Top Ways To Get Connected to the Tech Community in Boulder & Denver
We've shared tips from our Texas crew on how to get plugged into the Austin tech scene. Since we are equally invested here in Colorado, we thought a similar overview of how to get connected to the tech community in Boulder and Denver was merited.
Colorado has exploded as a tech hub in the past decade. The region is filled with everything from business giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook to myriads of local startups seeking to be the next great thing. Whether you running a startup or working for an established business, there are numerous resources and opportunities to get connected to the tech community in Boulder and Denver.
Options range from interest groups to flexible workspace options, to classes you can take to hone your skills—or pick up a new passion. All of them provide a way to meet interesting people, grow your business network, and stay in touch with developments in the industry.
We break down the top ways to get connected to the tech community in Colorado into four categories:
- Join a meetup or interest group
- Office at a communal workspace
- Participate in events
- Level up your tech skills
Join a Meetup or Interest Group
Both Denver and Boulder have numerous groups that meet on a regular basis to help connect people across technology, business, and community. New Tech Colorado, the largest “community of geeks” in the state with 14,000+ members is very active, as is Creative Connections, an equally large group for any who would consider themselves a “creative type.”
If you prefer a more intimate size, consider House of Genius. With chapters in both cities, they bring together a diverse mix of collaborators from the community for an evening each month of disruptive thinking, supportive input, and creative new ideas.
Other groups offer a more singular focus on particular aspects of technology. The Denver Founders Network brings together people with passions for startups and innovation, Denver UX hosts events about everything user experience, and Denver Digital Marketing offers get-togethers on ways to jumpstart your marketing strategy. And, of course, there is a meetup for almost every flavor of software development.
It’s worth calling out that the front range offers a whole host of ways for women in tech to connect with each other. SheSays is a rockstar organization with groups in both Denver and Boulder that organizes both educational events and happy hours. Women Who Code is also in both cities, and does amazing work empowering women and encouraging professional success in technical fields. Ladies Get Coffee, Women in Tech, and Women Who Startup are also great groups that aim to build community through education and events.
Office at a Communal Workspace
Adaptive and collaborative workspaces have become popular in the last few years. Joining a coworking space can be a good way to meet new people and share ideas and inspiration. Both Denver and Boulder are home to some of the larger coworking chains, including Galvanize, WeWork, and Industrious.
Beyond the large chains, Denver offers Modworks Coworking, a scalable workspace option that provides everything from private offices (by the month) to daily passes. Other options include Green Spaces geared towards sustainable entrepreneurs and Converge Denver. The Riveter, a nationwide community focused on helping create equity of opportunity for women, recently opened its coworking doors in Denver. The Commons on Champa, an incubator and accelerator space, offers everything from free coworking spaces to private offices for rent.
Boulder also has some local spaces like Novel Coworking whose rent includes perks like local beer on tap, and NiCHE Workspaces which has both a Pearl Street and a North Boulder location. Campworks offers another Boulder option and includes proximity to open space trails as well as an outdoor workspace.
Participate in Events
While events lack the ongoing touchpoint of a meetup group or class, they can still be great ways to get connected to the tech community.
Boulder actually has bragging rights as the founding city for the “startup week” concept, and Boulder Startup Week is still going strong. Denver Startup Week began a couple of years later, but is now the largest free entrepreneurial event in the country, bringing over 20,000 people together in 2019.
Ignite Boulder is an entertaining, sometimes educational, somewhat raucous lightning talk event that should not be missed. It’s hosted around the country, but the “flagship” event is in Boulder, and it brings together a lot of local influencers. Likewise, Boulder Beta runs two high-energy events each year that help to showcase some of the hottest local startups. The local chapters of TED, TEDxBoulder, and TEDxMileHigh are also great gatherings to consider, with speakers sharing experience and wisdom on a myriad of topics.
Given the size of Denver, it’s worth noting that it attracts a lot of great conferences for the technically minded, from GlueCon to the Digital Summit. Consider setting up an alert on eventbrite to get notified when something new is coming to town.
Level Up Your Tech Skills
In the fast-moving world of tech, it seems there is always more to learn. You can leverage your desire to level up (or learn a completely new skill) as a way to get connected to others with similar interests.
General Assembly has a vast array of classes ranging from Diversity & Inclusion in Tech, to Introduction to Branding, to Visual Design, and Product Management. Galvanize, which has locations in both Boulder and Denver, offers tech bootcamps. Build your skillsets with full-time or part-time courses like Data Science Immersive or Python Fundamentals.
DaVinci Coders, a Colorado-based coding school, enables you to re-skill your career for the tech industry in 13-16 weeks through their full-immersion, instructor-led curriculums. The Turing School is another computer programming school local to Denver, offering 7-month long full-time programs. Some coworking spaces also host events and classes for their members or for an entrance fee.
The wealth of resources available to the tech community in the Boulder Denver area is outstanding, and we hope you venture out and try one of the outstanding events, meetups, or classes mentioned above.
If your schedule is tight, we’ll close with a few online resources that can help you to still keep your finger on the pulse of the tech scene. Those interested in startups should join the Colorado Startups Facebook group, an active group of over 7000 startup enthusiasts. It’s also worth signing up for Techstar’s Startup Digest. Sent weekly, it will keep you plugged into the entrepreneurial community through curated events and content.
For more general tech news, Built In Colorado is an excellent source, as are the Denver Biz Journal and BizWest. Twitter is also a great way to glean tips and industry insights; consider following some of the local leaders like Brad Feld, Sue Heilbronner, Erik Mitisek, and Andrew Hyde. This comprehensive guide from Rachel Beisel is also worth a read, as she covers other great areas for connection that we didn’t discuss, like slack groups, job boards, and accelerators.
Of course, we’re also always happy to help with ideas; contact us at any time.
Working with the right people makes all the difference
Boulder, CO—In the latest article from Built In Colorado, InspiringApps’ Director of Operations, Stacy Griffin, joins other leaders in sharing their career journeys, the lessons they’ve learned, and their advice for other women. Describe your career journey and current role. My career journey spans over 20 years in technology, project management, and people management. I started out as a developer at IBM and then moved into a developer lead role, which is when I began managing projects. From there, I pivoted to a formal project management role, which involved interacting with the business, gathering requirements, and managing technical project delivery. I eventually joined InspiringApps as a project manager, applying those same skills. Recently, I was promoted to director of operations, a new strategic role. I manage people and projects as a member of the leadership team. I’m also involved more on the sales side. My job requires managing a team of developers and overseeing client engagements and project lifecycle and delivery. It requires a lot of communication with clients and developers, both of whom have distinct working styles. To set expectations, I draw from years of experience in listening and applying empathy. I also have a master’s in computer science, which gives me aptitude and credibility with technical audiences. What advice do you have for other women who manage tech teams or aspire to? I have two pieces of advice for women who aspire to manage tech teams. First, find a role model. Look for mentors, ask questions and try to learn from the people around you. Secondly, avoid imposter syndrome. You should feel comfortable in your own skin. Remember that you’ve earned your seat at the table. What’s one important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a leader, and how has that made you a better manager? I’ve learned that there’s no single right way to manage people. Having the courage to manage in a way that’s comfortable and authentic to my personality allows me to lean into my strengths and improve in areas where I need to grow. It’s also important to know that treating people with autonomy and respect builds trust. People appreciate it when you’re honest and open. I’m not a micromanager, and I naturally take the role of supporting people. I’ve learned to combine open dialog with frequent check-ins. Bringing my authentic self to work makes me a better manager.
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Culture is what we share; it’s the values, goals, attitudes, and practices that make us who we are as an organization. A strong culture can give your company an advantage by fostering loyalty, creativity, and motivation. But what are the ingredients of positive company culture? Each company has its own unique culture and way of crafting it. The best cultures dovetail perfectly: employees and leaders focus on the same mission and encourage rewards. Discovering the perfect combination, however, doesn’t happen overnight. This article shares our approach and recommendations to create an intentional company culture, offering insights and strategies that any company can apply to nurture a positive environment that leads to success. What is intentional company culture? Every company has a culture. While culture may form organically, consistent and intentional cultivation will result in greater success. Intentional company culture combines organizational values and mission with the rewards of employment that come in four main styles: Loyalty-based Performance-based Opportunity-based Lifestyle-based No style is better than the other; it’s dependent on the company and the employees hired. For instance, if your staff prefers lifestyle-based culture (flexible work or other perks) over performance-based culture (raises and promotions for a job well done), the employees may stay dissatisfied and leave to find a company culture that suits their preference. In InspiringApps’ infancy, the personalities of the relatively few people involved drove our culture. But as the company grew, we were careful to emphasize the characteristics that fostered a positive work environment and eliminated any contrary to what we’ve come to value—empathy, inclusion, and personal growth for our employees. Why do your employees need an intentional company culture? A recent survey found that 79% of employees who left their jobs did so because of a lack of appreciation, and 50% said they were more motivated by appreciation than money. This sounds like a job for company culture! In an ideal world, company culture and performance should work in tandem. Employees who are happy with their jobs have higher satisfaction rates. However, lousy work culture can hurt employees, bringing high turnover rates, burnout, and subpar work. Creating an intentional company culture requires consistency and time. There is no shortcut. Intentional company culture benefits from open minds. Influential leaders seek to: Understand what employees appreciate and what causes them pain. Hear employees’ suggestions for improvement. Follow through with promised changes. Repeat the above frequently. Intentional company culture requires commitment from everyone—especially the leadership team. InspiringApps understands this fundamental truth. An InspiringApps employee explains it best: How To Develop & Maintain a Great Company Culture Engaged employees are critical for business success. Experience is the best teacher, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons regarding things that keep our employees a happy part of the team. We built our culture slowly and methodically, and we’re proud to celebrate strong retention, with over 40% of our staff staying with us for more than five years. Among all the lessons we’ve learned, the following best practices stand apart from the rest: Promote from within. Offer excellent benefits. Be inclusive. Communicate consistently. In the following sections, we discuss each best practice in detail and share our experiences to help every company develop and maintain a great culture. Promote From Within Today’s employees are looking for a company with opportunities for career advancement and appreciate roles with a clear path to growth and promotions, as they give them personal goals to work towards. Along the employee journey, InspiringApps offers professional development opportunities that help our team members stay on top of their skills, expand their capabilities, and incorporate new and developing interests. By doing so, our employees can have long tenures at InspiringApps, while remaining competitive. At the same time, we can hire the best candidates for our growing positions right from our own team. As the InspiringApps client roster scaled, so did our team. We promoted long-time employees into our development team lead roles, recognizing their wisdom and honoring their commitment to our team through their tenure. Offer Excellent Benefits Many startups, including InspiringApps, may be resource-constrained in the early days. Health and retirement benefits are expensive, so we focused first on benefits that didn’t require a direct cash outlay. Establishing a two-day-per-week remote work policy over a decade ago, accommodating part-time employees, and offering flexible work hours were all low-cost ways to treat our team with respect. As InspiringApps matured, we also added more traditional benefits. In addition to a 401(k) plan with match, profit sharing, and a generous and flexible PTO policy, we recently increased the company’s health premium contribution from 50% to 100% and added company-paid vision, dental, disability, and employee assistance (EAP). Be Inclusive Inclusivity is a mandate kept top-of-mind in the projects and clients we take on and the staff we hire and promote. In a historically homogenous industry like tech, inclusivity can be a challenge. Through intentional recruiting and a focus on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to join the field, InspiringApps is working to build a more diverse team that better reflects the communities we serve. Promoting women in tech is one way we’ve made strides in our company. At InspiringApps, women make up 40% of our leadership team and more than a third of our employees, which is 20% more than the US average. Promoting diversity and inclusion provides various perspectives, which is essential for the challenges we’re addressing in our consumer apps. We consider it a competitive advantage as we continue to innovate for our clients. Additionally, we’ve made a concentrated effort over time to welcome new employees. Years ago, that welcome included a team lunch on Pearl Street. Since our team has grown, that lunch is now digital—and the efforts to be inclusive extend much further than that. Communication and connection are ingrained into the way we set up projects, make progress on initiatives, and more. Communicate Consistently Secrecy and unexplained decision-making from leaders lead to unengaged employees. Transparency is the answer. About 85% of employees are most motivated when they know what’s happening and why. Open and frequent communication, including standups and all-hands meetings, project or team demos, company newsletters, and social media, encourages employees to gain trust in leadership. When you share company goals regularly, your employees will feel confident in knowing the direction they’re working. The more your employees see open communication from leaders and are encouraged to participate in decision-making, the better communicators they’ll be with your clients, modeling positive communication behaviors in everything they do. Technology is your ally when it comes to employee engagement. Offering a Slack channel or other internal chat features, an employee app, or an intranet site where employees can share and talk directly to leaders can inspire a transparent culture. The Value of Culture InspiringApps nurtures a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusivity. Our commitment to culture is exemplified by an official Great Places to Work ® Certification™. But that recognition is only a small window into the little things that our team is doing every day to reinforce the culture we’ve been nurturing for years. Our culture is one of our most valuable assets. It defines our expectations for the way we treat one another. Beyond making InspiringApps a pleasant place to work, our culture is evident in our client relationships and in the apps we create. Building award-winning apps starts with a language that’s foreign to many of us: code. For more than 15 years, our app development team has built easy-to-use iOS, Android, and web applications serving over 100 companies in a dozen industries. See our work.
1 month ago