Dear SFC Friends and Supporters,
The Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurship Initiative’s mid-summer event calendar is relatively quiet. This makes for an opportune time to reflect on the past year, highlight ongoing Silicon Flatirons initiatives, and look forward to the year ahead. Over the last year, Silicon Flatirons continued to engage our community on a number of fronts. These efforts helped place CU-Boulder at #19 in Forbes’ recent list of top entrepreneurial universities. As I put it in a recent article on this topic, “CU Boulder is well served to claim a leadership role in a time of rapid innovation.”
In April, we announced a grant award of $3 million to set up the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN) in Colorado. Silicon Flatirons is pleased to have the exceptional opportunity to host BEN Colorado. Under the direction of Executive Director JB Holston, BEN Colorado is now up and running, developing a network of seasoned entrepreneurs to mentor Colorado’s elite emerging companies across sectors and geographies (though centered around Denver-Boulder).
In so doing, BEN fosters cross-industry relationships that strengthen important connections. The importance of cross sector exchanges across disciplines is explained in an excellent SFC Roundtable report on Boundary Jumping, produced by outgoing Fellow, Mystery Murphy. As we help put ideas into action, we believe that BEN will create a more resilient Front Range economy over the long term. Check out here, for a short video that captures BEN Colorado’s aspirations.
Another way that SFC supports the Front Range is by hosting Startup Colorado, a regional initiative to increase the breadth and depth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem across Colorado’s Front Range. One of the jewels of this program is Startup Summer, which embeds undergrad students in Front Range startup internships. This year’s program features record participation across Boulder and Denver. In addition to their day internships, participants meet weekly during evenings and work with mentors to develop their own startup ideas. If you’d like to see the interns’ ideas, five pitch teams will compete for a cash prize at the Startup Summer Finals on Wednesday, August 6 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Spark Boulder. Contact Jamie Finney email@example.com for more information.
Looking ahead a bit, now is a great time for early stage startups to apply to our Entrepreneurial Law Clinic which begins work in Fall ’14. This year’s ELC will be staffed by 18 third-year student attorneys. Our terrific roster of volunteer supervising attorneys help guide the ELC’s work. See here for additional information and an application.
Finally, the CU New Venture Challenge continues to gain steam. Earlier this month Techstars Boulder selected its first NVC alum, Varsity, for participation in one of the world’s leading accelerators. More on Varsity’s plans here. This reflects broader momentum on the CU campus, including six companies that are part of CU’s first accelerator, Catalyze, which operated during Summer 2014.
I’m pleased to relay that our Silicon Flatirons’ fall Entrepreneurship Initiative line-up is now set and provided below and in the right side bar. We are excited to start our 2014-15 events on Monday, Aug 25 with Kim Jordan, founder of New Belgium Brewing. Following up on this event will be our Thursday, September 11th conference on Disruptive Innovation. Look for the full announcement of the 2014-15 line-up to follow at the outset of the fall semester.
Until then, enjoy the balance of summer, and we look forward to seeing you soon as the fall semester gets underway.
Director of the Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurship Initiative