CU’s Silicon Flatirons Center Startup Summer is back!
Startup Summer provides a fantastic experience for college-age students and interns interested in entrepreneurship and the Front Range emerging company scene.
Startup Summer is a free offering that enhances your company’s internship program. Your company hires and pays your intern(s). You can hire an intern out of your own pool of candidates or, alternatively, let us know and we will get you student resumes from individuals who have reached out to us.
This program is free – there is no charge for companies or interns. Now in Year 10, Startup Summer is one of CU Boulder Silicon Flatirons’ most popular programs.
Startup Summer pulls college-age students together on Tuesday nights from 5:30 – 7:30 pm during the summer. Startup Summer students and interns get to (1) meet leaders in the Front Range emerging company community, and (2) build their own startups on the side. More info is available at our website Startup Summer page.
If your company is interested in Startup Summer, please reach out directly to Sara Schnittgrund (Sara.Schnittgrund@Colorado.EDU) and Brad Bernthal (Brad.Bernthal@colorado.edu) at Silicon Flatirons by Thursday, June 3.
For over a decade, I’ve worked closely on a number of entrepreneurial initiatives with my friend Brad Bernthal, an Associate Professor at Colorado Law and the Silicon Flatirons Center. The past few weeks unexpectedly resulted in a new project with Brad B. and CU’s entrepreneurial community.
On March 19, Bart Temme, and entrepreneur in Holland, reached out to me and Brad B. The next day we jumped on a call. Bart shared notes about how the startup community in his area of Holland mobilized in response to COVID-19. Bart provided grim notes about the reality of the contagion and the needs of their area. Yet Bart also spoke about the possibilities for entrepreneurial networks, accustomed to taking action and helping each other, to make an impact.
On that call, we hatched an idea to harness the power of university students. The vision: match an army of student age volunteers to COVID-19 response needs. Brad B. agreed to see if our university entrepreneurial network would build out this effort.
In just two weeks, they created something powerful. I encourage you to read the update from Brad B. about HumanKind below and, if interested, get involved.
FROM BRAD BERNTHAL
I’ve been humbled to join a team that, over the past two weeks, built and launched HumanKind, a program to mobilize university students to help during the COVID-19 crisis. The platform bridges the gap between community needs and university-age volunteers.
To make this happen, volunteers jumped in from all corners of the campus – and beyond – over the past two weeks. A core team of about 20 volunteers – students, staff, and faculty – divvied up roles, joined Zoom meetings, and even pulled me into the Slack universe (I think I was the last holdout).
HumanKind just went live last night. A two-minute explainer video (created by my 8th grade daughter, Quinn, who got involved in the effort) summarizes what we’re up to.
HumanKind is a matchmaking platform between (1) university students, and (2) individuals and organizations in the community who need help. Areas in which HumanKind hopes to drive volunteer efforts include (i) remote social interaction with isolated elderly populations, (ii) support to front line medical providers (potentially things like dog walking and remote tutoring for their kids), and (iii) connection to existing networks that would welcome university student help.
We intentionally created HumanKind to be inclusive. We welcome university-age students who go to school out of state, but are now back at home in Colorado during the crisis, to join the effort. We also welcome the use of HumanKind at other universities throughout Colorado. We’ve branded this in a way that, hopefully, feels like student and entrepreneurial leaders at other schools can make use of the platform.
We’d now love to have the startup community push to (1) inspire university-age students in Colorado to join the COVID-19 response, and (2) identify organizations and networks that need university-age volunteers. Here are actions that you can take:
I’ve always wanted to build new things as part of a startup. I did not expect the chance to create something new to come under these circumstances. I have been inspired, and humbled, to see volunteers on our team use their entrepreneurial tools in the service of COVID-19 response impact. Across campus, we teach the value of entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. It is now amazing to put these skills to work at the most important of times. I am optimistic that this platform could make a real impact over the coming months.
Amy and I are big supporters of the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL). I love the idea of a computer museum and believe Boulder deserves to have a large one.
We’ve donated our computer collection to it, which includes my original Apple ][, my first portable computer (a Compaq luggable), an Apple III, an Apple Lisa, my original Mac 128K, a MITS Altair 8800b, a NeXTstation, and a bunch of other random stuff. Recently, my dad pitched in and contributed his entire cell phone and PDA collection, which included every cell phone he ever had.
MAL is located on the edge of the CU Boulder campus in a small building that they have outgrown. They have new space coming online in 2022, but until then they are looking for some additional space for both display and assembly purposes.
The display space needs to be near downtown Boulder or walking distance to the CU Boulder campus. This will be an extension of the existing public MAL space and, in the best case scenario, could actually be publicly accessible space. Worst case, it would be reservation-only space. Ideally, this would be anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet.
The assembly space can be further from downtown and can be warehouse style space. MAL currently has over 50% of its existing space consumed with physical equipment that needs to be cleaned, staged, and assembled. One of the magical things about MAL is that all the computers on display are fully functioning, which means there are a lot of mice, keyboards, and disk drives as backup parts for when things inevitably go bad.
While MAL doesn’t have any money to pay for the space, I expect we can arrange things so that the space is a charitable donation.
If you have some extra space, ideas for space, or old computer stuff you’d like to donate, drop me an email.
And, if you want to contribute financially to support MAL, we’ve set up the Anchor Point Fund for MAL (Media Archaeology Lab) at CU Boulder.
On April 17th and 18th, the “What Is a Feminist Lab?” Symposium will take place at the University of Colorado Boulder.
It is co-organized by Maya Livio, Lori Emerson, and Thea Lindquist. The event will examine the recent proliferation of labs, survey the lab landscape, and explore ways in which intersectional feminist approaches can be integrated into labs and the work they do.
I received a Silicon Flatirons email from Phil Weiser this morning in his role as Silicon Flatirons Founder and Executive Director. My partners and I, especially Jason Mendelson, have been very involved with Silicon Flatirons over the past decade. I have a chapter in Startup Communities that uses CU Boulder – and specifically Silicon Flatirons – as an example of a much better way than the traditional approach (circa 2012) for a university to engage with the startup community.
One of the key leaders in this activity is Brad Bernthal. While BradB has become a close friend over the years, I think that he doesn’t get anywhere near the recognition he deserves for his endless and tireless engagement in and across the activities of CU Boulder + the Boulder startup community. It made me extremely happy to see Phil’s email and I decided to reblog it because I think it does a great job of highlighting some of the specific things that a professor like BradB can do to impact the startup community from a role in a university.
BradB – thank you for everything you do. You are awesome. Phil’s note to the Silicon Flatirons community follows.
Silicon Flatirons continues to support a range of entrepreneurship activity. Just consider what we have done over the past month or so: Crash Courses on GDPR compliance and how startups can sell products to large enterprises; student attorneys helping area startups through the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic; a candid interview by Krista Marks with David Brown and David Cohen of Techstars (recording here); an intellectual feast in the entrepreneurship conference and academic workshop examining the concept of “#GiveFirst” (recording here); and tonight‘s kickoff for our New Venture Challenge Information Technology (IT) track.
Supporting entrepreneurs in our community is a central part of our mission. The person who leads this initiative is Brad Bernthal, our Entrepreneurship Initiative Director. After building up our leadership in this area, we formally established this initiative with Brad at the helm in 2008. It is hard to overstate Brad’s impact on campus and in the community over the last decade. In addition to events that convene entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, students, and academics to learn from one another, as well as Brad’s extraordinary commitment to mentoring, his scholarship merits notice and praise.
After seeing it firsthand, Brad was intrigued by the well-regarded entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boulder. How does it work? Why do people get involved? Why do people contribute without knowing what they might get in return? Brad’s scholarship has focused on this important aspect of our economy. Brad is currently studying finance instruments used in startup investment and has two forthcoming articles on this topic. Just prior to this, his published research focused on generalized exchange within investment accelerators, the first legal scholarship about how accelerators work.
In addition to leading the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic that aids the startup community, Brad co-teaches a venture capital course at Colorado Law, along with Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group. Brad and Jason are now in their tenth year of teaching the VC course, which attracts a cross-campus mix of JD, MBA, and engineering graduate students. The course is so valued that students established an endowed scholarship fund in Brad’s name and created a separate campus entrepreneurship gift in Jason’s honor.
Brad is one of the leaders of the CU Boulder campus-wide entrepreneurship and innovation effort. He continually strives to connect the university and surrounding startup community. He collaborated with others on campus to launch and drive the New Venture Challenge for nine years. They successfully handed over the reins to campus leadership last year, and Brad continues to support the effort through the IT track, which Silicon Flatirons hosts.
And when he’s not doing all of the above, he is, well, giving first. He averages close to 400 1-on-1 coffee meetings each year with those in their entrepreneurial journeys. He also serves as a Techstars mentor and is on the Colorado Venture Capital Authority Board, which oversees the State of Colorado’s venture capital fund.
Brad embodies the spirit of collaboration: giving to and supporting others. It’s a privilege to have him as a core member of the Silicon Flatirons team.
One of my favorite public events is the CU Boulder Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurs Unplugged series. I was the co-host for the first couple of years, sharing the interview job with another Brad (Bernthal) who now is generally on his own.
On Thursday, 9/13/18 at 5:30pm, Bernthal will be interview David Cohen and David Brown, the co-CEOs of Techstars (who we often fondly refer at Foundry Group as the “the David(s).” The event will be held at the CU Boulder Law School.
If you know the David(s), I expect this will be a treat as I know Bernthal will start with their early entrepreneurial career (Pinpoint) and stick with it for a while. While many people know the Techstars story, the PinPoint story is much less well known but equally fascinating. And, if you need any hints on Q&A (which Bernthal always leaves time for), just drop me a note.
Tonight, the New Venture Challenge at CU Boulder is having its 10th anniversary. It’s happening at the Boulder Theater from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm and is open to the public. Register here to attend if you are interested.
My partner Jason is leading the judging panel, which includes:
Dan and Cindy Caruso and Amy and I contributed the prizes, which total $100,000.
A decade ago the creation of the NVC was inspired by the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. I was involved in the early years (1992 – 1996) as a judge and funded a number of companies that went through the MIT $100K (which was called the MIT $10K at the time.) The entire experience was foundational for me, both as an entrepreneur and an early angel investor (I started investing in 1994 after I sold my first company at the end of 1993.)
Over a decade ago, Brad Bernthal and Phil Weiser were putting real energy into Boulder Startup Community. I discuss their efforts, and impact, in my book Startup Communities (which was published in 2012). One of the things I suggested was doing something like the MIT $100K. I remember a longish discussion with Brad Bernthal and my partner Jason about the history of it and how it unfolded over the first decade.
Bernthal and Jason grabbed this and ran with it. A decade later, that discussion now seems like ancient history. But, for anyone who knows my rant about having a long-term view around startup communities (at least 20 years), we are now 10 years into the NVC journey. And, it has really hit its stride.
I’m excited about tonight’s event and am really looking forward to seeing the companies compete! I hope to see you there if you are in Boulder.
Bobby Schnabel has returned to CU Boulder as the College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty director for entrepreneurial leadership, external chair of computer science, and campus thought-leader on computing.
I first met and worked with Bobby in the mid-2000s at the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), where he was a co-founder and on the board with me. Bobby is awesome and I’m really psyched he’s back in Boulder at CU.
While you may not know Bobby, this is a huge add for CU Boulder and the Boulder Startup Community. Bobby has a long history with CU Boulder. He was on the computer science faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder from 1977-2007, and Vice Provost for Academic and Campus Technology and Chief Information Officer from 1998-2007, and founding director of the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) 1997-2007.
In 2007 when he left CU Boulder to become the Dean of the School of Informatics and Computer at Indiana University I was bummed for CU Boulder (but happy for Bobby and Indiana University.) When he joined the Association for Computer Machinery as CEO in 2015, I had the sense in the back of my mind that he might make his way back to Boulder at some point.
Bobby is returning to CU Boulder to strengthen the partnership between the incredible tech business and startup community we have in the Boulder area and in Colorado, and the tech-programs at CU Boulder.
Welcome back, Bobby! And, if you are in the Boulder Startup Community and want to connect with Bobby at some point, just give me a shout.
The 2017 applications for the Colorado Global EIR are now open through April 15, 2017.
The Colorado Global EIR program is a way for experienced international entrepreneurs to receive an H-1B visa, allowing them to work in Boulder. They must commit to working 20 hours per week at CU Boulder (supporting cross-campus entrepreneurial activities), and of course, will be paid for doing so.
In their spare time, we encourage GEiR (Global Entrepreneurs in Residence) to either establish their existing company, create and launch a new company, co-found a new company or join a local startup here in Boulder. This will allow them to retain their H-1B status and thus remain in the U.S.
Any entrepreneur with a college or graduate school degree, and with a track record (or a very strong interest) in entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and leadership is a good candidate You will work part-time on the CU Boulder campus for 20 hours per week, supporting the CU Boulder entrepreneurship and commercialization efforts, including the New Venture Challenge, a range of teaching and extracurricular activities, and Catalyze CU.
You also get to start and grow a new company in the supportive, collaborative, and dynamic entrepreneurial community of Boulder, Colorado.
GEiR terms will begin September 2017 (or once visas are approved) on a one-year basis, with a potential opportunity for renewal up to two additional years.
You can apply for the Colorado Global EIR 2017 or email email@example.com.
In the fall of 2007, my friend Phil Weiser, Executive Director of CU Boulder’s Silicon Flatirons Center, convened 25 leaders from CU Boulder and the Boulder / Denver startup community. We spent an afternoon talking about the idea of an entrepreneurial university. Phil called the meeting a Roundtable, even though the table was long and rectangular.
The discussion that day was heated. Some in the room that day questioned whether entrepreneurship should – or even could – be a significant part of CU Boulder. Others made the case for entrepreneurship. Few of us anticipated the level of follow up from that discussion and the report that emerged set the stage for a lot of activity at CU Boulder over the ensuing decade.
One of my suggestions at the 2007 Roundtable was to borrow some ideas from the MIT 100K competition, which was started in 1989 as the MIT $10k. I got involved as a judge in 1993 and was active through 1997 with occasional visits to the finals in subsequent years when I was around Boston. When I reflect on my investment activity, including companies that went through the MIT 10K (NetGenesis, Harmonix, abuzz, and a bunch of others), I probably should have just invested $25,000 in every finalist company over the last 25 years.
In 2008, a group of student and faculty volunteers from CU Boulder launched the CU New Venture Challenge. Nine years later, the CU NVC today provides a platform for anyone – faculty, staff or student – who wants to start a company. The NVC integrates the campus by including all schools and departments. Mentors from the Boulder / Denver startup scene are deeply involved and many companies are emerging from the NVC, including Revolar, Pana, and Malinda.
Amy and I have decided to help take the NVC to the next level. Our foundation (the Anchor Point Foundation) is teaming up with the Caruso Foundation (Dan & Cindy Caruso) to offer a $50,000 investment prize offered to the “Most Fundable Company” at the 2017 NVC 9 Championships. This is in addition to the $25,000 prize money that the NVC already has available. Jason Mendelson will select and announce the Most Fundable Company winner, who can elect to take investment in the form of a convertible note, at the NVC 9 Championship.
So, the CU NVC is now is $75k competition. Next step, $100k … Finals are Thursday, April 6, at 5:30pm.