On August 2, I attended the Internet Chamber of Commerce After
Hours gathering, which was being held for the first time at the
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. Good choice for an
event. While not really located adjacent to any tech office parks,
the facility was one of the better meeting places I’ve been in.
Visually pleasing, the Arvada Center provides room for lots of
people without the cavernous/sterile atmosphere found in many
traditional conference centers. Given that 650 turned out for the
event, it was surprisingly intimate. If you want to check out the
list of attendees, go to (http://forms.flashbase.com/view/RSVPsaug2).
The ICC, which was started five years ago, has really taken off in
the last 12 months. Turnouts have gotten so big that executive
director Terry Freeman began splitting the group into geographical
regions (the Denver Tech Center, Interlocken/Boulder area, Downtown Denver, and Northern Colorado) with networking events in each area,
often capped at 500 people as a concession to the limited parking
at some venues.
Having been to the Colorado Internet Keiretsu meeting the night
before, I saw a number of people two nights in a row. One was Jon
Otsuki (CEO, CV Labs), who I chatted with about various movers and
shakers in the state. Another one was Richard Honey, CEO of
I immediately recognized him as the guy who camped it up as Nurse
Nanny Fanny in a British farce staged in Boulder over the Christmas
holidays. (Something like 15 different costume changes throughout
the production -- those dresses were to die for.) He says that
while running his company has kept him too busy to appear
in any other productions, theater is something he loves doing.
Honey was one of three entrepreneurs selected to make a pitch to a
panel of VCs: Kevin Schehrer, CEO of Startup Market, Karl Dakin,
with Tekquity Ventures, Elliott Bouillion, a venture partner
with Murphree Ventures, and Bob Newman, founder of Greenwood Gulch
Ventures. The two other entrepreneurs were Debra Zimmerman (CEO,
SwankSpace.com) and Kathey Pear (CEO, TechButler). Newman, speaking
as an angel investor, made several interesting points. One, that a
lot of start-ups are coming to him, which suggests VC money is
harder to come by. And two, he looks for small niches where his
investment can have a major impact.
Yet another person I had seen the night before at the CIK meeting
was Mike Gellman (CEO, SpireMedia). He was at the ICC meeting with
his marketing director Brandon Shevin, who was heading out to the
company’s Silicon Alley office the following week. We compared notes on how New Yorkers perceive Coloradoans. Since we are often
written off as hicks anyway, sometimes when we are in "the big
city" we play along with the stereotype: all the better to amaze
people when we start talking business.
Speaking of stereotypes, I love being surrounded by so many
incredibly active Coloradoans. I run a sports and online marketing
company, SportsTrust, and I never miss an opportunity to talk
sports. While I was hanging around the Hall Kinion display table
(the company was one of the event’s sponsors), I discovered that
technical recruiter Natalie Pyle is a passionate outdoors person.
She had managed Eastern Mountain Sports stores in Virginia and
Michigan. Then she got engaged to the manager of the Boulder EMS
store and moved out West. That confirmed what I always knew:
scratch a Colorado techie and you’ll find a mountain climber.
Thanks, Natalie, for the free Hall Kinion T-shirt and squeeze ball.
I also ran into David Fodel (whom I worked with back in 1993 on
ArtLab, a multimedia educational project). He and his partner,
Brian Comerford, run a Boulder-based techno Internet radio station,
RadioValve. He told me that RadioValve has signed an agreement to
provide electronic music content for Yahoo! Radio and an agreement
for "top of dial" placement on Kerbango Radio, the world’s first
Internet radio appliance.
Some other people I had a chance to talk to were André Pettigrew
(vice president, marketing, FastIdeas) and Carl Kalin (CEO, The
Jedi Group). Also mingling around were Jon Nordmark
(president/CEO, eBags), Jeff Lamb (president/CEO, BizBlast.com),
Walter Knapp (principal, Cambridge Technology Capital), Larry
Nelson, (host, World Wide Web Radio Show), Phil Ray (president,
VentureVest Capital Corporation), Mark Feuer (president, Content-
Exchange.com) and Pamela Shelpuk (VP, business strategy, Bright