Staying in touch with the Colorado entrepreneurial community

Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time thinking about the differences between professional networking in an entrepreneurial hotbed like Silicon Valley and the networking opportunities available in the Denver/Boulder area of Colorado.
And yes, there’s certainly a difference between them. When I was based in Silicon Valley, there wasn’t a week when there weren’t four or five great events going on, ranging from lectures at one of the research facilities (I recall that Xerox PARC had lots of good speakers) to evening events sponsored by Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs.
Here in Colorado, however, despite the best efforts of organizations like CTEK Venture Centers, the daVinci Institute, and the invaluable publicity efforts of w3w3.com, it’s very rare that there’s a good networking event.


Indeed, I still remember fondly the New West launch party as one of the two the best entrepreneurial networking events I’ve attended since I’ve moved to Colorado.
More recently, w3w3.com‘s Larry and Pat Nelson cosponsored (along with CTEK) a terrific Blogging Party a few weeks ago in their offices in Denver. Over 100 people showed up to learn more about blogging and enjoy the hospitality.
But that’s about it. Certainly in the last twelve months I’ve found that I find more sharp entrepreneurs by traveling out of state to professional conferences and training events than by attending events here in Colorado.
What puzzles me is why that is. There are certainly lots of very smart people here in the state, lots of world-class consultants and agencies, and even business gurus like Jim Collins, whose office is a proverbial stone’s throw from my own.
I have no answers to this dilemma, but I find it most curious that a state that prides itself on its entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to challenge the status quo can’t create and maintain a really high quality professional networking group for entrepreneurs. It’s hard to imagine how we can continue to grow Colorado as a great place for starting a tech business (which it is!) if we can’t start to really crack this nut.
After all, innovation is the lifeblood of any state’s economy, and anything we can do to increase the level of entrepreneurship is unquestionably going to reap significant benefits.
Anyone else have any thoughts on this subject? If you’re not based in Colorado, how does your city or business community help new companies flourish?

3 comments on “Staying in touch with the Colorado entrepreneurial community

  1. Hi Dave,
    Here are a few additional networking events I enjoy in the Denver Metro area:
    IBI Colorado – http://www.ibicolorado.com – They have a ‘Blog and Grog’ every other Thursday, with cocktails. 🙂
    NewBCI – http://www.newbci.com They have networking breakfasts several times a month.
    Integrated Alliances – http://www.integratedalliances.com (They meet for happy hour)
    The Bold and the Bankrolled – This is a once a year event that the magazine Colorado Company puts on.
    Rita

  2. I was reading an article recently that may explain some of this. It’s not that there is a lack of connections. It’s that they are long distance connections. The connected people who live here in Colorado are using connections they made on the coasts.
    In the article 150 Places To Live Rich by Rich Karlgaard in Forbes Rich writes:
    “Say you’re a bright knowledge worker and have spent a decade or more in your industry, sharpening your skills, making the right contacts. You earn a decent salary on the metro coast, but those dollars just don’t stretch like they used to. So you decide to shake off the costly coastal infrastructure and relocate to a cheaper rural region. But you maintain your ties to the larger metro area and pull down the same amount of money as you did when you were living in Profligate Corners. In other words, you still harvest your dollars from Silicon Valley, Washington and New York, but now you spend and invest them in Bend or Boise.”
    Viola’ Connected, but not here. These people are like astronauts in orbit. Tethered to their mother ship on the coast, but floating in the wide open spaces out west.
    I’m just saying…
    Mike Moore
    http://www.AskMikeMoore.com

  3. Dave
    your insight is correct in my opinion — I have been an entrepeneur in/around Boulder for over 30 years –started several companies –had several accolades–
    as time progressed, I ended up working for another for the last three years — now I find it difficult to connect — almost seems as though people move so fast, you lose track of them — as I am back to consulting, I have been working hard to make the necessary contacts but still feel unproductive. Recently, I have been attending the Northern Colorado Consultants Forum and they are beginning to make an impact.

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