Boulder 2007 Esprit Entrepreneur Awards

Last night I attended the Boulder 2007 Esprit Entrepreneur Awards where I was honored to receive the Rob Planchard Award.  I shared the stage with two good friends – Tim Miller and Ryan Martens from Rally Software who won the Entrepreneur of the Year award.  To highlight the evening – Bill Perry of Softbridge Advisors won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

When I moved to Boulder in 1995, Amy and I only knew one person and he moved away six months later.  I had no expectations of doing any meaningful amount of business in Boulder – I moved here to live in a beautiful place that was between the two coasts (Boston and the Bay Area) that I was traveling between on a weekly basis.

In addition to being an amazing place to live, Boulder has been home to a superb entrepreneurial community in the area that I invest – namely software and Internet companies.  I won the Esprit Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1999 with Brian Makare and Andrew Currie for a company we co-founded called Email Publishing (which was acquired by and morphed into MessageMedia.)  By that point I realized (and was deeply involved) in some of the special stuff that was happening on the Colorado Front Range and knew that I’d call this place home for the rest of my life.

It’s very gratifying (and humbling) to be recognized again for my contribution to the entrepreneurial community in Boulder.  I don’t do it for awards or recognition, but it always feels good.  It was especially satisfying to look at the list of companies and entrepreneurs that have been recognized over the past 12 years since I moved here and see a number of companies that I’ve been involved with.  Rally is the latest, and I’m immensely proud of what Tim, Ryan, and their team are creating.

The line of the night goes to Bill Perry.  During his closing speech, Bill talked about his experiences since coming to Boulder 25 years ago (ironically, we are both MIT grads – there’s something about this place that attracts people from MIT.)  Bill reflected on several times when the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boulder hit low points, and referred to companies around during those periods of times as “Slinky Companies.”  In his words, these are companies that “aren’t very useful but they are fun to watch as they tumble down the stairs.”  Brilliant – and I’ve had my share of slinkies.

Thanks to everyone that participated in the event last night – it’s a powerful thing to see so many local entrepreneurs in one place.  And a special thanks to everyone that organized and worked on the event.  Often I find events like this to be tedious but last night’s was extremely well done, funny, and paced nicely.