Entrepreneurial Density

Last week I co-hosted a lunch for Jared Polis with Kyle Lefkoff at Boulder Ventures which Jud Valeski covered nicely in his post titled Luncheon with Jared Polis.  Jared was one of the first people I met when I moved to Boulder (thanks to an introduction from my long time friend Dave Jilk) and we’ve been great friends and partners on a number of fronts ever since.

The attendees at lunch were a bunch of Boulder entrepreneurs in three areas – software / Internet, biotech, and natural foods.  While I spend almost all of my time focused on software / Internet, it’s always interesting to hang out with some of the Boulder entrepreneurs in other segments to hear what they are thinking and working on.

During lunch, I reflected some on the number of times I’ve heard in the past year from people outside of Boulder about how Boulder has become a nationally known entrepreneurial center.  The comments come from all over and are often followed by the question “how can we do what you guys have accomplished in Boulder in our city?”

While I was listening to everyone and being proud of the little 100,000 person town I call home, I thought of a new phrase that I hadn’t used before: “entrepreneurial density.”  I wondered out loud if Boulder was the “highest per capita collection of entrepreneurs in the US.”  I have no idea if this is true but from my travels around the US it feels like something that might be true.

On Saturday morning as I was filling my car up with gas, I ran into someone I know that works at Rally Software.  This kind of thing happens all the time – I’m constantly running into, sitting next to, or just saying hi as I wander down the street to people that work at startups in Boulder.

Entrepreneurial density isn’t just the “number of entrepreneurs per capita”, but it’s the “number of people that work at entrepreneurial companies per capita.”  It gets even bigger when you include students and calculate the “(number of people that work at entrepreneurial companies + the number of students) per capita.

As ED = ((entrepreneurial_emps + students) / adults) approaches 1, you get complete entrepreneurial saturation.  I’m going to guess that Boulder’s Entrepreneurial Density using this equation is somewhere between 0.50 and 0.75, but this is just a guess.  I’m curious if anyone out there has a real way to calculate this.