Highlights from Denver’s Fourth Annual Startup Week
October 2, 2015
Today, Denver Startup Week wrapped up its fourth year with a record-breaking number of 10,000+ attendees, nearly three times the size of its first year in 2012. The free weeklong event, which included information sessions, panels, pitch-offs and happy hours, offered events focused on technology, entrepreneurship, media and a smorgasbord of other topics.
BPR-Denver jumped into the startup fun by hosting an event titled “How A Taboo Topic Can Transform Into A Successful Startup,” while also attending a handful of interesting events throughout the week. Here’s a brief rundown of those events and the takeaways from those who attended:
The Future of PR: Publicity in the Digital Age
We were “thrilled, pleased and excited” to kick off Denver Startup Week with a topic near and dear to our hearts – the evolving PR landscape. However, there were not any PR pros on the panel, which would have greatly benefited the audience members based on their questions. In fact, one panelist uttered “you don’t need to worry about crisis communications until something happens” – say what? There were some relevant themes discussed, such as content marketing, but that in itself deserves its own session. If a startup was interested in learning more about securing broadcast coverage for their company, the reporter from Denver’s 9NEWS shared several good insights.
Social Media: You’re Doing It Wrong
The three panelists stressed consistency in postings that shine light on the company’s personality. People don’t do business with businesses; they do business with people. In terms of original vs. curated content, some use the 80/20 approach with 80% of content focused on what your audience cares about, and 20% on pushing your brand’s messaging. Others used the 321 approach – 3 parts generated in-house, 2 parts relating back to us and 1 part curated content relating to our story. Researching hashtag popularity is a key step to reaching your intended audience, but never forget: if it doesn’t inspire you, don’t expect it to inspire anyone else.
Pledge 1%: Seth Levine, Rally Software + EFCO
Community involvement and the desire to give back truly separates Colorado from other tech communities around the country. Seth Levine / Foundry Group and Ryan Martens / Rally Software (now CA), along with representatives from Tendril and Trelora, provided insights into EFCO and its mission to help companies set aside equity and commit volunteer hours to nonprofits in their communities. Pledge 1% has already donated more than $3.5 million in funding for Colorado nonprofits. The panelists emphasized the importance of giving back to tech talent moving to Colorado and the importance of community building to Colorado company employees.
Back to the Future: Where is Media Headed?
This panel seemed pertinent to anyone involved in the media, but was solely focused on the cable industry and trends in consuming visual media. The panel included representatives from Sling TV, Comcast and Dish who discussed how millennials view media, what we can expect from major TV providers and how they’re combating cord-cutters. While millennials are known to be ditching cable to watch shows via mobile devices, they found an increase in salary leads to increasing TV sales. They also confirmed that 4K resolution will be the next phenomenon relating to how we consume visual media.
The Pitch Deck Workshop
Paul Vorreiter of Reflective Spark presented to a packed room of entrepreneurs on how to create the perfect pitch deck. While the session was geared toward investor presentations, it was broadly applicable to any type of deck. We found this workshop particularly valuable as we partner with our clients to create media and analyst presentations that need to be succinctly delivered in under 30 minutes. Key takeaway – bullet points kill people. The session ended with Paul delivering live feedback to an entrepreneur pitching his slide delivery service, and some hands on presentation work with the audience.
How to Write Killer Copy and Connect with Customers
Not everything you do is interesting – harsh, but very true. New company partnerships, news hires – they may be valuable in a press release, but readers/potential customers couldn’t care less. Content should alleviate customers’ pain points. Come up with your content hypothesis before you write anything. This post will teach X how to X and should result in X. Content needs to be timely and headlines should be priority – if the title isn’t interesting we assume the content is just as boring. Research what customers want to know and what they want to learn about.
Data For the Rest of Us: Using Government Data to Fuel Colorado’s Economy
Have you ever wanted to know which roads are going to be snow plowed in real time to avoid traffic? Or have you ever wondered how the new marijuana legislature is affecting taxes and state revenue? What if wanted to know if your neighborhood is at a higher risk of fire-related deaths? While Open Data might not sound like the most exciting topic, this panel discussion explored how an Open Data environment will provide endless opportunities to advance society. Open Data has become a vital tool for businesses and entrepreneurs alike, in order to solve society’s toughest problems. One of our clients is helping local governments connect with their citizens by providing an Open Data portal, and this session reinforced the benefits of adopting these initiatives.
How to Work Remotely, Effectively
Goosetail, a Boulder-based design and development company, hosted a panel on how to effectively work from home. While the session was geared towards those who manage remote employees/employees who never work in an office, it was completely applicable for BPR as we’ve recently implemented work from home Fridays. A couple key takeaways:
- Be transparent and overly communicate when working remote
- Video conference when you can
- Respect people’s virtual status and engage in virtual discussion
- Don’t worry too much on the process, as long as the deadlines get met
Breaking Through Barriers – How A Taboo Topic Can Transform into a Successful Startup
BRP invited Will Sacks, Co-Founder and CEO of Kindara, Stewart Fortier, Co-Founder and Director of MassRoots, and Sue Kuntz, Managing Partner and Founder of ThriveOn, to discuss how their companies, which focus on drugs, sex and rocking chairs (aka senior citizens), thrive in the Denver startup ecosystem. The three founders spoke about successfully building their brand, marketing to niche audiences, and even battling Apple for a spot in the App Store. This engaging panel allowed the audience to get a peek into the world of startups with touchy topics. As Will Sacks said, “stay true to your brand and success will follow.”
Denver Startup Week has been a great source of information and an even better way to network with entrepreneurs, startups and those involved in Denver’s amazing startup ecosystem. We’re looking forward to next year already!
BPR Team Denver