Scaling the Peak: Denver Out to Follow Boulder’s Entrepreneurial Ascent

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Robertson has investments in companies in San Francisco and Boston, but he spent the past 14 years in Boulder. Along with Trada, which has raised $17.5 million, Robertson co-founded Service Metrics, a Boulder-based company that developed website performance monitoring tools. It sold for $280 million to Exodus in 1999.

He remembers when the idea of basing a startup in Boulder was almost laughable.

But now they’re there, and the close proximity to entrepreneurs and executives is a key factor in Robertson’s desire to remain in Boulder. People can walk a few hundred feet to a coffee shop for quick 15-minute meetings to work through problems their companies face, Robertson said.

“That’s invaluable for an entrepreneur,” he said. “All you need is there within a five to 10 minute walk. As someone who loves technology and startups, it’s like Disneyland.”

That wasn’t the case in Denver, so to get to know everyone, FullContact threw a party on Sept. 6.

“I’m like, look, nobody knows each other. We need to get them all in the same place and get them drunk and partying,” Lorang said.

The event was a success, attracting more than 1,000 people, and it sparked the idea for the first Denver Startup Week, which took place between Oct. 22 and 27.

The event, filled with presentations during the day and informal get-togethers at night, is an idea from Boulder’s playbook. (Boulder’s fourth startup week is coming this May, and it has evolved into a festival celebrating startups and entrepreneurs and helping people find jobs.)

More than 3,500 people turned out to more than 70 events at Denver’s version. Unlike Boulder, Denver organizers relied partly on support from established companies and organizations like the Downtown Denver Partnership.

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