Wednesday, June 27, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Dever ~ by Suzanne Lainson

The last week was so full of tech events that I didn't make it to them all.
The Internet Chamber of Commerce ( had its get-together
at the University of Denver on June 26. The following two days were filled with
events at the ITEC trade show at the Colorado Convention Center. Tied in
with that was Via West's ( open house on June 27, which I
did make. It was a great summer affair: hot weather, a tent, a band, good
food, lots of microbrews and great wine. It was the first time I went to a
tech event where a Shirez was served! It was really a nice touch, and I took
advantage of it to the tune of three glasses!

There were hundreds of people there, and many of them were taking the tour
of the co-location facility. Someone (who asked to remain unidentified until
his company can be launched) introduced me to Liz Clarke, an account executive
with ViaWest, and Steve Prather, vice president, network services, there. My
friend raved out the service he was getting from them. They blushed and said
that they treat all their customers, no matter the size, with similar

Later I ran into Cate Lawrence, president/CEO of Warrior Solutions
(, and Kari Nelson,
president of Recess Active Entertainment (, in the women's bathroom. It felt like a mini-Colorado Internet Keiretsu ( meeting, since they
are both on its executive committee. We talked about all sorts of things,
including diversity in Boulder, Cate and Kari's businesses, and the local
music scene. Once we got outside again, Jen Hofmeister and Marissa Peede of
PR/marketing agency LH3 ( said hello. I also talked to
Katie Keene of Zoa TechMedia (, Deborah
Arhelger, representing the Front Range Forum for Women Entrepreneurs
(, and Bryan Griffin of Gigamind. I also talked to Jim
Hill, co-founder and CTO of CaptureLogic (,
about the recent activity in VC funding.

The party was over at seven, and many of the people I talked to were off to
do other things. Kari was going to a TiE-Rockies (
gathering. This month's meeting was held in a private box at Coors Field -
with a great view of the matchup between the Colorado Rockies and the San
Diego Padres. Steve Swoboda (who, as CFO, is overseeing the last days of
Ereo), and Mike Gellman and Brandon Shevin of SpireMedia
( all mentioned that they were off to a party
celebrating the opening of Hapa's Cherry Creek sushi restaurant. I was
tempted to join them, but I had already made plans to hear Wendy Woo
( at the Rock Bottom Brewery. She doesn't perform
solo all that often, so I try to catch her whenever she does.

I wasn't disappointed by my choice. Wendy, a great blues artist,  played for
two hours: everything from her own stuff to Billie Holiday, Bill Withers,
Bonnie Raitt and the Allman Brothers. A well-dressed, middle-aged man (the
only one in the crowd wearing a suit) requested something from Janis Joplin,
and she obliged. Later she introduced me to Scott Davies, drummer for Opie
Gone Bad ( (I'm not sure if there are any other
local cross-band romances going on, but I'll nominate them for Denver's
power couple of rock.) The Colorado Avalanche came up in the conversation, and
Wendy mentioned that she attended the Stanley Cup celebration party. For
those of you who don't know about these things, Opie Gone Bad has been
adopted by the Avs -- lead singer Jake Schroeder does the national anthem at
every home game.

I didn't get home to Boulder until after midnight, so I missed some early
morning events the next day. The Colorado Software and Internet Association
( and the  Grassroots Initiative
( were hosting several panels at the
ITECH show. Among the local tech celebs they had pulled together to speak
about the state of Colorado's business, education and quality of life
environment were Brad Feld, partner, Softbank Venture Capital; Paul
Berberian, CEO, Raindance Communications (formerly Evoke); and Jared Polis,
founder of and ProFlowers.

I did make it to Ernst & Young's Rocky Mountain Region Entrepreneur of the
Year ( awards that evening at the Adam's Mark Hotel, a
black tie optional event. I pulled into the parking garage and rode up the
elevator with a handsome fellow. He was in a business suit rather than a
tux, so I wasn't immediately sure we were headed in the same direction. As we
exchanged comments about which floor buttons to push, I figured out he was
going to the banquet as well. But only later, when I saw photos of the
judges, did I realize that my elevator companion had been Pete Coors,
chairman/CEO of Coors. I guess I haven't been paying enough attention to
those Coors commercials.

Since this wasn't really a tech crowd, I wasn't familiar with most of the
people there. I did recognize Rick Patch, partner with Sequel Venture
Partners (, who was decked out in tails. We chatted
at the bar for a minute about his new fund, Sequel Limited Partnership III,
before he took off to deliver his drinks. I spotted Frieda Krinksy,
president of tech consulting firm Krinsky & Company, who I know from the Rockies
Venture Club and other events. We talked until she needed to say hello to
her home builder. And I said hello to Kathy Simon, director of the University of
Colorado's Deming Center for Entrepreneurship ( With her was Mary Banks, director of career services at CU's business school, and Mary's husband,
Estes, a former pro football player who has been to the Super Bowl. He
mentioned that he had been talking to some New York-based investment banks
about his latest business venture.

Inside the dining area, I found myself at the media table. I don't mind
talking to other writers, but it means less detailed event coverage because
I'm not meeting attendees. David Milstead of the Rocky Mountain News
(, Neil Simpson of Ernst & Young, and I
spent most of the evening talking about the quality of financial reporting.
We were in agreement that many reporters don't have the financial and/or
economic background to properly evaluate the stories they cover. (Of course,
among the three of us, there were two people with econ degrees and one
accountant. No J-school graduates there to defend themselves.)

The entertainment was provided by Liam Harnley's CelticFusion, which was
"Riverdance meets Stomp." Since I like tap dancing, I enjoyed it. As for the
award ceremonies, the highlight was the kids. There were three finalists in
the Young Entrepreneur category. And I was surprised to see that some of the
adult award winners were nearly moved to tears. The tech-related winners
were: (Emerging) Steve Volk, president & CEO, Dataplay, Boulder; (Health
Sciences) Gerald Hogue, president, Optx, Denver; (Services) Michael Morgan,
president & CEO, StarTek, Greeley; (Software & Internet Solutions) J. Ralph
Armijo, president & CEO, Navidec, Greenwood Village; and (Technology &
Communications) Gerald Van Eeckhout, CEO, ACT Teleconferencing, Golden.