Chris Moody, COO of Gnip talks about the startup community in Boulder, Colorado: Boulder is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The city has a lot of lifestyle benefits to offer, including 300 days of sunshine every year. Boulder is consistently rated one of the healthiest, happiest and smartest cities in the country. When it comes to startups, individuals often refer to the advanced entrepreneurial environment that has been created in Boulder as a startup community, and it is the word “community” above all others that describes why Boulder is the best place to create your next business.
There is an old joke that Boulder was founded by a bunch of hippies who ran out of gas on the way to California. In fact, the startup community here does share a lot of the same values as the hippie communes from the 1960s. The guiding principles of our startup community are simple: share freely and often with others and they will do the same for you.
The community is open to all and we try hard not to discriminate on typical stuff like prior experience, where you went to school, or how much money you made from your last startup. Finally, there is a strong feeling that “we are all in this together” and that members must support each other if we are going to reach our individual goals.
As a member of the Boulder startup community, I spend a significant number of hours each month meeting with people looking for advice on their startup. Some of these folks I’ve known for years, and I’m very familiar with the details and challenges of their individual businesses. However, many of my monthly community activities are with people that I have never met.
For example, individuals often reach out who are thinking of moving to Boulder and are wondering whom to meet when they visit. In these cases, it is not uncommon for me to suggest a mini agenda for their visit. The agenda will include an introductory email to each proposed participant suggesting a meeting with our visiting guest.
As a member of the startup community I also facilitate a monthly CEO Startup lunch. These lunches focus on topics like marketing, sales, hiring and fundraising. A typical meeting might include 35 people who run companies that are at various stages. Frequently, a first-time entrepreneur will be sitting at our lunch next to a CEO who is currently running a 150-person company and who has a long track record of startup successes and failures.
Despite my best efforts, I get way more from the community than I give. My fellow members provide powerful mentorship as well as tactical support. They often serve as my therapists when I hit a difficult stretch. The range of advice feels endless. For example, I’m currently in Tokyo exploring our options for expansion in Asia Pacific. I have a jam-packed agenda that was influenced heavily by my fellow Boulder community members.
Before the trip, my partners and I reached out to various members of the community who had prior experience doing business in the region. Our ask was simple: “Who should we meet on the trip?”
The response was overwhelming, and included not only a list of names, but personal email introductions to the people that we decided to meet. The meetings so far have been outstanding, and almost none of them would have been possible without the support of the Boulder startup community.
As I travel about the country, I receive a lot of questions about Boulder like “is it hard to hire folks fast enough in a town your size?” The short answer is “no”, but I’ll be happy to provide lots of insights on hiring in Boulder if you are considering moving here.
Photo credit: CNN