In 2010 I set out to foster an ethical revolution in the recruiting realm by starting Technical Integrity. The results have been beyond my wildest dreams.
Many of you know the first part of this story, but not many of you know of our community building efforts beyond Boulder and Denver over the past five years. Our story is now part of a podcast with two incredible humans, Brad Feld and Marc Nager, on the Techstars Give First podcast! I’m thrilled and humbled to have been part of this discussion and I hope folks worldwide can learn from our hard work in rural and urban communities.
At the cornerstone of our approach in the Front Range of Colorado (Boulder and Denver) was to bring together engineers and startup enthusiasts, with no expectation of anything in return. I had heard Brad Feld and David Cohen from Techstars talk about the #GiveFirst ethos and what it meant to them. The light went on for us, and as they say, the rest is history.
At the time, the concept of a recruiter being involved in the startup community was treated with trepidation. Recruiters were known to treat engineers as commodities. We changed the approach and the perception by simply putting ourselves out there as kind, honest humans, willing and able to help, and not asking for a single thing in return. If you just wanted to hang out and grab a beer or coffee, great. No more pushy-salesy. We had built #GiveFirst into our DNA as an organization.
Fast forward thousands of volunteer hours later, I had fallen in love with community building and in my entrepreneurial journey to grow TI, I found that regardless if you spoke English, Spanish, Farsi, or Italian – as an entrepreneur- globally you spoke the same language of scaling startups, raising money, hiring, firing and ultimately surviving and thriving. It had become my mission to help my fellow startup-ers and entrepreneurs thrive.
Late in 2014, my wife and I moved from Boulder to the six-thousand person town of Carbondale, in the middle of the Roaring Fork Valley, with Aspen at top of the Valley. I set out to find my fellow entrepreneurs who were battling every day, in even tougher and more unique circumstances than those in major cities, to scale and thrive. I quickly founded Aspen Entrepreneurs (along with a lot of help) to bring together people in rural Colorado who needed to connect, learn and grow. We grew to more than 2,000 members over the years and held dozens of large educational events. We’ve since merged with GlenX, partnered with Roaring Fork Technologists, and became Coventure based out of our small but mighty Proximity co-working facility on Main Street, Carbondale.
Marc and I have worked together for many years since he took over Startup Weekend. He and his wife Ashley had moved to the amazing town of Telluride and they became intimately involved with the powerful Telluride Venture Accelerator, which had been helping rural entrepreneurs for many years. We all became active in helping to bolster the ‘West Slope’ of Colorado as a desirable place to build a company- whether or not it was brick and mortar or software, it didn’t matter. We would go on (again, with lots of assistance from other passionate community builders and volunteers) to help unite disparate Colorado towns, some already doing great work, like Four Points Funding in Steamboat, and the awesome folks at Factory in Grand Junction. We would also aid Startup Colorado in becoming a force of nature in doing the same. Marc now leads Greater Colorado Venture Fund which is in the middle of making dozens of critical investments in our communities- and yes, we are just getting started on the Western Slope.
This podcast is our story. Join us.