Friday, November 17, 2000

The Cyber Scene in Denver - by Suzanne Lainson

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On November 17 I had three events in Denver. The first one was the
all-day StartUp Basecamp, held at the Denver Marriott City Center.
The concept was dreamed up by Jon Nordmark, CEO of eBags, and Joyce
Colson, a partner with Colson-Quinn, to help entrepreneurs
negotiate starting and running a business. (I'm going to guess that
eBags had something to do with those fantastic backpacks we were
given to hold our info and other freebies.) Approximately 400 were
in attendance, a mix of not only eager entrepreneurs, but also
those from established businesses who were there to network. I ran
into Erin Geegan, founder and chief development officer of
Neovation. Just as I was telling her about the TiE-Rockies meeting I had attended two nights earlier, I spotted one of its founders,
Sapna Shah, so I introduced them. Andre Pettigrew was manning the
Fast Ideas table (he's VP of marketing for the
incubator/accelerator) so I said hi. I also dropped by the Clarus
table and chatted with associate B.J. Bernier, and then over to
Deloitte & Touche table to introduce myself to Lezlie Forster,
marketing director.

At lunch I sat next to Allan Roth, of Allan Roth & Company, a
management consulting firm. He had recently relocated from Aspen to
Colorado Springs, which, according to the American Electronics
Association, is the fastest growing tech city (based on the
percentage increase in tech jobs) and the second most tech-savvy
city (based on the percentage of households with computers and
Internet access) in the country. Schools also came up in the
conversation because Allan lives in the Cheyenne Mountain School
District, which, according to the Wall Street Journal's Offspring
magazine, is one of the top in the country. After lunch I
introduced him to Erin Geegan, who began her company in Colorado

I sat in on a few sessions and tried to take notes although there
was so much info I couldn't get most of it down on paper. Bill
Ernstrom, president/CEO of Voyant Technologies, and Art Zeile,
CEO/founder of InFlow, talked about valuations. Chuck Bay, CEO of
Broadbase, talked about ways to keep employees happy so that, come
hell or high water, they will stay with you. Mark Dreher, principal
with iVention Group, said that before he invests, he wants to know
how a company can get to $100 million in revenue. Gary Rohr, co-
founder of iSherpa, said that there are no unique ideas and it's a
red flag if an entrepreneur claims to have one. What Gary wants to
know is how his venture capital firm can help a team leapfrog that
inevitable competition.

Mid-afternoon I was heading out the door to make the next event. I
ran into Andrew Currie, co-founder of Email Publishing (which was
sold to MessageMedia). He was arriving to speak about selling your

Next it was off to the Loews Giorgio Hotel near Cherry Creek for a
presentation on high tech business opportunities in Mexico. It was
hosted by the Mexican Investment Board, Denver-based LATGO (Latin
American Trade and Technology Group), and the publishers of Denver-
based Emerging Markets Magazine. (LATGO will be the exclusive
representative of the MIB for the western United States.) During
the time I was there, the two speakers I heard were Jose Trevino,
executive VP of the Mexican Investment Board, and Fernando Lezama,
country manager for in Mexico and president of the
Latin American Association of IT Organizations. Among the topics
covered: Mexico's new president, Vincete Fox, has a pro-business,
pro-technology focus. Mexico is a growing tech market, particularly
Guadalajara where more than 90,000 workers are employed by more
than 125 companies. Mexico's young population should make an
attractive Internet target market.

There were a number of networking opportunities which I missed
(including the lunch and evening cocktail reception), but I did
have a chance to talk to a few people. I met Fernando Barrutia
Franco, president of LATGO, Meredith McDonald, the Latin American
director for the State of Colorado's Office of Economic Development
and International Trade, and Ray Ortiz, chairman of Denver's
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He and I talked about the importance
of hiring indigenous talent when trying to market to an unfamiliar

My next event was Hi Tech Friday, being held at Fado Irish Pub in
lower downtown Denver near Coors Field. It had started to snow and
I debated whether to go to it, stay put and enjoy the cocktail
reception, or head back to Boulder. I decided I needed to check out
Hi Tech Friday so I went. Silly me. The roads were bad and it took
me forever to get there. When I finally arrived, it was so late
that I just stuck my head in, grabbed a little free food (potatoes
and fish, as I recall), looked around, and left. The storm kept
most folks away, but I spotted a few familiar faces: Patty Rivera,
CEO/founder of Kiditcard, and Todd Cleveland, an account executive
with Evoke, who said he lived just a few blocks away. An hour and a
half later I was home.