The Computer Science Undergraduate Advisory Committee (CSUAC) is organizing the second round of the 3rd annual Mobile Apps Challenge here in Boulder. The second round of the challenge will take place tomorrow Friday, April 12th at 5PM at Hub Boulder. The competition will include student teams from across Colorado including CU-Boulder, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Denver, and Colorado School of Mines.
List of Applications:
Musikfly: a platform for musical influencers to manage all their music submissions in one smart, simple feed.
PicPoc: a photo manager/viewer that runs on iOS. Its interface allows you to horizontally scroll through albums of photos, and PicPoc can view photos from your phone’s photo library or you can save photos to PicPoc to keep them secure. PicPoc’s best feature is the ability to lock/unlock your viewing to a single photo, or album of photos.
MGate: an app that allows users to simulate basic logic gate connections and outputs. Users can organize and/nand/nor/not or xor gates together to simulate basic digital logic. This would be a useful tool for teaching and learning about logic gates.
JamWalkr: a social music-listening and sharing app, designed to let users decide not only what kind of music they love, but WHERE it is loved
LightStop: an app that simply does one task really well: Displays current scheduling information for the light rail
Orpheus: is a digital DJ/Jukebox streaming music service for restaurants, bars, coffeeshops, and house parties. It uses social media and machine learning to play music that is revelant to guest and patrons.
What: 3rd Annual Mobile App Challenge: The community event
When: Friday, April 12th at 5PM
Where: The HUB Boulder
Format: Teams will be provided a time slot to present a quick demo of their application to community members and the judges. Following the pitches, community members and judges will vote for the best teams. Scores will be combined to determine the final results.
The total cash prize is $2,000!
Free Food will be served.
Get your ticket for FREE at: http://csuac-mac.eventbrite.
For more information, please visit: http://csuac.com/tagged/app
The event is fully sponsored by SAP!!!
Not long ago the guys from Awesome Inc arranged for startup guru Brad Feld to speak at the Kentucky Center about the Boulder, Colo., startup phenomenon. Somehow Boulder has attained the mythical entrepreneurial status we also attribute to Austin, the San Francisco Bay Area and Research Triangle.
Now back in the post-Nam days, when I was a longer-haired undergrad at CU-Boulder, the only local entrepreneurs I can recall utilized baggies to distribute their product. Gnarly for sure, but definitely not a global hot spot.
So, I wondered, what changed since the late ’70s, besides the merciful death of disco? How had the most liberal college town in America transformed itself into one of the preeminent entrepreneurial communities in the world and a birthplace of TechStars?
Maybe Feld’s speech would provide some answers, so I bought a ticket (and later, his book).
From Boulder to Louisville
In Feld’s TED-style talk, he used a flip chart to quickly lay out what he calls the “Boulder Thesis” (which he stretches to 200 pages in his book, Startup Communities). In short, Feld’s Boulder Thesis states that a vibrant entrepreneurial community must:
- Be led by entrepreneurs who
- Have a long-term commitment, and
- Be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it, and
- Continually engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.
Understand that Boulder, which is fondly referred to as “eight square miles surrounded by reality,” sports five major research labs and the most degreed population in the United States. So it’s a pseudo-Oz, and whatever they do or (now legally) smoke out there might not translate to Kentucky.
I’m here to proclaim that the soul of the Boulder Thesis is, indeed, beginning to trend right here in the Bluegrass. Granted, we don’t yet match their 2013 Rockin’ Mountain High community, but (cue Journey) we are at least in the ’80s, or maybe even (fade to Pearl Jam) the ’90s in Boulder time, edging ever closer to the so-2009 Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feeling.” (Way to remix those metaphors.)
My point is that this region is slowly but surely crafting its own energetic entrepreneurial community under flag bearers such as Phoebe Wood, Doug Cobb, Bob Saunders, Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, David Jones, Charlie Moyer, Tendai Charasika, Mark Crane, Greg Fischer, Adam Fish, Alex Frommeyer, Kris Kimel, Brian Raney, Suzanne Bergmeister and many others.
This isn’t a planned and managed affair; it’s organic and authentic. It’s like cat herding. It’s highly inclusive and spans the “stack” from investors to entrepreneurs to supporters. It includes long-standing groups such as Venture Connectors, KSTC, Nucleus and Enterprise Corp.; alongside rogues like Forge and Startup Weekend.
With the Gil Holland-led re-entrepreneurization of NuLu, the community even has a homeland.
From Louisville to the Commonwealth
To paraphrase Brad Feld, we are witnessing the birth of not just the Louisville Thesis, but the Kentucky Thesis, which I might point out is miraculously overcoming basketball rivalries and connecting with like-minded clusters of entrepreneurial diasporas from Paducah to Lexington to Covington.
A good thing? I damn well think so, and cheer on all comers who are willing to pitch in, whether by starting a company, investing, working, sponsoring or just showing up. We don’t have to become Boulder.Who needs weed dispensaries and 300 days of sunshine anyway? We just need to be ourselves and stick with it.
We have strengths in logistics, healthcare, food and manufacturing combined with that bull-headed Kentucky long-rifle sense of independence – hey, not every region is so blessed. We have plenty of bright people and ideas. And nobody sees us coming.
Granted, it was probably a hair easier to grow a vibrant entrepreneurial community in progressive, highly educated, uber-cool Boulder. But when we do it here, Mr. Feld will have an even better book to write.
Or maybe we’ll just write it ourselves.
This week, the WSJ Accelerators program is running a special discussion called Heartland USA. In it, they are exploring the development of startup communities in five cities: Boulder, Colo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Neb.; and Portland, Ore.
Monday is Boulder day and there are a number of guest contributions already up, including:
- Pete Sheinbaum (LinkSmart): Boulder: The Tech Industry’s Best-Kept Secret
- Carly Gloge (Ubooly): Communities Are Essential for Startup Growth
- Niel Robertson (Trada): Crowdsource Your Business, Any Time, Anywhere
- Chris Moody (Gnip): The Boulder Startup Scene: A Guiding Light
- David Cohen (TechStars): Boulder is for Startups
Today, at 3pm EST, I’ll be participating in on online discussion called Ask The Accelerators and with Scott Case (Startup America Partnership CEO) and Marc Nager (Startup Weekend CEO). Join us as we talk about how you can create a startup community anywhere in the world.
I heard so much about the incredible Startup Community developing in Boulder that I decided to take a trip there to witness it firsthand. Since my return, many people have asked about the trip, about Boulder and our experience. For those of you who like to cook, you could draw a parallel of my Boulder visit to reading a cookbook versus taking a hands on cooking class from world class chefs. The intended results are the same but there is nothing quite like being there, witnessing how it’s done, and immersing yourself in the culture to truly appreciate and get the most from the experience.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet with many community leaders and learn about the evolution of Boulder as a Startup Community. Everyone is actively involved and committed to making a difference. We had 12 meetings in just over 2 days, each starting and ending the same way “how can I help?” and “is there anything else I can do to help or people you would like to meet?” Awesome.
We participated in Meet-up events, Entrepreneurs Unplugged at CU Boulder and were invited to a small group dinner with community leaders and entrepreneurs. We visited Techstars, were welcomed into several co-working spaces to hangout and catch-up on emails. We were the beneficiary of many pay-it-forward introductions – no questions asked. Entrepreneurs are everywhere in Boulder and the entrepreneurial energy is infectious. One afternoon at a local establishment, our server asked why we were in town and then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes talking to us about her Startup. Sidebar: Another great experience during our visit was the prevalence of “Happy Hour”. For a beer loving Canadian entrepreneur could Boulder be any more perfect?
If you read Brad Felds book “Startup Communities”, he talks about the Entrepreneurial eco system and the importance of it being led by entrepreneurs, the ”give before you get” attitude, network versus hierarchical structure, inclusive of all who want to be involved and the necessity to be in it for the long term – 20 years from any point in time. There are many other important discussions in the book, but these were my key impressions and our firsthand experience in Boulder.
The only negative about our Boulder visit was that it ended too soon. It was very inspiring and motivating to hang with people that are all working together to make a difference, led by entrepreneurs and supported by the community – everybody “all in”. Cool.
On the trip back, I was thinking about our experience in Boulder. How could we tap into that culture, the infectious energy and continue to learn about successful Startup communities on a go forward basis? The concept of the Entrepreneurial eco-system being a network not a hierarchy was resonating with me – the power is in the network. Could we expand the network and get entrepreneurs connected to and from other regions? Perhaps we create a “Startup Communities Network”, a network of like minded entrepreneurs from other communities committed to the ”give before you get” culture – the impact could be very powerful; entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs through a boundless, non-regionalized support system, making the right connections at the right time, reducing risk and accelerating business growth.
Interested in discussing the “Startup Communities Network” concept in more detail? I look forward to your feedback and getting connected.
A big shout out to Brad Feld and all the amazing people from Boulder for making us feel welcome and for sharing your time and experiences with us. We are returning to the Okanagan with many great community building ideas to share and look forward to visiting Boulder again in the near future!
Tom Nastas a 25 year VC veteran in US, int’l and emerging markets wrote a series for Startup Rev on the ‘spark’ which sparked the startup of Russia and how the development of start-up communities in emerging markets are shaped much more by the cultures of risk vs. what we investors and entrepreneurs face in the USA. An interesting read, below are the individual posts and content for each one.
What are the elements of a start-up community? What can you do to startup a start-up community in your city, or help it do more—faster?
Venture investor Brad Feld (Foundry Group, Boulder, Colorado, co-founder of Tech Stars, blogger Feld Thoughts) writes about these subjects in his other blog StartUp Communities with his new book titled ‘Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.
If you don’t know Brad, he was and remains the protagonist and instigator that transformed Boulder from a sleepy Rocky Mountain hippie town into one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial tech start-up communities in the United States. It is his individual contributions to this success that makes Brad’s advice sought by investors, government policy makers and entrepreneurs from around the world.
Recently Brad accepted my offer—I contribute a post on the startup of Russia to StartUp Communities. As I started writing, one subject led to another, with the result too much for one individual post. Over the next few weeks I’ll upload the content as a series of posts for you: the investor, the entrepreneur, the Government policy maker, staff of international development finance institutions.
In this series I answer five questions:
1.) What is the ‘spark’ that ignited the start-up of Russia?
2.) How does the ‘start-up’ of startup communities differ—emerging markets vs. developed countries?
3.) Why is the US entrepreneurial model of experimentation, trial and error and pivoting a death sentence for entrepreneurs in the emerging markets?
4.) How does the culture of risk and failure in emerging markets impact investor DNA—what they finance and what they won’t?
5.) What is Clonentrepreneurship, where is it spreading from and to, and why is it a model for more—innovation, startups, and venture investment?
There is much happening in Russian cities like St Petersburg and Novosibirsk as two regional hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship. Even so, I’m confining my discussion to Moscow since what we are seeing in the Russia capital is being replicated in other cities in the Russia Federation, only to a lesser degree.
Here’s a preview of the topics in each post.
- First—Three Definitions
- The Russia Tech Scene
- Growth in Russia
- What Changed for Growth to Emerge
- The Spark that Ignited the Start-up of Russia
PART II: THE CULTURES OF RISK
- The Cultural Divide: What Investors ‘Buy’
- What Investors Fear
- The Culture of Venture Capital: Friend or Foe?
PART III: THE POWER OF CLONES
- Growth and Innovation in the Supply Chain
- Sidestep the Obstacles that Impede Scaling Up
- The Controversy of Clonentrepreneurship: Cloning the Idea or Hatching a Start Up?
- The Spread of Clonentrepreneurship
PART IV: THE QUEST FOR GROWTH
- Clonentrepreneurship or Alternative Paths to the Start-up of Start-up Communities?
- Change the Culture to Make Amazing Things Happen
PART V: SCALING UP INVESTMENT—FINANCE THE STARTUP OF START-UP COMMUNITIES
In this final post to the series I answer the question: “What are the small but meaningful steps you can take to impact the culture to change the culture for more investment, entrepreneurship and innovation?”
- For Entrepreneurs—What are You Selling to Investors?
- For Investors—Let’s Be Realistic
- For Governments/Development Finance Institutions—Atypical Leadership Needed
- Concluding Remarks
- My Next Blog Series—Mobilize Local Capital to Finance Your Dreams
- Links: Evolution of Runet (Russia Internet) & the Russia Tech Scene
I hope that these subjects will help you to ‘Scale Up,’ more entrepreneurship, more investment and more tech start-ups in your country, with Russia as one experience to learn from.
How might this happen you ask?
Frequently a mismatch exists in the business models that entrepreneurs launch in the emerging markets and what local investors finance. Struggling to raise money, entrepreneurs label capital as risk adverse with investors blind to potential, seeking guarantees and sure things. Investors respond that entrepreneurs of venture stage companies fail to transform potential into paying customers fast enough and in the volumes needed for the business to scale. Add in their need to generate a rate of financial return required for their own survival, and it’s logical why local investors in the emerging world finance expansion stage companies.
This conflict spills into the public stage with Governments called to action. They conceive and invest taxpayer money to catalyze an early stage tech venture capital industry to fill market voids.
What happens next is perplexing to the creators of these investment schemes.
These new funds have a mandate to invest in venture stage tech companies, but they behave differently in execution. They invest in tech, but at the growth stage of company development, not at the startup stage.
But what if seed and early stage business models exist with the revenue growth characteristics of expansion-stage companies? If such business models do exist, what are they? Can they impact the DNA of local investors to risk and catalyze investment at the earliest stages of company formation? And can they spark the start-up of a startup community? While such business models seem to be an illusion and counterintuitive to the natural evolution of market development, I explain in this series that such models do in fact exist in Russia—& beyond.
For Next Time—PART I: THE START-UP OF RUSSIA
Subjects I discuss in Part I:
1.) First—Three Definitions
2.) The Russia Tech Scene
3.) Growth in Russia
4.) What Changed for Growth to Emerge
5.) The Spark that Ignited the Start-up of Russia
Reactions & opinions welcome in the comments box or send directly to me atTom@IVIpe.com.
Be well and be lucky.
This is a guest post from Ryan Martens, founder and CTO of Rally Software and CEO of Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO). Ryan wrote the story of EFCO for Startup Communities and he asked if he could add to his section via a guest post with some new thoughts he had. They follow.
Not only did I have the gift of reading an advanced copy of Startup Communities, I also had the gift of getting to know Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor when they moved to Boulder back in the mid-1990’s. It was coincidental that I was moving back to Boulder at the same time. After going to school at CU, I had left to try opportunities in Bozeman and Denver.
I agree with Brad, the Boulder Startup Community seeds were planted by leadership back in the mid-1990’s. However, NOT enough has not been said about Brad’s leadership role.
As folks who were working in technology back then, it was an exciting time. My business partner (and now Rally CEO), Tim Miller, and I used to say that we were just trying to hold on to the tail of the giant monstrous force called the Internet. Tim was fond of saying, “Sometime we even got to grab on to the collar of the beast and see where it was headed.” When Brad rolled into town in his early 30’s, I literally saw him as an extension of that Internet beast.
Brad did not just bring his energy, experience and vision; he and Amy brought their entire selves to the game. They came ready to share, to laugh and to be self-effacing. Starting the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, now EO, was critical. In that step, Brad showed how to be a servant leader. He had no problem serving by leading, but now his stewardship of YEO showed how to lead by serving. He helped many of us invest in ourselves and thus invest in our rapidly growing community. This was one of many gifts that Brad and Amy gave to this community over the past 15 years.
Roll the clock forward 15 years and let’s look at Brad’s partnership, Foundry Group’s, latest example of Servant Leadership.
In 2010, the Foundry Group set aside a portion of their “carry” to the Entrepreneurs’ Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) and this summer, they broke into their carry. As a result, they were part of almost $500,000 of community endowment flowing through the Entrepreneurs’ Foundation of Colorado and into the Boulder/Denver community. As a result of Foundry Group’s partners committing to this program, EFCO can see more income coming over the remaining life of the first Foundry fund. This gift has allowed EFCO to hire an executive director, Morgan Rogers, and have EFCO become an active part of growing the Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs’ startup communities.
This was not Brad or Foundry Group’s first impact on EFCO. If you read my EFCO chapter in Startup Communities, you will hear about Brad’s help in founding and pivoting my work on EFCO. Also know that Seth Levine, from Foundry, has been an invaluable member of the EFCO board for the last five years as we have grown.
Many people think that Boulder’s Startup Community is so great because of Brad. I believe that to be true, but not in the way you think. It was not his personal or investment money that built this community; it was his servant leadership that is causing this to be such a great startup community.
The great thing for you and your community is that the book is true. You can create a great startup community by following the 10 principles outlined in the book and you don’t need Brad — you just need some great servant leaders to help the other entrepreneurs work for the long game.
Luckily all entrepreneurs, like you, are natural leaders because of your drive to inherently make things better and committed to turning your vision into reality. By keeping your eyes focused on the long-term outcomes, not just the short-term outputs, you can provide the servant leadership to create a great community — not just a great startup community — a great company and a great personal life.
In the next week we’ll be having Startup Communities events in Utah, Chicago, Des Moines, and Boulder. In general, you can follow along with the public events on the Feld Thoughts public events calendar but we’ll try to toss them up here as well as on the Startup Revolution Hub when we know about them.
Monday 10/8: Startup Utah event. I’m Skyping (or Google Hangouting) in for this one. I was originally going to be there in person but I cancelled running the St. George Marathon on Saturday because I’m still a little beat up from my bike crash in Slovenia.
Tuesday 10/9: Startup America Regional Summit in Chicago. I’ll be there all day and we’ll have a special reception at night that is still coming together. I’ll tweet out any logistics.
Monday 10/15: Silicon Flatirons Crash Course in Boulder. This will be the first public event in Boulder. I’m psyched my friends at Silicon Flatirons are hosting – they’ve played a critical part in the Boulder Startup Community over the years.
In Startup Communities, I use a framework I call the Boulder Thesis to define the principles that are key to creating and sustaining a vibrant, long-term entrepreneurial ecosystem. The fourth principle is that you must have activities and events the engage the entire entrepreneurial stack.
House of Genius is an awesome example of this. I went to my first one last night at the Microsoft Bing facility in Boulder. I was tired after a crappy day – I’m still getting over a cold, I had a packed schedule, and on top of this had more than my usual dose of random shit land on my doorstep, some of it in paper bags that were on fire. I left my office at 6:25 and walked down the block to the Bing facility.
I arrived to a room full of about 20 people sitting around a large conference room table. I was given a folded name card to put in front of me and instructed simply to write “Brad” on it. No introductions were made – we were acknowledged by first name only. I knew a few people in the room but was pleasantly surprised not to recognize very many, which meant I’d make some new friends tonight.
We proceeded to run a 45 minute process three times for three different presentes. The process follows:
- The presenter gives a five minute presentation about their business and asks one specific question at the end
- The audience asks clarifying questions. These have to be specifically about the business or presentation and can’t be open-ended.
- We then went around the table and each person in the audience gave a first impression while the presenter listened.
- The presenter than had a chance to give a reaction to the first impressions.
- We then had a ten minute discussion about the question that the present had posed at the end of their presentation.
- The presenter then got the final word.
The three companies were very different and the backgrounds of the people in the room was varied – some tech, some media, some design, some other. The process and approach worked brilliantly – I thought the amount and type of feedback the three presenters got was at the high end of the spectrum for any other group feedback session I’ve ever been involved in. And the audience got a lot of value from listening to each others perspective. There was some strong consensus but a lot of differing opinions that were data-rich and produced very quickly.
I learned that part of the underlying approach to House of Genius is anonymity and diversity. This was reflected in the conversation – we instructed not to qualify anything we said with phrases like “in my experience” or “I don’t know much about this, but …” Instead, we just made statements. Data flowed – quickly – and the consensus was clear while the conflicts were simultaneously clear.
At the end we had the reveal where we went around the room and introduced ourselves briefly. It was fun to learn the backgrounds of the people after I heard their thoughts over the previous couple of hours – I realize this eliminated a lot of cognitive bias on my part (e.g. “oh – that person is a lawyer – I don’t agree with the on blah blah blah”).
Fortunately House of Genius has expanded far beyond Boulder and is now in Denver, Austin, Singapore, New York, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Albuquerque, Seattle, Reno, and Portland. Participation is via a lightweight application process – go apply now if you are in any of these cities. I expect you won’t be disappointed.
Trevor Gilbert of PandoDaily just spent two weeks hanging out in Boulder. He wrote a great post titled Boulder’s Startup Ecosystem: Pros and Cons which covers a bunch of things that are working, as well as weaknesses, in the Boulder startup community. It’s easy to do a flyby and write an easy lightweight article. Trevor spent time in town, interviewed a lot of folks, and drew his own conclusions.
He also wrote up a handful of interviews with local companies.
Trevor – thanks for putting so much effort into this. Come visit any time. And holler if we (me and your other new friends in Boulder) can ever be helpful to you.
Bart Lorang – the CEO of Full Contact – just put up a review of Startup Communities titled Want to build a startup ecosystem? There’s a book for that. I love love love working with Bart and Full Contact. And it’s just awesome what Bart is doing for both the Boulder startup community and the Denver startup community. Dude – you are a total star – and the gang you are building is awesome.