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Our origin Story

est. 2010|  aspen, co

 

In 2010, our Founder and Board Chair Emeritus, Dave Mayer started Technical Integrity, his placement firm focused on a culture-first, community-based approach to building engineering and executive teams. 

Dave’s mentor, client, and one of the "godfathers" of the Boulder startup community, Brad Feld, made a tremendous impact on him in espousing the Give First ethos of giving of yourself, your time, your expertise - with no expectation of anything in return.  Dave saw that embracing Give First as a core tenet was critical to the community's success in building a highly impactful, collaborative ecosystem. He decided to build it into the DNA of Technical Integrity and work hard to help others understand its power.  

In Brad and the startup communities notion of Giving First, Dave could see a future he wanted to have a hand in shaping. 

When the Mayer Family decided to move to the Western Slope in search of a new Colorado dream, they landed in Carbondale, a small town that instantly felt like home.  There was only one problem, the Roaring Fork Valley lacked a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem - a crucial element Dave and Jaelin, his wife and business partner couldn't live without. 

From this void, Aspen Entrepreneurs (AE) was born and became Dave's passion project for the next few years (sometimes even eclipsing his time with his firm's business!). One of his initial decisions was bringing entrepreneur Skippy Mesirow on board as his AE co-founder.  Upon seeing Skippy receive an award from the Aspen Chamber for his community service, Dave knew the #GiveFirst ethos was alive and well in this young Aspenite. Their grassroots organization began to thrive when they joined forces.

On a shoe string budget provided by Dave, this dynamic duo started producing monthly AE Showcases featuring interviews with prominent local entrepreneurs in the Valley. The evenings proved to serve up a perfect cocktail of inspiration, aspiration, with more than a dash of how-to and lessons learned. Soon a movement was afoot. AE expanded beyond their regular event series to host dinners, networking events, as well as a "House of Genius" night which drew an even wider audience into AE’s fold.  

In the Fall of 2016, the growing team decided due to AE's momentum that it was time to kick it up a notch. It was time to form a Board and determine how they could best serve the community they'd amassed around entrepreneurship.  

While applying for their nonprofit status, another game-changing. serendipitous moment occurred which aligned AE with a sister organization that shared the sameGive First birdsong. 

Skippy, leading the charge to build a future Aspen for the next generation, was instrumental in solidifying the marriage between AE and Create Mentorship, a city and Rotary-funded program.  Julie Engels, a seasoned entrepreneur and brand marketer who had just ramped up the mentoring program, was appointed AE’s Executive Director to Skippy’s Community Relations Director. Together, this newly united team hit the ground running! 

From July to September of 2017, Aspen Entrepreneurs produced more than forty events and had 2000 people attend.  There was truly something magical happening.

When asked what he felt he’d accomplished before making the hard decision to resign from his roles within AE to pursue other entrepreneurial endeavors, Skippy said the following (and we couldn’t agree more); 

“It has been a great honor of mine to help lead this effort. To search out Board members, to foster connections, to host and moderate events, to engage on TV, to enliven through social channels, to build programming, and especially to convene community. We have seen four Aspen global executives speak at our events, we have launched a “must listen to” podcast, we have nurtured 15+ companies, we now have a successful center of gravity for co-working and co-celeration, and most importantly, we have become the hub for so much important community discussion and vitality.”

Along with our gratitude to Skippy, AE is also deeply appreciative to all of those whom have contributed to our journey which has is enabling us to launch of our first permanent location in Aspen come December! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The Aspen Entrepreneurs journey is really just beginning and we hope you will join us in our new space at 614 E. Copper Ave.- in helping to scale startups, support entrepreneurs, and put the Roaring Fork Valley on the map as a vibrant, collaborative Give First ecosystem!

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Special Thanks to the following community members and organizations for their generous time and contributions: 

Colleen Hickman, Tyler Wilson, Candice Olson, Dave Cook, Samantha Johnston, Robin Smith, Michaela Olson, Jayne Gottlieb, Mike Jahn, Angela Vichick, Peter Grenney, Steev Wilson, Peter Olson, Peter Fornell, Luke Owings, Corey Enloe, Andy Wooten, Preston Fox, Scott Russell, Vlad Enache, Susan Harig, Rj Gallagher, Adriana Lahos, Marianna Prueger, George Sweeney, Douglas Mahlstedt, Dr. Terry Gotthelf, George Stranahan, Technical Integrity, Anchor Point Foundation, Anschutz Foundation, Telluride Venture Accelerator, Aspen Next Gen Commission, City of Aspen, Aspen Rotary, The Elks, The Souki Family, Aspen Shakti, Colorado Community College, Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen City of Wellbeing, AYPA, ACRA, Mentorloop, Premier Party Rental, Bosq, Pinions, Justice Snows, The Mountain Chalet, Aspen Times, Aspen 82, Aspen Sojourner, Aspen Magazine, Aspen Public Radio and, lastly and most importantly…all our AE Entrepreneurs!