Business

Six Days Devoted To Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Helping Them Find Backers

By Wayne Heilman
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Denver has one. So do the booming northern Colorado towns of Fort Collins and Boulder.

Now, it’s Colorado Springs’ turn to experience Startup Week, a six-day series of events designed to raise awareness about and celebrate the accomplishments of entrepreneurs — and perhaps inspire others to start new companies.

More than 4,000 people are expected to attend the nearly 30 events during Colorado Springs’ inaugural event, which comes the week after Denver’s.

“We want people to be more aware of the culture of startups, creativity and innovation,” said Nick Lee, one of seven organizers who have been planning Colorado Springs Startup Week for the past five months. “We hope people attending the events together will work together and perhaps form businesses together and create jobs.”

Boulder has held five Startup Weeks, Denver completed its third Saturday, and Fort Collins has held two. The most recent one in Boulder resulted in 240 job offers for participants, said Andrew Hyde, who helped found Startup Weekend and Startup Week events in Boulder and expanded the concept worldwide.

“But the goal isn’t just to create jobs or startups,” Hyde said in an interview last week. “The goal is strengthen the startup community to help make startups more successful. These events are all about networking, education and learning from your mistakes. The power of the event is to overload the community with positive events about startups.”

Colorado Springs has had three Startup Weekends, including one that ends Sunday evening and will serve as kickoff to Startup Week. Hyde, who lives in Boulder, said the city is ripe for Startup Week.

“In Colorado Springs, I have met a lot of really interesting people (involved in startups) who are passionate about what they do. That is really all you need,” he said.

The first event, which takes place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday on the heels of Startup Weekend, features a speech by Hyde on startups and startup communities.

The week also includes the area’s first 1 Million Cups gathering, a weekly event started by the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo.-based charity that focuses on programs for entrepreneurs.

Kauffman has launched 1 Million Cups in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and 46 other cities nationwide.

During a 1 Million Cups gathering, two entrepreneurs can present their business plan to mentors, advisers and other entrepreneurs.

They get six minutes to talk about their company and 20 minutes to take questions and gather feedback on how to improve their business idea or plan.

The schedule also includes community service projects; yoga sessions; and presentations and discussions on topics tied to startups, such as making pitches and landing venture capital.

There also are daily opportunities for software developers to gather for coffee and work on developing code.

The final major event is a panel discussion on expanding the sports industry in Colorado Springs that will include the CEOs of startups FuseSport, Fat Bike, Get Outfitted and Gearmunk, followed by bicycle demos at Fat Bike.

Startup Week is sponsored by Epicentral Coworking, the Downtown Colorado Springs Partnership, the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and FuseSport.

Lee said the organizers hope to make Startup Week an annual event.

For more information, go to coloradosprings.startupweek.co

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