The western heritage and give-first ethos of the greater Denver area “makes this an awesome community to do business, start companies and develop innovative technologies,” declared Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association.
“We work hard, do what it takes to succeed, and lead with humility,” he said. “Colorado is one of the most welcoming innovation communities in the world. If you want to start up, start here, and you will have help, advice, mentorship and meetings — with most anyone you reach out to.”
On Feb. 3, Mitisek will be leading an innovation case study at Tomorrow Tour Denver, a stop on a national event series inspired by Comcast NBCUniversal and organized by Technical.ly. The series aims to explore and document how technology and innovation converge to strengthen the city. A free evening roundtable and networking event will connect local entrepreneurs, technologists, policymakers and new thinkers for discussions about the future of innovation and entrepreneurship. A key focus will be how to better articulate Denver’s innovation stories and improve the economy.
“Colorado is becoming the undisputed technology and innovation hub between the coasts,” Mitisek said. “Tours like this help get our message out of the community and reinforce the depth of great companies, founders and leaders in Colorado. This event is unique as it provides a forum, across industries, for leaders to convene and discuss the important topics for us to continue to build a next-generation entrepreneurial community.”
Join us at Tomorrow Tour Denver’s public session where you can meet Mitisek and these other leading tech and entrepreneur influencers below. Networking happy hour and keynote presentations on innovation storytelling will begin at 5:30 p.m.
1. Amy Wofford, Commons on Champa
As programs manager for the Commons on Champa, the host spot for Tomorrow Tour Denver and a public campus for entrepreneurship in Downtown Denver, Amy Wofford helps to produce educational programs aimed at supporting the city’s startup community.
“The Denver entrepreneurship/innovation community is so successful because it is community-led and collaborative across all sectors,” said Wofford, who sees three main areas for growth and potential:
- The acceleration of innovation and startup growth at coworking spaces;
- The development of a connected network that provides greater access to startup resources, talent, mentorship, funding and more;
- National traction that Denver is becoming known as an active and thriving entrepreneurial community.
“So many great things are happening in the local Denver entrepreneurship community,” she said. “The Tomorrow Tour will help provide another platform to share ideas, learn best practices, and facilitate conversations about how to develop and grow our local economy. Better yet, the Tomorrow Tour is going to help us celebrate the success stories happening here and identify new ways that our startup ecosystem can work together and advance innovation.”
2. Joe Saboe, Denver Public Schools CareerConnect
The Mile High City is home to a vibrant and rapidly growing tech community, which has enabled Denver Public Schools CareerConnect to provide tech students with a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities, said Director Joe Saboe. The organization works closely with Mitisek’s Colorado Technology Association to recruit local tech companies to host students in their facilities.
Alongside a series of industry-focused, project-based courses, students participate in a continuum of work-based learning experiences, including:
- CareerX Industry Exploration Event: Local companies such as Ping, Home Advisor, Universal Mind, Swiftpage and Zayo host freshmen during a half-day job shadow.
- CareerCoach Mentoring Program: Designed to help sophomores navigate the transition from career exposure to career success, this program matches students one-to-one with a tech professional.
- CareerLaunch Internship Program: Starting summer 2016, this six-week program will give juniors and seniors the opportunity to apply what they learn in school to a real work environment.
“We’re seeing unprecedented support from local companies,” Saboe said. “They understand businesses need to be involved in workforce development and we need to reach students earlier in their academic careers. They’re welcoming students into their offices with open arms.”
He believes Denver is in the midst of a revolution, thanks to the support of community-minded leaders across the state.
“Our greatest champions in the innovation community understand that the global and national competitiveness of Denver and its companies will depend on how well we can prepare our diverse student population with the technical, soft, and academic skills and opportunities they will need in the future,” Saboe said.
6 more tech leaders to meet at Tomorrow Tour Denver
Ben Deda, Galvanize
- Now inclusive of eight campuses across the Western U.S., Galvanize’s Denver-based founding team created its first campus on Delaware St. in 2012. Galvanize has been welcoming Denverites to tech ever since, with a full stack of classes and programming.
Chuck Sullivan, Something Independent
- Something Independent has been telling the Denver entrepreneurial story since it was founded in 2010.
John Scarborough, Silicon STEM Academy
- Silicon STEM Academy is working at the grassroots to help prepare Colorado students for the evolving tech economy. By advocating a hands-on approach to learning new technology, Silicon STEM Academy is engaged in building the region’s talent pipeline.
Anna Ewing, Colorado Innovation Network
- The Colorado Innovation Network, privately funded and based in the Colorado Office of Economic Development, is on the front line of building a growing, connected entrepreneurial community across the state.
Ryan Sullivan, Parkifi
- One of Denver’s buzziest startups, the parking app raised its first round this year yielding $2 million. Investors included local outfits like Galvanize, Access Venture Partners and Foundry Group Angels.
Morgan Rogers McMillan, Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado
- The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado champions founder philanthropy in the state, through initiatives like its partnership with Pledge 1%, which enables companies to give back one percent of profits to the local community.