Boulder and Denver, a Mile High Sibling Rivalry


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Now, it’s all pretty friendly, really.

And there are some who are trying to smooth the path. Jim Franklin, CEO of SendGrid and Bart Lorang, CEO of FullContact, both could have decided to set up shop anywhere, but both of them chose Denver for their offices even though both live in Boulder. I live in Denver, but our BlogMutt HQ is in Boulder so I come up most days. So does Luke Beatty, the new managing director of TechStars, who told me he finds this whole rivalry “totally obnoxious.”

The current round of construction on the Turnpike certainly doesn’t help. It looks like an actual DMZ right now.

The good thing about the rivalry

Boulder has run a couple of Startup Weeks now. They are terrific events with hundreds of folks participating in a nice variety of events. A few people will meet a few new people, but in general the crowd is remarkably similar to the line you’ll see at the Chipotle on Pearl Street on any given weekday.

Denver decided that it needed to up the game, so it started its own Startup Week. They decided to involve the Powers That Be in Denver. Those powers, it turns out, are essentially one person, Tami Door, CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. With her involvement, a bunch of others came on board and suddenly the kick-off luncheon had the mayor (who is, you know, a mayor with actual power) and a fantastic speaker held in a world-class performing arts center and was attended by about a thousand people. The week overall had more than 3,500 people participate. The only day you get 3,500 Boulderites together for one event is April 20th.

The Denver organizers wanted it to be better than Boulder’s event. They succeeded to such a degree that they ended up making Denver Startup Week the biggest and best Startup Week event in the country.

That’s why this tension can be a good thing.

So again, welcome. Now you know the lay of the land.


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Scott Yates is founder and CEO of BlogMutt, a Boulder-based startup that finds writers to create content for the blogs of clients. BlogMutt launched in 2010 and closed a seed funding round in late 2012. Follow @scodtt

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6 responses to “Boulder and Denver, a Mile High Sibling Rivalry”

  1. Eugene Wan says:

    Great post, Scott!

  2. I’ve got my map out and am looking for this Denver place. Is that the airport? :)

    The jabs are fun but I think we are all proud to be in Colorado. Great post.

  3. Andrew says:

    Eh. To be honest I hate the closed mindset of people in Boulder not wanting to drive anywhere. 20 miles isn’t far if you’ve lived somewhere else in the world. It’s unfortunate people seem to shudder over that distance when I used to drive 25+ mile in the same city to get to work.

    I love Boulder don’t get me wrong, but the scene can be very closed off, and very “elitest” at times. Sad thing is those that are “elitest” have nothing to feel elite about. You also have the problem of hiring in Boulder. It’s often small and people are afraid to open their arms to Denver, which makes it hard to attract talent. Our company had the issue and eventually moved all the way across the country because of it.

    Lastly I’m not so sure what’s bad about Denver startups being worried about revenue and not having t-shirts. Having a t-shirt doesn’t solidify your business. In fact if you’re worried about a t-shirt you’re probably not working on product.

    Just my 2 cents, take it or leave it.

    – Andrew, a Boulder resident that works for a NYC (former boulder) startup.

  4. Will Sacks says:

    Great post Scott. I love Boulder and I’m also happy Denver is right around the corner. I’ve met great startup people from both towns and they act as good counter balances to each other. Plus if Denver wasn’t here, my suit would never make it to the dry cleaners.