Scaling the Peak: Denver Out to Follow Boulder’s Entrepreneurial Ascent

3/28/13Follow @MichaelXBD

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The state’s top VC firm is the Foundry Group, based in Boulder. Foundry Group’s history in Boulder goes back to 1995, when managing director Brad Feld moved to the city. From Boulder, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital. After Mobius stopped making new investments, Feld co-founded Foundry Group in 2007 with fellow Mobius veterans.

Mobius invested in Service Metrics and StillSecure, and both companies’ founders benefited greatly from their close working relationship with Feld, Higley said. Feld remains a StillSecure member.

That type of symbiotic relationship is hard to recreate without more VCs who are enmeshed in the community.

Foundry Group “invests everywhere, but it can deploy money to companies in Boulder it really loves,” Higley said. In Denver, “you can truly be connected to Foundry Group, but it’s not quite the same.”

A firm based on the coasts with billion-dollar funds could send a partner here, but that doesn’t look likely until more companies break big, he said.

Higley believes a handful of Boulder or Denver companies might help change that. Rally Software, a Boulder-based developer of tools for agile programming, is slated to have an IPO soon. Companies like SendGrid, which splits its staff between both cities, and FullContact look like they could be on their way.

People in Boulder and Denver are pulling for them.

“We’re really supportive of companies that are standard bearers. We all want to see the exits I’ve described,” Higley said.

That would send a message about Boulder, Denver, and Colorado to entrepreneurs and VCs everywhere, although it’s something locals already know.

“This is doable. We can scale companies here,” Higley said.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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