Denver Startup Week is the largest event of its kind, celebrating, teaching and empowering anyone with an enthusiasm for the startup community to learn and meet people with similar interests. The 2016 event was larger than ever: a record-breaking 13,334 people registered for 306 events from Monday, Sept. 12 to Friday, Sept. 16.
Boomtown staff offers its expertise
Boomtown Accelerator was one of 54 sponsors for the event. Its team members or Boomtown alumni were there every day presenting a talk, adding to a panel, or assisting with sessions in some way. The team members were involved in a variety of topics and recapped their experiences for us:
Co-founder and co-director of Boomtown, Jose Vieitez, conducted mentor sessions with Denver Startup Week participants. He offered guidance and insight to startup founders and people still looking to get started.
“Helping at this session made me realize how passionate people are and how, with some simple direction, they can take off and hit the ground running with their idea.”
He says one of the most common questions he received was “How do I find a (business, technical, designer) co-founder?” Denver Startup Week is a great place to ask those questions.
At the panel, “Accelerate Your Business. Learn from the Top Accelerators,” Jack Donenfeld, co-founder and general counsel at Boomtown, and his co-panelists focused on how startups should approach choosing an accelerator. The packed, standing-room only crowd also heard a discussion on how to find (and effectively use) mentors in developing a business.
“We distinguished Boomtown from other accelerators that appear to prioritize maximizing returns on investment in the companies over helping their founders build great businesses,” Donenfeld said.
They also showcased Boomtown’s other differences, including how it updates and refines each accelerator session to provide maximum support for founders. This includes customizing introductions of company founders to exactly the right mentors and investors they need at their particular stage of development.
“I think everyone there, including me, learned a lot,” Donenfeld said.
Sometimes the best opportunities come in on the fly. The week before Denver Startup Week began, Boomtown program director, Erin Stadler, was asked to fill in for a facilitator who could no longer attend the “Design Thinking Workshop for Mental Health” session. Stadler said it was an opportunity to collaboratively design, and act as the facilitator for, a design-thinking session focused on solving the challenge of access to resources for those with mental health issues.
“Instead of building a workshop or presentation to teach others what we know, this session instead relied on the knowledge and expertise of the participants as well as stakeholders in the mental health space,” Stadler said.
The result was an experience for participants and stakeholders to tackle some very real issues, in just two hours. It was fast-paced, high energy and everyone left wishing they had more time to learn and solve. Sigmend, a company that partnered on the session, will take the information from here.
The founders of some startups may ask themselves why they should stop what they are doing and take part in an accelerator program. They might wonder what the company will get out of it anyway. Jason Searfoss, Boomtown CFO, was part of a panel called “Accelerate” that answered that question. He was joined by mcSquares (Boomtown Spring ’16) and adJelly (Boomtown Summer ’16) founders as well as other experts.
“The discussion and subsequent Q&A session focused on very real questions,” Searfoss said. “The questions included whether and why a founder should consider applying to and joining an accelerator; the strengths and weakness of, as well as differences between, accelerators; and what accelerators look for in their respective selection processes.”
The panel also explored how founders and teams can get the most out of accelerators, how accelerators can help with raising capital and the common misconceptions of accelerators.
Deal flow manager, Jeffrey Donenfeld helped judge the “Elevator pitch in an Elevator” event.
“It was exactly as the title implies, I (and others) judged one-minute elevator pitches from startups while riding up and down in the elevator,” Donenfeld said. “The time from top to bottom and back up again took 68 seconds, and at the end of the ride, the judges scored each startup on a number of factors.”
This event certainly put a time limit on the elevator pitch!
Denver Startup Week by the numbers
It takes a lot of work to put Denver Startup Week on:
- 300 volunteers
- 47 mentors contributing 94 hours of volunteer time
- 5,000 companies represented
- 3,094 cups of coffee provided at Basecamp by DripJoy
It was a fun event in which to be involved. We look forward to seeing even more people next year!