I attended the NewWest launch party Thursday night at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and was thrilled to finally be at a good, popular professional event that had lots of interesting and well-connected people present.
Local business folk who appeared include Brad Feld of Mobius Venture Capital (he’s a blogger too), Thomas Frey and Kevin Johansen from the da Vinci Institute, Greg Berry from Think Tank West, Usher Leiberman of The Usher Group, Dan Murray of Ravenwood Marketing, Liz Ryan of WorldWIT, Derek Scruggs of Escalan and many more. I’d guess there were over 100 people in attendance overall. Plus food, drinks, live music, and a great venue.
Earlier in the week I attended an organizational meeting of the da Vinci Startup Catapult, a new spin-off group from The da Vinci Institute and was very impressed by the calibre of people in attendance there too. Some of the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs in Colorado, all working together to help Front Range businesses start up efficiently and with minimal hiccups. Brilliant.
The two meetings with such interesting and valuable folk really reinforced how much I miss from my years in the middle of the entrepreneurial whirlwind in Silicon Valley. When I lived in the Valley, not a week would go by without some sort of excellent networking event, whether it was sponsored by a VC firm, an angel network, a startup, a school or an informal networking group. It was an astonishing time and, ultimately, the best part of the entire dotcom experience.
Three years in Colorado and I have not — until this week — seen even a glimmer of this same excitement, the opportunity to socialize and share ideas (and, often, grow partnerships or consulting relationships) with smart, engaged, people.
I’m a member of the Colorado Internet Kieretsu, CTEK, the Rocky Mountain Internet User’s Group and just about every other group I can find, but none of them attract the group I’m interested in connecting with, the “movers and shakers” of the next wave of successful businesses.
I’ve even tried social networking events, but, frankly, the bottom of the barrel as far as I’m concerned is Ryze and its sporadic Denver Meet and Greet events. The one I went to was loud and I received more MLM and pyramid pitches there than in a week of my spam.
Maybe it’s something about the rarified air up here or something. Even the photography group I joined has basically run out of steam after only five meetings. From a group that started with 10-15 interested members, we now have 2-3 show up at meetings. If we’re lucky.
What’s so frustrating is that there’s no question that we need a great entrepreneurial networking group here in the Denver/Boulder area. I’ve talked about this with a number of other frustrated entrepreneurs and business professionals, so I know I’m not alone in bemoaning this overt void in the Front Range business culture.
That’s why I am so delighted that NewWest has come on the scene, with its New Mexico to Montana beat, and that it’s already assigned Richard Martin as the Boulder editor. Local coverage and local energy should equate to more local events and a more vibrant local business community. The other NewWest folk I met at the evening event were equally great additions to the Front Range business community, notably Jonathan Weber (formerly with the ill-fated “Industry Standard” for those dotcom boomers out there) and Greg Cohn, with whom I spent much of Friday afternoon talking.
Let me end this posting on an up beat: There’s a lot of really positive energy and some very good trends appearing here in Colorado, and I’m delighted to be involved. I see lots of synergies just beginning to take shape — finally! — and this area is becoming an even better place to bring your online, your digital, your entrepreneurial idea and create a great company alongside many other great startups.
Welcome to the Colorado business scene, NewWest. We’re delighted you’re here!