If you’re new to Colorado or have recently found yourself in and around the Colorado Technology Community, you’ve probably noticed something strange. We actually like one another. We’re friends with our competitors and we like to help strangers. We help out at every turn. Don’t believe me? Ask someone you want to meet for coffee or offer some assistance and see what happens. This is most certainly a bit different than how most of the rest the country operates, but it is absolutely at the foundation of Colorado’s startup community’s success.
In his 2012 book, Startup Communities, Brad Feld, the Managing Partner at The Foundry Group a Boulder-based Venture Capital Fund, described how Boulder became one of the best places in the US to start a company. He called it the Boulder Thesis. The concept is simple. If you want to be a part of the Startup Community, give something without expectation of receiving anything in return. Then do it again.
Work to make the community better, and the community will give back to you.
“The startup community is a network, where power is not given or appointed. Each person in the startup community is a node on the network. And you get more power – your node becomes larger – as you contribute more across each of the links and have more intersections with other nodes.”
The Technical Integrity Journey
“Give First” is at the core of our DNA.
When we first heard Feld talk about the Give First concept at Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup in 2008, it immediately resonated with us. We knew we were going to do things very differently than other recruitment firms.
So we did! Since I founded the company in 2010, we have focused first on building the Colorado Technology and Startup communities. A core concept for us is always doing the right thing for our community as well as clients and our candidates, without exception. We have helped hundreds find their way in our community and we’ve helped hundreds find their dream jobs. Ultimately we’ve helped build incredibly cohesive teams for some great companies, and the way we have conducted ourselves has been at the center of helping us grow beyond our dreams.
More than doing business the right way, we have put our money where our mouth is. We have donated more than $30,000 to charities and non-profits in the past four years, with the help of our friends at Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado. We’ve donated our time and money to organizations like Boulder Startup Week, Women who Code, Denver Startup Week, Startup Women, Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup, Ignite and more all to help build a better startup community.
We like that it’s far from the way that most startup recruiting firms operate. We’re not like most startup recruiting firms, and that is precisely the reason we have been successful.
In my 15+ years of living in Colorado, I am continually amazed at what the Give First ethos has done for our community. It has, along with some visionary leaders like Brad Feld, helped build the Colorado Tech scene to what it is today.
It is easy to get involved.
Have coffee with anyone that asks. Ask interesting people how you can help them. (It helps if you mean it!) Offer your time or expertise to any organization that is helping build community in Colorado. If you’re not sure what you can offer, help move chairs at the local meetup and introduce yourself to someone new!
There is no barrier to entry in helping this community grow simply do it. Most importantly, show up. Get off your couch or out of your office and go to a happy hour, a meetup or a pitch night. Oh- and be consistent about it. Find a group or two that you’re passionate about- and stick around!
You’ll probably see me or another member of the Technical Integrity Team out and about!
A Final Thought
In July of 2014 I had the opportunity to sit down with Brad and talk about how we have been living the Give First mantra. We talked about our community involvement and our commitment to Give First.
Our story is not unusual in the Colorado Startup Community. We gave first, without expectation of reciprocation and in so doing we received more than we could have hoped for including an endorsement of our approach from Brad to all of his local portfolio companies.
We are profoundly grateful for our community, our friends and our allies.