Fort Collins Startup Week beats odds, comes up a winner

By: Steve Monday February 8, 2016 0 comments Tags: Steve Porter, Fort Collins Startup Week

Steve_Editorially_Speaking 

If you build it, they will come. 

Well, the folks that put together the third annual Fort Collins Startup Week took that “Field of Dreams” idea and made it work last week, Feb. 1-5, when they pitched in and made something special happen and kept alive a needed event in Northern Colorado.

The week seemed to be in jeopardy last fall after Fort Collins Startup Week originator, promoter and entrepreneur Chris Snook moved away from Colorado to pursue new adventures.

But Charisse Bowen, director of the just-opened Galvanize Fort Collins campus, and Christine Hudson, a board member with Startup Colorado, stepped up to co-organize the event. With collaboration from the city of Fort Collins, Colorado State University, Galvanize, Techstars and a host of volunteers, the event was able to come together in just a few months.

The week was a departure from the first two Startup Weeks in that it was held mid-Winter rather than the last week of May as it had been. That was intentional, Bowen said, because Boulder’s Startup Week was being held in mid-May, creating a surplus of Startup Week activity during the month.

But choosing to hold the event in early February was a dice roll, given Colorado’s often-brutal February weather. And true to form, February 1 delivered a major snowstorm that dumped a foot or more of snow on the city and forced the postponement and cancellation of some scheduled events.

But Hudson said in retrospect she regretted those decisions because a significant number of people actually showed up on that snowy day.

“We learned the community was really passionate and willing to trudge though the snow to get here,” she said.

Hudson said “three to four times” the number of people who were expected to attend showed up during the week, with 40 more sessions held than had originally been projected.

While some events were held in other locations, most were held at Galvanize Fort Collins and Innosphere. The cooperation seen between Galvanize and Innosphere emphasized the synergy that the two startup-oriented facilities bring to the shared mission of developing and strengthening the startup scene in Northern Colorado.

The Fort Collins area is truly blossoming as a startup mecca, and Fort Collins Startup Week is a showcase for that.

Faced with the possibility of skipping a year or letting the event fade away, Bowen summed up the feeling of startup entrepreneurs who call Fort Collins home.

“We cannot NOT have one here,” she said.

Judging by the turnout for a first-time, winter-slammed event, she was right.

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