Do Like Denver Does


Here are five lessons we learned from Denver’s entrepreneurial success.

Give. Don’t worry about get.

As busy as they are, entrepreneurs are incredibly generous with their time, mentoring others, answering emails from strangers, appearing on panels etc. This is true everywhere, not just in Denver, but the Mile High City seems to carry it to an extreme. Maybe it hearkens back to the frontier days when neighbors were always borrowing barbed wire and bolts of calico from each other. Whatever the reason, Denver’s startup community embraces newcomers and is quick to offer whatever help is needed. That makes success more likely and helps attract talent from out of state.         

Get to know your neighbors.

Boulder has always captured the entrepreneurial spotlight in Colorado, while Denver, six times as large and the state capitol, went relatively unnoticed. Did Denver develop a case of civic envy or try to lure Boulder startups away? No. It’s linked up with Boulder, learned from its example, provided space for companies that outgrow the smaller city and is prospering alongside its neighbor.      

Make sure the beer is good.

Yes, good beer is one of two liquids essential to startup success (coffee is the other), but this speaks more to the importance of making a city a great place to live and work. Denver has always had the Rockies and sunshine, but the city has transformed itself in the past 20 years into the No. 1 destination of Millennials, due largely to the lifestyle. Entrepreneurs will work in the cities where they want to live.

Keep plugging.

ID8 Nation arrived in Denver on Super Bowl Sunday, a dismal start to a week marked by subzero temperatures. The city had every right to be in a deep funk, but that wasn’t the case at all. The startup community shrugged off the loss, took the cold in stride and kept doing its thing. That sort of resilience is necessary for any startup community to thrive.  

Elect people who get it.

Entrepreneurs don’t like to admit it, but they need government. Not all the time and not for everything, but definitely for some things. So the smart thing to do is to elect politicians who appreciate and understand entrepreneurship, ones who’ll do what needs to be done and stay out of the way the rest of the time. John Hickenlooper, who was an entrepreneur before becoming mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado, gets it.

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