Denver Startup Week wants to support underrepresented entrepreneurs
Denver Startup Week is back fully in person for the first time since 2019, and this year a major focus is on supporting entrepreneurs of color, according to co-founder Erik Mitisek.
Why it matters: Billing itself as the largest free event of its kind, Denver Startup Week will look to create buzz in a downtown area that badly needs it, and provide networking opportunities for local entrepreneurs looking to build Denver's next tech unicorn.
Details: More than 200 sessions will be held today through Friday, plus events focused on underrepresented groups, including:
- An LGBTQ networking social
- A discussion on hiring people with criminal records for certain positions
- A discussion about Black women entrepreneurs
- A panel on Latinos in leadership roles
Plus, a job fair scheduled for Wednesday will feature 80 companies, including some that Mitisek said may not have offices in Denver but are trying to build a local presence.
What they're saying: "We want Denver to be the most welcoming for women and minority entrepreneurs in the United States," Mitisek told Axios Denver.
The big picture: A $50 million venture capital fund called the New Community Transformation Fund launched in Denver in July with a focus on providing capital for people of color.
- "We have to start including people who have been historically excluded from these wealth-building tools because these tools grow full economies, and everybody wins,” managing partner Danielle Shoots, who is scheduled to talk about the fund during an event on Thursday, told ColoradoInno in July.
- A Lending Tree survey found that out of nearly 70,000 businesses in the Denver-area, only 1.4% are Black-owned, according to the Denver Post.
Between the lines: Mitisek said the city has access to a talented workforce and capital to start businesses, making it a hot spot for tech startups.
- Last year set a record: Local startups provided 267 deals valued at $4.3 billion in the Denver-Aurora region.
- AgentSync, a tech insurance company, moved to Denver in 2020 from California and has continued growing, resulting in a $1.2 billion valuation.
- Guild Education is another local success story, with a valuation of $4.4 billion.
By the numbers: Organizers are expecting roughly 12,000 attendees, a sizable drop from the 20,000 who attended in 2019.
- "We're hopeful that we can have an event that looks and feels like 2019," Mitisek told Axios Denver.
Of note: Gov. Jared Polis, who's known for his entrepreneurial streak, will join startup week co-founders on Monday afternoon for a kickoff event.
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