Game Changer.

Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor make an incredible donation to Aspen Entrepreneurs through their Anchor Point Foundation. 

by Dave Mayer

To have a mentor and entrepreneurial hero of mine make such generous contribution to an organization that I've worked for three years to build is truly humbling and inspiring.

$70,000.  These funds are a game changer for us. We signed a one-year lease for a shared co-working and event space in downtown Aspen enabling AE to grow an even stronger Roaring Fork Valley startup community in 2018.   

If you haven't had the good fortune to meet or hear Brad Feld speak, we'd love for you to join us for a special event in Aspen, with Brad as our keynote at the Aspen Business Lunch on January 10th, 2018.

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Brad is the Managing Director of Foundry Group, with more than $1.5B to invest, they are positioned to repeat their successes with early stage technology startups.  He’s had countless impressive wins over 25 years including being an initial investor in Fitbit, Harmonix (the company behind Rock Band) and Sphero, which produced a robot for a recent Star Wars movie. He also helped to create one of the most highly regarded accelerators and innovation engines in the world, Techstars, which recently launched an autonomous vehicle innovation program with the Air Force and a Social Impact accelerator.

One of the things that is most inspiring for me about Brad is that he's an open book. He speaks regularly about why authentic leadership and mental fitness in the startup realm are vital, how to build startup communities from the ground floor up, and last but not least, how to convince investors to take notice of your idea.  For someone of his stature- it's unusual and quite special for him to make himself so available. 

My first recollection of hearing Brad speak was around 2008 at a New Tech Meetup that turned out to be a standing-room-only event at the CU Law School.  I had long been trying to understand how I could become part of the white-hot startup community in Boulder.  Brad offered a simple concept to the 400 people in attendance …Give First.  It was a revelation to me at the time.  After seeing the way it created an open, inviting and collaborative startup ecosystem, that was being mirrored around the globe- I ended up building this ethos into my business, Technical Integrity, as a core tenet- and it's been incredibly impactful.

In 2014, my wife and I moved from Boulder to Carbondale, sitting in the heart of Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. I soon noticed there wasn't an entrepreneurial or startup ecosystem to speak of, and I was missing that connection to 'my people'. Soon thereafter, Aspen Entrepreneurs was born. With Give First as our foundation, we  focused on providing advice, resources, and ultimately a center of gravity for entrepreneurs and startups in Aspen and forty-mile long stretch all the way to Glenwood Springs.  

After a long journey of growing the organization organically, 2017 has become a banner year for Aspen Entrepreneurs.  In June, we received word of our non profit status approval, and in July, we were fortunate to have been invited to share a physical space for co-working and events with a former cohort member, Michaela Olson, who founded Maker + Place.  Both AE and Maker + Place share a commitment to providing a platform for entrepreneurs and artisans to foster a deeper connection with their audience.  For ten weeks, we hosted more than 40 events with 2000 people coming through our shared space! We also 'inherited' a truly gifted Executive Director in Julie Engels from the Mentorship Program, backed by the city.  With Julie also came a number of passionate and driven Board Members who’ve been guiding lights for our future to include Candice Olson, one of the first women to take a tech company IPO in iVillage, and Dave Cook - a talented entrepreneur who owns and operates a local TV station, Aspen82, as well as the Aspen Daily News.  

AE has hit a nerve for certain. 

To have one of my greatest influences invest in a community that I have come to love, based on an idea inspired by him, means the world to me.  It also means the world to Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley.  To have Brad onboard as an active member of our entrepreneurial ecosystem proves we are on the right track.  It proves we have a bright future and that our Give First approach is working to bring folks together.

Our reality is we are just getting started.  Brad has encouraged us to share the news of his significant gift in order to find other believers in rural entrepreneurship and bring them to the table.  

We will be launching our new 'permanent' space at 614 E. Cooper (by Mezzaluna) in December.  We'd love for you to join our community in the way that makes best sense for you.  Aspen Entrepreneurs is always on the look-out for passionate entrepreneurs, mentors, trustees, trusted service providers, donors, educators...all the key elements that make up a vibrant startup eco-system! 

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Feel free to reach out to Dave Mayer at dave@technicalintegrity.com or Julie Engels at julie@aspenentrepreneurs.com