#BYOB: Be Your Own Boss – My Experience with Denver Startup Week

Did you attend Denver Startup Week? Hear from Danika Gutierrez, our graduate marketing assistant and One Year MBA student at CU Denver, as she explains her experience and takeaways from this year’s event.

By Danika Gutierrez

If you’re a Denver native, chances are you’ve attended Denver Startup Week (DSW) since it started in 2012. However, if you’re like me, who just moved to Denver, this might be the first time you’ve even heard of it. DSW is an annual event that aims to fuel and inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in Denver by showcasing innovation through discussions, panels, workshops, happy hours, job fairs, and other sessions. Whether you decide to participate or simply listen in, you’re sure to take away some important nuggets and insights that will nurture your entrepreneurial growth.

Best part of it all? It’s FREE to attend.

Like a Boss Panel
Here’s a screenshot of one of the sessions I attended called #LikeABoss: Creating Organizations Where Women of Color Thrive with Amanda Gonzalez.

To my knowledge, Denver Startup Week was held in-person at different venues around Denver prior to COVID-19, but this year, DSW moved most of its sessions online via Zoom and Youtube Live and held only a handful of in-person celebratory events. Attendees had the option to watch the panel live on Youtube or Zoom. I chose to join via Zoom to ask questions and network with other students and entrepreneurs.

As a student who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the home of Silicon Valley and countless startups, Denver Startup Week gave me a fresh perspective in the business field. While the San Francisco Bay Area is like an oasis of innovation, you have to know the right people to get through the entrepreneurial door, so to speak. Otherwise, you’ll likely be stuck with an idea and not get further than that. In that city, events like Denver Startup Week are only available for working professionals and a small handful of students, if they’re fortunate enough to have a business professor with the right connections.

I was most interested in attending the marketing and entrepreneurship panels, and none of them disappointed. However, a panel that stood out to me the most was the first one I’ve attended, “Building a Growth-Ready Business as a Soloentrepreneur.”

The panel of all female entrepreneurs represented a diverse range of industries but shared at least one thing in common: corporate burnout. They all agreed that corporate burnout was their primary motivation to start their own business, even as others doubted their capabilities. All the panelists offered advice on how other soloprenuers (aka solo entrepreneurs) can succeed, despite the low success rate for startups, by asking us questions such as “What problem are you trying to solve?” and “What are your risks, and what can you do to minimize them?”

One of the panelists, Carina Herman, a marketing consultant and owner of LBC Design Co., touched on the importance of marketing for a small business. “Marketing gives someone the opportunity to get to know you,” Carina said. “You’re the face of your business.”

A majority of the panelists involved in Denver Startup Week are entrepreneurs that started their own business from the ground up or helped others turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. All offered powerful insights that, as an aspiring entrepreneur myself, will certainly come in handy when it comes time to bring my own ideas to life.

Will I be attending next year’s Denver Startup Week? Absolutely, and, hopefully, in-person. I recommend DSW to all students who are looking to get involved in business, regardless of your major or whether you’re planning to join or launch your own startup. Anyone can benefit from learning from the innovative ventures, resilient experts, and networking opportunities that make up DSW.

Missed out on this year’s events? Mark your calendar now — the next Denver Startup Week happens on September 19-23, 2022. Visit denverstartupweek.org for more information.


Tips for Entrepreneurs, from Entrepreneurs:
  • Take breaks and separate work life from your personal life.
  • Be brave and don’t be perfect (or even aim for perfection).
  • Have the courage to stand up and fight for what’s right.
  • Be bold and put yourself (and your ideas) out there.
  • Be around people who will be honest and supportive of you.
  • Invest in the people who lift you up, not who bring you down.
Other Interesting Tidbits from Denver Startup Week:
  • Did you know that 2.3% of venture capital were funded to women-owned businesses in 2020? This percentage dropped from 2.8% in 2019.
  • “Your time and energy are money. Focus your time, money, and energy.” – Amanda McLernon & Madison Martin
  • Imposter syndrome exists in the workforce, and the truth is, there’s no avoiding it.
  • Are you looking to apply for a marketing job? Here are some tips from Amanda McLernon and Madison Martin: “Show how you learn on your own. Ask yourself — what are you excited about in terms of marketing? What are you good at? Be ready to continue to learn.”

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