Boulder Is Utopia For Startups. Here's Who You Need To Know To Move There

Boulder ribbon cuttiing

Photo: Boulder Chamber of Commerce

Boulder, Colo., has a startup community different from any other. It’s like entrepreneur utopia.Everyone knows one another and everyone helps one another.

Boulder’s reputation is so good startups have begun to leave other parts of the nation and relocate here.

Take YPickMe co-founders Adam Kaye and Samya “Lola” Salim. They started in Tallahassee, Florida, where they ran an incubator.

But a few months ago, they moved to Boulder, specifically because of the town’s kumbaya reputation.

“In Boulder there’s an ecosystem unlike anything we’ve seen,” says Kaye. “This is a place where people like to help other people. A lot of people have moved to Boulder after they experienced some kind of success and reached some type of liquidity and freedom in their life. A lot of them have a feeling to pay it forward to other entrepreneurs.”

Boulder is home of the University of Colorado, and also houses massive offices for three national laboratories: the National centre for Atmospheric Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This gives Boulder one of the highest per capita rates of software developers in the nation.

For that reason, companies like Google, Microsoft’s Bing, IBM, and LivingSocial have recently opened or expanded their offices here too.

All of it means a plenitude of great tech jobs in a gorgeous city 30 minutes away from the nearest ski resort.

So how do you get on board? First, it helps to know these folks…

Brad Feld: The Boulder VC that knows everyone.

The name 'Brad Feld' is synonymous with 'Boulder startups' these days.

Feld is managing director for Boulder VC firm the Foundry Group and is also well known as one of the backers of Zynga. Feld knows everyone -- and not just in Colorado. (He has almost 100,000 Twitter followers.)

Feld is co-founder of the tech incubator TechStars and involved with President Obama's Startup America Partnership, too.

Find him at @bfeld.

The other Foundry stars: Jason, Seth, and Ryan.

Brad Feld isn't the only VC in Boulder. He's not even the only big name at his firm Foundry Group. The rest of his team are also on the Boulder A-list including ...

Jason Mendelson who holds a trifecta of experience. He's a former software engineer, a former lawyer and has a background in economics.(@jasonmendelson)

Seth Levine, who made a whole bunch of money by leading a company called FirstWorld Communications to a $260 million IPO in the early 2000s. (@sether)

Ryan McIntyre, who is known for the pre-Internet bubble days when his startup Excite merged with @Home in a $6.7 billion deal. (@ryan_mcintyre)

David Cohen: The heart of TechStars.

David Cohen is founder and CEO of TechStars.

That alone would land him on the Boulder startup A-list but he's also involved with CSU's Silicon Flatirons (an organisation that combines technology and law), is on the selection committee for Venture Capital in the Rockies, and runs the Colorado chapter of the Open Angel Forum.

Reach him at @davidcohen

Robert Reich: There's a waiting list to come to his tech meetups.

Robert Reich might be known to the world as the founder of OneRiot, a startup acquired by Walmart's @Walmartlabs last September.

But in Boulder he's known for his Denver Boulder Tech Meetups that fill up so fast each month that there's a waiting list to attend. Some 7,500 entrepreneurs vie for 350 spots at a New Tech meetup. During the meeting a handful of startups present and attendees respond in the Boulder way -- connecting them to resources they might need.

Reach him at @menro

Kirk Holland: A VC with a long, powerful history.

Kirk Holland is a VC with Boulder's Vista Ventures. He may be best known for backing HowStuffWorks acquired by Disney in 2007 for $250 million.

He's got a long history with investment banking. Like many other Boulder A-listers, he's also involved in other organisations like the Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association, and the I Have a Dream Foundation that helps underprivileged kids.

Reach him at Vista Ventures.

Jud Valeski: Paying it forward.

Jud Valeski is co-founder and CEO of Boulder-based company Gnip.

Gnip provides feeds of social media data like Twitter, blogs and forums to enterprises so they can monitor them or use it for business intelligence apps.

Valeski is known in Boulder as a TechStars mentor but he's also someone with some tech chops. He worked at IBM, Netscape, and AOL. (He helped Mozilla spin out of AOL).

Reach him at @jvaleski.

Jim Franklin: The cheerful mentor.

Jim Franklin is the CEO of SendGrid, a company that sends e-mail for about about 40,000 Web applications.

Franklin has been a long-time player with Colorado startups. He had worked at one of the region's big success stories, a company called Crystal Ball. Through a series of acquisitions, he landed as a vice president of Oracle.

Today he is a TechStars mentor and helps organise other startup events. He has also been known to angel invest from time to time.

Reach him at @jimfranklin

Niel Robertson: Runs startups coast-to-coast.

Niel Robertson is not only on the A-list in Boulder, but has impressive ties in Silicon Valley and Boston.

He's currently running his third hot Boulder startup, Trada as well as three other startups right now: one in Boston and two in San Francisco. (Read more about that here.)

Reach him at @nielr1

Brad Bernthal: Law professor who knows the angels.

Brad Bernthal is director of CU's Silicon Flatirons centre's Entrepreneurship Initiative and is an associate law professor there.

Brad participates with TechStars. He runs a clinic that provides free legal help to Boulder start-up companies and he has been known to help analyse startups for angel investors in Boulder and Denver.

Reach him at BradBernthal

Brian Tsuchiya: Boulder Startup Guru.

Brian Tsuchiya is in the business of mentoring startups with a firm he calls Startup Guru.

His monthly Boulder Startup Meetup is open to all and is a place where entrepreneur wannabes can practice their pitch skills and mingle with others.

Reach Brian through Startup Meetup.

Here's a look at just a few of the young seed startups sprouting in Colorado.

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