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In 2007 when I co-founded Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado with a bunch of folks our mission was to create wealth that we could give back to the community that has been the foundation for so many of our entrepreneurial endeavors. We envisioned that this would be a long term build, just like the creation of many of the companies we are involved in. Over the last six years we’ve now generated gifts of over $500,000 that have gone back directly to our community, with the most recent one being from Intense Debate, a company that went through Techstars Boulder in 2007.
Today my friends from GoodApril, who went through the Techstars Boulder 2013 program, just gave $20,000 to EFCO to help with the victims of the massive Boulder-area floods. In addition, Eric and Kim Norlin from the Defrag Conference offered to give $250 to EFCO for everyone who register for Defrag this week.
I asked Mitch Fox and Benny Joseph from GoodApril to write up their thoughts on why they did this. It follows.
A month ago, the sun was shining in Boulder, Colorado as my co-founder, Benny Joseph, and I as we announced the biggest news of our lives. Our startup, GoodApril, had been acquired by Intuit (maker of TurboTax) in the final days of the TechStars Boulder accelerator program.
In this last week, rain clouds have overwhelmed Boulder and several other Front Range towns. We’ve been distressed by the devastation, and inspired by the Boulder community’s resilience.
While we were a part of the Techstars program, Benny and I pledged our support to the Boulder community through the Entrepreneurship Foundation of Colorado (EFCO), a program that enables startup founders to give back through the contribution of equity in their companies. In light of the flood and its impact on Boulder, we have agreed to accelerate that gift.
Startups cannot succeed in a vacuum. They are as much the product of the sweat and tears of their founders as they are of the mentors, customers, and investors that shape them.
This summer, we experienced the power and generosity of the Boulder community as we built GoodApril. The Techstars program matched us with phenomenal local business leaders like Vijay Bangaru, JP O’Brien, and Brett Jackson, who helped us find both the strengths and weaknesses in our business plan. We were welcomed into Boulder’s tech scene, and quickly connected with dozens of potential customers who shared their expectations and excitement for our product. As we progressed, the Techstars leaders, especially Luke Beatty, David Cohen, and Brad Feld, guided us through many tough decisions, including finally whether to accept Intuit’s acquisition offer.
We are extremely appreciative for what Boulder has given us, so we hope our donation to EFCO can help the community recover from this flood.
Thank you Boulder. Here’s to seeing that sun shine again,
Mitch Fox and Benny Joseph
I’m a huge fan of the The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado. In fact, Foundry Group is such a fan that we’ve donated a part of our profits to this state-wide organization that gives back to local communities through the success of our entrepreneurs. This Saturday, September 7th, EFCO is holding a big fundraiser. It’s at the Boulder Theater and should be a ton of fun.
It also happens to be the 20th Anniversary of Cooley’s office in Colorado. Cooley is being incredible generous donating the resources to make this event happen. I hope everyone can attend, have a good time and support a great cause.
A few weeks ago I did an event with Built In Denver where I interviewed Tim Miller and Ryan Martens, the founders of Rally Software, on their journey from a startup to a public company (NYSE: RALY). As part of the event – held at Mateo in Boulder – the gang from Built In Denver announced they were rebranding as Built In Colorado.
The attendance at the event was roughly 50% Boulder entrepreneurs and 50% Denver entrepreneurs.
The past two days the Colorado Innovation Network held it’s 2nd annual COIN Summit. As part of it, Governor Hickenlooper rolled out a new brand for all of Colorado, an effort led by Aaron Kennedy, the founder of Noodles & Co. The focus was on Colorado, not on Boulder, or Denver.
Powerful startup communities start at the neighborhood level. They then roll up to the city level. And then cities connect. Eventually it rolls up to the state level.
It’s a powerful bottom up phenomenon, not a top down situation. And inclusive of everyone. This is one of the key parts of my theory around Startup Communities.
Export the magic of the Boulder tech community to Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs by expanding New Tech Meetups, Open Coffee Clubs, and Community Office Hours to these cities.
When I look at what is happening in Denver, and the connective tissue between Boulder and Denver, I’m incredibly proud of what has been accomplished in less than two years on this front.
When I see questions on Quora like Should I start my start-up in Boulder or Denver? and then read the answers, my reaction is “poorly phrased question” and “wrong answer!” It’s not an either / or – the two cities are 30 minutes apart. They are both awesome places to start a company. It depends entirely on where you want to live – do you want a big city (Denver) or a little town (Boulder). If you choose Boulder, when you reach a certain size, you’ll end up with offices in both like Rally and SendGrid.
I’m psyched that Built in Denver is rebranding to Built in Colorado. I’m going to spend most of the week for Denver Startup Week in Denver, and CEOs and execs from most of our portfolio companies are converging on Denver in the middle of the week for a full day session together.
You’ll note that we have deliberately named things like The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) with “Colorado” in their name to be inclusive of all entrepreneurs in the state. And we we do things to celebrate the startup community, like The Entrepreneur’s Prom that EFCO and Cooley are putting on September 7th at the Boulder Theatre, we focus on the entire startup community.
Innovation and entrepreneurship is off the charts right now. Let’s make sure we work together to continue building a base for the next 20 years.