Beyond the mountains: A look at what makes Colorado tech unique

April Bohnert

So often when we talk about the startup community — and why people want to come here to be part of it — we talk about the outdoors, the mountains, the recreation. The tech community itself, despite its prominence in the state’s ecosystem, is sometimes an afterthought.

We want to look beyond the typical Colorado perks and focus on the tech — and why Colorado is one of the best places for people with technical skills to grow, learn and collaborate.

 

Chandler Koglmeier is the VP of product for Guild Education, a tech company working to create clearer pathways to job training, career advancement and educational opportunities for young, working adults. Koglmeier came to Colorado over four years ago to take advantage of the growing tech opportunities in the state.

What drew you to the Colorado tech scene (besides the mountains)?

Prior to moving to the Colorado tech world, I worked in Boston, San Francisco and Singapore.  In Boston and SF I was working at TripAdvisor, and in Singapore I was working at a payroll outsourcing company which recently IPO'd on the Australian exchange.  

I was drawn to Colorado tech to join Craftsy, which met three of my key criteria: They were fast growing, anchored in real business fundamentals, and working on a big problem — in Craftsy’s case, distributed education access.

Since that time, Craftsy grew 500 percent and was acquired by NBCUniversal. Following that acquisition, I joined Guild Education, which fulfilled those same three criteria and brought my focus closer to the education world.

In your opinion, what makes the Colorado tech community unique from other places?

The Colorado tech community has many things that I think make it truly unique compared to other tech communities — especially the larger, coastal ones — but here are two of my favorites.

First, there is a diversity of high-growth companies tackling different problems. Great teams in Colorado are tackling a wide diversity of focus areas — from home automation companies like Rachio to building supersonic airplanes like Boom! There’s not a lot of tech communities that can champion that kind of diversity of focus.

Second, we actually get access and exposure to leaders in the community. It’s very challenging in the coastal tech communities to get access to leaders. I’ve been blown away by how open the Colorado tech community is to meeting new people and having great conversations about building companies.

How do you think the overall culture of the Colorado tech community is reflected in your business, team or company culture?

Guild’s founders, Rachel and Britt, moved the company to Denver from the Bay Area because of many of the great aspects of the Colorado tech community. One of the specific aspects that is very important to us at Guild is the diversity of our team. We’re female founded and our team has a strong representation of many types of diversity. For Guild, this is particularly important as our company has many different types of problems it works on — from student coaching to technology — where a diversity of skillsets are needed.

How do you and your team participate in the community?

Our team is active across the Denver technology community — from speaking at Denver Startup Week to active engagement with Denver Product and other great meetups. We’re active in the React and Rails worlds as well, including speaking at conferences in Colorado and around the country. Overall, we love meeting people passionate about using technology to make the world better and build great companies!


 

TrackVia provides low-code, mobile workflow management solutions that help users optimize and collaborate on their internal business processes. A lifelong techie, CTO Todd Benge has lived in Colorado for twenty years. He’s built his entire tech career here and has witnessed first-hand the ways this community has evolved over time.

What drew you to the Colorado tech scene (besides the mountains)?

I moved to Colorado in 1997 after completing my undergraduate degree when Denver was becoming a fast-growing hub for the Telecom industry. Software developers were in high demand, and I had interned in the Telecom industry. When deciding where to begin my career, I compared Colorado to the Pacific Northwest and California. I preferred Colorado weather to the Pacific Northwest, and Denver's cost of living and quality of life was more attractive to me than California's. Not only did the Denver area align well in terms of job opportunities that aligned with my background, but I also felt that Denver offered many advantages when it came to my life outside of work.

In your opinion, what makes the Colorado tech community unique from other places?

Coloradans are highly educated, skilled and value quality of life. People in Colorado are committed to their careers and to advancing the technology community, but they also place an emphasis on maintaining a good work-life balance. Coloradans are passionate people. They value their hobbies and lives outside of work, often taking advantage of the many opportunities Colorado provides, and in my experience, they bring a similar type of enthusiasm and passion to their jobs and to their contributions to our tech community.

How do you think the overall culture of the Colorado tech community is reflected in your business, team or company culture?

At TrackVia, we've created a culture that’s dedicated to helping our passionate and talented employees do their best work and enabling them to best serve our customers. As a company, we value collaboration, empowerment, innovation and accountability, and we apply these concepts to both our professional and personal lives. We find that our commitment to the success of our employees — professionally and personally — translates directly into our employee’s commitment to always ensuring our customers are highly satisfied and successful.

How do you and your team participate in the community?

TrackVia is an active member of the technology community. We’ve participated and hosted events for Denver Startup Week, meetups, and Denver DevOps. We’ve attended C-Level @ Mile High, Denver Boulder Software Club, presented at code schools, donated to Toys for Tots each holiday season, and sponsored Women Who Code.

 

Photos via featured companies.

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