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My day started out great. After getting up at 5, having a delightful run at 6, walking Brooks, and then hanging with Amy for four minutes, I got in my car and drove over to Rally Software for their Big 1% Give Back event.
The picture to the left is of Ryan Martens, Rally’s founder and CTO, giving Josie Health, the CEO of The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County, a check for $676,000. This check is for The Community Foundation and for the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) and results from a gift of 24,793 shares of common stock from Rally at the time of its first financing that represented approximately 1% of the equity of the company.
I remember numerous conversations with Ryan about this. Ryan started Rally (formerly F4) out of our previous office and could regularly be found scribbling all over a white board. He had a huge vision that started to be turned into practice when Tim Miller joined him as CEO about a year after he started the company. Part of that vision became the agile software development products that Rally makes.
But Ryan’s vision was always bigger than that. He wanted to build a sense of corporate social responsibility into Rally from day one. He was inspired by Salesforce.com and the Salesforce Foundation so he wanted to do something similar in Boulder – contributing 1% of the equity and 1% of the employees’ time to local philanthropic efforts.
With a handful of others, including my partner Seth Levine and Cooley’s Mike Platt, Ryan helped created the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado. Rally was one of five founding members – the others were NewsGator, Collective Intellect, Me.dium, and Tendril. At the time, no one really knew how this would end up, but we all believed that it was important for the local startup community (which included companies anywhere in Colorado, not just Boulder) to give back to the community that helped support it.
We talked about creating millions of dollars of philanthropic contributions through the success of companies in Colorado over the next few decades. Some people rolled their eyes when we talked about this, some thought we were crazy, and some jumped on board. Throughout, Ryan’s leadership of EFCO was unbounded and today over 50 companies are members of EFCO.
Today’s gift represents the largest to date. Oh – that check is only for $676,000. Well the other one – for $643,000 – is the second check Josie got today – this one from an additional gift Rally made when they endowed the Rally for Impact Foundation.
Gang – well done. Thanks for leading by example. And we are only just beginning.
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.
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
Amy and I took one of our Qx vacations last week – where we go off the grid entirely for the week (no phone, no email, no computer stuff). We were originally going on a walking trip to Prague with some friends, but decided we needed 12 hours of sleep a night for a week so we gave our trip to some other friends and headed to Vail to hide out for a week in a fancy hotel with room service and a spa.
All went according to plan until Thursday. I woke up at about 10:30 and wandered into the living room of our hotel with the goal of going downstairs and getting some coffee. The TV was on – which is weird since we don’t watch day time TV – and Amy seemed really agitated.
“Boulder is flooding,” she said.
“Huh? That’s weird,” I replied.
“They are having massive flash floods.”
Photo Credit: Jenna Rice
We spent the next hour glued to the TV, the web, and Twitter trying to figure out what was going on. It only took an hour – it was clear this was going to be awful given the weather system. Even though we were 120 miles away, we were incredibly anxious. And the constant stream of news – and water – didn’t help. As we started seeing areas we knew well, like the Boulder Creek, Canyon Road, 36 on the way to Lyons, and Lyons being flooded and destroyed, the severity of it all sank in.
I generally stayed offline until Sunday. We monitored everything through Saturday, checking in with our friends and offering help to a few folks we knew were stranded. We felt helpless to really do anything and it made no sense to go back early since many of the roads into Boulder were impassable so we just hung out, tried to keep relaxing, and sort of stayed in touch and offered help where we could.
I got back online yesterday. By that point things were settling down. I don’t necessarily mean getting better; rather the extent of the damage was becoming clear. And the rain was still coming down.
This is a photo of what used to be the driveway to our house in Eldorado Canyon. And the picture above it is the road to our house – or what used to be the road – through Eldorado Canyon state park. We have no idea what condition the house is in – we’ll find out more today when we try to get up there using our hovercraft.
Thanks to everyone for all their well wishes. We are fine – many are worse off – so we are going to turn our attention to them and see if we can be helpful now that we are back in town.
And yes – it’s still raining, although the weather people say it’s finally going to stop today.
If you’re looking to meet some great Boulder companies looking for technical help in person, check out the Boulder Tech Job Fair Sept. 11 from 3-7 p.m. at the Boulder Chamber building, 2440 Pearl Street in Boulder.
A total of 13 companies are looking to fill more than 100 technical positions covering a wide variety of programming languages and ranging from entry-level positions to senior embedded engineers with 10 or more years of experience. These companies are interested in speaking with qualified applicants from not only Colorado’s Front Range, but from other cities as well. While most positions are based in the Boulder/Denver area, some companies are looking to fill openings in other cities.
Participating companies with immediate openings include:
- Cardinal Peak
- Confident Financial Services
- Pivotal Labs
- Rally Software
- Quick Left
- Simple Energy
For more information, applicants can visit BoulderTechJobs.biz wher
If you’re curious, stop by. You’ll meet some great companies and see just what a strong market Boulder/Denver is.