VC’s New Frontier: Denver’s Tech Ecosystem
We’re all familiar with prominent tech communities like San Francisco and New York, but in the last few years a new hot spot for startups has popped up. Denver is an up-and-coming tech hub where career opportunities and relaxed lifestyle are equally enticing. With today’s culture prioritizing work/life balance more than ever, Denver’s breathtaking landscapes are attracting lots of attention.
We sat down with Adam Burrows and Chris Erickson at Range Ventures who are incubating some of the quickest growing companies in the Denver metro area. We were excited to connect with Range to learn more about their efforts to build sustainable growth for the Denver tech community and support diversity.
airCFO: What is one thing that differentiates the Denver tech ecosystem from other ecosystems? What kind of growth are you seeing this ecosystem experience right now and do you see it continuing sustainably?
Range: One of the things that makes Colorado tech so special is the collaborative nature of investors and founders here. Everyone here has pride in Colorado and operates from a “give first” ethos with a desire to lift up the entire ecosystem.
We have seen exponential growth over the last 5 years from a combination of coastal companies opening offices here, homegrown successes like HomeAdvisor, SendGrid, Guild, Ibotta, Ping and others, and a recognition of Colorado as a desirable destination for COVID migrants. We think that we are at an exceptionally exciting point in the ecosystem’s development as top talent has moved here, spinning out of successful companies to create the next generation of founders.
airCFO: Tell us about one of the most exciting startups you have encountered here within the Denver tech ecosystem. What in your opinion makes this startup one to watch?
Range: We are incredibly privileged to get to work with so many exciting local startups. One company we are particularly excited about right now is called Guest House. We led the company’s seed round last year and growth is really accelerating right now. Guest House provides a native retailplatform that fundamentally changes the economics of design and gives consumers a truly immersive shopping experience.. The founder, Alex Ryden, has built an all-star team around him and the company is really set up well to be very successful in the years to come.
airCFO: From a fundraising perspective, are you seeing Denver startups getting funded within the local ecosystem or are they still seeking funding elsewhere? How is Denver’s startup ecosystem helping to support founders who are not traditionally getting access to capital?
Range: The availability of local capital has increased over the past few years, which is great as we consistently see a founder preference for an on-the-ground, local partner at the seed stage. Once companies get to Series A, local capital is typically less important and we see coastal funds excited to invest in Colorado companies at this stage. Denver’s startup ecosystem is unfortunately not the most diverse in the country yet, but we see a strong desire for change across the board here. Denver Startup Week has done a great job highlighting and promoting diverse founders, and the State of Colorado Venture Capital Authority has recently earmarked $35M to support this purpose as well.
airCFO: What benefits do startups in Denver get that other cities might not have to offer? How do these elements contribute to a better work / life balance?
Range: While traffic and the cost of housing have shot up in Denver, they’re still relatively tame compared to traditional coastal tech hubs like the Bay Area, New York, and Boston. Of course, all of the natural amenities here will always make Colorado a popular place to live: sun, mild winters, and access to the outdoors. And given the development of the tech ecosystem of the past few years, founders and employees can have all of that without having to sacrifice one iota of ambition.
We hope you found our chat with Range VC as inspiring as we did. Here at airCFO, we have been Denver fans and locals for a few years now, so we love seeing that the growth of the tech ecosystem has only just begun. In fact, The Denver Post shared that the Mile High City ranked in The Top Ten Most Moved To Cities in the U.S. during the pandemic. It makes sense why, when according to a recent Gallup Poll, millennials and Gen Z both prioritize employers that care about their wellbeing. Being equal distance from snow and mountains, trees and forests, and city blocks and restaurants – makes Denver a place that easily supports playing as hard as you work which is vital for startup founders.