Fort Collins Startup Week’s second day highlights issues important to region's entrepreneurs

By: steveporter Thursday May 28, 2015 0 comments Tags: Fort Collins, Fort Collins Startup, Wade Troxell, 1 Million Cups NoCo, Kauffman Foundation, Noah Berger, Bitcoin, Rob Phillips, Ryan Howell, Carlos Cruz-Abrams, Russ Krajec, Rich Kopocho, Hookify, Idias BioEnergy, Tamer Mohamed, Sean Ortiz


FORT COLLINS -- Fort Collins Startup Week  launched into its second day of activities Wednesday with a special edition of 1 Million Cups, a business pitch practice session now in its second year in the city.StartupInsidephoto_copy

Sponsored by the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, 1 Million Cups gives incipient startup entrepreneurs a chance to polish their business model presentation before others also just beginning their startup path.

Rich Kopocho, CEO of Hookify, presented his company’s data storage and management model. “It’s a way for you to get at your data that’s scattered all over the place,” he said.

Tamer Mohamed and Sean Ortiz of Idias Bioenergy presented their pure algae business model that uses algae to grow crops such as rice faster and more sustainably than with conventional soil amendments.

The session was highlighted by Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, a CSU professor and former entrepreneur who made a pitch for the city of Fort Collins.

Troxell said Fort Collins has established a reputation for innovation and aspires to be “an innovation community.”

“We have lots of creative energy, we’re bubbling with Millennials and we’re a very diverse community,” he said. “We are a community willing to take intelligent risks.”

Troxell noted that the city advocates a “triple helix” philosophy that unites government, business and Colorado State University for the betterment of all.

“We’re on the cusp of a golden era, and we all have a stake in the outcome,” he said.

Troxell said the city stands ready to help new entrepreneurs get their start and retain them once they have succeeded.

“Our challenge is to create the stickiness, the critical mass that – once (a successful startup) is located here -- it stays here,” he said. “This is a great place to start your business and develop your business and help develop that ecosystem that will continue into the future.”

Wednesday’s Startup Week activities included a panel discussion of legal issues for startups, with four attorneys offering insight into the challenges young startups can face.

Those challenges included choosing an attorney on a flat-fee basis or a billable-hour arrangement. Ryan Howell, an attorney with Denver-based Rubicon Law, said hourly billing relationships often result in friction between a law office and a client.

“It’s unhealthy for the relationship and there’s an incentive to spend longer to work on (legal issues),” he said. “The same is true with a flat fee, which creates incentives to just streamline everything.”    

Carlos Cruz-Abrams, partner with Boulder-based Kendal Koenig & Oelsner PC, said taking equity in the company instead of cash is often offered by startup entrepreneurs but is not a good way to proceed.Fort_Collisn_Startup_Week_logoUSE_3

“Clients often offer it, but we try to avoid equity for services as often as we can,” he said. “It’s also our job to take as little of our clients’ equity as possible and keep it in their company.”

Rob Phillips, Fort Collins attorney with Rocky Mountain Business Advocate Group, said he tries to make sure his clients have a good understanding of their most precious resource – their intellectual property.

“Most people don’t have a strong understanding of intellectual property or how to protect it,” he said.

Noah Berger, owner of one of the first companies in the U.S. to offer Bitcoin ATM machines, said the virtual digital currency offers a way to conduct financial transactions without a third-party getting involved or taking a cut.

“It allows any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a third-party,” he said.

Berger said the growth in use of Bitcoins is challenged by confusion about how they work and merchant acceptance.

“It’s not meant to be a brick-and-mortar currency but for use on the Internet,” he said.

Berger noted there remains “a lot of regulatory uncertainty” about the use of Bitcoin currency.

But for now, Bitcoin’s main appeal is in how cheaply it makes the cost of a transaction, with large amounts of cash being moved from one Bitcoin “wallet” to another across the Internet for as little as three cents per transaction.

“It’s going to be huge,” Berger said of Bitcoin’s future. “It’ll be a really good payment system for those wanting a cheap transaction.”

For a complete list of the remaining activities scheduled for Fort Collins Startup Week, visit here.   


About the Author: steveporter

Steve Porter, editor of InnovatioNews, has more than 20 years of newspaper experience in reporting, editing and managing news organizations. Steve brings a deep knowledge of the Colorado business landscape and award-winning writing and editing skills to the project.