It Takes A Village
We are proud to be a involved with and a member of the innovation, entrepreneurship and startup communities because they are just that – a community. From Denver Startup week – the world’s largest attended free startup week (over 18,500 people last year) to the city supported Commons on Champa, there is a sharing, helpful and welcoming community in our city and state.
When questioned about their career trajectories, you'll find that most successful entrepreneurs credit a mentor or mentors. No one learns in a vacuum, and it's the men and women who are able to sponge up the wisdom of others – and then, when the time is right, pay it forward by becoming mentors themselves – who set themselves apart (Laura Entis, Entrepreneur Magazine).
Nothing showcased this mentality more than the success of the three mentor Saturdays during the Innovation Challenge. Not only were there volunteer mentors who were faculty across disciplines, but alumni who donated their time representing their own success in business. Additionally, mentors from the community came in from all sectors to help the student, alumni, and community businesses. Community mentors like Andrew Cole from GoCode Colorado, Daniel Ritchie from Magpie Supply, Keefer Caid-Loos from Thanx, Dan McConville of MWH Global, Phil Worthman of Worthman Consulting, Liz Ojeda for the Denver Office of Economic Development, and Toni Rosati from Gloo. Please, don’t take lightly the help from the mentors. Additional alumni and faculty members also served as mentors. These Saturdays, going from 8:30-3:30 were long! And as committed as our teams were to stay beyond 3:30 and continue with their creative brainstorming, there were mentors that pulled up a chair right beside them to stay with their mentees for the extra hours.
The saying, it takes a village, although cliché, is the only way to truly describe this experience. Being a student (or a person of any age for that matter) and trying to start a company could be classified as one of the scariest things you could do. Not only is there an immense amount of uncertainty, but the statistical certainty points in the direction of failure. Without the mentors and support behind our entrepreneurs cheerleading and guiding their ideas and vision the option of quitting and second guessing would be much more appealing. The first-ever business competition at Regis University was successful because of the mentors and the companies that supported the Innovation Challenge. We saw two teams drop out, not ready to venture the entrepreneurial, committed path. And we saw four of the remaining teams make pivots in their businesses.
And if that wasn’t enough, Go Code Colorado, Xero, and Ricoh were corporate supporters of the Innovation Challenge making sure that we could pull this off. We also had impeccable presentations from Jim Casart of Team 80 LLC, Jay Mays of Pitch Labs, Eric Winship and Maggie Havran from Colorado Lending Source, Blanca McKissick from Three Over Four, alums Dennis Kater, Marty Scholes, and Suzy Guitierrez from the Association for Strategic Planning; Daniel Ritchie of Broadridge Financial and Magpie Supply, and alum Ruben Martinez of Glamping Hub. CBE marketing faculty brought their professional experiences in to guide our entrepreneurs. To summarize, we brought in some serious reinforcement all for the growth of these businesses – working on the problems being solved by these ideas to the branding and marketing to the finances that undergird their success.
To paraphrase Ken Sagendorf, we believe in these companies and these entrepreneurs. The ideas are fantastic but we’re not here to get them to the point of selling off their business for a profit. We want to help them grow this passion and dump as much into it to be contributing businesses in our communities. That has been our goal from the very beginning and we intend to stick by it. Asking these teams to get into the why and the how helps to develop the passion even more. After these mentor sessions and the constant backing, we are thrilled to invite you April 20th 5 pm- 9 pm to support these entrepreneurs all the way to the finish line. Join us to see the hard work they, our mentors, speakers and sponsors have put in to prepare for this final pitch in hopes of winning $10,000, getting them even closer to a growing business model.
Sign up here.