Thursday, July 20, 2000

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On July 20, FastIdeas (, "Colorado's first
Internet Accelerator" celebrated its move to new 20,500-square-foot high
tech space in Westminster, which, as Andre Pettigrew, vice president,
marketing, described it, is "right smack in the heart of the
Denver/Boulder technology corridor," down the road about 10 miles from
Boulder and just a few miles from Interlocken, where Sun and Level 3

The FastIdeas space features lots of multimedia equipment, a wireless
network environment, cool techno, black and gray office furniture and
meeting rooms named after some of the world greatest innovators, such as
Marconi, Franklin, Da Vinci, and ... Zamboni? (Someone at FastIdeas must
be a hockey player.) As Pettigrew noted, "It's hot and ready to go for new
net entrepreneurs to plug and play."

In attendance were people from the various start-ups who are a part of the
FastIdeas family of companies: SmartPoint, PeopleIKnow, Ereo Inc.,
GrantSeeker, eCarCredit, and Productbuzz. Pettigrew was the go-to guy for
the evening. He's something of a Colorado insider. Before FastIdeas he was
a member of former Governor Roy Romer's executive cabinet, serving as the
chief administrative officer, responsible for managing the state
government's business systems, including information technology. As the
chief technology officer, he developed the Internet strategy that in 1995
launched the Colorado homepage information portal, one of the first states
in the country with a website.

Pete Estler (founder and former CEO of MatchLogic, whose venture fund,
iBelay (, provides the money to run FastIdeas) was
there, looking appropriately Colorado-casual in cowboy boots and a leather
jacket. Last month, Estler threw a party at iBelay's luxurious offices,
strategically overlooking Boulder's main drag, Pearl Street. Martin Wilson
(chief adventurous officer), and John Hill (CTO, World Adventures
Software) thought the lobster tails at the iBelay party were a nice touch.

Among the 400 invited guests enjoying the wine, beer and margaritas at
FastIdeas were Jim Linfield (managing partner, Boulder/Denver, Cooley,
Godward law firm), Gary Powell (senior partner, KPMG Peat Marwick,
Technology Practice), Denis Nock (former director, Center for
Entrepreneurship for the University of Colorado), Mark Feuer (president,
Content Exchange), Chris Kauza (engagement manager, Sun, and enjoying his
role as a new father), Teresa Worth and Lisa Sundling (business
development manager, Leopard), Tom Schilling and Brian Rantala
(Intermountain/RKH), Michelle Brown (president) and Michelle Michalski
(account executive, The List Group), Debra Zimmer, president/CEO, and
Marissa Martinez (CTO, SwankSpace), Dana Knight (, Laurie Lee
Mead (MC Technology), Sandy Laws and Mary Pat Adams (VP client services,
LawsComm), Scott Schorer (executive VP/general manager, CentriMed) and
William Knorr (Wells Fargo Bank).

Setting the right tone for the warm summer evening, a jazz combo played
classic bosa-nova tunes. Out on the patio where quesadillas were being
made, Annmarie Jensen, a lobbyist who has worked with a number of tech
companies, and I were talking about how, even though Colorado is booming,
people are still accessible, especially within state government.

I also spoke to Dan Murray (e-mail marketing strategist, MessageMedia -- In 1994, he founded the Rocky Mountain
Internet Users Group ( and has been an active member
of the Colorado Net community before and since. Spotted at the party were
John Greff and Rick Patch, who are two of the partners for Sequel Venture
Partners (, a Boulder-based venture capital firm
specializing in early-stage funding for Rocky Mountain-region emerging
technology businesses.

Also there was William Jerry Donahue (president, the Boulder Technology
Incubator --, which is a
public-private business development partnership focusing on tech
start-ups. In 1998, it was named the Technology Business Incubator of the
Year by the National Business Incubation Association.

Hanging out with me for part of the evening were Carl Kalin (CEO) and Ann
Thompson (marketing director, The JediGroup --,
a Boulder-based team of high tech business development professionals who
assist early stage startups and often work with incubators. When the party
wrapped up, we headed back home, ready to enjoy another day of deal-making
and strategic planning in sunny, laid-back Boulder.

On July 25, Estler was the keynote speaker for the Boulder County Business
Report's Innovation Quotient Awards. More than 500 people enjoyed lunch at
the Omni Interlocken Hotel. (It's THE place for corporate gatherings in
the Interlocken business complex. For example, on July 14-15 Sun sponsored
two-time Super Bowl hero John Elway's celebrity golf tournament there.)
Among the companies honored at the IQ Awards were Evoke Communications
( (for creating Web Casting, Talking E-mail and Web
Talk, which enable voice messages on computers) and SpectraLink
( (for creating a Net link wireless telephone

Finally, Boulder-based Gold Systems (, which
develops and delivers easy-to-use, telephone self-service solutions,
including natural language speech recognition and Wireless Web
applications, is letting it be known that it just got $10 million from
SOFTBANK Venture Capital. That would be from Brad Feld, principal managing
director, SOFTBANK Venture Capital's technology funds, who lives in
Eldorado Canyon near Boulder, and who holds a seat on the Gold Systems
board of directors.