Anyone that has done even a minimal amount of research about Boulder, Colorado knows that Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, Movoto, USA Today, several local venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, and dozens more have taken a turn at the microphone to pitch it as a fantastic place to live.
When the Techstars Chicago program ended in October, we knew we wouldn’t be staying in the Windy City long-term. Before the program started, Casey and I had been building Fitbot long-distance – I was in Mountain View, California and he was in Orlando, Florida. With three months of acceleration under our belts post-program, Fitbot needed an official place to hang its hat and call home.
Planting the Seed
During the first few weeks of Techstars, we were fortunate enough to have a Skype session with Nicole Glaros, Chief Innovation Officer for Techstars. Between other kernels of wisdom, she encouraged us not to sacrifice an important decision like where to call home in order to fit in or meet someone else’s expectations of us. Her advice left a lasting impression on us that we would continue to revisit.
Several California cities were under consideration, including Mountain View, Santa Cruz, and San Diego. The more we looked into it, the more disheartened we became at the prospect of having to compete in the Bay Area. Besides the skyrocketing price of living and subsequent salary expectations, it’s also a deeply competitive city for entrepreneurs. Our business is fairly niche and we knew we wanted to be surrounded by a community that would support us and that we could support in return. Given the smaller population and location, we knew that it might be a little more difficult to recruit talent in Boulder but it was a likelihood we found well worth the work it takes to counteract it.
We knew that wherever we landed, it would need to be a place that Casey’s wife Lindsey would thrive in as well. She’s the founder of Lean Machine Nutrition, a consumer-facing app and nutrition coaching service for athletes. A cursory web search reveals that Boulder is home to six CrossFit gyms. For a city that’s only 26 square miles, that’s quite the market. Before we made the decision final, Casey brought her to visit. They stayed at the picturesque St. Julien and, besides the great opportunities for her business, a few mornings of waking up to views of the luminous Flatirons sealed the deal.
The Birthplace of Techstars
In 2006, David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown, and Jared Polis founded the Techstars program here. In the years since, the program has expanded to an impressive 25 programs around the globe. This is where it all began and anything that can bring us closer to the Techstars community is an absolute win for us. When our program concluded, Troy Henikoff put a heavy emphasis on the importance of staying connected to the other founders in our Chicago 2016 class. Startup life gets busy and if you’re not careful, you won’t carve out the time to work together. We’re committed to interacting with and getting to know the Boulder founders of classes past and present.
Boulder is Great for Startups
Even before Google began building a 330,000-square-foot campus in 2015, the city has long been recognized as a mecca for entrepreneurs. Seagate, Ball Aerospace, Oracle, Level 3, IBM are the grandfathers of tech within the Front Range. The entrepreneurial spirit has been alive and well for decades. The pioneering spirit of Colorado carries over to the startup mentality in these foothills. Leeds School of Business at CU-Boulder even has its own Deming Center for Entrepreneurship.
Colorado is in the middle of the country and you can fly to either coast in under four hours. That’s part of our origin story too. Travel can be tiresome, especially if you’re an entrepreneur and boarding flights more often than you would prefer. A hectic travel schedule can be cushioned by shorter trips when you fly in and out of Denver, Colorado.
Trulia named Boulder the #1 most active city in the nation last year and it’s common to encounter Olympians training within arm’s reach on a hike. At Fitbot, we’re building the best app for personal trainers and remote coaches to design, deliver, and track their clients’ programming. Stepping outside our office doors reveals a dozen potential clients. When we arrived in mid-January, we found Black Lab Sports serendipitously. A self-described sports accelerator, it’s part art gallery, part office space and accelerator for growing fitness startups. If I had been asked to describe our dream office five years from now, this would be it. And we’re thrilled to be sharing space with Revo Physiotherapy and Sports Performance, a Fitbot customer and the reason we found Black Lab Sports in the first place. Being steps away from customers and having access to the performance training center are indispensable perks.
You Will Love Boulder If…
- An invigorating hike or run through red rocks and limestone is far more appealing than a night out at the club (although it’s only a quick 45 minute bus ride to Denver where you’ll find some of the best nightclubs in the U.S.)
- It delights you to be recognized and run into familiar faces and friends around town.
- You want to fill your winter days with snowboarding, skiing, ice climbing, and snowshoeing. Eldora, Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, Steamboat Springs, and Winter Park are all within driving distance.
- You want to fill your summer days with hiking, kayaking, biking, camping, rock climbing, trail running, and yoga.
- You long to live in a beer and foodie mecca. You’ll quickly understand why Forbes named Boulder #2 in America’s Craft Beer Capitals in 2016, not to mention the Great American Beer Festival, the largest ticketed beer event in the country, is held in neighboring Denver each fall.
- Open space appeals to you. More than 35,000 acres of open space and 110 miles of trails await.