Colorado Entrepreneurs Say They Are Doing 'Awesome' & Have The Data To Prove It

Posted: 6/13/2013

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By: Christina Farr

For entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley is no longer the only option. Burgeoning  tech hubs like Seattle, Boulder, Austin and Denver offer a strong community, tax  breaks, and a lower cost of living.

During a recent trip to Colorado, I met with Governor John Hickenlooper (D),  who stressed his commitment to tech, and revealed plans for a new  state supported venture fund. The Governor told me views himself as an "entrepreneur on loan to public service."

The region is growing its tech scene so rapidly that locals are even bandying  around a new term: "Silicon Mountain."

But is Colorado putting its money where its mouth is? Today, the State  released its first ever report on the health of the startup ecosystem. Erik  Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association, said the results show that  the spotlight on Colorado is "shining bright," and now they have the "data to  prove it."

Key findings from 2012 Built in Denver report are as follows:


  • In 2012 alone, local entrepreneurs launched 122 digital technology  startups.
  • 69 companies secured venture or angel funding of at least $1 million.
  • 20 companies were acquired.
  • 78 percent of the investment went to software and business to business  digital technology companies.
  • SendGrid was one of the largest fundraisers, raising $21.6M to further  develop its cloud-based email infrastructure system.

Not bad, Colorado.

Much of the funding for startups came from the Boulder-based firm Foundry  Group, although more than 47 out-of-state investors funded tech companies in  2012.

"Colorado has developed into a state that every investor should watch," said  Brad Feld, serial entrepreneur and managing director of the Foundry Group, in  the report. "Our startup communities and economy are thriving and the  companies being created here are awesome," he added.

But before you buy a one-way ticket for Denver, it's important to be aware of  the limitations.

Even Governor Hickenlooper admitted that venture funding is still in short  supply. When he got elected in 2010, he said he interviewed local  entrepreneurs for the Economic Development Program. "Better access to venture  capital" was a consistent request across the State.

He also admitted that while the State has attracted its fair share of  innovative "free thinkers," it's not dramatically different than cities like  Seattle and Austin, the primary competitors for newly-forming tech hubs like  Denver and Boulder.

Although Hickenlooper claims Silicon Valley is not the competition, it  remains the only option for many entrepreneurs, particularly those at a  later-stage of development or with specific talent needs.