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One of the key components of any university is space for studying, acting, writing, and painting – but what about space for starting up companies? The University of Colorado Boulder has been at the forefront of breeding and teaching entrepreneurship for many years now, but it has been missing a communal area where student entrepreneurs can work, gather, and live.
Enter Spark Boulder. Spark is the first space dedicated for startups and entrepreneurially-minded students at CU. The community has really rallied together to make this happen – Spark’s founders, a set of students and alumni who buy into the concept of “doertocracy,” have the support and involvement of both on-campus and off-campus organizations.
Entrepreneurial energy is nothing new to CU; its community is recognized as one of the most vibrant in the country, its resources are now blossoming in something substantial, and its students are more entrepreneurial minded and motivated than ever. Giving this community, these students, and these resources a space to live is the next step to developing more viable startups at CU.
Spark Boulder opened it’s doors on 2/21 and it’s already become the home for student entrepreneurs that the founders envisioned.
Here are the details of the space.
- Location: the heart of student life on the “Hill” in Boulder, Colorado
- Size: 5,400 square feet
- Office Layout: 4 offices, 34 desks, a 75 person event space, 2 conference rooms,
- Amenities: mail room, kitchen, and even a bathroom with a stenciled face in the door. Who’s face? You guessed it, yours truly.
Spark’s event space will be filled many nights of the week and some weekends with startup focused events that are free and open to anyone interested. Some groups are already scheduling the space when it opens in January 2014; these include the NVC, Boulder Creatives, and StartupCU. I’m holding my March Random Day at Spark in a couple of weeks. Also, CU Boulder Startup Weekend, which is the weekend of March 14th, is being held in the space.
Every Friday, Spark will hold its flagship event, Plugin. Students and community members are welcome to come plugin to WiFi, plugin to power, and plugin to all things entrepreneurial on and around campus. This free, all day event is designed to lower the barriers of creating a strong entrepreneurial community at the university. Students come to work, to connect with like minded students, and to connect with mentors. Community members come to help and mentor students, to find and develop talent for their organizations, and to plugin to CU’s entrepreneurial community. Many local organizations will hold office hours on this day; these include the Archer Bay, DCVF, nLab, and Voltage,
As I wrote before, the Boulder community has come together to help Spark with the initial build-out. Alongside Amy and myself, the sponsor list is extensive. It includes Archer Bay, Pivotal Labs, ArcStone Partners, Sendgrid, TapInfluence, Inspirato, Applied Trust, Proto Test, Mike Finney, nLab and Silicon Valley Bank. That said, Spark is just getting off the ground and can use some additional support. Here are some ways to support this community space:
- Financial donations for continual improvements to the physical space – $15k is still needed
- Sponsor a student startup to use the space
- Deck out the office with some furniture or some office equipment
- If you’re a local entrepreneur, hold office hours during the weekly Friday event
- Rent a desk and work out of the space
If you can help out in any of these ways (and I’m sure you can), or just want to talk co-working, reach out to Ben Buie, one of the founders of Spark, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Startup Communities, I talk extensively about leaders and feeders. I assert than anyone in the startup community should be able to start / create / do anything that is helpful to the startup community. They don’t have to ask permission – there is no VP Activities in a startup community. I also talk about how the students are the precious and most valuable resource of a university.
This morning I got the following email from Fletcher Richman, a student at CU. It’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about and it is immediately actionable for every entrepreneur in Boulder and Denver.
Dear Founders and Friends,
As students at CU Boulder, we have noticed that there are many startups that would love hire more interns and full time employees from the university, and lots of students would love to work at a startup. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the two.
We would like to fix this issue. We have created a simple form to get a better idea of the positions available for students at startups that we would greatly appreciate if you could fill out:
The data from this form will be used for two things:
1) To help start an online startup jobs and internships board for students that we are currently building.
2) To build a contact list of companies for the Students2Startups fair early next year, which will be bigger and better than ever before!
Thank you so much for your help! Please let us know if you have any questions.
So – what are you waiting for. Go sign up to hire some CU Students!