As a new Colorado resident, I’m excited to explore my new state and especially the innovative and entrepreneurial community here. Entrepreneurship is a personal passion of mine and I thoroughly enjoy any opportunity to meet leaders in the field and innovators working on new great things. I’m excited to be in Denver, and so close to Boulder, not only because I’m excited to play for the Broncos, but also because Denver and Boulder are both thriving and growing startup centers. I’m looking forward to becoming a bigger part of a community that has such a strong spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Last week I made my first trip to Boulder, CO to attend Techstars Demo Day. The team at TechStars has figured out a lot in the past 10 years about supporting the development and growth of new ideas, leaders and companies. Last week, the Boulder Theater (where Demo Day was held) was pulsing with this sense of excitement, support and anticipation for great things to come.
The theater was a hotbed of new ideas and enthusiasm around meeting new people and learning more from the latest class of Techstars startups. From new workplace innovations to streamlined tools for mortgage brokers, new ways to tap into the sharing economy and ways to research our ancestry, Demo Day showcased a number of disruptive technologies, proving that Colorado’s tech scene is every bit as vibrant as Silicon Valley’s.
One of my favorite experiences of the night was meeting the team behind MeetMindful – an interesting new dating platform that is about much more than just meeting people for drinks. MeetMindful is thinking beyond connecting (mindful) people – some 36 million and counting. In addition to being a dating platform, MeetMindful also provides a hub for its users to share information and exchange ideas. It’s a way to form deeper connections, better yourself and maybe find someone you share interests with and enjoy spending time with. It’s a healthier way to form bonds than swiping right.
I was also particularly interested to learn about the B Corp movement. Three Colorado venture capital firms are now the first in their industry to achieve B-Corp Certification – Foundry Group, Colorado Impact Fund, and Greenmont Capital. Certified B-Corps are for-profit companies that pledge to focus not only on their bottom line, but also on their environmental and community stewardship. There are more than 75 Certified B Corps in Colorado and over 1,700 in nearly 50 countries around the world, including well-known leaders New Belgium Brewing, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, Kickstarter, Etsy, Warby Parker and Hootsuite. This certification proves that companies can be and are profitable while still being responsible to their communities and the world.
Overall it was a great night with plenty of amazing ideas and a good introduction to my new innovation network. I continue to believe everyone deserves their shot and the ability to think in new and creative ways about some of life’s problems both big and small. Organizations like Techstars and communities like Denver and Boulder make this big dreaming possible. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to pay attention and help where we can.
I learned a lot during the past year by taking a more entrepreneurial path in the NFL to secure my contract with the Denver Broncos as a self-represented free agent. And now look forward to connecting with entrepreneurs in Colorado and beyond. I can’t wait for the next Demo Day.