Startup Community Leadership Mission – Day 1 “Boulder, Colorado”​

Startup Community Leadership Mission # 1

Our CEO Troy Haines recently participated in a Startup Community Leadership Mission to the US… The following are some of his insights from the trip. We hope that they add value when building your ecosystem.

Day 1.

Insanely cool day. Thanks Startup Catalyst & Advance Qld


8:30 Bus from Denver to Boulder

10:00 Boomtown Accelerator –

Boomtown is an accelerator around 3 years old. They do 2 x cohorts per year (although did 3 last year) where they seed early stage companies with $20k in exchange for 6% equity. The run an intensive 3-month program.

90% companies that have gone through the program are still in operation. 78% are generating profit. Fantastic statistics

Boomtown also hosts one of the most sophisticated maker spaces in Boulder.
13:00-14:00 Spark Boulder meeting –

Boulder has an unemployment rate of <2%, there is an ongoing requirement to constantly train talent for the vibrant startup community. Spark positions itself as a “finishing school” where they run programs for recent high school leavers to give them the soft skills required to prepare them for employment.

A not for profit, Spark relies a lot on passionate volunteer efforts.
14:30 Galvanise –

Galvanise have created a “learning community” aka an epic Coworking space with attached café that runs training programs to upskill people. An example is a $21k / 6 month Web Development program. 88% of their graduates receive placements after graduation as web programmers. They also run programs on Data Science and Data Engineering amongst others.

Their model is focused around building community and then upskilling that community via their intensive training courses.

A quote at the commencement of the course from the trainer may be something like “This is likely to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done!”
16:30 TechStars Head Office –  

Techstars vision is to create a global ecosystem to support entrepreneurs to build great businesses. They run accelerator programs in 26 cities around the world, including Adelaide (focused on IoT, security, military) which is the newest of their accelerators. They own Up Global which facilitates Startup Weekends.

As part of Startup Catalyst we had an awesome opportunity to sit with some of the executive team and talk around how university integrates with the ecosystem in Boulder and the history of that progression.

Following on we had the privilege of sitting in an intimate 1.5 hour Q&A with Angel Investor, Founder and CEO of Techstars David Cohen – to drill him about Startup Ecosystem development and the journey of building Boulder into one of the startup capitals in the world. Will do a blog on this separate.


18:00-21:00 Group dinner –

Amazing food. Catering well for Vegans.


21:00-22:00 Bus to Denver

Key learning from Day 1:

  1. In terms of startup development, yes we’re behind in Australia, but we’re doing good things. It takes time, whilst we need to be smart in how we develop our communities we also need to be patient, because it takes… time.
  2. Even in places like Boulder where it is heralded as one of the startup capitals of the US, there are key organisations that are still figuring things out ie: sustainable business models. It makes me feel that we really are doing some great things in our ecosystem back home
  3. Even great leaders of global organisations have that little voice in their head, the inner critique which doubts their ability to do cool things. It seems its part of the wider human condition that almost no one is immune from.
  4. The feedback is that the # 1 thing that the broader Australian startup scene lacks is PRIDE. We need to do better at recognising what we do well and celebrating / selling that to the rest of the world. “We need to act like the person we want to be”
  5. Finally, #givefirst

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