It was a beautiful late winter day back in February of this year and I was in Boulder, CO, doing some work for a non-profit I help out with. My mission was to network with as many people as I could and talk to them about the non-profit and its mission. One of my friends sent me an email and said I needed to meet Andrew Hyde, Program Director and Founder of Startup Week. Seconds later I got another email. This time it was Andrew with an invitation to have dinner up at his place. I promptly said yes and by 6 pm I was having dinner with Andrew and about 8 other folks. (I would later find out Andrew’s dinner parties were legendary and I can certainly understand why. Amazing food, fantastic conversations, etc.)
As the night went on, Andrew and I talked about the work I did and he said, “Would you have any interest in working on Startup Week?” Without hesitation I said, “Yes, absolutely.”
Four months later I officially applied for the position of program manager, and after several interviews landed the job. I was so incredibly stoked. I’m very passionate about building community and this was the perfect opportunity to help cities around the world bring together entrepreneurs in a fun, dynamic way.
So what is Startup Week? Put simply, it’s a free five-day, entrepreneur-led, volunteer-run, community-focused event. Local organizers select the tracks they want to build programming around and schedule 3-5 events for each track. These events could be talks, panel discussion, meet-ups, etc. The goal here is to build a week-long series of events that celebrates that city’s entrepreneurial community.
Which brings me to Denver Startup Week (September 15-20). This will be the first Startup Week I attend, and I couldn’t be more excited. The local organizers have done a tremendous job of building an event that truly includes every aspect of their entrepreneurial community. They’ve built programming around four tracks: business, design, technology and manufacturing. All told, they’re hosting 150+ events in venues all across Denver during the week. Plus, they’re setting up a really amazing space in downtown Denver to host Basecamp. Basecamp is a space that’s open to all Denver Startup Week participants. It’s a place to recharge, network, listen to some keynote talks, and even get mentoring from Denver’s most influential and successful entrepreneurs.
The highlight for me will be Thursday of that week. That day Brad Feld, entrepreneur and VC at Foundry Group, will be hosting a Techstars CEO summit at Basecamp. It will be absolutely fascinating to be surrounded by so many smart, forward-thinking CEOs.
My hope is to come away from Denver Startup Week with a huge list of best practices that I can share with other Startup Week local organizing teams. We’ve already got a big list compiled from other Startup Weeks, but as this is my first one it’ll be good to test my assumptions and see what actually works.
I’ll also be writing a follow up post after the event, so stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about Startup Week, or would like to host Startup Week in your city, please do not hesitate to contact either myself or Andrew. We’d love to talk with you about what it takes to bring Startup Week to your town to celebrate your entrepreneurial community.