Big Boulder: Boulder and the Rise of Entrepreneurial Communities

Brad Feld from Foundry Group talks about Boulder entrepreneurship and how Boulder built an entrepreneurial community, and the lessons Boulder has learned along the way.

Brad Feld

What makes Boulder the special place that it is? Many people don’t engage fully in experiences anymore when they are able to get lost in the noise of an urban sprawl. In Boulder,  people are held hostage in a dense startup community. The dynamic of Boulder is that everyone realizes how visible they are and can be.

Internet has changed the way we think about society to a very broad, horizontal network. It can be chaotic and messy and many companies are trying to generate the mess or organize it. This shift began in the mid-90’s and then accelerated. In 2000 and 2001 when the bubble burst, people feared web technology was to be feared and could no longer be wildly successful as it had been. In actuality, the world was just ten years early. There was a period of time after the burst when it was especially painful to be an entrepreneur. In 2003 at the beginning of the web 2.0, many realized they weren’t done creating. Since then, there has been a steady drumbeat of activity in Boulder that brings us to where we are today. Brad shares the four principles he believes have made Boulder the tightly-knit success it is:

The Four Principles to Build an Entrepreneurial Community

  1. Any startup community has to be led by entrepreneurs. Government, big companies, universities, and non-profits can’t lead.
  2. You have to take a very long-term view. If you look at Boulder between 1995 and 2000, you’re not impressed. But if you back up to the 1970’s and then look all the way to today, you see the progress.
  3. Be inclusive of anyone who wants to engage in any way. That engagement isn’t a hierarchical structure by any means and it’s important be welcoming to everyone. Assume good intent and allow people to lean in and participate.
  4. Create geographical meaning and activity for the engagement mentioned in the third principle. In Boulder, a visible example of that is TechStars and Startup Weekend, which both began in Boulder.

Give before you get is a contant theme in Boulder. When you remove the expectation of getting something in return, you create powerful, positive force in a relationship. The four principles Brad describes can benefit any community.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.

Incredible Innovation in Boulder Valley – Results from the IQ Awards

One of the reasons that we at love working in the Boulder Valley is because of the incredible and talented companies that make up the local business ecosystem. Given the depth and quality of innovative organizations that make Boulder their home, we’re extremely excited and very honored to announce today that we’ve won the Boulder County Business Report (BCBR) Innovative Quotient (IQ) Award for Social Media/Mobile Applications.

Presented by the BCBR, the IQ Awards is an annual event that honors the most innovative new products and services developed by companies and organizations, with a special emphasis on advanced technologies, innovations within a particular business sector and sustainable business practices.

Congratulations to all of last nights winners, with a big shout out to our fellow Foundry family member Standing Cloud who won the award in the Internet/Web category. Below is a list of companies that were recognized and their respective categories:


  • Green/Sustainability: OPX Biotechnologies Inc.
  • Social Media/Mobile Applications: Gnip Inc.
  • Nonprofits: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence
  • Software: Accurence Inc.
  • Natural Products: Cooper Tea Co. and Third Street Chai
  • Sports & Outdoors: Crescent Moon Snowshoes
  • Consumer Products & Services: Agloves
  • Internet/Web: Standing Cloud Inc.
  • Innovation Accelerator: Boulder Innovation Center and Longmont Entrepreneurial Network
  • Business Products & Services: Radish Systems LLC

Thank you to the Boulder County Business Report for recognizing the amazing innovation that exists in our community and congrats again to all of our fellow winners! Keep the innovation flowing, Boulder.

For more info, check out our press release.