Local Business Books by Local Authors

If you’re finding yourself with a little bit more time to read these days, it might be worth diving into one of these amazing local books by local authors (many of whom are also speakers at Fort Collins Startup Week!).

Not sure which Startup Week sessions to check out? Here’s a handy guide

Each year the thrill of picking your Startup Week schedule comes around with the same familiar anxieties: how do you choose when there’s so much awesome content? How do you know what will benefit your business the most?

If you’re stuck with some analysis paralysis, we’re here to help.

If you’re really stuck, you should check out Pathway Pilot. It’s a quick set of questions that will take the guesswork out of picking sessions and help you get the most out of Fort Collins Startup/Artup Week 2020 by creating a custom schedule tailored to your specific needs, designed by Emily of ItyDity and Justin from Lateral Labs.

Expanding Your Horizons

Marketing for Latino Business Owners
Friday February 28, 2020 3:00pm – 3:50pm
Block 1

This panel is a workshop that has Latino business owners who have had varying degrees of success in Fort Collins. This will be a question/answer open session to talk through the struggles and successes that they have had in our community.

The goal is to learn, share and discuss ideas and experiences that brought them to this point in their path of success. It will also give you a snapshot of how these businesses bring diversity to our city.

We believe in the importance of a diverse community and would love to share how we contribute to its development.

Women Founder Panel

Women Founder Panel
Friday February 28, 2020 8:00am – 8:50am
Block 1

This group of female founders will share: 

  • The good/ bad and ugly of being a female founder
  • Fundraising as a female — the promotion vs prevention reality
  • Women in tech
  • Hiring women at a startup and how to plan for leave
  • Why it is important to put women in to your advisory, c-level positions, and boards.

The Punk Pan-Indian Romantic Comedy
Tuesday February 25, 2020 6:30pm – 7:30pm
At The Music District

The Punk Pan-Indian Romantic Comedy is a music-themed talk and performance piece by Indigenous artist and activist Gregg Deal. This new work focuses on the music that has moved him throughout his life, speaking in stories and antidotes that follow a timeline of struggle, survival, and ultimately healing through the power of music. A work that is upsetting, dramatic and at times pretty funny outlines the way music has affected Deal’s life from his earliest memories to the present and how it has influenced his ideas, his artistic work and his voice.

A Diverse Team: The Advantages of Employing Populations With All Abilities
Thursday February 27, 2020 3:00pm – 3:50pm
The CodeGeek Room (Innosphere South Conference Room)

When people of different backgrounds work together to solve problems, the result is more innovation and better outcomes. People with disabilities contribute by bringing unique perspectives to the table. Join our panel of experts at Fort Collins Startup Week for a discussion about employing this underemployed people group.

Fort Collins Startup Week Brain Crawl

Brain Crawl
Friday February 28, 2020 9:00am – 12:00pm

This year, Fort Collins Startup Week has added a brand new session called Brain Crawl. This event, February 28 from 9 am to noon at the Innosphere, is designed to bring business leaders together to focus on the topic of mental health. We are motivated to end the stigma around mental health and brain conditions and to promote the benefits of neurodiversity in the business community. Entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to experience mental health challenges than others in the workplace and this is a significant piece of data that we believe needs to be addressed.

The Brain Crawl will feature short, on the hour presentations from selected business executives who will briefly share a bit of their personal experience and background, while illustrating the need for improved communication around mental health. Audience members will hear different perspectives and challenges that these individuals have worked through; the goal is to offer a sense of community, connection, and inclusivity that will foster a new comfort level when it comes to addressing one’s needs to live a healthy life, both personally and professionally.

Additionally, table sponsors will be on-site, offering resources, information, and promotions that are all mapping to some aspect of mental health improvement. Guests will be able to speak directly to different types of service providers and business owners who are offering ways to assist in the journey of mental health improvement in our community. 

Join us for this very special event that has been immensely successful in both the Denver and Boulder Startup Week curricula! It’s a turning point in our lineup and our society; please be part of this shift. 

Don’t be afraid, blindness is NOT contagious!
Wednesday February 26, 2020 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Long Peak Conference Room

Blindness is my superpower. I am a disability advocate superhero. In my talk, I’m going to prove to you that people with disabilities are ASSETS not liabilities. 

In fact, hiring people with disabilities can bring superpowers to your firm, because we see the world from a different perspective. We make up 25% of the United States adult population, so we’re probably a significant, if somewhat invisible, percentage of your target market. 

Are you ready to learn how to add new superpowers, get perspectives your competition is TOTALLY MISSING, strengthen your business and possibly the world economy?

An Expo For Creatives


We’ve planned all of the Startup/ARTup panels at the Music District for one gigantic day – Tuesday, February 25. Kick it off with free coworking at the MD starting at 9am (yes, that’s early; yes, coffee is provided), followed by a digital marketing-focused Lunch & Learn (lunch is provided too!) with Amanda Alexandrakis and Sophia Babb.

In the afternoon, make plans to attend a session we’re calling Creative Outfitters, a resource expo for your professional art career with photographers on hand to provide free headshots, writers to review your band bio / website / EPK, attorneys from CAFTA to review contracts or discuss any other legal matters, design professionals to review your visual identity, and more. There’s a few thousand dollars’ worth of free help built into this session – don’t miss out! This is followed by a networking and gratitude hour, complete with tea from Happy Lucky Tea.

In the evening, join Alysia Kraft and Sarah Slaton for a conversation on how to maintain a healthy art/life balance, and conclude your night with the premiere of a lecture and performance entitled The Punk Pan-Indian Romantic Comedy by acclaimed artist and activist Gregg Deal.

Sessions for Scaling Businesses

ScaleUp Startup Week Fort Collins

Want to know the 5 things necessary to grow your business to 7 and 8 figures? Come to ScaleUp day at FoCo Startup Week

Learn about the 5 operating conditions necessary to scale a business. 

It starts with a keynote from Charles Fred who recently completed research into what sets businesses up for success. Then we’ll talk to 13 highly successful entrepreneurs. We’ll dig deep into their businesses to find out what specific things they did to grow their enterprises.  

Our speakers represent a wide range of businesses from B2B technology to B2C consumer products. Their businesses range from $1M to $110M in revenue.

Come hear their stories and network with them throughout the day. Then join us for an afterparty where you can connect with entrepreneurs directly and ask questions about your business.

Sessions for Better Business Foundations

Decisions that Entrepreneurs Should Make… But Often Don’t
Thursday February 27, 2020 3:00pm – 3:50pm
Innosphere North Conference Room

Over 2,000 deals, Bill Dieterich and Denichiro “Denny” Otsuga have screened startups.  They will discuss big decisions entrepreneurs should make before taking the plane up in the air.  It is like a pre-flight checklist that will improve your chance of safely arriving at the correct destination for your business.

Discover the framework of decisions to be made during Fort Collins Startup Week on Feb. 27 at 3 PM. 

Debt vs Equity: How to Leverage Capital for Scaling Your Business
Thursday February 27, 2020 10:00am – 10:50am
Innosphere North Conference Room

Are you putting the right fuel in your business to take off?

Mike O’Donnell and Denichiro “Denny” Otsuga will be presenting a session on the Debt and Equity Financing at Fort Collins Startup Week. If you want to learn about the different capital (i.e., fuel for the business) sources that match with your business type and the goal, come and join us in the session on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 10 AM!

Venture Validator

CSU Venture Validator
Monday February 24, 2020 4:00pm – 5:50pm
CSU Bohemian Auditorium

Excited to get your venture off the ground? This snapshot of the CSU Flagship “Venture Validator” program will do a quick dive into helping you figure out if your idea has what it takes to turn become a venture. We’ll do a quick dive into best practices for understanding & communicating with your customers and learning your competitive landscape. This session is led by Dr. Scott Shrake, Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship with a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

CSU Venture Jump Start
Tuesday February 25, 2020 4:00pm – 4:50pm
CSU Bohemian Auditorium

Come join us and learn how the CSU Institute for Entrepreneurial helps new business owners and entrepreneurs understand the world of business finance as it relates to their startups. This snapshot of the CSU Flagship “Venture Jump Start” program will do a quick dive into helping you create financial projections and learn how to apply accounting vest practices for business success. This session is led by William R. (Bill) Cobb, a prolific business leader who has held executive positions across the telecommunications industry, working with large corporations and startups alike.

In addition to his corporate assignments, Bill has served as a member of the Colorado Commission for Space Science and Industry and has held multiple roles as both an officer and as a board member for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. He currently volunteers as a business coach for the Northern Colorado entrepreneurial community. Bill is also the author of “Targeted Tactics – Transforming Strategy into Measurable Results,” and co-author with M. L. Johnson, Ed.D., Ph.D. of “Business Alchemy: Turning Ideas into Gold.”

If you can’t find something amazing on the lineup, you’re just not trying. Check out the full schedule here, and RSVP soon – many sessions are filling up!

Noted by Ellen took awesome notes of some StartUp Week Sessions! Check ’em out!

Ellen O’Neill is the talented visual notetaker and custom illustrator behind Noted By Ellen.

She specializes in turning ideas into visuals to promote understanding, retention, and communication. Visuals can be created before a meeting or event as well as created in real time to engage and include the audience.

She visited TechStars Startup Week Fort Collins and took live visual notes at quite a few sessions!

Below are the results of her efforts – we think you’ll agree that they’re well worth studying!

Nick Armstrong‘s Marketing for Freelancers

Nick Armstrong‘s Negotiation for Freelancers

John Garvey‘s Storyfied Marketing

Nicole Ressue‘s Protecting Your Creativity

Franklin Taggart‘s Protecting Your Creativity

Katrina Pfannkuch‘s Finding the Root of Creative Blocks

Breaking The Silence – Mental Health + Entrepreneurship by Chrysta Bairre, Sierra Frost, Allie Owens, Victoria Benjamin, and Robin Morning

Valerie Mosley‘s Visual Storytelling For Your Brand

Find Your eCommerce Platform by Sari Kimbell and Ben McConnell

Chris Bates – StartUp FoCo Podcast

Chris Bates is an artist and muralist who has created art that you’ve surely seen, walked past, and admired in and around Fort Collins. His business, Mighty Fine Art, produces a wide array of work and Chris has some great insights on how to make your work valuable.

Let’s get to know Chris!

My name is Chris Bates and I am a local visual artist out of Fort Collins, primarily working in murals and also commission drawings, live painting with musicians, and work at a couple of galleries.

Is the business of painting a mural more difficult than getting a commission?

They’re similar. The business side that makes murals a tad easier is they market themselves. They’re out in the public eye and it’s easier for people to access the work and find you. The major part of my career is doing that.

Is it normally a city official or business owner that you’re working with in order to do that?

Everybody and anybody. City folks, building owners, business owners, developers, teachers, principals, school districts, individuals, you name it. I’ve worked with the whole gamut.

What’s been the best project that you’ve worked on so far?

The latest one that I just finished over the entire summer of 2018. I was working with Brinkmann, a local developer in town that was revamping a block of old town they named the Exchange.

They had hired me to paint a lot of their electric meters, water meters, storm drains, telephone boxes, entryways. I did some chalk art for them and then they also commissioned me to do a large scale mural on an intersection of a couple of alleys. It was a really intensive project that took the whole summer.

I was able to do what I feel like my best work to date.

How do you go about tackling a project like that? There’s a huge scope when it comes to figuring out something like a utility box versus an entire canvas of a building wall.

The way I operate, I like to make site-specific work so it was fun.

The challenge of trying to find something for a storm drain and then trying to find something for this 10-foot by 20-foot box. Then trying to find some for the building wall and then trying to work on gas meters.

The client was patient and we had the time to spend all summer coming up with designs for each specific site. We took it one project at a time and just checked them off. It was a lot of fun to be able to take on these challenges to work on different surfaces and different shapes.

Besides your work, who is doing the coolest work in Northern Colorado? Whose art do you look forward to seeing the most?

There are so many great people. Lindee Zimmer is doing a lot of great work. I’ve got a friend I went to college with down in Denver, Jeremy Burns, who’s making these really cool large murals on the side of corrugated steel buildings that can be seen from different angles.

There’s just so much. The whole public art realm is just exploding right now. There’s just so many people from graffiti artists to people that are rolling out really abstract works. I get on the internet and I just am amazed by the level of work that’s out there and the number of things that are getting accomplished.

I’m trying to spend the next three years focusing on what I’m trying to do. I tend to like keep my hands in a lot of different pots and try to work as many angles as I can. I’m trying to take a two or three year period here and just stay really focused on achieving a couple set goals for myself and not worrying about what other people are doing as much.

We talk a lot about business planning during startup week in particular, but to hear an artist talk about their three-year plan is interesting. A lot of your work comes through commissions or through other folks asking you to do certain things, right? How do you plan for that uncertainty?

It’s just a balance of making things happen and letting things happen. I haven’t typically been a huge goal setter. I’ve gone through the process of formulating business plans and mission statements and all these things in the past, but all kind of loosely based and even my three-year goals aren’t … There’s not a huge plan set in place for them. They’re just places that I would like to see myself get to and I’m just going through the process of figuring out the roads I need to take to get to that spot.

What are you looking forward to most in startup week?

It’s always a great thing. There are tons of really smart, cool people that are out in the community. I look forward to, even in down times, just talking to people that are out. Some of the best conversations I’ve had surrounding art and business and moving things forward in the community have come just having a sandwich or some snacks with someone in between talks.

What do you see is the biggest challenge in Northern Colorado in terms of the creative community.

Probably the cost of living. It makes it more difficult for creatives to find work that will sustain their careers in a way that allows them to meet their full potential as artists or whatever genre of creativity that they’re trying to pursue and not have to hold down multiple jobs at the same time as pursuing their dreams or their creative careers.

People have to make some pretty hard choices and are putting things on back burners or maybe just giving their creative ventures half time or a third of the amount of time that they could be, if they could figure out a way to make their art financially sustainable.

What do you think is the easiest path to make that happen?

There’s no one way. It is finding what success means for you and then pursuing that version of that success and staying flexible and opportunistic in that pursuit and just not giving up and just keeping at it until you get to where you need to go. It looks different for every single person. I don’t think there’s really one way to do it.

A lot of the issues that we face in startups from art to tech and everything in between are so complex. It’s really good to have that startup community behind you to talk to different minds in different studies and in different areas.

I like to partner with anyone that wants to partner with me. I really did like the whole experience last year partnering with Brinkmann. I had never partnered with a developer on a redevelopment project and they were really easy to work with and supportive. I worked with Toolbox Creative and Art Lab for multiple years.

It’s just finding those people that like what you do and that want to build with you. Everyone’s got their own taste and their own opinions and their own ways that they handle their business or their fun. Find those people that you’re jealous of and try to make things happen with them.

How can we find out more about you and your work?

I put newer things up on Instagram under mightyfineartist. I have a website, MightyFineArt.org, that is updated every three years and it’s about that time to do that. I’m always happy to connect with people and talk and give advice andget advice. I like to be involved in the community.

Jeanne Shoaff – StartUp FoCo Podcast

Jeanne Shoaff is a former gallery curator and current arts and creative coach passionate about getting artists to think critically about their art as a business.

Let’s get to know Jeanne!

My name is Jeanne Shoaff. I am an independent consultant for artists. Specifically I do career coaching for artists as well as other arts and culture consultations for groups and organizations.

You must deal with a lot of artists directly day to day.

I have spent almost 20 years as a curator and gallery director. I have had a lot of interaction in that time with artists in all different aspects of their careers, specifically toward getting them to exhibit in the various galleries that I worked in. I have a great network of artists whom I know personally and professionally.

What have you heard is biggest challenge in the Northern Colorado creative community?

I would say the biggest challenge is probably the art market that exists here. It’s, I’d say, really challenging to sell your art here as compared with obviously some of the larger cities across the country. And a lot of artists are looking for ways to extend their market outside of the Fort Collins region or outside of the Northern Colorado region.

Another challenging aspect is finding studio space that’s affordable for artists. Many artists do work out of their homes but a lot of other artists would love to have a space either working in community with other artists or even by themselves. But real estate is just so expensive here. The rental rates are very high, so it’s difficult to find a good place to make it work and also just working community with other artists in an affordable way.

It definitely necessitates a coach to sort of guide new artists through the Northern Colorado art scene.

I would say that that is true. I think what artists can benefit most by having somebody else kind of take a look at their career is … First of all, artists have to determine for themselves what are their career goals. Do they want to sell art in a retail or a gallery type setting? Do they want to look at more online options? How are they going to be using social media and really what is their goal? Some artists prefer to do a public art and there’s a whole different kind of direction that you would go than if you’re interested in getting your work into a more traditional gallery setting.

Or if you want to just sell independently and look at some online or even wholesale options, that becomes another pathway towards success for artists. Really, it’s a matter of artists setting their own goals and determining what’s going to work best for them for their personality, for their particular type of artwork and then figuring out, okay, now that I have this big goal, what are those action steps that I can take to get there?

If you could tell a Northern Colorado creative one thing, what would it be?

I would say be realistic. Use your strengths and find others to help you in the areas that are not your strengths. For instance in the whole business realm, a lot of artists need help with even basic things like accounting, to be able to figure out where the efficiencies in their business. And where is their money going, and how much is their art worth? How much do they really want to make? How much should they be charging? Where is the market that’s going to support that price point? And I guess that’s not one thing, but use your own strengths and find someone else that help you with the other things that you’re not as strong or don’t want to be spending your time doing.

Who’s doing the coolest things in Northern Colorado?

Oh, my goodness. There’s a lot going on. I would say Center for Fine Art Photography has met some challenges in some very interesting ways. They have recently given up their brick-and-mortar office/gallery space and they are moving into kind of a more mobile aspect of their business. And I think that, again, that reflects the affordability or not affordability of Fort Collins and they are working with lots of other kinds of organizations to present their artists and figuring out ways to do that better out of the norm.

I’d say any artist who is kind of going in their own direction and creating their own pathway. I’d say Chris Bates is one person who’s going to be a co-presenter with me. And he is beginning to work directly with developers to figure out how to incorporate art right at the beginning of these developments that happen.

There are, I think, a lot of people who are out there kind of figuring out how to make it work. Things are changing rapidly in the artist world. And if you can be nimble and creative in a way that you approach how you’re going to be going, then that’s going to be helpful to you.

You mentioned your panel at Fort Collins Startup Week & Artup Week. What’s got you most excited about the whole week?

I attended that week last year just as an individual. I’m not associated with anything. I did do a couple of panels but there is just so much to offer to artists and creatives specifically. I love the fact that it is really targeted toward people with creative businesses because artists are a different breed. They need different kinds of services. They need to think about things in different ways than your typical business person.

And to offer all the different kinds of resources and advice and the networking between other people who are approaching ideas in different ways, it’s just fantastic. I don’t know that there’s any one thing about it other than the fact that it exists, that it really does look to help the artists and the creative entrepreneurs in our community.

Tell us a little bit about your panel.

The panel is going to be specifically on helping artists develop goals and then using those goals to determine what the next steps in their career will be.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Probably the best place at this point is to look me up on LinkedIn. And you can contact me directly at Jeanne [email protected].