By Vince Winkel Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.
After countless meetings, emails, texts and phone calls, the team behind Longmont's first Startup Week (LSW15) is ready to flip the switch and get the show started. It's theme is The Heart of Startup.
"I hope the community will come out and be inspired by what can happen when a person or group takes action," said Jennifer Ferguson, director of Startup Week. "These hour and a half sessions are all business focused but I think the impact will be well beyond business and more about community. What we all have in common is that we love Longmont."
Longmont Startup Week (LSW15) is a week-long celebration of business and entrepreneurship set for June 1 to June 5. A complete schedule of events, classes and speakers can be found at www.longmontstartupweek.com.
There are over 50 events, more than 90 speakers and 20 venues involved in the first-ever LSW15. Every event is free, open to the public and aims to give startups and existing companies a chance to discover more about everything from starting, funding and marketing a business to leadership skills.
Organizers say the event will provide a tremendous amount of information and insight for those who are just starting out with an idea.
"Making the leap from idea to execution is one of the hardest decisions you'll ever make -- seeing how it's done and what your options are will help you make the decision," said Jon Rice, director of marketing and content for LSW15.
"Explore the wide array of business support resources, educational programs, grants, mentoring and more available from local organizations," Rice added. "Understand the direction that Longmont is taking, so that you can participate in your community more effectively."
Featured speakers at LSW15 include: --Eric Wallace, CEO of Left Hand Brewing --Brad Feld, author of 'Startup Communities' and Techstars co-founder --Anna Ewing, Executive Director of Colorado Innovation Network --Trevor Zylstra, Chief Operating Officer of SparkFun --George Heinrichs and Stephen Meer, co-founders of Intrado
Contrary to what some may believe, the event is not all about technology and beer. LSW15 organizers say the week was designed from the ground-up to be as inclusive and community-oriented as possible.
There are discussion panels on everything from craft beer to artistic endeavors, from intellectual property to culinary startups, how to fund a business and the challenges and opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs. There is also a comprehensive Spanish language track featuring eight unique sessions.
"Longmont Startup Week was put together to help Longmont jump start it's entrepreneurial community," said Scott Converse, founder and president of TinkerMill and a driving force behind LSW15.
"If you've ever been interested in starting a company, or getting together with some friends or business associates and looking into doing your own thing, this is the event for you. It's chock full of talks, presentations, panels and experts available to talk to you about almost any subject you can imagine around startup companies, entrepreneurs, funding, and a wide range of industries," Converse said.
The Times-Call is the headline sponsor of Startup Week.
In addition to the many panel discussions, on Friday LSW15 will offer free, one-on-one expert advice sessions for individuals from business professionals. These 20-minute consultations will be held at the Dickens Opera House. Dozens of mentors have been lined up to offer this service.
"These mentors have expertise in everything ranging from equity and debt funding, rapid prototyping, manufacturing, go-to-market strategies, Intellectual Property and licensing, business formation, social media marketing, leadership and team development, crowd-funding and pitch development, and operations scaling," said Janine Ledingham of the Longmont Area Economic Council, who planned the mentoring day.
"This is an amazing opportunity for Longmont entrepreneurs and business owners to bounce their ideas off of experts, glean wisdom and network with some entrepreneurs and business people that have a whole lot of experience."
A list of the 30 mentors, their areas of expertise, and sign-up information is on the Longmont Start Up website, www.longmontstartupweek.com. That's where you'll also find a full schedule for the week and more information about each event, including some after-work events to be held around town.