Boise is about to experience its third Startup Week, a series of events intended to help promote the city’s entrepreneurial community.
Scheduled for Oct. 17, 18 and 19, Boise Startup Week is one of the thousands of entrepreneurial events Techstars runs in over 100 countries around the world each year.
“Our mission is to help develop and support emerging startup communities all around the globe,” said Mark Solon, managing partner and former co-founder of Highway 12, an Idaho-based venture capital fund that shut down in 2011. “The best way we’ve found to do this is to bring together entrepreneurs in a way that they can connect, share and bond with each other. We’ve discovered that participants feel more connected to their community when they experience Startup Week.”
Boise State University’s Venture College is canceling classes and sending students to the event instead, said Ryan Vasso, associate director.
“You can study about entrepreneurship and read about it, but we’d rather have students engaged with it,” he said.
The college dedicated a part-time employee to help out with the $10,000 Trailmix competition, which had well over 50 applicants, he said. In addition, the Venture College is working with a number of teams to help them refine their pitch for a second $10,000 general competition.
The Venture College is also looking for participants for a newly launched project-based internship program, where students work for two weeks with companies without time to manage a full-time intern, Vasso said.
“We pair them with a startup and get a project out the door,” he said.
Boise State’s College of Business and Economics (COBE) is also working on the pitch competition, said John Williamson, executive in residence. Compared with the Venture College, which is focused on designing and building a company from the ground up, COBE emphasizes ways to find financial capital to help that company grow, he said.
Williamson isn’t the only one interested in what happens after the startup stage. Karen Appelgren, vice president and director of the business resource center at Zions Bank, is co-chair of the Grow Track, intended for entrepreneurs who have already launched their ventures. The track, which is expected to draw about 100 people to attend, includes four marketing panels, a funding panel, and a panel on managing risk that includes experts on topics ranging from auditing to patents. The final session gives attendees access to business tools and mentors to help them develop a roadmap, Appelgren said.
“It’s an interesting spin on the traditional conference, where you take notes and that’s the end of it,” she said.
Annie Morley, president of the Idaho Virtual Reality Council, said the event “plays a vital role in connecting the growing startup community and giving people the opportunity to hear from a wide range of successful entrepreneurs with various backgrounds.”
Morley will be on the Oct. 19 panel, “The State of the Boise Startup Ecosystem,” and helped put together the Oct. 17 panel “The Future of Virtual Reality.”
“It’s a wonderful time to hear what’s new in our ecosystem and what’s on the horizon,” she said.
The Idaho State Department of Commerce, through its Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant program, is also releasing a map of state resources for entrepreneurs.
“We see tremendous value in sponsoring these events,” said Nick Taylor, a corporate attorney with Stoel Rives LLP, who will be helping judge the pitch competition. “Their presenters will have an opportunity to pitch their companies, receive critical feedback, and potentially gain an investor or partner. On the other hand, I will have an opportunity to demonstrate to the presenters, and the audience in general, the type of counsel I can provide as a local startup lawyer. Plus, the following night, I do believe I get to hand out one of those giant check things to the pitch competition winner, something I have always wanted to do.”