RTP: Ignore Silicon Valley. Look at Colorado.

I think a lot of areas around the country have Silicon Valley envy.  Quite rightly too — it’s an amazing and crazy place.  But like any icon, just because it’s been successful doesn’t mean it is the right choice for everyone to follow.  Smarter folks than me seem to feel the same way about Silicon Vally envy.

RTP is well behind the curve in comparison to Silicon Valley.  We’re behind the ball in comparison to NY and Boston too.  But there is a ton of potential here, and I for one am determined to see what can be done.

My point is that there are more appropriate models than Silicon Valley for us to try and follow.  Ones that would fit RTP much better and have a far greater chance of success.

And I’m saying that the answer is to look at Colorado.

Don’t know any companies in Colorado?  Try Photobucket, Me.dium, Lijit and most recently MadKast (the latter two are both in use on this blog).

When I first started looking at something new back in early 2006,
Colorado was just beginning to see some activity.  In the 18 months
since then, the area seems to have exploded with innovation.

As an outsider looking in, much of that seems to have been created directly or indirectly by
the efforts of a small core of folks like David Cohen and his co-founders at
Techstars (David Brown, Brad Feld, and Jared Polis).

Through Mr Fancy-Pants (kept anonymous to preserve his dignity), I was recently introduced to David Cohen, and I had the pleasure of speaking to him by phone last week.  In addition to being an interesting guy to talk to, David is (and I quote): "a serial entrepreneur, investor, and technologist living in beautiful Boulder, Colorado."

He’s also the guy that runs the Techstars program, which "provides seed funding, mentoring, advice, and connections to ten new companies in Boulder, Colorado each summer."  You may be thinking that Techstars sounds like yCombinator, and to a degree, it is similar.  The program provides micro-funding to a small number of software companies each summer, but they also seem to be much more hands on in their mentoring process, which I think is the way to go.

The funny thing is that the other startup idea I had begun to flesh out before disruptorMonkey was quite similar to Techstars done on a year-round basis, but that’s another story.  David was also involved in Startup Weekend, which is something I’ve talked about before on this blog.

I think there is an awful lot to be learned from David, the intrepid group he works with and the Colorado scene in general.  They’re not looking for state handouts or big money, nor are they chasing elaborate plans and absurdly lofty goals.  They are out pounding the streets at a grass roots level.  They had a vision of what Colorado could become and they’re working magic to make it happen.

It seems as though they took a lot of little steps to coalesce and solidify the startup scene in Colorado, and it’s paying big dividends.  I believe we can do the same thing here.

So in conclusion:

(a)  A large, oversized, Colbertian tip-o-the-hat to David, David, Brad, Jared and everyone else moving and shaking the Colorado scene.  Keep up the inspiringly good work.

(b)  If you want to be a part of Coloradofication, send me an email.  Let’s see what we can do.

1 comment for “RTP: Ignore Silicon Valley. Look at Colorado.

  1. September 18, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I consider myself extremely lucky to be a fringe member of the start-up scene here in Boulder. There has been considerable growth as of late and I agree with you that Brad Feld and David Cohen have a lot to do with that. Because of their desire to live in a gorgeous place, there are now more and more opportunities for companies here. I’m glad you’re going with Coloradofication…Californication is so overused!

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