Last week Rover launched on-demand dog walking in Denver. They’re enhancing their existing marketplace experience by adding an assignment option, similar to Uber and Lyft, and bringing it to Colorado. It’s another exciting move by the company, and their Denver announcement caused me to me reflect on my five years as an investor and board member at Rover.
Three thoughts came to mind.
Rover executes. I can’t believe that Rover has rolled out an entirely new way to purchase dog walking in three cities, with their fourth on the way, and we’re not yet three months on the other side of the DogVacay integration. That integration – a result of Rover acquiring DogVacay, both started and ended in Q2, and surpassed the best-case-scenario metrics that the team presented to the board. While we talk about the power of “just executing” in the startup world, Rover is a case study of execution in action.
Rover is completely obsessed with its customers. Only an absolute determination to get the customer experience right would drive this team to build two separate versions of a new product, given the complexity of their overall business. But Rover shares this common trait of product-obsession with other great teams that I’ve known as an investor and board member, and it’s inspiring to watch. This is yet another instance of a team that knows what it’s doing, listens carefully to its customers, and, like my dog Cooper, jumps all over things to make sure that it gets its experience right.
Rover is an old-school example of how great companies drive customer loyalty. Their monthly new customer LTVs have increased steadily every year as a result of customer loyalty for six years in a row, without a single counter-example. While some increases can be accomplished through branding or marketing initiatives, Rover has done it the old-fashioned way, which is through careful and thoughtful sequencing of product launches and improvements to the marketplace.
If you live in Denver, give Rover’s on-demand dog walking experience a try and let me know what you think. I’ll pass it on to the team at Rover, as I know they will be very interested in your feedback.
This week is Denver Startup Week 2014. Seth, Ryan, and I are spending all day Thursday in Denver doing startup week stuff.
If you are looking for me, I’ll be hanging out all day at Basecamp, which is sponsored by Chase.
Following are the events I’m participating in.
8:00 – 9:00: Building Great Entrepreneurial Communities
1:00 – 2:00: Feld and Friends
2:00 – 4:00: Mentor Hours (special Foundry/Galvanize/Techstars Edition). People can sign up here (sorry – they don’t have this organized by day, just by mentor).
4:00 – 5:30: Practice Pitch with Techstars
5:30 – 7:30: Beers at Basecamp, Foundry/Galvanize/Techstars edition (Seth and Ryan only – I’ll be doing a talk at Condit about creating innovation spaces.)
I hope to see you sometime during the day.
My mom (Cecelia Feld) is having an opening in Denver on Friday 11/1 at Artwork Network Gallery from 5pm – 9pm. I’m heading down to Denver at the end of the day on Friday and will be there from 5pm – 7pm before I head out for dinner (a good son has to eat, right?)
I love my mom’s art and if you’ve ever been in my office you’ve seen some of it around. If you aren’t familiar with it, a piece from the show is below or go check out her website at Studio 7310.
Artwork Network Gallery is located at 878 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204 (303-388-7420). I hope to see you Friday night!
An event called Startup Phenomenon is happening In Boulder on 11/13 – 11/15. It gets to the heart of how startup communities are developed and I’d love to have you join me at it. If you register to come, use the code “feldfriends” for $100 off the $995 price.
You may have seen the recent Kauffman Foundation study that ranked Boulder tops among all cities in the U.S. in terms of tech-startup density. That Boulder was number one was interesting, but what’s more exciting is that there are so many emergent startup communities around the United States that it’s now worth ranking them.
Startup Phenomenon is designed to bring attention to these communities, from small towns to large cities, as we explore how this startup phenomenon works. We’ll cover topics including:
- The Finance Chain: How VCs, angels, crowdfunding models, and all the rest fit together
- Startup Kitchens: Transformative accelerators, incubators, and mentorship programs
- Big data: New tools for measuring growth, investments, and economic activity
- Networking models: The meetups that are truly improving the businesses of those who attend
- Case studies: Entrepreneurs and investors who are building startup communities around the world
- Culture: The major shift taking place away from hierarchical structures to collaborative networks
- City governments: Why some are better than others at nurturing local startups
- Corporations: How large, established companies can help startup communities
- The silos: Biotech, food, the Internet of things, clean energy, and all the other sectors providing fertile ground for entrepreneurs and investors
On the third day of the conference we will provide a deep look into what’s going on here in Colorado. That Kauffman report of densest startup communities actually had four Colorado cities in the top 10 (Boulder, Ft. Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs.) And you may have seen that the New York Times recently dubbed Boulder “Silicon Valley for Ad Agencies.”
The speakers list is awesome. As a special treat, I get to interview Jim Collins author of Built to Last, Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and Great By Choice who happens to live in Boulder.
This will be a great opportunity for you to bring attention to your work and to learn about the entrepreneurs and investors who have come together around the world to build vibrant, open startup communities.
If you’re looking to meet some great Boulder companies looking for technical help in person, check out the Boulder Tech Job Fair Sept. 11 from 3-7 p.m. at the Boulder Chamber building, 2440 Pearl Street in Boulder.
A total of 13 companies are looking to fill more than 100 technical positions covering a wide variety of programming languages and ranging from entry-level positions to senior embedded engineers with 10 or more years of experience. These companies are interested in speaking with qualified applicants from not only Colorado’s Front Range, but from other cities as well. While most positions are based in the Boulder/Denver area, some companies are looking to fill openings in other cities.
Participating companies with immediate openings include:
- Cardinal Peak
- Confident Financial Services
- Pivotal Labs
- Rally Software
- Quick Left
- Simple Energy
For more information, applicants can visit BoulderTechJobs.biz wher
If you’re curious, stop by. You’ll meet some great companies and see just what a strong market Boulder/Denver is.
A few weeks ago I did an event with Built In Denver where I interviewed Tim Miller and Ryan Martens, the founders of Rally Software, on their journey from a startup to a public company (NYSE: RALY). As part of the event – held at Mateo in Boulder – the gang from Built In Denver announced they were rebranding as Built In Colorado.
The attendance at the event was roughly 50% Boulder entrepreneurs and 50% Denver entrepreneurs.
The past two days the Colorado Innovation Network held it’s 2nd annual COIN Summit. As part of it, Governor Hickenlooper rolled out a new brand for all of Colorado, an effort led by Aaron Kennedy, the founder of Noodles & Co. The focus was on Colorado, not on Boulder, or Denver.
Powerful startup communities start at the neighborhood level. They then roll up to the city level. And then cities connect. Eventually it rolls up to the state level.
It’s a powerful bottom up phenomenon, not a top down situation. And inclusive of everyone. This is one of the key parts of my theory around Startup Communities.
Export the magic of the Boulder tech community to Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs by expanding New Tech Meetups, Open Coffee Clubs, and Community Office Hours to these cities.
When I look at what is happening in Denver, and the connective tissue between Boulder and Denver, I’m incredibly proud of what has been accomplished in less than two years on this front.
When I see questions on Quora like Should I start my start-up in Boulder or Denver? and then read the answers, my reaction is “poorly phrased question” and “wrong answer!” It’s not an either / or – the two cities are 30 minutes apart. They are both awesome places to start a company. It depends entirely on where you want to live – do you want a big city (Denver) or a little town (Boulder). If you choose Boulder, when you reach a certain size, you’ll end up with offices in both like Rally and SendGrid.
I’m psyched that Built in Denver is rebranding to Built in Colorado. I’m going to spend most of the week for Denver Startup Week in Denver, and CEOs and execs from most of our portfolio companies are converging on Denver in the middle of the week for a full day session together.
You’ll note that we have deliberately named things like The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) with “Colorado” in their name to be inclusive of all entrepreneurs in the state. And we we do things to celebrate the startup community, like The Entrepreneur’s Prom that EFCO and Cooley are putting on September 7th at the Boulder Theatre, we focus on the entire startup community.
Innovation and entrepreneurship is off the charts right now. Let’s make sure we work together to continue building a base for the next 20 years.
I’m psyched to see Xconomy launch their Boulder/Denver edition.
Bob Buderi, Xconomy’s CEO, talks about how it came together in his post Announcing Xconomy Boulder/Denver—7th Region in Our Network. Boulder/Denver joins the other six regions – Boston, Detroit, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle – and is now part of the broad and expanding coverage that Xconomy is providing on business, life sciences, and technology news.
I’m especially glad that Xconomy hired Michael Davidson as the Boulder/Denver editor. I’ve known Michael for a number of years and have always found his writing and reporting to be insightful, detailed, and thorough. Of all the local tech writers, I think he’s the best and I’m glad he’s leading the charge here for Xconomy.
When this project started it was originally Xconomy Boulder. David Cohen and I quickly realized that a Boulder/Denver edition was much stronger and enlisted several Denver-based friends like Eric Mitisek and Bart Lorang (who lives in Boulder but has his office in Denver) to help rally some Denver-based entrepreneurs to help make this happen. One of our original goals with Startup Colorado when we launched it a a year and a half ago was to more effectively link the Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorad Springs startup communities. This is another effort to that end.
There first few articles are up, including:
- Telling the Story of Colorado Innovation, from Molecules to the Moon
- Scaling the Peak: Denver Out to Follow Boulder’s Entrepreneurial Ascent
- Boulder and Denver, a Mile High Sibling Rivalry (guest post by Scott Yates of BlogMutt)
There’s a lot more coming. I hope you make Xconomy a daily read. If you are interested in supporting the effort, just drop me a note and I’ll connect you with the right people.
Xconomy is coming to Colorado – specifically Boulder and Denver. They are looking for a writer for the Colorado beat. See the request below.
As Xconomy moves forward in Boulder, Denver, and beyond, we’re going to need someone in the Front Range with the right mix of enthusiasm, creativity, versatility, knowledge, and who also happens to be a top-notch writer. The job will probably be part-time at first, hopefully building quickly to full time as we build our business in Colorado. Our ideal candidate will be a resourceful researcher and fearless interviewer, with the ability to write swiftly and the experience to produce breaking business news stories, longer features, profiles, and bloggy posts on a daily schedule.
We want someone who can work independently, but in close coordination with the team at Xconomy. (You can learn more about us here.) We also give high marks for a sense of humor, and those who show a talent for Web publishing tools and social media.
If this sounds like you, write us at email@example.com. Tell us about yourself, your knowledge of the Colorado innovation scene, and why you think you’d be a great fit with Xconomy—and don’t forget a resume and clips.
If this is you, send a note right now to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been a huge fan of Xconomy since its debut several years ago. It’s been a refreshing resource for a bunch of startup communities, including Boston (where it started) and Seattle. Over time they’ve added New York, Detroit, San Francisco, and San Diego and are now considering expanding to Boulder / Denver (I encouraged them to combine both as each city is on fire and there’s no reason not to link them together at this point.)
We (my partners and I at Foundry Group and David Cohen at TechStars) are helping them get enough initial sponsors to bring on a full time writer in the Boulder / Denver area. The sign up for the Bring Xconomy to Boulder/Denver page has all the details.
Companies who have already signed up include Application Experts, Foundry Group, FullContact, GoSpotCheck, Gnip, Linksmart, Orbotix, PaySimple, PivotDesk, Precog, Rally Software, SendGrid, Simple Energy, SnapEngage, Standing Cloud, Swiftpage, Sympoz, and TechStars.
Come join us, sign up as a founding sponsor, and help get a great new resource covering the activity in our startup community.
In the Startup Communities, I talk extensively about leaders and feeders. I assert than anyone in the startup community should be able to start / create / do anything that is helpful to the startup community. They don’t have to ask permission – there is no VP Activities in a startup community. I also talk about how the students are the precious and most valuable resource of a university.
This morning I got the following email from Fletcher Richman, a student at CU. It’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about and it is immediately actionable for every entrepreneur in Boulder and Denver.
Dear Founders and Friends,
As students at CU Boulder, we have noticed that there are many startups that would love hire more interns and full time employees from the university, and lots of students would love to work at a startup. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the two.
We would like to fix this issue. We have created a simple form to get a better idea of the positions available for students at startups that we would greatly appreciate if you could fill out:
The data from this form will be used for two things:
1) To help start an online startup jobs and internships board for students that we are currently building.
2) To build a contact list of companies for the Students2Startups fair early next year, which will be bigger and better than ever before!
Thank you so much for your help! Please let us know if you have any questions.
So – what are you waiting for. Go sign up to hire some CU Students!