New Boulder Startup Week events to focus on bringing industries together


BOULDER — Early on in Boulder Startup Week, an experiment is to take place.

On Tuesday, May 16, Techstars is sponsoring two brand-new events geared toward engaging the community and expanding Startup Week to go beyond just high-tech startups.

The Community Open House and Community Night are designed to bring together startups in tech, outdoor recreation, beer, natural and organic foods, and other industries so they can brainstorm collaboration rather than operating in their silos. The focus theme is innovation, impact and integration, said Techstars Boulder’s managing director, Natty Zola.

“There are many great business communities in Boulder and we want to start to build a campaign around integrating those great communities,” Zola told BizWest. “From natural food to craft beer to cannabiz, innovation is happening everywhere. Not just it tech. We want to incorporate those groups together in Boulder Startup Week and start a conversation on how they can work together to help each other.”

Ryan Martens, a founding board member of the Pledge 1% nonprofit and an organizer for the two events, said they’re an experiment to see what happens when innovators in different fields are brought together to have a conversation.

“Many economic communities are separated by silos,” Martens told BizWest. “But they don’t need to be. There’s a lot to learn across those industries and a lot to share. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

In addition to integrating innovators together, another purpose of the events is to focus on the impact the business community can have on the community.

The evening event will feature a startup-like pitch competition, but for nonprofits in the area, with a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation at stake.

“I hope to create better understanding within these groups and the community,” Martens said. “I have a higher aspiration that the business community in Boulder takes on a stronger role to help steer the community in a way that’s good for everyone. Not just on local economic interests but everyone, including from a social and environmental perspective.”

Zola said he doesn’t expect the gatherings to spur some sort of “aha moment” or for some gelled, direct plan to come out of them.

“It’s about starting a conversation,” he said. “What does the next 10 years of innovation and impact look like for Boulder? How can we support each other and make the Boulder innovation community as strong as it can be, by building bridges across these industries?”