An Xconomy Experiment in Crowdfunding, Colorado Style

12/21/12Follow @bvbigelow

Back in 2007, when Bob Buderi tapped out the first news story for the Xconomy Boston website, he wrote, “Ours is a grassroots endeavor, supported by some of the world’s great innovators and business leaders.”

Our founding CEO and editor-in-chief took their lessons of entrepreneurship to heart—assembling a team of extraordinarily talented journalists who have worked tirelessly to make Xconomy the authoritative voice for the entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators who make up the exponential economy.

In the years since then, Xconomy has brought its unique blend of events and news coverage to five other U.S. cities, all renowned for their clusters of advanced technology startups. (More information about our mission and who we are is available here.)

We’ve written from Silicon Valley about the new Google search engine that understands “aboutness,” from New York when Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson dissed enterprise software, from Seattle about the revolution in genomic medicine, and from Boston, Detroit, and San Diego about the companies and people who embody the spirit of innovation in those cities.

As you might guess, other tech towns have sought us out—asking Xconomy to set up shop in their communities. Alas, as I mentioned at the outset, ours is a grassroots endeavor, and Xconomy has relied largely on bootstrapping to expand our presence nationwide.

But in the Boulder-Denver corridor of innovation, the effort has gone quite a bit further than mere inquiry. Brad Feld and other partners at Boulder’s Foundry Group, along with TechStars’ David Cohen, have taken it upon themselves to launch a crowdfunding initiative to bring Xconomy to the Colorado Front Range. You can find more information about their effort here.

This one is close to my heart. I grew up in Denver and I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains. I’ve hiked through the Sangre de Cristo range, glissaded in the Collegiates, and dangled from a single line of Perlon climbing rope on a free rappel off the back of one of the flatirons. (I remember it vividly, but I was too scared to remember which one.) I understand how the spirit of a place—especially a place as special as Colorado—can infuse a community and become part of its culture—even the startup culture.

Which brings me to the point I want to make. Xconomy is an online community of like-minded people who live and breathe innovation. We bring them together, both virtually through our online news coverage, and physically through our premier events.

But we also recognize that America is a fascinating amalgam of many different places, and we have sought to make each city site in the Xconomy network reflect the special qualities and talents of that region. Wherever we have set down roots, we have asked local innovation leaders to serve as informal advisors called Xconomists. As Bob put it in that very first post, Xconomy is “supported by some of the world’s great innovators and business leaders,”
and if you take a look, we have assembled some impressive support.

Rock Climbing in Eldorado Canyon State Park. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado) Used with permission

Rock Climbing in Eldorado Canyon (courtesy CU)

We also have fostered a transcendent network effect. The news and commentaries that arise from each Xconomy city are automatically posted on the national Xconomy website, and in other cities where the stories are relevant. So we’re helping to spread the word about local innovation in our home towns to entrepreneurs and investors around the world. And our Xconomists are guiding our coverage and offering their own insights on both a regional and national level.

So this plucky initiative to build support for Xconomy in the front range also represents an opportunity to help us grow and strengthen the ties that hold the Colorado startup community together, and to connect with other regional capitals of entrepreneurship and invention. We want to create an online community imbued with Colorado’s unique spirit of entrepreneurship by recruiting more donors to the crowdfunding campaign and by identifying some key leaders of the local innovation scene. You can send an e-mail with your suggestions for Colorado Xconomists (and maybe a sentence or two explaining why) to me or Bob Buderi.

And stay tuned to learn how this pioneering effort turns out. Perhaps it’s an experiment that also could be applied to the startup communities below 5,000 feet.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Caitlin

    Great news! Colorado is indeed a special place. I love that RMNP photo.

  • Suleman

    Do you want London in your Xconomy network? We’ve got lots of startups and innovators, though perhaps not as many investors as the cities in your network so far.

    • bbuderi

      You never know! Thanks for reaching out. We will stay in touch.