The Essential Denver Startup Week Guide
Last year, over 180 events, 700 companies and 7,800 startup community members filled out Denver Startup Week.
Now, we’re exactly one week away from the 4th annual Denver Startup Week, the largest free event of its kind in the U.S. This jam-packed week sits at the intersection of tech, design, business, growth, and manufacturing. All the necessary ingredients for a successful startup.
This year, we’re already at 200+ events, with some events touting over 800+ RSVPs. It’s no surprise though that DSW has grown into what it is.
Denver currently claims the #2 spot for best city to launch a startup, according to Forbes, and is the 5th best city as far as startup density. There’s no more denying that the Mile High City is here to play when it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation.
To help you make the most of your week, we’ve compiled this 2015 Denver Startup Week Guide, complete with the top sessions and speakers to experience, plus actionable tips.
Image courtesy of @squigglydonut
This may seem obvious but besides the fact it’s mandatory in order to attend any of the sessions, it’s a good way to stay in the know about the event. Especially an event of this scale. Plus, you’ll get any last minutes changes or updates straight from the mouth of the horse directly to your inbox.
2. REVIEW THE AGENDA
Image courtesy of @Wayin
At last count, there were 213 official events. I don’t know about you but that’s as overwhelming as it is awesome.
The provided method from Denver Startup Week of building your schedule is by track. So, designer, developer, founder, growth, maker, or product.
To add to that, here are some suggestions based off of:
- If you’re looking for a job:
- If you’re looking for a good time/to connect with other startup community members:
- Official DSW Kick Off Breakfast tends to have phenomenal speakers (and free food!) to make for a solid way to start the week. *Note: this event does require a ticket and is currently at capacity, but you can add yourself to the waitlist.
- Denver Startup Week Opening Party already has a staggering 800+ RSVPs and includes Denver Beta this year. This is one of the most anticipated DSW events with community, passion, and fun all mixed in.
- Built In Brews hosted by Galvanize & Pivotal is the happy hour brainchild of Galvanize, Pivotal, and Built In Colorado and is a must for DSW.
- TechCrunch Denver Meetup + Pitch-Off is where 10 pre-selected startups have 60 seconds to pitch to a panel of VCs. This also celebrates the first time TechCrunch is in the Mile High.
- If you’re interested in other essential advice for a successful startup:
- It’s Past Beer Thirty: How to Differentiate Your Brand in a Saturated Market blends branding and brewing for an interesting and applicable session about highlighting your brand. (Yes, that is a shameless plug for a panel led by our CEO, Steve Baker.)
- The Pitch Deck Workshop is a quick way to learn how to mobilize investors and users alike.
- Products and people we like and endorse:
Related Post: It’s Past Beer Thirty: Craft Beer Branding Panel [RECAP]
*Protip #1: Arrive early to your sessions (10-15 minutes at least), especially for anything you’ve checked off as a must. Because this is a free event, 99% of sessions are first come, first serve.
*Protip #2: Swing by Basecamp launched by Chase, located at 16th and Arapahoe on the 16th Street Mall, for free food, Wi-Fi, and caffeine. Plus, there’s free 1:1 with experienced entrepreneurs during Mentor Hours from 2- 4pm every day.
3. PLAN OUT YOUR ROUTES FOR EACH DAY
Image courtesy of Innovators Peak
Unlike previous years, this is really the first year that events throughout the week are scattered across the Mile High.
For your sanity’s sake, either create a note on your phone with all the addresses for each day’s sessions (this way, it’s accessible even if you have no service) or go old-school and build out a multi-stop route on Google Maps then print it out for safe keeping.
GETTING AROUND DENVER
- If you’re going carless, here are other options to get from point A to point B in Denver:
- Light Rail
- Denver B-cycle
- 16th Street Shuttle (free but only around downtown)
- If you’re driving, download the crowd sourced GPS app, Waze, for real-time traffic updates and re-routes.
- SpotHero is an app that helps you find, reserve, and pay for parking from your desktop or mobile device.
4. PREP YOUR SOCIAL GAME
Image courtesy of @justjaesung
- Follow the speakers and startups whose sessions you plan to attend, as well as the official @DENStartupWeek Twitter and Denver Startup Week Facebook accounts.
- You can create a specific #DENStartupWeek list on Twitter to make it incredibly easy to keep in the know.
- Make a note of all the relevant hashtags (if you’re into that sort of thing).
- #DENStartupWeek is the official event hashtag.
- Use #DSWCRAWL to win a chance to roll around the Startup Crawl in Segway style.
- Reach out on your own channels to see if anybody you know is also going.
- With a team on your side, you can compare notes then split up to conquer more sessions.
- If you’re like Han and going solo, Tweet using the event hashtag to see if you can connect with other event singles.
*Protip: Consider incorporating hashtags while you post about Denver Startup Week. In 2014, it trended nationally on the first day.
5. CHARGE UP YOUR GEAR
Image courtesy of Innovators Peak
Again, this one is pretty obvious, but as evident by all the plug hoarders at conferences and events, it’s not always top of mind.
- Plug in your equipment the night before so you don’t have to curse your electronics the morning of.
- Invest in a Mophie or other portable power pack.
*Protip: Be the superhero who presents a power strip to the juice-depleted masses.
6. PACK YOUR BUSINESS CARDS, STICKERS, T-SHIRTS, & ID
Image courtesy of @DENStartupWeek
One of the goals of Denver Startup Week is to “provide education, inspiration, and networking events for the Denver entrepreneurial community.”
Business cards, stickers, and t-shirts all help to facilitate that kind of connection. Just make sure to ask before you start tossing any of these items at someone you met five minutes ago.
- Moo is a great option for high-quality cards with beautifully designed templates for most industries.
- If you become overwhelmed with a tower of cards, download an app to scan, transcribe, and organize all the contact info for you.
- It wouldn’t be Denver Startup Week without free beer, so remember to grab your ID or else risk being denied.
*Protip: Find the startup dishing out bags first (or bring your own carrying vessel), then tap any Brandfolder folks for some shades to protect your peepers from the Mile High sun.
7. FIGURE OUT YOUR TOP PRIORITY
Image courtesy of @tintegrity
My family has a tradition where we would each figure out the number one thing we wanted to get out of any vacation.
I’m sharing that with you because this exercise keeps you focused. With at least 200 sessions, 700 companies, and 7,800 startup community members all jammed into one week, this will come in handy when want to make sure you get the absolute most out of DSW.
***Master Protip: Have fun and be open. Whether it’s making new connections, attending a session outside of your normal scope, or even volunteering, the whole week is about bringing together the entrepreneurial community of Denver.
Denver Startup Week vets, what tips and tricks do you use? Feel free to share this if you found it helpful and let us know in the comments if we missed anything!
Jae Sung is a storyteller who’s obsessed with all things digital and the Digital Content Manager for Brandfolder, the world’s simplest tool to manage, update, and share all your brand assets. She’s been a copywriter, SEO, and professional sneakerhead in previous lives. Follow her on Twitter for the latest about content marketing, tech, and pop culture.