Denver Startup Week: Celebrating Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Mile High City

September 21, 2016

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Last week, the streets and buildings of Denver were taken over by entrepreneurial minded individuals for the largest event of its kind in North America – Denver Startup Week. The free annual summit is intended to bring together the entrepreneurial community and celebrate the exceptional companies, innovation, and ideas happening in this great city we call home. The week long events included sessions, presentations, panels, workshops, happy hours, social events, and job fairs, which focused on four tracks – Business, Design, Technology, and Manufacturing. Events throughout the week ranged on topics from “Designing and Building a Positive Community – Online and in the Real World” to “Going Green: Scaling Existing Tech into the Cannabis Sector” and beyond.

Our Denver office was lucky enough to attend some of the events throughout the week such as “Practical IoT: How Will IoT Effect Climate Change,” “Civic Disrupt: Exploring Opportunities Between Startups and the Public Sector,” “Riding the Wave of High Growth,” and “Startups & Diversity: The Challenges and Opportunities.”

The “Practical IoT: How Will IoT Effect Climate Change” panel featured insight from Vic Ahmed from Innovation Pavilion and TechRiot, Sherri Hammons from the IoT Talent Consortium, and a professor at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The panel discussed Climate Change, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the opportunity to create a balanced co-existence and co-evolution between humanity and the planet. The panel discussed the issue of climate change extensively, pointing out that 18 million people will be displaced as sea levels increase in Bangladesh. When looking for an answer to climate change, the panel brought to attention the current existence of open-source technologies that can monitor the climate change and help us solve the problem.

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A few employees also attended “Civic Disrupt: Exploring Opportunities Between Startups and the Public Sector.” Panelists Peter Kozinski, Director, RoadX, Colorado Department of Transportation, Alex Kreilein, Managing Partner & Chief Technology Officer, SecureSet, and

Scott Blumenreich, Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, City of Centennial explored Colorado’s own civic disruption through the lens of the private industry and public sector. The panel examined how private sector technology can make a difference in the public sector, emphasizing opportunities for disruption. The panel highlighted autonomous cars, explaining that they are no longer just a thing of the future and with this comes the increased need for entrepreneurs to innovate our infrastructure accordingly.

Barokas Communications client, Bryan Leach, CEO of Ibotta, spoke to a full house about the lived experience of being an entrepreneur in a high-growth company during “Riding the Wave of High Growth”. In this session, Bryan highlighted the top ten roadblocks any entrepreneur may find themselves facing as they grow their company, which include:

  • 1 – Most of your company is new
  • 2 – Past methods of communication no longer cut it
  • 3 – Roles become more specialized
  • 4 – You can’t make a good decision without data
  • 5 – You can’t find talent fast enough
  • 6 – You are attracting different kinds of talent
  • 7 – You rely more on the next generation of leaders
  • 8 – You become less approachable
  • 9 – You must innovate while still growing in the core
  • 10 – You’re now on everyone’s radar

 

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Another Barokas Communications client, Techstars, participated in “Startups & Diversity: The Challenges and Opportunities” where panelists offered their advice on how to become a diversity leader and considered the challenges women and minorities face as startup founders and employees. Prior to the panel, Techstars and Chase for Business commissioned an independent survey that identifies why diversity is important to startups and describes specific actions startup founders can take to create an inclusive work environment. Key takeaways from the survey results include:

  • Diversity is important to 72% of founders, but only 10% are taking action
  • Why diversity matters:
    • 81% of all founders say diversity enhances creativity and innovation
    • 67% of all founders say that diversity improves problem-solving
    • 63% of all founders say that a diverse workforce provides greater access to talent
  • Only 23% of founders believe a diverse workforce improves financial performance

 

Denver Startup Week succeeded in its mission to foster an environment where every member of a team, in every industry, can come to learn, grow, and prepare for their next challenge. Whether you are part of a brand new startup or the CEO of a well-known company, Denver Startup Week leaves you inspired, to say the least. Until next year, DSW!

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