DENVER – Denver Startup Week is in full swing with thousands of business leaders, aspiring entrepreneurs and others converging on the Mile High City for five days of networking, discussion and workshops.
More than 17,500 people registered for the sixth annual event, which showcases everything Denver has to offer to young businesses. That’s a new attendance record and it shows just how quickly Denver’s reputation has grown.
From the legal marijuana industry to tech and finance, entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries are choosing to call the Mile High City home and it’s easy to see why.
Denver7 checked in with leaders of five local, fast-growing businesses and they shared similar insights – Denver’s talent base, culture and quality of life make it one of the best cities in the country in which to start a business.
Joel Milton is the CEO of Baker, which is a customer engagement platform for marijuana dispensaries and other cannabis-related brands. Milton said part of what’s so great about Denver is that it’s not Silicon Valley.
“Rent is a third of Silicon Valley prices, and there is a ton of available talent (not to mention the great quality of life),” Milton said. “Furthermore, while there is lots of ‘job hopping’ amongst talent in the bay, there seems to be more stability in Denver. If you build a great place to work, people are more likely to hang around! We have built an amazing team culture, and a big part of that is the personality of people who like to live in Denver.”
Krista Morgan, CEO of startup lender P2BInvestor, echoed Milton’s sentiments. “There are some great benefits to running a startup in Denver – affordable talent, easy transit to both coasts, supportive community and high quality of life,” Morgan said.
Lee Mayer, who leads the online interior design service Havenly said that Denver offers a smaller but more supportive business community than what you’d find in larger cities.
“In NYC, where I'd lived previously, I couldn't imagine cold-emailing the CEO of one of the most successful companies in the area, and not only get a response -- but an immediate offer of tangible help,” Mayer said. “I think it really helps us all by benefiting from each other's success.”
That feeling of community and willingness to help each other has also been an asset to Choozle, a digital marketing and advertising platform. Co-founder Andrew Fisher said the company has achieved growth in Denver that it wouldn’t have been able to elsewhere.
“With [Denver’s] access to amazing smart talent, willing partners, and a supportive community, we have scaled more quickly than we could have imagined,” Fisher said. “And in turn, we have been able to give back to the community and become a pillar of the startup ecosystem.”
Matt Talbot is a Denver native and CEO of GoSpotCheck, which creates software that makes it easier for retail managers and salespeople to track their products and marketing campaigns. He said launching his business in his hometown was a no-brainer, especially given the quick pace of growth in recent years.
“As a Denver native, the choice to start GoSpotCheck here seemed like a natural fit. Despite Denver having not always been known as a hub of technological innovation, over the past decade the city has seen an explosion of growth among start-ups and tech companies alike,” Talbot said. “It’s extremely gratifying being able to contribute to the development of the recent tech scene in the city where I grew up. Denver is a special place for tech and we are looking forward to seeing the start-up scene continue to thrive here.”
Interested in hearing more about Denver’s burgeoning startup scene? Denver Startup Week lasts through Friday evening. Learn more at denverstartupweek.org.