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Best of Denver Startup Week: As Told By The People Who Made It Happen

Much to the dismay of every startup employee throughout the Mile High City, Denver Startup Week 2015 officially came to a close last Friday.

And while the bounty of pitch-off competitions, design workshops, and free flowing beer may be gone, we shouldn’t forget everything we’ve learned during this record-breaking event (with over 10K attendees!). Last week left Denver’s startup community with better business plans, a higher level of confidence, and the tangible, tenacious spirit of entrepreneurship.

Since this year’s schedule was jam-packed with over 200+ inspiring events, it was nearly impossible for even the most organized of people to attend every session.

In order to ease the FOMO and nostalgia you may be experiencing, here’s a list of the top events and insider opinions to summarize the best of #DENStartupWeek.

Women Who Startup Summit

The theme for this year’s Women Who Startup Summit was “Investing in women is smart business”. According to the event’s website, the goal of the summit is to “celebrate extraordinary entrepreneurship and all those who are vested in making sure that we accelerate the momentum of Diversity in Technology and all facets of business, life and community”. The WWS crew kicked off a hashtag, #WhyIStartup, that to date has an estimated 35K reach and showcased the 20 most powerful Tweets in a video they premiered at the WWS Summit.

TechCrunch Meetup + Pitch-Off

This year was the first time that TechCrunch made a stop in the Mile High. The highly anticipated meetup and pitch-off gave 8 select startups just 60 seconds to pitch their businesses to local investors for a chance to win the ultimate prize… a slot in TechCrunch’s highly anticipated Disrupt Event in San Francisco. The winner of the coveted prize was Conspire, a startup harnessing the power of your current network to help you get an intro to anybody.

Startup Crawl

The Startup Crawl has become a staple in the Denver Startup Week social scene. The crawl began at Basecamp (off of 16th and Arapahoe) and wound through the offices of 15 premiere Denver startups, all in the name of food, drinks, and a celebration of entrepreneurial culture. While Built In Colorado hosts these happy hours quarterly, the DSW version tends to be the biggest one of the year.

Basecamp Launched by Chase

Since Chase first launched Basecamp two years ago, the space has become the epicenter for Denver Startup Week.

Basecamp offered daily Mentor Hours from 2-4pm, a free lounge and co-working space, and a number of sessions, ranging from “Exiting Early”, to “Building and Selling Your Company in Three Years”, and “The Impact of Design and Culture on the Workplace”.

This hub of community, innovation, and inspiration allowed startup community members to rest their weary feet, charge up their depleted gadgets, and reignite their passion for all things entrepreneurial.

DENVER STARTUP WEEK CHAIR, SPEAKERS, PANELISTS, & VOLUNTEERS WEIGH IN Castle Searcy, Designer Track Chair for Denver Startup Week / Creative Director at Stanley Marketplace / Owner at Tootsies the Nail Shoppe

Twitter: @Miss__Castle

“Denver Startup Week is my favorite thing to work on. The organizing committee and chairs make up the most functional team I have ever been on and I really appreciate the autonomy allowed to all the track chairs. My favorite DSW events happen when organizers interweave multiple parties into their events. For instance:

Startup Style: Pedaling to RiNo’s Most Unique Spaces showcasing Nocturne, Laundry on Lawrence, Topo Designs and Mile High Spirits.

Redesigning the Education System to Build the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs featuring panelists from Aurora Public Schools Badge Program, ReSchool and the Galvanize Full Stack Program, a teacher and a student.

How Placemaking Drives Innovation featuring panelists from Knoll, DigStudio Landscape Architects and a representative of the Union Station and upcoming Dairy Block project.

Cotton Blend 2.0: A T-shirt Art Show presenting 22 of the best graphic designers from Denver and Boulder via T-shirt designs sold to support DAVA (Downtown Aurora Visual Arts), a non-profit that provides free after school and summer art classes for kids who don’t have art in their schools in the Denver area.

It’s Past Beer Thirty: How to Differentiate Your Brand in a Saturated Market was a great way to talk about branding–focusing on a specific industry and bringing in an assortment of local brewery brands to enhance the discussion.”

RJ Owen, Director of User Experience at Universal Mind

Twitter: @rjowen

Host for: CreativeMornings

“As a person who lives in Denver and does a lot of workshops at events around the country, Denver Startup Week is a great chance for me to show off my skills at home and do my work in our local community. Denver doesn’t have a lot of UX Design conferences coming to town yet, but DSW is helping to put it on the map and give practitioners in our city a chance to show off our skills.

CreativeMornings is an independent event with 128 chapters all over the world. Our Denver chapter has been running since November of 2013 and we were really happy to be a part of Denver Startup Week this year. Our mission is to help gather and celebrate the creative community in the cities we operate, so it’s wonderful to be able to partner with other organizations doing the same thing like Denver Startup Week. This year we had around 170 total attendees at our event, and I’d estimate that two-thirds of those were new folks who discovered us for the first time because of Denver Startup Week.”

Mark Saldana, Marketing Manager at Galvanize

Professional Site: Galvanize Blog

Twitter: @markjsaldana

Panelist For: How To Write Killer Copy & Connect With Customers

“This was my first Denver Startup Week, and I was completely blown away by how many high-quality panels and events there were to attend. I’m a recent Denver transplant by way of San Francisco, and last week convinced me even more that Colorado is the coolest place to build a startup.”

Noah Geisel, 2013 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year & #BadgechatK12 Co-Founder

Personal Site: @SenorG on Medium

Twitter: @SenorG

Host For: Redesigning The Education System To Build The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs

“Working in the Education space, one of the things that I love about DSW is a huge sense in this Colorado community that doing well as an entrepreneur goes hand-in-hand with doing good for society. People are just as dedicated to designing for and impacting a better future as they are in capitalizing on it.”

Julie Sandschafer, Director of Business Development at Built In Colorado

Twitter: @builtincolorado

Related Social Event: Built In Brews by Galvanize and Pivotal

“The highlight of my [Denver Startup Week] was Wednesday’s Startup Crawl and Built In Brews! It was awesome to see the community come together and support many of the local startups during the crawl. The post party, Built In Brews, was crazy with over 1,000 buzzed crawlers roaming around Galvanize drinking, eating, and dancing.”

Amir Alsayegh, SEO Support Program Coordinator at Volume Nine

Twitter: @AmirAlsayegh14

Related Session: How To Rank For Your #1 Keyword

“Denver Startup Week is my favorite week of all time! Which is saying a lot because I’m including Shark Week. Oddly enough I think I learn the same amount during both… The concept continues to blow me away: a group of people sharing their passion for building, growing, and learning. Inspiring one another to build upon their ideas and harvesting those ideas into reality is one of the most wonderful parts of being a part of the startup community. 10/10 would definitely recommend. My favorite session was in fact a social event (shocking, right?) – hosted by Built In Colorado at the Platte Galvanize/Pivotal location was not only the perfect excuse to wander the endless halls of that beautiful building but also provided an opportunity for every walk of startup life to come together with drinks in hand to discuss upcoming projects, ambitions, and plans! From marketers to programmers to heads of product, it gave us a chance to step outside the office setting and into a comfortable space to share some thoughts and of course enjoy some delicious beverages, too!”

Jackson Stevens, Account Executive at Commerce Kitchen

Twitter: @jtylerstevens

Volunteer Coordinator for: Basecamp Launched By Chase

“I was in the fortunate position to attend every program at Basecamp. The Future of IoT panel on Monday was as hilarious as it was eye-opening, thanks to Josh (Skookum), Steve (Turing), and Ian (Sphero). The digital health panel on Wednesday was fascinating and encouraging. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Jackie Ros (Revolar), who is markedly exceptional both as an entrepreneur and a person. What an experience! It was a incredible to put everything together at Basecamp with Chuck, Katie, and Chris!”

Jared Polivka, Chief Evangelist at Galvanize

Twitter: @jaredpolivka

Panelist For: How To Write Killer Copy & Connect With Customers

“Quality, quality quality. Quantity only is bullsh*t.”

Related Posts:

It’s Past Beer Thirty: A Craft Beer Branding Panel

Were you lucky enough to attend Denver Startup Week? Let us know your favorite part(s) in the comments or share this with your startup community so they can experience a bit of #DENStartupWeek.