Cities along the Front Range boast some of the highest densities of tech startups in the country. Boulder, Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs all rank in the top 10 according to a new report.
Unsurprisingly, Boulder tops that list, followed by the Fort Collins-Loveland area.
Denver comes in at number 6, just ahead of San Francisco and Washington D.C., while Colorado Springs takes the number 9 spot.
The new report from CBRE, a commercial real estate services company, looks at Colorado’s geography of high-tech startups. From a regional standpoint, Denver continues to act as a hub for mature high-tech companies. Recently the city has also seen a large increase in startup activity and VC funding. In addition to downtown Denver, many startups are moving into office spaces in the RiverNorth, Golden Triangle and Broadway South neighborhoods. The report cites Denver’s relatively low cost of living (as compared to the coasts), and its newly (nearly) complete mass transit system as reasons for growth.
Boulder, which has been the traditional tech startup hub of Colorado, continues to hold that position today. In fact, proximity to Boulder is so valuable that secondary tech bubbles are developing in places like Broomfield, Louisville and Westminster. This growth appears to be largely driven by companies who value proximity to Boulder, but need a larger office space than Boulder can offer at an affordable price.
To the north, Colorado State University is helping plant new and diverse software, biotech and energy startups in Fort Collins. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs continues to attract larger high-tech firms focusing on aerospace and defense.
Colorado is also an attractive place for out of state tech talent to relocate to. The top states for people to migrate from are California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
There is also a large pool of highly educated talent already on the ground, and the cost of living is low. So is the cost of office space. Denver’s office space is going for about 63 percent less per square foot than San Francisco’s.
Of course, Colorado’s advantage as a lower-cost, high-value destination might be stifled by its growth. Denver has been experiencing an explosion in real estate prices, with 2014 seeing a year-over-year increase of 8.1 percent. That was the largest increase in the United States outside of San Francisco and Miami. That said, real estate prices here have a long way to go before they reach the stratospheric levels of coastal startup hubs, and there’s a whole lot of Front Range left to develop.
All in all, the report offers a pretty rosy picture. If you’d like to read it in its entirety, you can find it here.
Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Found this and happened to see it live at last year's Startup Phenomenon conference. Just as good the second time. Brad Feld and Jim Collins talk about the power of relationships. My kinda chat.
Thank you Diana Kandor, fellow at the Kaufman Foundation, for saying what should really be the obvious.
Startup founders, stop looking for money and go make it!
There's a misperception in the startup world that all you have to do is focus on the pitch and focus on getting investment. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Instead, companies need to focus on driving revenue as quickly as possible.
There's a notion that if you get into an accelerator, you're 100 steps ahead of all those other companies. Accelerators offer so much in terms of mentorship and structure and tips and tricks. They are hugely beneficial. And, yes, if you get accepted, your startup can get a huge leg up on the competition. Yet, even if you're lucky enough to get into a program and you're super savvy and leverage the learning you receive, and even if you're mega lucky and actually make it past pitch day and get a check in your hand, someone (and I recommend everyone) has to focus on the bottom line.
Let's say you hit a home run and get that round of funding, you now have a new boss and that boss wants to see a higher valuation. That boss cares little about your 17th iteration (unless the pivot really is led by consumer feedback) or how pretty your website or app is. She cares about how much traction you have, how fast you scale, how many users engage with your offering, and most importantly, she cares about the money.
The best way for startups to truly make it is to understand that everyone needs to assume the identity of rock-star salesperson and go out there and sell.
And, for the startups that have limited resources (basically everyone), go out there and have someone else do the work for you. That's right. Find the person with the best coat tails for your offering, and ride them.
Leverage the concept of leverage.
Here's the actual article
PRENTISS EARL III, POSTED: THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2014 6:51 AM |UPDATED: 1:00 PM, THU JUN 19, 2014.
Speaking before a crowd of more than 600 businessmen and women at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Breakfast Wednesday morning,Diana Kander, senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, urged entrepreneurs to ditch the traditional business plan and adopt a more customer-based approach.
“The entrepreneurs would like to tell you they failed because they didn’t raise money or they had management team issues or maybe they had a bad location,” she said. “But the reality is they failed because they couldn’t get customers.”
Kander is not unfamilar to Nebraska, speaking at Big Omaha in 2013.
Incorporating examples from her own entrepreneurial history, Kander, whose talk was entitled “Why capital is no longer the most important barrier to startup growth,” said customers 15 years ago held very little power over their transactions with companies. They were “taken advantage of most of the time,” she said, and they settled for “good enough.”
“You would go to the car dealership just expecting to get hosed,” she said. “You just knew they were making money on a whole bunch of different levels.”
Today, customers have more control. They expect perfection.
“If there’s a product that you want, there are thousands of stores online where you can choose what you want,” she said. “So for the first time in a long time, the supply of stuff significantly outnumbers demand. That means anything you want, you can find the perfect product. You no longer have to settle.”
But despite a changing consumer landscape, the vast majority of companies still use the same model, largely steered by a speculative business plan that buries customer priority.
“We’ve seen in studies that those companies that raise venture capital—companies that raise $500K or more—75 percent of those companies fail,” she said. “So it’s not how much money you throw at the problem, it’s the fact that you’re trying to guess at perfection, at what customers want without actually knowing.”
Instead, Kander stressed the importance of iteration, explaining that startups must be willing to flex their initial idea to meet the customer upfront. To illustrate, she described the genesis of Hudl, the Lincoln-based sports-software company. Originally, Hudl thought of its product as a “varsity tool,” she said, but later expanded its market to include JV and freshman teams after reaching out to potential customers.
“The product they thought they were building was close, but it wasn’t perfect,” she said. “And they found out upfront, before they finished building the product, the perfect solution that people would be ready to hand money out for, and that accounts for a lot of their success today.”
Kander listed a handful of reasons more entrepreneurs aren’t adopting a customer-based approach. First, she said, too many entrepreneurs think they’re smarter than the customers. It’s also a harder model to follow; it feels less natural than the plan-based approach, in which the entrepreneur moves from the idea to development to branding and finally on to the customer. Lastly, she said, many entrepreneurs ask leading questions during the test phase and rely on unreliable vanity metrics, convincing themselves of a primed customer base.
“Making sure you have customers up front in your venture before you start implementing is the most important thing you can do to a venture or new idea,” she said, “more important than raising hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.”
Near the end of her presentation, Kander took several minutes to describe the “marshmallow challenge,” one of her favorite experiments. The challenge provides the participants 18 minutes to build the tallest freestanding structure from the following supplies: 20 sticks of pasta, one yard of tape, one yard of rope and one large marshmallow, which must stand on the top. All different groups have taken the challenge, she said, but in a match between MBA students and kindergartners, the kindergartners averaged a height 2.5 times taller (25 inches compared to 10).
The MBAs spent 30 percent of their time planning the structure and 60 percent building it, she said, only to watch the structure topple after placing the marshmallow on top. With what little time they had left, they cobbled together a short and poorly built structure ten inches tall.
“This is the traditional plan-based approach,” she said. “You come up with an idea and spend all your time building something and then you hope at the end that it will work, only to find that it doesn’t.”
The kindergartners, on the other hand, started with the marshmallow already on top. It’s a small structure, but it’s stable. They’ve spent very little time building it, so with extra time to kill, they start experimenting with it, adding pieces, playing.
“If you spend time upfront testing an idea before you dedicate resources to it, I guarantee you’re going to find huge opportunities. “
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 http://www.ftcstartupweek.co
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.
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: http://www.ftcstartupweek.co/.
The Fort Collins Startup Week, using a crowdfunding campaign from local startup Community Funded (http://bit.ly/FCSWcommunityfunded) 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.”
PrintSushi.com (http://www.printsushi.com) 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 http://www.ftcstartupweek.co/mentors
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 (http://www.maxwellhughesmusic.com/) will open the kickoff keynote with a concert around Gerd Leonhard's keynote on day one.
Shatterproof (a recently incubated http://spokesbuzz.org/band/shatterproof/) will headline the opening night concert in historic Old Town Square right in the heart of downtown Fort Collins.
23rdstudios.com (http://www.23rdstudios.com/) 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 ofhttp://www.SoGloMo.com. 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.
ABOUT THE CSU BLUE OCEAN ENTERPRISES CHALLENGE
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 http://www.blueoceanchallenge.com.
ABOUT LAUNCH HAUS
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. http://www.launchha.us
The first week I went to the dark side and chose to sell advertising rather than buy it, a friend had me watch Glengary Glen Ross. Check out the video below where Alec Baldwin assumes fear is the best source of inspiration. He is awful. Needless to say, I spent the next month freaking out not knowing what I had gotten myself into. This is why so many of us fear sales. We don't want to be perceived as ruthless and cutthroat. The thing is, for any entrepreneur, the most important skill they can have is their ability to sell... and there are ways to sell that feel more like serving. And they work.
There are so many latest and greatest ways to pitch. However, I was curious to see if there were new less male (dominate the meeting, own the frame, show your power) ways of selling. SPIN Selling explains the science behind consultative selling. Pitch Anything explains how to use influence, the right messaging that lands and setting and holding the frame. I'll explain all of these at a later date and how to incorporate different elements into your close.
Tim Fereiss's Always Be Closing: Y Combinator and The Art of the Pitch is also a great article that touches on many of the things that work and don't and it's specific to the startup experience.
And, it looks like there really is a case for being more lady like or let's just say considerate when it comes to sales.
A recent Harvard Business Review article, How Women Decide by Cathy Benko, vice chairman and a managing principal at Deloitte LLP and Bill Pelster, former chief learning officer and a principal at Deloitte Consulting, shows the benefits of letting go of the dominate or die psychology of sales. Instead, they focus on utilizing the behaviors that are innate for women. As more and more women become the decision makers, it's best to model the way they show up and present in a way that they're more likely to receive.
Here's what they found, "We also learned that women see a big meeting with a potential service provider as a chance to explore options in collaboration with an expert resource, while men see that event as a near-final step in the process, when they are narrowing down and choosing among options."
"When presenting to men, we find that they look for holes or weaknesses in our arguments. Again, it’s part of the winnowing process. But women continually seek a creative solution—listening for ideas, adjusting their understanding of what is important, and asking for relevant details."
So today, while interacting with prospective clients, we know to keep asking ourselves, “What’s the deciding factor?” And we make this explicit in our presentations. “We understand you are on a journey to find the best partner,” we tell prospects, “and we recognize that your perspective will evolve as you speak with us and our competitors.”
Our world is becoming more collaborative and the sales process can and should feel like the first step in creating a shared story. Always Be Closing does work. Always be a valued partner works best.
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 milk; Horizon 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.
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.
FROM THE DEC. 2013/JAN. 2014 ISSUE OF INC. MAGAZINE
Tal Raviv is Ecquire's CTO and he went through DreamIt in 2008 and GrowLab in 2011 and has great stuff to share in his article, After Two Startup Accelerators, What I Wish Someone Had Told Me.
I had never heard of him or the company.
I admit that I'm like most salespeople. I hate doing the mundane and the menial. I like finding people and I like meeting people. I do not like putting contact info into CRMs. I do not like putting contact info into spreadsheets. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am.
It turns out that Tel's company, Ecquire, has created a way to make all that annoying shit easy so that sales people (or anyone) can focus on the relationship, not the details. It's freaking cool.
What's really cool, is that they knew (maybe #2 helped) that feature sets and more lines of code don't produce winners, awareness, adoption, and most importantly, sales do.
Tel says, "So, decide why you are here. Here are some examples:
- Figuring out if anyone wants this as fast as humanly possible
- Figure out if anyone will pay for this, and how much
- Build a rinse-and-repeat economical marketing machine
- Figuring out if we can resell this idea in X industry
- Double our retention
- Get to X number of daily active users
- Raise paid conversions from 0.5% to 2%
- Prove to investors that your company is not a risk and that their money is pure gasoline to your engine
The last one is probably the most common. This means users/revenue/testimonials/traction long before demo day. To achieve this, your real demo day deadline is 30 days prior to the accelerator’s demo day.
The worst companies don’t have a question they’re trying to answer. They’re just doing what they’ve always done…code a bit more every day, hoping that at some critical mass of features suddenly all their dreams will come true. That approach doesn’t belong in an accelerator.
For Ecquire, Paul and I needed angel funding. We knew that we had the biggest chance to accomplish that if we walked in with users, traction, and revenue."
Thank you for focusing on your ABCs and putting the "find the pain" 101 mandate of startup success central. And, thank you for making that totally not fun piece of relationship building a little less painful.
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.”
Back in 2012 I’d been to enough tech startup conferences in Europe over the previous few years to work out which ones appeared to be most significant. Europe being the disjointed bunch of countries that it is has too many to mention. That ended up being a post about events in 2013.
Now, with 2014 already here, I figured plenty of readers would like an update. So here it is. A huge thanks to Heisenberg Media for helping me put this together. Thanks also to Conferize for their crowd-sourced list of European Tech Events in 2014 which you can find here. That is not our list, it’s theirs, but it’s pretty good. We also recommend the listing over at Lanyrd.
But, simply being listed below does NOT imply that any of these events are endorsed by or ‘partnered’ with TechCrunch, other than TechCrunch branded ones of course. This is a purely editorial list, based on our experience in Europe, the list is designed to help the European tech scene grow and get more organised. Simple.
Why is it important to do this? In the first instance, Europe is a bit of a mess. Every single country seems to have its own major conference on tech startups. And so we need a single overview of what’s going on.
But the main reason is that it’s easier for those of us in the media (hello!) to cover your company if we get to meet you at an event. And it helps if that event does not clash with another. So if we produce a list of the bigger events, the events organisers will – like several planes emerging from above the clouds and realising they are about to crash into each other – HOPEFULLY not clash with each other. It’s also MUCH easier for investors to move between conferences where there are startups to check out and entrepreneurs to meet. It’s also easier for startups to take their show on the road and present to investors or the media if the events DON’T CLASH. See? Everyone wins!
The reason the list below also includes some major events in the US and a few outside Europe is that – especially in the US – TechCrunch Staff will not be around in Europe at those times. For instance, if you want TechCrunch staff to be more likely to turn up at a conference event, don’t schedule it during our Disrupt events in San Francisco or New York or Europe. OK? Simple.
I have not included events in Asia as this is more about U.S./European event traffic. And we HAVE included some in the Middle East and Africa, as they are “near” Europe. Almost all the events lists here are ones where English is the official language of the conference, with rare exceptions (the French ones).
In this listing you will (mostly) not find developer events or hackathons or meet ups. We’d prefer to concentrate on events where startups get pitched and where investors gather. Although all of the events are good some are genuinely ‘Recommended’, or ‘Interesting’. Some are more off the beaten track than others and deserve a mention.
Here’s the list pertaining to the 2014 dates. Some events either haven’t updated their sites yet, or there’s simply no information a 2014 event yet. As they update their information, and I get told, I will update this post.
Please leave your feedback in the comments, and we will take them into consideration. Thanks!
However, this is our (well, my) editorial pick.
CES, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7-10
Hyberlin, Berlin, Germany, January 18 Demo (public), January 19 founders (invite only)
SIGNIFICANT: DLD, Munich, Germany, January 19-21 – Invited / Ticketed
WEF / Davos, Switzerland, January 22-25 – Invite Only (often featuring big tech giants and startups)
SIGNIFICANT: MIDEM, Cannes, France, February 1-4 – Midem Lab is a track for music startups
SIGNIFICANT: Seedcamp Week London (+ Sometimes SeedSummit at the same time), London, UK, February 3, Invite only
LIFT, Geneva, Switzerland, February 5-7
SIGNIFICANT: The Crunchies – San Francisco, California, February 10, The Annual TechCrunch Awards – Very recommended!
Finovate – London, UK, February 11-12 – Good for Financial / banking tech startups
TechChill Baltics – February 13. Good event for Baltic startups.
Netexplo.org, Paris, France, TBA
Decoded Fashion Tech, NY Fashion Week, New York, New York, TBA
Startup Turkey, Antalya, Turkey, TBA
London Fashion Week, London, UK, February 14-18 (big for Fashion tech startups)
Social Media Week (Multiple global cities), February 17-21
SIGNIFICANT: Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, February 24-27
4 Years From NowFebruary 24-27, Barcelona, Spain
SIGNIFICANT: London Web Summit, London, UK, TBA
MENA ICT Forum – Dead Sea, Jordan, TBA
CeBit, Hannover, Germany, March 10-14 – Trying hard to include startups more, though not a major focus and too B2B.
SIGNIFICANT: SXSW Interactive, Austin, Texas, March 7-16
F.ounders NYC, New York, New York, TBA – Invite Only
Go Youth Conference – 16-17 March, “an event aiming to promote entrepreneurship and creativity” among young people, tech oriented
The Guardian Changing Media Summit, London, UK, March 18-19
FutureEverything Festival, Manchester, UK, March 27-April 1 – Digital culture, innovation
SIGNIFICANT: ArabNet, Beirut, Lebanon, TBA
GDC SF, San Francisco, California, March 17-21,
EU Digital Agenda Assembly, Athens, Greece, March 18-20
Scaling Startups – 26 & 27 March 2014 – London, UK
API Strategy & Practice Conference – March 26-28, Amsterdam – First ever in Europe, useful for any startup with an API.
NACUE Startup Career Launchpad – London, March 28
DEMO U.S., San Francisco, California, April 3
FailCon Europe, London, UK, April 8
MiPCube, Cannes, France, April 7-10 (part of MipTV, good for tech startups around TV/entertainment/video)
LOGIN.LT, Vilnius, Lithuania, April 10-11 – Big Baltic states Conference, in English
Webexpo.net, Prague, Czech Republic, April 11-12
Startup Day, Stockholm, Sweden – April 26 – general startup pitches but majority tech and growing bigger each year
Railsberry, Krakow, Poland, TBA – Recommended for European Rails developers
SIGNIFICANT: The Next Web, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 24-25
World Economic Forum on Europe, MENA and Eurasia (Istanbul, Turkey) – 27-29 Apr
Latitude 59, Tallinn, Estonia, April 28-29 – Baltics startups pitching & speakers
Disrupt NYC, New York, TBA – Very Recommended
DigiTalk, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 2014
NEXT Berlin, Berlin, Germany, May 5-6 – Some startups, mostly corporates and digital marketing
Heureka, Berlin, Germany, May 6 – Startups & focused on Berlin’s ecosystem
London Big Data Week events, (crowd-sourced), London – May 5-11
Berlin Web Week, Berlin, Germany, May 6-7 – Range of events
Engage Invest Exploit 2014, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 8
CapitalOnStage, Berlin, Germany, TBA
Decoded Fashion Tech, London, UK, May 10-14
Bacon, London, UK, May 16-17 – developer conference liked by starters.
Google Zeitgeist UK (London, UK) – 18-20 May (TBC)
Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France, May 14-25 – Good for media startups
Shift Split – Split, Croatia, TBA
Net Prophet, Cape Town, South Africa – TBA
Thinking Digital, Newcastle, UK, May 20-22 – Interesting
Forum SPB, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 22-24
The D Conference, Rancho Palos Verdes, California, TBA
Digital Shoreditch – London, UK A SXSW style event, last week of May
Startup Village – Created by Skolkovo, in Moscow, 2-3 Jun 2014
innotechsummit – 4-5 June, London – Tech Policy and big company focused.
Web2day – 4-6 June, Nantes, France (Largely in French)
Kinnernet Europe, Avallon, France – June 5-8 – Israelis hanging out with Euros & others.
DEMO Europe – June 4-5, Moscow, Russia,
Red Innova, Madrid, Spain, TBA – Spanish / LATAM event
Startup 2.0, Bilbao, Spain, IS THIS STILL GOING?
PivotEast, Nairobi, Kenya, TBA, East Africa’s main mobile apps / startup pitch competition for investors
Spain Startup and Investor Summit – Madrid, Spain, TBA – In English
SIGNIFICANT: Le Web London, London, UK, June 9-10
>Midnight Pitch Fest, Oulu, Finland, June 12-13
FoundersForum.eu, TBA – Invite Only
Startup Island, Hvar, Croatia, TBA
Significant: Cannes Lions 15-21 June 2014, Cannes, France – Relevant for tech companies driven by advertising, big players attend
SparkMe – June 19-20 2014. Budva, Montenegro
Startup Summit, Prague – TBA (21 June in 2013)
SIGNIFICANT: Bitspiration, Krakow, Poland, TBA
WPP Stream, Cannes, France, June 17 – Invite only
Cannes Lions, Cannes, June 15-21 – Good for media/advertising startups
ICT Spring Europe, Luxembourg, TBA
MLove Berlin, Berlin, Germany (closer to Halle, Germany), June 25-27 – Interesting
Founders Forum Menorca Tech Talk, Menorca, Spain, TBA
D-Conf, Milan, Italy, TBA
NOAH, San Francisco, California, TBA – Interesting for late-stage startups
Tech Open Air Berlin – Berlin, Germany, July 4-5
DLD Women, Munich, Germany, TBA
Tech4Africa Nairobi – Nairobi, Kenya, TBA
RockPaperStartups.me – July TBA 2014, Croatia
Young Rewired State, UK, August 4-10
GDC Europe, Cologne, Germany, August 11 – 13 – Useful for social games developers/startups
Rock, Paper, Startups – Rijeka, Croatia – TBA (18-19 July in 2013)
MediaEvolution.se, Malmo, Sweden, TBA – Media/Tech overlap conf.
Turing Tech Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, TBA – Interesting
Week 35 – 36
Burning Man, Black Rock, Nevada, August 25 – Sep 1 – Lots of tech entrepreneurs now attend
Hack Cyprus/ – Cyprus, TBA
DConstruct, Brighton, UK, TBA – “technology and culture”
Significant: IFA, Berlin, Germany, September 5 – 10 – Europe’s main consumer tech/gadget show
SIGNIFICANT: CTIA, Las Vegas, Nevada, September 9-11
Digital Derry, Northern Ireland, TBA
SIGNIFICANT: TechCrunch Disrupt SF, San Francisco, California, TBA – Very Recommended (September 7-11, 2013)
Pirate Summit, Cologne, Germany, TBA (1st or 2nd week of September most likely) – Fun, startup event, junkyard atmosphere, good vibe
Campus Party London, London, UK, TBA – Big huge Hackathon and speakers
Startup Lisboa Demo day, Lisboa, Portugal, TBA
Fast FWD Conference – tech and startup festival in Belgium – TBA
Kinnernet, Israel – Invite only, mainly Israeli in focus, with some outside guests
DM Ex Co, Cologne, Germany, September 10-11 – Advertising startups / Germany
TechCrunch Italy, Rome, Italy, TBA
“Investor Harvest” – Sep 18-19 Odessa, Ukraine (by by Europe Venture Summit, invitation for European angels and LPs)
Investors AllStars, London, UK, TBA. Not a conference but an interesting gathering of European VCs and founders.
Overtheair.org, London, UK, TBA – Interesting for mobile startups
MindTheProduct, London, UK, TBA
TechBBQ.dk, Copenhagen, Denmark, TBA
SIGNIFICANT: Webrazzi Summit, Istanbul, Turkey, TBA. September 25th – Recommended to download Turkey
The Next Web New York, New York, New York, TBA
TED Global, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 5-10
SIGNIFICANT: White Bull Summit, Barcelona, Spain, TBA – Oct. 6th-8th (2014) – Recommended, esp. for growth or mid-stage firms
Decoded Fashion Tech – Milan Oct 22 2014
MindTrek, Tampere, Finland, TBA
Spain Startup And Investor Summit – Madrid, Spain, TBA
Tech4Africa – Johannesburg, South Africa, TBA
Ennovation, Poznan, Poland, TBA
WHU’s Idea-lab.org, Vallendar, Germany, campus of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany,TBA
IDCEE (Investor Day CEE), Kiev, Ukraine, October 16-17
Wired UK 14, London, UK, October 16-17
GigaOM Structure:Europe, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, TBA
DLD Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel, TBA – Recommended
Venturecamp.mindthebridge.org, Milan, Italy, TBA
TECHCRUNCH DISRUPT EUROPE AND HACKATHON TBA DATE OR WEEK NOT YET SET
SIGNIFICANT: Pioneers Festival, Vienna, Austria, 29 & 30 October – Recommended as a broad conference on science, tech and innovation
Stream Global 2014 (Marathon, Greece) 23-26 Oct
HowToWeb, Bucharest, Romania, TBA – Recommended to download Eastern Europe
Explorers Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, TBA
Webit, Istanbul, Turkey, TBA – Recommend, Large trade show and exhibition featuring broadly on digital marketing, commerce and startups, in Turkey and Southern and Central Europe
Silicon Valley Comes to the UK – Nov 6-8 featuring veterans from the Valley touring London and Cambridge
Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford – Featuring veterans from the Valley at the Said Business School – (24-25 November in 2013)
Codebits – Portugal, TBA, Large hackathon style conference, not startup oriented but a pool for talent
Noah Conference, London, UK, November 12-13 – Recommended for later stage startups, broadly European but heavily German and Israeli
Apps World, London, UK November 12-13
Global Entrepreneurship Week in Belarus – (Nov 18-21 in 2013) – Minsk, Belarus – Features startups
Slovakia Startup Awards – (22 Nov 2013)
Rise Up Summit – Cairo, Egypt – Recommended a as a major event for tech in the Middle East (Was 24-25 Nov 2013)
Global Entrepreneurship Week (various global events like Internet Week Europe)
SIME, Stockholm, Sweden, TBA
Monaco Media Forum, Monaco, TBA
SVC2UK, London, UK, TBA – Recommended
Slush, Helsinki, Finland, TBA – Recommended as the main Nordics/Scandinavia event
Startup Conference Next – Sofia, Bulgaria (November 30th 2013)
RECOMMENDED – Startup AddVenture – Kiev, Ukraine, Dec 3-4 (by Europe Venture Summit)
SIME Miami – 3-4 December
Stretch, Budapest – December 5-6 – leadership and management conference for tech comps
TechCrunch Moscow 2014, Moscow, Russia, TBA
LeWeb, Paris, France, TBA – Recommended, big tech event in Europe for some time
API Days, Paris, France, TBA
I found something I wrote in 1999 when I was blessed to live the Dot Com dream and experience crazy growth, acquisitions and three IPOs.
Found myself numb and tired in California. The land of sun and fun that offers the youth spring eternal, silicon/e serenity and all that other go-west greatness had sucked me dry. Like the desert--although my bones yearned for the end of damp, fog-blanketed days. Sometimes you want to throw off the covers, don a tank and thongs and head to the beach. Not so in sunny California. No. Such a teaser. No one warns of the 8 month winter, the dirty charcoal sand and intimidating (to say the least) ocean. I’ve seen dogs and grown men sucked down in that current. Tell me, when you came here, what were you looking for? The gold in them there hills of days past? You fool. Those nuggets were mined decades ago and even then they required some superhuman strength to survive the conditions. Yes, there’s still gold here. For those left standing, struggling, surviving their personal Donner pass. It’s a hard world and California might just be the hardest. Or maybe it’s the industry. . . or maybe it’s just my weakness. . .
Now, I’m no teary-eyed little girl grasping her father’s hand for security. I let go of that hand long ago (or maybe it was never mine to hold). I grew strong and proud. I laced up my start-up boot-straps, grabbed my shovel and sifter, and went West.
Nothing has changed. This California dirt is still studied, sifted and sorted. Those of us with grimy, dirty fingers pick through the pieces with precision. Pre-IPO, E-commerce, killer app., gold cow. Jargon and last week’s antiquated talk. We speculators understand that the task is daunting in its abundance of sheer frustration.
We sift and search. Search and sift. Pillaging the new resource, information, to obtain what in the end, will really be, nothing more than the clump of earth, sand, and silicon we started with. Only fools base their dreams on the stability of sand castles.
In the end what treasured trinket will mark our diligence? Gold bars, even when positioned as paper weights on the ocean’s floor maintain their value. Stock options, however, like a high school flirt, are fickle—only valuable when someone else wants them. Paper wealth didn’t buy Columbus’ passage and Cleopatra’s kiss required a heavy pittance of precious metal.
I remember visiting Carson City, Nevada with my parents when I was 13. The sepia-tone pictures portrayed a rough, gregarious bunch. The sort that exaggerated everything—their stories, voices and women all were loud. But even with their arms gripped round each other in fraternal support, and smiles flashing bravely, their eyes betrayed their postured confidence. Camaraderie looked more like reverie. Embraces more like death grips. And their eyes, well I’ve seen those eyes. I see them daily and in various forms. They sit beside me on the N Judah, struggling to focus past the window’s reflective glare. Those eyes walk my company’s hallways, charting battle wounds while simultaneously counting their personal calendar—or shall I say vesting schedule? But, most upsetting, I see those eyes reflected in my mirror nightly begging sleep to visit without the help of placebo pills to stop my brain’s mile-a-minute-marathon.
I see a youth that is lost searching. I see someone who is striving to find something, to achieve the next big thing, but not sure when to give up the struggle or even recognize the prize when it’s won. At present, I can devise only one solution. Search for that next big thing, the one great IPO, collect stock and under-eye circles, and never complain that the mines are too dark and the hours too long. Sift and sift. Search, and sift some more and make sure those tiny threads of sanity and childhood dreams don’t slip through the grating to join the other remnants of Silicon Valley’s discards.
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.
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
BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 3, 2013 -- /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 www.startupphenomenon.com.
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 visitwww.startupphenomenon.com.
SOURCE Startup Phenomenon
The 25 Best U.S. Cities for Tech Startups
BY CATHERINE CLIFFORD | August 14, 2013|
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.
Here is a rundown of the U.S. metro regions with the highest ratio of tech startups compared to the national average:
- Boulder, Colo.
- Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
- Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.
- San Francisco
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.
- Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Cheyenne, Wyo.
- Salt Lake City
- Corvallis, Ore.
- Raleigh-Cary, N.C.
- Huntsville, Ala.
- Provo-Orem, Utah
- Bend, Ore.
- Austin-Round Rock, Texas
- Missoula, Mont.
- Grand Junction, Colo.
- Sioux Falls, S.D.
- Bethesda-Frederick-Rockville, Md.
- Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.
- Wilmington, Del.
- 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.
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 Cliffordis a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.
I could go one of two routes. I could take one of my crazy ideas and go the startup path, try and chase down funding, spend 80 hours a week to found a company, and take years off my life while trying to make it happen. Or I could build a lifestyle business, where I was the only employee and made just enough to support myself while having more freedom to do the things I really wanted to. A few years back, I wasn’t stoked about my position as a financial analyst, and knew I wanted to run my own business. The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted that business to look like.
I took off to Thailand and decided to give the latter a shot. Three years later, I’m absolutely convinced that for the majority of the people with entrepreneurial aspirations, you’re better off starting a lifestyle business than pursuing a startup. Here are 7 reasons why:
- You are not Instagram. For every startup that sells and makes millions, there are hundreds — if not thousands — that fail or, even worse, continue to just barely make it, sucking the life out of you in the process.
- Building a startup is building a 9-to-5. While it’s fun to start up running on nothing but adrenaline and Red Bull, the excitement wanes and the monotony sets in after a few months. Many startup companies turn into really bad 9-to-5 jobs for the founders. They get mired in day-to-day details and work harder than anyone else, but they don’t get the benefits they signed on for as an entrepreneur in the first place. For example, Jun Loayza who, after getting over a million in funding and successfully selling two companies, left his current startup to pursue a lifestyle business.
- You won’t wait years to turn a profit. So someone gave you a bunch of money and told you to go build your business — cool, but that doesn’t mean you’re profitable. When you work for yourself, your overhead is limited. Salaries, office space, benefits? That’s all on you. I started my most recent business with less than $500 and it took me three sales to become profitable. Most startups are lucky to be profitable after three years!
- You can work from a beach with a Mai Tai. You know that dream everyone had after reading the 4-Hour Workweek where they’re chillin’ on a beach with a cocktail, working from a laptop? That’s really possible. Sure, those haven’t been the most productive days of my life, but a lifestyle business lets you choose when and where you work — generally, all you need is an Internet connection. This year I’ve already worked from places like Vail, Playa del Carmen, Cuba, New York, China and Jordan among others — all without skipping a beat in my business.
- You’ll have more flexibility than Gabby Douglas. You say you wanted to become an entrepreneur for increased flexibility and control in your life? Fat chance in a startup, especially when you’re playing with someone else’s money. As a lifestyle entrepreneur, you truly have the flexibility to set your own schedule. Take Laura Roeder, for instance — she moved from Southern California to spend a few months in London, where she got to attend this year’s Olympic games. A lifestyle business is one that promotes the lifestyle you want to live. For many, that’s more time with friends and family; for others, it’s travel and adventure. You get to decide.
- Stress is minimized. As an entrepreneur, stress will never go away — it comes with the territory. But you’d better believe that while starting up, it has the potential to be much worse. Thoughts like “How am I going to make payroll this month?” and “Revenues were 30 percent less than projections, what will the investors think?” or “My partners and I have drastically different opinions of where the business should go, what do I do?” are all common issues in a startup. A lifestyle entrepreneur has no one to answer to but themselves, thus reducing the stress that comes with common business problems. Stress of getting started can be minimized even further by running your business from abroad, where it’s cheaper to live.
- You can become a modern-day Renaissance person. I can’t focus on just one thing; I’m always all over the place. Being a solopreneur has forced me to learn how to handle all aspects of business — marketing, accounting, sales…you name it, I do it. In this position, you grow your expertise and become a more well-rounded business person, and that will undoubtedly help you in any future endeavors. The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” isn’t always a bad thing.
Are all startups bad? Of course not. Are all lifestyle businesses beaches and daiquiris? Not a chance. However, if you’re looking to maximize your enjoyment while have the freedom and security that comes with knowing you have full control of your life, then a lifestyle business may be exactly what you need.
Sean Ogle is an expert at helping people turn their passions and skill-sets into sustainable businesses that can be run from anywhere on Earth. As the founder of Location 180, LLC he uses the power of his blog to get the message out on the benefits of location independent entrepreneurship.
BOULDER'S RECENT ACCOLADES
- Top 10 Metros for Female Executives (#1) - Avalanche Consulting, Feb. 18, 2013.
- The 20 Most Innovative Cities in the U.S. (#5) - Business Insider, Feb. 1, 2013.
- Best-Performing Cities 2012 (#15) - Milken Institute, Jan. 15, 2013.
2012 COMMUNITY HONORS
- Cities Where Startups are Thriving (#1) - CNNMoney, Nov. 27, 2012.
- Bicycle Friendly Community (Platinum) -League of American Bicyclists, Oct. 18, 2012.
- 10 Incredible and Underrated Cities To Live In (#6) - BuzzFeed, October 2012.
- Top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas Ranked by Percentage of Workers 16 Years and Over Who Worked From Home (#1) -American Community Survey (2010 U.S. Census), October 2012.
- Top 20 Small Metros for College Students(#3) - American Institute for Economic Research, Oct. 1, 2012.
- The Fittest U.S. Cities for Baby Boomers - Spry, Sept. 17, 2012.
- America's Best Places to Live (#60) - Money, September 2012.
- Top Cities for Technology Start-ups (#9 Boulder/Denver) -USA Today, Aug. 23, 2012.
- 5 Happiest Cities in America -AARP, Aug. 23, 2012.
- Summer in the U.S.A.: 20 Best Vacation Destinations - Frommer's, June 2012.
- America's Foodiest Town - CoutureColorado.com, June 5, 2012.
- Nine Fittest Towns of the West (#3) - Sunset, June 5, 2012.
- America's Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities (#3) - Bicycling, May 21, 2012.
- Most Well-Read Cities in America (#5) - Amazon.com, May 15, 2012.
- Top 10 Cities for Affordable Vacations (#7) - Livability.com, April 20, 2012.
- Tree City USA - National Arbor Day Foundation (for the 28th consecutive year).
- Best Restaurant Neighborhood - 2012 (Pearl Street Mall) - Westword, March 2012.
- Skinniest City in America - Gallup, March 7, 2012.
- Top 10 Cities for Well-being (#5) - Gallup, March 7, 2012.
- Most Bike-friendly Vacation Cities (#4) - Virgin Vacations, March 7, 2012.
- Top 10 Foodie Cities (#3) -Livability.com, Feb. 17, 2012.
- Top 10 College Towns, 2011 (#1) - Livability.com, Feb. 7, 2012.
- America's Healthiest Metros (#3) - The Atlantic Cities, Jan. 3, 2012.
For years we have been talking about the education bubble and the problem that colleges charge tons of money and then graduates are unemployable and in debt. Colleges are responding by becoming job preparation centers. And Frank Bruni, opinion editor for the New York Times, says this is a waste of time and resources. Here’s what’s better:
1. Skipping college.
The real issue we have with admitting that college is not a path to the work world is then we have to ask ourselves why we send our kids to high school. There is plenty of data to show that teens are able to manage their lives without the constraints of school. The book Escaping the Endless Adolescence is chock full of data, and a recent article by my favorite journalist, Jennifer Senior, shows that high school is not just unnecessary, but actually damaging to teens who need much more freedom to grow than high school affords.
2. Focus on internships instead of school.
Kids should be working in internships in high school. Because the best path to a good job is a bunch of great internships. But great internships don’t go to people who need money. They are mostly for young people. Yes, this is probably illegal and classist and bad for a fluid society. But we will not debate that here. Instead we will debate why kids need to go to college if the internships are what make them employable? Kids should do internships in high school and by their college years, they are capable of real jobs where they are doing work that people value, with cash.
You cannot take this route if you’re saddled with huge student loans. You can’t take this route if you’re inundated by homework in required subjects you don’t care about. You can’t take this route if you have no work experience when you graduate college. It’s too late. (Don’t tell me you need to go to school to learn, okay? People just do not believe this anymore.)
I was reading the Fortune list of 40 under 40 and I was struck by the career history of Kevin Feige (number 11 on the list). He’s president of Marvel Studios at age 39. He wrote that he interned with the Superman movie director as a film student and that was the last job application he filled out. That’s because if you get an internship with someone great, and your performance is great, your network will cover your employment needs for a very long time.
3. Start a company instead of writing a resume.
I’m struck by Marissa Mayer (number 3 on Fortune’s list) whose announced acquisition strategy is buying small, cheap companies. Which is, in effect, buying the team. Silicon Valley calls these acqui-hires. She is looking at young people who start companies that are not necessarily successful in terms of product or sales but successfully market the founders as visionaries, self-starters, and hard workers. You can’t show those traits in school, so if you have those traits, you slow yourself down by going to school where you cannot exhibit your best, marketable traits.
4. Refuse to present yourself in a linear way.
Do any workaround that lets you forgo the linear obsession the standard resume format. Because linear presentations favor people who have long, rule-following careers – which don’t necessarily make you look good anyway. I could write a post ten thousand paragraphs long of all the new things people with nonlinear work histories are doing to get jobs.
People use twitter as a resume, according to the Wall Street Journal, which requires only that you publish ideas, not any sort of academic experience.
Young people are selling stock in themselves - paying out dividends for decades at a time.
Agents represent workers who pick and choose projects that match them rather than signing on for indefinite amounts of time. The Harvard Business Review calls this supertemping. Business Week calls it going Hollywood.
But here’s the big takeaway. A fundamental shift is taking place, where the path to getting a job is massively circumventing college credentials. And, at the same time, the American public is fed up with the insane debt that college are expecting new grads to take on in order to graduate. (Good essay: How College Ruined My Life.)
If you are not going to school in order to “fit” into the adult world, then why are you going to school? The love of learning, presumably. But school reform pundits are 100% sure that kids will choose to learn if you put no constraints on them. They will just learn what they want. Best example: The MIT program that gave iPads to illiterate kids in Ethiopia, and they taught themselves to use it, program it, and read it in English. No teacher. No curriculum.
The biggest barrier to accepting the radical new nature of the job hunt is the reverberations throughout the rest of life. If you don’t need school for work, and you don’t need school for learning, then all you need school for is so parents can go to work and not worry about taking care of their kids.
It takes bravery to go against the grain. It’s difficult to say that the great learning and the great jobs come from leaning out, doing things in a nonlinear, non standard way, and playing only by the rules that fit your own style for personal learning and growth.