Do Startup Weeks, Pitch Competitions, Product Showcases, Job Fairs, and Free Education Propel Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Forward?

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With the conclusion of one of the most successful annual startup weeks in the country, Downtown Denver Partnership and Denver Startup Week are betting on it.

Denver Startup Week celebrates in Downtown Denver, Colorado.

"People were here for a reason. They were strategizing, hunting, and getting ready to plant their roots. VCs were looking for their next great investment, and Founders were hunting for that perfect match and partner," says Mark Frank, Co-founder and CEO of SonderMind.

Denver Startup Week concluded its 11th annual weeklong event and a celebration of everything entrepreneurial in Colorado on Friday. This year's 229 panels, discussions, and workshops attracted over 10,000 people across the country. Attendees included CEOs, Founders, Investors, Venture Capitalists, Job Seekers, Students, and those just looking to be inspired by the booming entrepreneurial culture in the Mile High City.

This well-orchestrated event leaned into over 200 volunteers and staff members, 12 venues, and $600,000 in funding with the hopes that an event like this will cement Denver’s position as the next tech frontier, an ode to its pioneering roots of the gold rush era.

Each year, in preparation for Denver Startup Week, the Downtown Denver Partnership releases its annual Startup Report, which provides a snapshot of Denver's current entrepreneurial ecosystem. This year's report showcases the growing opportunities for employers and job seekers, as Denver consistently ranks among the top cities in the US to start and grow a business.

The report found that Denver funding soared to an all-time high of $1.9 billion in Q2 of 2022, totaling $6.7 billion of investment in 2021 and 2022. Denver Continues to be a growing hub for tech talent, with over 117,000 employees in 2021. Ranking 7th in the fastest-growing large labor markets in the U.S, Denver continues to attract young professionals in the tech industry.

"There was an energy I haven't seen at previous Startup Weeks thanks to the progress the Denver startup community has made over the past ten years," says Mark Frank, Co-founder and CEO of SonderMind. "People were here for a reason. They were strategizing, hunting, and getting ready to plant their roots. VCs were looking for their next great investment, and Founders were hunting for that perfect match and partner."

The largest free event of its kind, which Amazon sponsored, the week's highlights included an equity pitch competition, which awarded $20,000 in cash to Mini Money, which teaches how money can improve lives by making financial literacy accessible, engaging, and effective.

"I'm so honored to have the opportunity to pitch at the DSW Equity Pitch Competition. To be surrounded by such talented and passionate entrepreneurs was the most inspiring part of the whole event. So many times this journey is a tough one, that moments like these remind you why you started in the first place. Pitching my company to a group that is so open and supportive of the work that we do will always be one of my favorite memories. DSW is a unique and special place,” says Lorne Jenkins, CEO and Founder of Mini Money.

Other highlights include panels on creating the perfect pitch deck, failing fast, pitching yourself with humor, social media strategy, creating a new hybrid work culture, and a job fair and physical product showcase. The week started to wrap up on Thursday with another pitch competition in which Ride IQ took home over $40,000 prizes. The closing party at X Denver saw 500 attendees who danced through the night.

Nevertheless, are all these resources, time, and energy worth it? It seems to be the case from the numbers, as Denver consistently ranks among the top cities to start and grow a tech company across multiple industry segments.

"Our goal at the Downtown Denver Partnership is to build a city where people want to live, work, and thrive. By bringing together over 10,000 people in the heart of the city, Denver Startup Week continues to serve as a catalyst to help advance our burgeoning tech and entrepreneurial culture, demonstrating our innovative spirit while building one of the most economically powerful center cities in the country,” says Kourtny Garrett, President of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Echoing Garrett's statements, Colorado has received many accolades this year, including:

  • 4th Best Startup Ecosystem in the world among mid-sized cities
  • 6th Best Health Tech ecosystem in the world
  • 9th among North America's best Fintech Ecosystems
  • 10th best city for Tech Talent in North America
  • And as the best state for Women Entrepreneurs

Denver Startup Week's Presenting Sponsor is Amazon, and Title Sponsors include Capital One Cafe, Dell for Startups, and the Downtown Denver Partnership. For more information on Denver Startup Week, including headline events, registration, scheduling, and programming tracks, please visit


About Denver Startup Week

Denver Startup Week is a celebration of everything entrepreneurial in Denver and the largest free event of its kind. In 2021, the tenth annual event brought over 10,000 people together with over 200 programs and events to celebrate Denver's thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and build the center city's culture of innovation.

The weeklong event unites the entrepreneurial community in Denver and beyond and celebrates great companies, innovations, ideas, and people. It includes sessions, presentations, panels, workshops, happy hours, celebratory events, job fairs, and more. The community and DSW's Organizing Committee organize events throughout the week.

About the Downtown Denver Partnership

For over 60 years, the Downtown Denver Partnership has convened, collaborated, and led a bold vision to build an economically powerful center city for the benefit of all. With a bias for action, we invest for tomorrow and execute for today, converging the right people at the right time to make an IMPACT.

Guided by the 2007 Downtown Area Plan, we are a fast-moving, forward-thinking, non-profit business organization with the foundational belief that every day is our chance to improve the city. Together with our more than 700 Member organizations, we are the leading voice for private sector businesses in Downtown Denver.

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Elizabeth Neufeld