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1 Million Cups: An Introduction to New Companies in the Colorado Market!

Posted By Corrine Long, Edgelink, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Attending my first 1 Million Cups event last June, I had no idea what I was signing up for. But, inspired by their tradition of asking every single presenter, “what can we do to help you,” I knew I needed to be a part of it.

1 Million Cups started in 2011 in Kansas City, MO by the Kauffman Foundation with the premise that they wanted to build a local entrepreneurial community. They decided that it would take (at least) 1 Million Cups of coffee to do that. Less than two years later they are now in 65+ cities!

Think Shark Tank, but without the pitch for money and the shrewdness of Mr. Wonderful. Each week, each city hosts two local entrepreneurs who prepare a six-minute presentation for the audience and then open it up for a twenty-minute Q&A session. The entrepreneurs get immediate, candid feedback and gain real connections (much more than just a LinkedIn acceptance). The presenters are founders of start-ups that are ideally under 3 years old, post revenue and/or funding.

Since stepping in as an organizer this past summer, I’ve taken on the role of Recruiter (imagine that) where I am responsible for finding and scheduling local start-ups. Thankfully, we live in a city (Go Broncos!) that is filled with incredibly brave and crazy entrepreneurs that are changing technology and software. While there are many ways to meet people, 1 Million Cups is unique. We happen over coffee, not cocktails. Yes, I know a nice Pinot Grigio in your hand can calm your nerves, but our format doesn’t force you to mingle and awkwardly approach someone with your own elevator pitch. We foster an educational environment where you can passively listen or actively engage

Last summer, I introduced an idea called “Super Star Start-up” – a chance to hear from Denver based start-ups that have already achieved great success, but are still early enough to vividly recall the feelings and emotions of their story.

In August, I was able to secure one of the co-founders of Craftsy, Josh Scott. Craftsy launched in May 2011 and offers hundreds of classes in quilting, sewing, knitting, cake decorating, cooking and more through online video lessons. And get this: it was founded by 4 guys in their late 30s who didn’t have any interest in crafts (in fact, they tried wine tasting and economics classes first)!

A few key takeaways from what Josh shared? 1) It is OK if you are not your customer. But even if you are your customer, 2) get to know your customer; listen and be humble in learning from them. 3) When hiring, be proactive! Don’t hire for your current pain, but for the long term.

Just this week, we had another “Super Star Star-up”, and welcomed co-founder Luke Swanson from Ibotta. Founded three years ago this March, and launched in December 2012, Ibotta is a free mobile app where you can unlock cash back rewards on great products; simply scan your receipt and get real, actual, spendable, cash deposited back in your account. Points are cute but cash buys coffee. Sweet, glorious, coffee. They now have over 6 million users and are one of the most frequently used apps (running stats comparable to the giants like Twitter, Instagram & Facebook).

Some things we learned from Luke are: 1) Don’t Assume! Early on, they were concerned users would be unwilling to take a picture of their receipt to save money; so they tested it. They set up a table outside of Coors Field, and asked people to try it. Gathering feedback showed them that this could work! 2) Technology is awesome: Ibotta founders built their app knowing what technology is capable of, rather than just trying to get a newspaper coupon on a phone like some of their competitors. They also added gamification to increase engagement. 3) Step out of your comfort zone: Luke left two well-paying, stable jobs for careers in start-ups. With risk comes tremendous reward.

While we are currently booked through March, there will certainly be times we have to scramble when a last minute opportunity fills up an entrepreneur’s calendar. Our presenters have given us a lot of feedback and believe 1 Million Cups provides meaningful connections and insightful feedback. You never know when that advice could help them raise that next funding round, connect with a business partner or acquire a new customer that could launch them into Super Star status. 

As part of the Kauffman tradition, I will eventually pass the reigns of co-organizer to another bright-eyed audience member who has no idea what they’re getting into. Until then, I will continue my hunt for courageous entrepreneurs willing to share their story. I am so thankful for the inspiration, connections and friendships that the 1 Million Cups community has offered me. Huge shout out to our current team of organizers that make this happen every week- it takes all of us: Breahna Beecher (Lead- entrepreneur, Revive Design Studios), Brent Cutcliffe (entrepreneur, Qwinix), Antoine Valot (entrepreneur), and Martha Brown (entrepreneur, Brown Bear Social). Thank you!

We hope you will join us next week, February 25th for Cheddar Up and Equipment Village!

1 Million Cups is just one way I strive to fulfill the EdgeLink mission “to make a positive impact on the lives and people that we touch”. 

Tags:  startups 

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Denver Startup Week 2014 Event Submissions are OPEN -- Ends May 23rd!

Posted By Erik Mitisek, CEO, Friday, May 2, 2014

They often say, “Third Time is a Charm” --- and we hope that is the case to build upon what has been called the Largest FREE Startup Event in the US.  We are excited to announce (much earlier than years past) that Denver Startup Week Event Submissions are now OPEN!

We will be accepting submissions until May 23rd – so APPLY NOW to be part of the best Denver Startup Week yet.

What makes a good submission you ask?  Well, here are…

5 Things That Make a Good Event Submission

  1. Give Before You Get.  Does your event benefit the community – or you?  If the answer is that you are giving away knowledge, perspective or tips and tricks that help a fellow entrepreneur success – that rocks.
  2. Thought Leadership – Not a Shameless Marketing Pitch for your Company.  Yes, we know this is tempting – but if you want to promote your company, do it through the lens of thought leadership and best practices and include fellow leaders (aka. Competition, Partners, etc.) to truly reflect the topic, not your specific business.
  3. Your Office or Unique Space.  Denver Startup Week is about Denver – and showcasing the awesomeness we all enjoy in the startup community.  If you have a cool office, work in a cool co-working space – or know of a cool location that reflects Denver – host it there.  We all love coming to new places.
  4. Real, Relevant Content.  The best events have the richest, real and relevant content.  Seems logical – but we have seen events that are dated, not researched – or rushed and often wastes your time and the time of your attendees.  Prepare, prepare, and prepare for the best results.
  5. Something Fun and Special.  In years past, events that gave away unique swag, signature drinks or food, had special giveaways and did things that were just fun – crushed.  What will you be remembered by?

DON’T FORGET.  Free libations (aka. beer, cocktails, or .....)  

This is Denver Startup Week after all.

When we founded Denver Startup Week in 2012 – we did with the vision of being entrepreneur led with programming that reflects the hottest and trending topics, relevant issues and just plain fun gatherings to instill a sense of community in our startup ecosystem.

Well – it has worked.  With over 70 events in 2012 and over 125 events in 2013 – we hope that the event lineup this year fuels our startup scene through education, thought leadership and company showcases that reflect Denver as the definitive technology hub between the coasts.

So APPLY NOW.  Submissions close May 23rd. 

Get planning, get submitting – and let’s build the best Denver Startup Week yet.

Cannot wait to see what you, the awesomest startup community in the U.S. produces this year!

 

Erik Mitisek, Co-Founder, Denver Startup Week | Chairman, BuiltIn Colorado

Tags:  startups  technology 

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Angel Capital Summit - March 19-20

Posted By Julie Chiron, University of Denver, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Angel Capital Summit Will Be March 19-20 at Denver University’s Sturm Hall

The Rockies Venture Club’s 6th Annual Angel Capital Summit for angel and venture capital investors and companies looking for funding to launch or expand their businesses will be held March 19-20 on the University of Denver campus.

One of the largest private-investment conferences in the Rocky Mountain Region, this year’s Summit is expected to draw more than 400 attendees, including both investors and companies looking for funding.

Investors and entrepreneurs will participate side-by-side in a series of workshops covering topics ranging from valuation for early stage companies to exit strategies on March 19. The following day, 35 companies will make funding pitches to investors and community attending the conference.

"The Angel Capital Summit is a great place for investors and entrepreneurs to connect,” said Peter Adams, executive director of the Rockies Venture Club. "After last year’s Summit, 24 companies raised over $15 million in angel investment, which resulted in the creation of more than 200 jobs. Even if someone is not looking for investment, the Angel Capital Summit is a great networking and learning event. The workshops alone are worth the price of admission.”

The conference will be in the Davis Auditorium of the University of Denver’s Sturm Hall, 2000 E. Asbury Avenue. The cost is $199 for full members of Rockies Venture Club, $249 for basic members, $299 for non-members and $49 for students with a valid ID. Register online http://rockiesventureclub.wildapricot.org

Companies seeking an opportunity to pitch at the event can apply at www.rockiesventureclub.org/pitch. There is a rolling deadline through February 22, with the best companies being selected early. Each company is assigned to a pitch coach who helps them through the process. There is no cost other than admission to apply or to pitch at the Angel Capital Summit.

Rockies Venture Club is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance Colorado’s Economic Development by actively connecting investors with the most promising entrepreneurial companies and by offering education programs for both angel investors and entrepreneurs. Rockies Venture Club will hold more than 100 educational workshops, mastermind groups, angel forums and conferences in 2013 – including its annual Angel Capital Summit and Colorado Capital Conference.

Contact:

Peter Adams

Executive Director, Rockies Venture Club

720-353-9350

peter@rockiesventureclub.org


Tags:  capital  investors  startups 

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Starter House at sxsw

Posted By Wendy Nkomo, Colorado Technology Association, Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recharge, refuel and reconnect at the Starter House in Austin March 9 -March 11.

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Starter House

Starter House

What is Starter House?

If there's one thing starters need, it's a place to connect with the right people, recharge their batteries, grab a drink and unwind from the madness. Starter House lounges and signature happy hours will energize, refresh, and reconnect you with free wifi, flowing cocktails, free grub, awesome technology, and all kinds of schwag.

Events

Come refuel, recharge and reconnect in Austin at theStarter House Loungerunning March 9 - March 11. For a full list of events and to sign up, head over to our website.

Need a ride? Trust HomeAdvisor to get you to and from the Starter House by tweeting your location to @homeadvisor using #trusthomeadvisor.

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Tags:  startups  technology 

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