Boulder and Denver are some of the top cities in which to found a new business, due in part to the significant number of resources for entrepreneurs that they offer. One such resource in both cities is “Startup Week,” a week long festival of sorts, in which hundreds of events are held to showcase — and further build — the culture of innovation in the region.
Denver Startup Week is just around the corner, and we know the event will be fantastic — we’re excited to present a session ourselves! We realize, though, that the questions and needs don’t end when the week is over. So, we decided to compile some local resources for entrepreneurs that you can utilize throughout the year. We organized the information around three common categories in which entrepreneurs often need mentorship:
By no means an exhaustive list, we hope these resources give you places either to begin your startup journey or continue to build your company. Whether you are at the idea stage or already in the throes of building your company, these organizations and programs have something for every stage of entrepreneurship.
Legal Resources for Entrepreneurs
The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC) at the University of Colorado Boulder has a mission to help law students gain real-world experience. One of the ways they do so is by providing free legal counsel to entrepreneurs. Denver-based entrepreneurs can receive advice on a range of corporate law topics like commercial contracts, handing intellectual property rights, and drawing up shareholder agreements. Students provide the legal advice under the guidance of professors and attorneys.
To work with the ELC, entrepreneurs need to apply, and finalists are chosen based on several criteria. Once an application makes it through approval, the entrepreneurs interview with the ELC to determine if a mutual benefit exists. An accepted applicant will then have to sign an engagement letter to ensure commitment.
If you have a need that can’t wait for the ELCs selection process to run its course, consider checking out UpCounsel. In addition to having a free online repository of articles and forms, they also have thousands of lawyers nationwide willing to make bids on proposals. You can search for counsel by state, legal area, or topic of interest.
Similarly, CooleyGO can help you to identify and create all the key legal documents you need to get started. Whether you want to incorporate, or are looking to protect IP with a non-disclosure agreement, you’ll find their free, easy to use document generator indispensable. They also create and curate outstanding content on everything from creating a board of directors to selling your company.
Financial Resources for Entrepreneurs
Another organization that offers free counsel, SCORE Denver assists local entrepreneurs in confidently tackling financial questions. They do everything from pairing you with a mentor in the business world, to helping you enroll in workshops on a variety of topics, to providing free financial resources. SCORE relies on a dedicated group of local business people who volunteer their time and experience to help those just getting started. Mentoring is free and entirely confidential.
SCORE also hosts workshops focused on small businesses and entrepreneurs. Although many workshops are free, some include a small fee. Prefer to do your own business research? SCORE includes an online library dedicated to documents and information about owning a small business. You can find information from how to finance your company to government statues that affect your industry.
Colorado Lending Source also has a great directory of local companies than can assist with financial questions. If you desire a fractional CFO, want to try crowdfunding, or need tax advice, you may be able to find the resource through their site.
Networking Resources for Entrepreneurs
Whether you want to meet fellow entrepreneurs for community, or need advice for furthering your business idea, The Commons on Champa has events for you. The Commons allows you to “Find Your Path” throughout the stages of owning a small business. For the “I’m Discovering” stage of entrepreneurship, The Commons has tips for gauging ideas and techniques for growing your network. Already own a startup? Consider signing up for a two-day “Business Tune-Up” or join the Champions Mentorship Program for group mentoring with peer entrepreneurs at the same business stage.
The Commons also has community events like “Commons Business Bootcamp,” created to help newbies get a jump-start on what it means to be an entrepreneur. At their events and workshops, you will have the opportunity to meet and network with other entrepreneurs at the same stage, as well as rub elbows with entrepreneurial experts and coaches.
If you’re desiring a deeper dive and more official coaching, the front range has lots of resources in this area as well. The Founders Network provides mentorship through everything from cohort programs to conferences to private coaching. Techstars, a now global organization that was founded in Boulder, offers accelerator programs and bootcamps. Similarly Boomtown’s Boulder Tech Accelerator aims to specifically help tech startups through their intensives.
As you would expect, there are also many Meetup groups all along the front range that seek to bring together founders of start-ups and small businesses. Most meet monthly and focus on curating speakers who can provide insights and resources for entrepreneurs. Denver Founders Network, Built in Colorado, and Boulder Startup Meetup are some of the largest in the area.
Other Resources not to Overlook
Part of the Office of Economic Development & International Trade, Choose Colorado has advice specific to entrepreneurs getting setup within the state. They have up-to-date guidelines on business regulations and legislation by industry. Furthermore, you can find Colorado-specific resources for entrepreneurs, including the Small Business Resource Guide that takes you through the steps of entrepreneurship in Colorado.
Choose Colorado also offers a number of lectures and courses for entrepreneurs and business people. Courses range from “Introduction to QuickBooks Online” to “Marketing Basics” to “Instagram for Business: Basics and Beyond.” Additionally, you’ll find resources on filing for occupational licenses, getting the right funding, or finding the best free consulting by business area.
In a similar vein, the Denver Economic Development and Opportunity office provides quite a number of resources and ideas to help startups and small businesses. You can even meet with business development representatives (with offices at the Commons) for a personalized consultation.
Denver Startup Week is an exciting way to interact with entrepreneurs like you, and we encourage you to participate later this month. If you get “stuck” at a later time, we hope you’ll find the above resources for entrepreneurs useful. Please add comments below if there is an organization in the Denver / Boulder corridor that helped you to start or expand your business!
As always, feel free to reach out to us as well. We’re happy to help.