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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.
As a relative youngster (I’ve only been here since 1995) it was especially humbling to be asked to part of the “Boulder Conversations with Extraordinary People” Speaker Series. This year’s series includes Ceal Barry, Josie Health, Gary Neptune, Bob Sievers, Ann Cooper, Jim Guercio, and Frank Day.
My session is Wednesday, February 12th. The event is happening at the future home of the Boulder History Museum (2205 Broadway, corner of Pine & Broadway). We’ll talk about Boulder, how I got here, and what this incredible town means to me.
Grab a ticket here - all ticket sales go to running the event and the museum, nothing goes to me.
For the record, I’m not old enough to have come to Boulder by train, although I would look fantastic for my age if I did.
The Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Colorado, the Living Green Network, and Mocavo are hosting a roofdeck bash on Halloween to benefit first-responder families and local farms devastated by the recent Boulder-area flood. Let’s rally the entrepreneurial community together and raise some money for those in need. I’ll be there to support the cause and would love for you to join me.
Cliff and the Mocavo gang are opening a one-night-only bar in downtown Boulder in the name of charity. Anyone who’s been to Boulder on Halloween knows it tends to be a pretty wild night, especially when it’s on a Thursday. Between the gong for donation milestones and the flatscreen broadcasting the money raised, it should make for a fun event. Donations made by employees of local companies will also optionally join a company leaderboard for some healthy competition.
Existing sponsor list includes KKO, Silicon Valley Bank, and Goldman Sachs. More sponsors are welcome – a restaurant sponsor would be great.
Register for the free event at EventBrite (link to https://halloweenfloodrelief.
I’ve continued to be emotionally distracted by all the devastation around Boulder from our recent floods. I’ve gotten a ton of emails from all over the world in support as well as some meaningful financial contributions adding on to the $100,000 my partners and I just gave to the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado to provide direct support for the flood victims.
Amy’s assistant Naomi hiked up to our house in Eldorado Canyon today to finally check on our house there. The house is fine, but there is damage to a bunch of our property. At some intellectual level it’s incredible to see the power of water. At some other level it’s emotionally distressing. The picture above is our meadow. And yes – the crevasse is “new” – so we have a new creek in our meadow.
Then – there’s the lower part of our driveway – well, at least what used to be a driveway.
And then there’s the road through Eldorado State Park, which no longer works as a road.
We are all ok and have plenty of resources to deal with this. So we’ve turned most of our energy to helping our friends, neighbors, and extended Boulder County community deal with the destruction the floods have caused. But it’s really amazing to see the power of mother nature unleashed.
Today, my partners at Foundry Group and I are contributing $100,000 to the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) to help with the Boulder Flood Relief Effort. This is our second gift to the EFCO – we previously contributed a portion of our carry across all of our funds.
The floods in Boulder and the surrounding area the past week have been devastating. I went for a run last night around town just to get a feel for things – the water is still at dangerously high and fast levels in Boulder Creek and the damage near the creek in downtown is visible. I smelled smells that I’ve never smelled in Boulder before and saw water in places it simply didn’t belong.
But downtown Boulder is quickly getting back to normal. That’s not the problem. If you’ve ever been to Boulder, you know we are surrounded by incredible mountains. It’s part of the magic of the place, but also part of the challenge. A friend told me recently, “think of the mountains as giant slanted roofs and Boulder as the basement of the house.”
There are two natural forces here that can be massively destructive. The first, which have made the news the past few years, are wildfires. Amy and I have endured these for the past 17 years – we’ve been evacuated from our house twice, once for three days during my brother’s wedding. The massive Lefthand Canyon Fire destroyed a huge neighborhood. Awful, terrifying stuff.
But that just set us up for what looks like the real disaster. The entire mountain area around Boulder is wrecked. Roads are destroyed. Towns in the “basement” – including Lyons – are literally wiped off the map. Major parts of Longmont are now submerged. The water ran downhill, destroying everything in its path as gravity did it’s magic, and then just sat at the bottom wherever it ended up.
My partners and I are lucky. None of our lost our houses. We all have roofs over our heads. And we have plenty of resources.
But many of our friends and neighbors were not so lucky. The stories are endless – the friend who lost her house and has no place to live. Another friend who made a mad dash off the mountain with his family and has no idea what the status of his home is. The entrepreneur who worked out of his basement, which is now a swimming pool. The business owner who’s office is now cut in half – and destroyed – by a mudslide. The tech leader who recently had a major back injury, just got out of the hospital, and had to evacuate his house. The people stuck up in the mountains who can’t get out. And the people stuck down in the foothills that also can’t get out.
The magnitude of this hit me yesterday afternoon when I heard estimates of $100m – $150m to fix the “infrastructure damage.” I have no idea what that really means, but for a region of a couple of hundred thousand people, knowing the range is low, and it’s only “infrastructure”, this is going to be a long, hard mess to dig out of.
I’ve always felt a strong responsibility to the community I call home. Boulder has been and continues to be very good to me. And it’s my responsibility, especially in times like this, to be good back. This is not the only financial support we’ll be giving to the Boulder Flood Relief Effort. In addition, we’ll give plenty of functional support. But it’s a step – and one we hope can have direct impact.
My partners and I encourage every entrepreneur in the area who has had a meaningful financial success to consider giving something through EFCO to the Boulder Flood Relief Effort. If you are an entrepreneur who hasn’t yet had a financial success, consider joining EFCO and contributing 1% of the equity in your company today, to help build the endowment for the future. And, if you are a venture capitalist or an angel investor in – or with investments in – the Boulder area, please consider joining EFCO and contributing directly to the relief effort today. Just email me and I’ll get you connected.
Finally, if you are a reader and part of the Feld Thoughts community and you want to help out, please contribute directly to the Foothills Flood Relief Fund. We greatly appreciate any support you can give.