One of the highlights of Boulder’s startup scene is the community aspect, what Micah Baldwin describes as competitive cooperation. In many areas, startups see success as a zero-sum game and the ecosystem feels pretty hostile. In other places I’ve lived (I’m looking at you, Bay Area), there’s a general feeling of goodwill amongst startups, but everyone is so freaking busy that true community fails to gel and what you get is a thin veneer of positivity. In Boulder, we genuinely care about our startup brethren.
Case in point, EventVue.
I met Rob when he was a member of the first TechStars class in Boulder. Ostensibly I was a mentor in the program, but I learned a ton from him from the very beginning. Over the next several years, Rob showed his skills in a number of ways — EventVue holds the record for fastest investment close after “graduating” from Techstars; the company counted as customers a number of top-tier companies including Cisco and IDG; he and Josh Frasier relentlessly tackled technical and business obstacles in pursuit of success. At one point EventVue was a Gnip customer and at a later point it was not (but Rob and Josh always offered great feedback).
Ultimately, EventVue wasn’t the success Rob was hoping for.
Given the knowledge he gained, it’s not surprising that companies all over the country were competing to bring him on board. Rob is a tenacious entrepreneur with a wide variety of skills in product and sales. He’s one of the most personable cats I’ve ever known — he can strike up a conversation with anyone on the street and instantly develop a level of rapport that I envy. More importantly, he listens like no one I’ve ever known. For early stage companies, listening to your customers is one of the best ways to orient your product correctly.
If Rob had taken a job offer outside of Boulder, our entire tech scene would have been worse for it. Thus, I’m doubly excited to welcome Rob as Gnip’s new Director of Business and Strategy. In the last couple of months he has worked as a consultant for Gnip and he’s already left an indelible mark on the company. Rob is doing great things for us and I look forward to that continuing for a long, long time. Just as importantly, I’m confident that someday soon (but not too soon), Rob will start another company in Boulder and perhaps I’ll find our roles reversed. In the meantime, I’m happy that he’s a part of Gnip and that he remains a part of the Boulder entrepreneurial scene.