively.

And then there is Rally Software, a staple of Colorado’s tech community since 2001 when it began providing cloud-based solutions for Agile development. Rally gave the Colorado digital tech scene its first IPO since 2000.

But it’s not just the big guys that made up 2013’s impressive stats: over 73 companies each did their part and raised $1 million or more in capital.

These companies represent all digital sectors, but it was the software companies that made the biggest local impact with 46 companies raising about $232 million in total. Twenty-one B2B web businesses, which in total raised $103 million, also added hard-earned pieces to the overall puzzle.

And the entire country is taking notice as signified by the 110 different investors backing local companies in 2013. It’s no wonder that Colorado’s digital ecosystem is drawing more attention as a whole: the community’s accomplishments demand it.

“I travel the world and Colorado is always a topic of discussion and inspiration for other great startup communities,” Techstars founder, CEO and Managing Partner David Cohen said. “Everyone wants to know how we top the charts in venture capital with places like the Bay Area, Boston and New York. I always tell them that the secret weapon is Colorado's ‘give first’ attitude and sustained culture of mentorship. It's truly special and sometimes counterintuitive. But we have become known for it, together.”


The New Guard - Boulder's very own, Nicole Glaros, tops the list

I recently lunched with Nicole Glaros from Techstars.  Nicole's whole focus is on Giving First and that's exactly what Techstars does. They provide seed funding from over 75 top venture capital firms and angel investors who are vested in the success of each startup, as well as intense mentorship from hundreds of the best entrepreneurs in the world.

Nicole said, "I was attracted to Techstars because they utilized a unique model - it leveraged mentors, experienced CEOs and entrepreneurs to help guide and counsel entrepreneurs to success.  The mentors are volunteers, they give freely of their time, without expectation of reward or compensation, to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Nicole gives daily. She teaches things like the How to craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch and offers office hours as a board member of EFCO, the Entrepreneurial Foundation of Colorado, which asks entrepreneurs to commit 1% of their early equity or annual profits to the community. EFCO has given more than $2 million to local organizations on the Front Range since 2008.

After 5 years, Nicole has seen Techstars grow into a global brand. I wanted to see what she's been up to. Wow. Just the usual. Nicole's been Managing Director at the Boulder Techstars from its inception and is now making the Big Apple shine. She just spoke at TedXBrooklyn with Spike Lee among others about why giving is the way to go. She also just made NY's list of top women and Marie Claire's New Guard list.

That list is fantastic and the women are incredible. 

MC@Work: The New Guard

What does it take to earn a spot on our New Guard?

Contacts, lots of them. But even that's only half the story. The women on this list are all masters at converting introductions into opportunities. In their respective fields and beyond, they are hugely influential for their valuable ability to connect—startups with financiers, writers with producers, candidates with voters. Got your own grand plans for world domination? Get to know the impressive women of The New Guard and make it happen.

Check out Nicole on Marie Claire as a successful woman in tech and read more: Successful Women in Tech, Entertainment, Business & Politics - The New Guard - Marie Claire 

Denver vs. Silicon Valley: Where we’re better and where we need to grow


When I travel outside the Mile High City, I’m often asked what makes Denver so attractive for startups. While our tech community and the companies it’s home to are gaining traction by the month, the benefits of launching a startup in Denver aren’t necessarily as obvious as those associated with major tech destinations like the Valley and, more recently, New York.


But when we were preparing to launch Convercent into the governance, risk, and compliance market, there was never any doubt where we should set up shop. In fact, I recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal about some of the key reasons why Denver-Boulder is in an exciting time for tech acceleration (and our mayor did, too). Indeed, the tech hub here is actually piping with opportunity — it’s by no coincidence that $280M in funding came through the city alone last year. The perks you’d find in the Valley like daily farm-to-table meals and ping-pong tournaments aren’t the standard, but there are other important and significant advantages to cultivating a tech company here, all unique to our own local culture.

But just like most relatively new, fast-growing developments in the tech sector, we still need to iron out some kinks and improve upon certain areas before Denver truly recognizes its full potential. There are distinct areas where Denver’s tech innovation excels, but also places where we still need to grow to take our own tech scene to the next level.

What we do best

Denver has an ideal work-life balance. The city isn’t just home to slew of high-growth tech startups, it’s also home to very successful awesome food start ups as well as some of the best breweries in the US. The Rocky Mountains are in our backyard for people who love their skis and snowboards in the winter and mountain bikes and hiking boots the rest of the year. In fact, it’s this balance that often attracts top talent from New York and the Valley to Denver — people get burned out and are drawn to Denver’s high quality-of-life. The outdoors are a key part of Denver’s overall culture and everyone makes a point to take pride in these defining factors and enjoy what our city has to offer.

Within our working world, the quality of life is arguably just as high. The tech community in Denver works to foster a cohesive, supportive environment where people have unique access to the resources they need to scale: The Mayor, Erik Mitisek’s band of superstars at the Colorado Technology Association and local incubators like Galvanize all actively find ways to help startups excel and forge a close-knit network. In fact, the city of Denver and Mayor Michael B. Hancock recently helped Convercent open the doors to its new office in Denver’s Golden Triangle district, a vibrant, up and coming neighborhood where it seems a new startup sets up just about every other week.

Even the tech companies themselves work to support each other’s growth, which is a dramatic contrast to the competition you find in other tech hubs where everyone’s concerned about who’s launching what first. Our office is also a communal, shared space for local artists, entrepreneurs, and other startups to come use at no cost, as well as a venue for local networking and tech events. Even as Denver’s tech hub becomes more dense, this supportive nature hasn’t wavered. In fact, the recent and steady successes of the Denver/Boulder region’s companies seem to have only fueled our drive to help each other excel.

This close-knit community also helps give way to focused, thriving corporate cultures. In Silicon Valley, founders and CEOs are constantly concerned with other companies poaching their employees. Being outside of this noisy ecosystem, Denver is less susceptible to this company-hopping routine and, as result, employees are overall more invested in their work, driving greater company morale and productivity. Companies are able to stay focused on their visions and goals without the distractions of passing tech trends and launches.

Where There’s Room to Grow

I’d like to see Denver creating a few juggernauts on the level of Salesforce or Google. We need a few of these behemoth tech companies to help anchor Denver as major hub for technology, and help bring in the top talent and resources needed to propel the smaller surrounding companies forward.

The success of TeleTech, an innovator of customer-experience technolog; Ping Identity’s recent $44 million round; and Rally Software’s recent initial public offering (now up 100 percent) are all steps in the right direction. But we need more.

We need Sympoz, Datalogix, Sendgrid, Newsgator, Full Contact, and Convercent to continue along the path they’re on until they become nationally-recognized businesses that are leading their respective markets. Lastly, we need Governor Hickenlooper and Tom Clark, the CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, to continue their great work bringing companies like Arrow Electronics to Colorado and land a few other giant, anchor companies for Denver’s tech community to reach new levels of success.

Another development that would help significantly grow our local entrepreneurial community is a bigger market for angel capital. The issue isn’t that money for seed startups is hard to come by — there’s plenty of money if the opportunity is right. The issue is that investors only want to bet on proven technology executives with ample experience in successfully scaling companies.

These “fundable” teams aren’t as prevalent in a newly developed tech scene, and while our early stage companies are often piping with new and innovative ideas, a certain track record is required to attract capital. Incubators like TechStars are helping to usher in more qualified seed startups, but what will really move the needle is recruiting respected founders into Colorado, inspiring our own executives to start their own businesses, and encouraging Denver’s proven entrepreneurs to continue launching new companies rather than simply enjoying Colorado after some initial success.

Lastly, part of what’s hurts Denver’s tech community most is its own reputation. The Rocky Mountain West is known for skiing, hiking, turning Rocky Mountain spring water into Coors beer, and creating the cable industry. Outside Colorado, there’s an underlying sense that a technology company springing out of this unassuming area can’t possibly be ahead of the curve. A shift in this kind of thinking should come organically as Denver’s tech market continues to gain traction, but until it gains more national recognition, some extra effort goes into proving that your company has what it takes.

Despite a few areas to improve upon, I wouldn’t trade Denver’s high quality of the life, supportive tech network and strong company cultures for the advantages that come along with real estate in one of the coastal the tech hubs. With Colorado now claiming four of the top ten most popular cities for startups, I have ambitious hopes and dreams for how the region’s tech community will continue to take shape.

Patrick Quinlan is the chief executive of Denver-based Convercent, an enterprise cloud software company that raised a $10.2M series A in January (check out VentureBeat’s profile of its dynamic office space). He’s been leading Denver tech companies for decades.



Startup Phenomenon 2013: How to Create and Sustain a Vibrant Startup Community

Best-Selling Author Jim Collins and TechStars Co-Founder Brad Feld anchor global event for entrepreneurs, policymakers, financiers and academics

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 - 3:10 am

/PRNewswire/ -- The inaugural Startup Phenomenon, which focuses on bringing together the entrepreneurs and investors behind the world's most dynamic startup ecosystems, will be held Nov. 13-15 at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder. Registration is now open at


Rather than acting as yet another startup pitchfest, Startup Phenomenon will dive into how startup communities take root and grow, with the ultimate goal being more and better options for entrepreneurs regardless of where they are.

"We drew the philosophy of Startup Phenomenon from Brad Feld's Startup Revolution books," said Ryan Ferrero, co-founder of the event. "That is, supportive communities are critical for building and sustaining vibrant startup ecosystems." 

Jim Collins and Brad Feld headline a program of nearly 50 startup and finance experts from dozens of cities around the world, including Boulder, Omaha, New York, Jerusalem, Reykjavik, Auckland, and Moscow. Collins has authored or co-authored six business books that have sold more than 10 million copies. Feld is the managing director of the VC firm the Foundry Group; co-founder of TechStars, a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program; and author of several books on startup culture.

The three-day event will feature presentations, discussions and workshops. Other scheduled presenters include:

  • Anil Dash, co-founder, Activate; CEO, ThinkUp; director, Stack Exchange.
  • Donna Harris, co-founder, 1776; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Georgetown University;advisory board member of Global Entrepreneurship Week and board member of the National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
  • Brian Meece, co-founder and CEO, RocketHub Inc.
  • Vivek Wadhwa, VP, Innovation and Research, Singularity University; fellow, Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University.
  • Alan Barrell, Entrepreneur in residence, University of Cambridge; International Advisor, Start Up Generation

Tickets are on sale for $995 until Nov. 7. For a complete list of speakers and sessions, or to register for the event, visit the Startup Phenomenon website.

About Startup Phenomenon

The inaugural Startup Phenomenon, Nov. 13-15 at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder, will bring together more than 300 seasoned investors, policymakers, academics and entrepreneurs to share visions for and experiences from successful startup clusters. For more information, please

SOURCE Startup Phenomenon

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Boulder's Alex & Ana Bogusky Launch Initiative to Create a Million New American Jobs

August 20th, 2013

 Last night, Alex and Ana Bogusky launched the Million American Jobs Project — a YouTube video that mashes animation with Econ 101 to prime people on the power of the pocketbook, illustrating how buying a larger share of American-made goods can positively impact U.S. job numbers.

Sleeves rolled up, Alex narrates the three-and-a-half-minute video, which moves post-WWII-era utilitarian icons —cogs, workers, factories and consumer commodities like sneakers and big-screen TVs — along a conveyor belt to tell the story of how once-great America lost its competitive edge and fell into the Great Recession. Scott McDonald animated and art directed the “Million American Jobs” project.

Buy American, people (or better yet, buy Colorado). It ain't that hard to make change.



#Boulderflood, #Coflood

There's no way to describe what Boulder and the rest of our Front Range communities are experiencing. Our residents are resilient because our city is our love. I've never lived anywhere where the people acknowledge how blessed and fortunate they are to get to live here. That's just a given. My neighbors and I express our thankfulness like a mantra daily.  We know we are lucky...even when it feels like our luck has run out.

The sun came out yesterday and the Flatirons stood in all their rugged strength and majesty. It was just long enough to remind me that even under the water and mud and tears, Boulder is still the beautiful, magical place that I am incredibly grateful to call home.

To read more about the flood, go to @nicolecasanova.  I am constantly updating. 

Video - Be in Boulder

Amazing video that will make you want to be here yesterday. This shows why I'm so grateful to live in Boulder. On another note, Jennifer Egbert is super savvy. This is one of the best videos I've seen on Boulder and it makes you want to share it. Power of marketing. Go girl. 

I have to post this even though I have my own favorite Realtor, Jason Meglich, . Check him out. and watch this sweet video.

Entrepreneur Magazine lists Boulder as the #1 Startup City

The 25 Best U.S. Cities for Tech Startups


boulder skyline.jpg

BY CATHERINE CLIFFORD | August 14, 2013|

Colorado is gaining steam as a startup haven.

Move over, Silicon Valley. Colorado is building some serious startup swagger.

Four of the top 10 metro regions in the U.S. with the most tech startups are in Colorado: Boulder, Fort Collins-Loveland, Denver and Colorado Springs. That’s according to a report released today by technology policy coalition Engine and entrepreneurship research association the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The research focuses on high-tech startups specifically, defining them as new businesses with a concentration of employees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Related: The 5 Rules for Silicon Valley Success That Can Work Anywhere

Here is a rundown of the U.S. metro regions with the highest ratio of tech startups compared to the national average:

  1. Boulder, Colo.
  2. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
  3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  4. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.
  5. Seattle
  6. Denver
  7. San Francisco
  8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.
  9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  10. Cheyenne, Wyo.
  11. Salt Lake City
  12. Corvallis, Ore.
  13. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.
  14. Huntsville, Ala.
  15. Provo-Orem, Utah
  16. Bend, Ore.
  17. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  18. Missoula, Mont.
  19. Grand Junction, Colo.
  20. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  21. Bethesda-Frederick-Rockville, Md.
  22. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
  23. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.
  24. Wilmington, Del.
  25. Ames, Iowa

As an entrepreneur looking for a startup community to launch your business, knowing where other entrepreneurs have planted their seeds may prove fruitful. And for local leaders, encouraging high-tech startup growth in your community could generate jobs. While high-tech startups have an undeniably high failure rate, those that do succeed take off quickly. On the whole, high-tech startups are good for the local job market, according to the research.

Related: Entrepreneurs Take Lead in Building Vibrant Startup Communities

A thriving startup community that's creating jobs typically attracts vitality -- and cash -- to a region. "In the case of Boulder, a startup community whose evolution I've observed and participated in closely over the past many years, the cultural and economic transformation has been extraordinary,” says Brad Feld, co-founder of the Boulder-based Foundry Group and author of numerous books about startup ecosystems, in a statement. “While there isn't one, definitive blueprint to building a technology industry, this research can hopefully inspire communities and policymakers to work together to ensure that the spread of high-tech entrepreneurship isn't just a trend, but a long-term phenomenon.”

Catherine Clifford
is a staff writer at 

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