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Denver

When it comes to quality of life and cost of living, Denver has found a favorable balance. Its appeal among Millennials has resulted in tens of thousands moving to the city in past few years alone. Entrepreneurs arrive to utilize Denver’s significantly lower costs and the affable, approachable nature of Denverites. For investors, the appeal lies in the fact that the valuations of startups are not as inflated as they would otherwise be in Silicon Valley, and the fact that there has been an increasing number of startup exits in recent years. Aside from the city’s enviable natural landscapes, its central location (a flight radius of 2 hours yields half the American population) makes day trips possible to a wider market than elsewhere in the country. The proximity to Boulder, a startup hub in its own right, allows Denver to take advantage of startups that are scaling out of its smaller neighbor. However, regional angel syndicates are a missing component, and Series B funding has been cited as being difficult to attain, resulting in companies scaling out of the Denver area for fundraising purposes. Additionally, while there is a major corporate presence, this has not necessarily translated into more support for the local community.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.

Opportunities

  • Being located in the middle part of the country makes day trips to almost anywhere in the country accessible and logistically possible. This widens the net for possible investors and entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have been exposed to Denver.
  • The Denver area has been rated as one of the fastest growing metros in the country (an estimated 273 people moving to the city every day). Companies are thus able to recruit from a fresh and diverse talent pool from around the country, without having to leave Denver.
  • Salaries are significantly lower than they are on either coast, and the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in Silicon Valley. This allows startups to scale at a much lower burn rate then they otherwise would have in New York City or Silicon Valley.
  • Denver’s natural beauty serves as an attractive recruiting tactic for those who are interested in the outdoors.
  • The general culture of Denver is easygoing and approachable. People are usually humble and willing to help in any way they can.
  • In 2015 alone, startups received $683 million in funding, and 59 startups exiting to generate an estimated $2.7 billion.
  • Boulder's proximity means that once startups have scaled, they move to nearby Denver where they can grow sustainably without having to relocate completely.
  • Promising verticals include food, healthcare, cannabis, and defense-related industries.

Risk Factors

  • Denver’s proximity to Boulder, while advantageous most of the time, means that it has to compete with its neighbor for positive attention and talent.
  • The local work ethic is not as intense as elsewhere, partly derived from the city’s reputation as being laid-back, outdoor paradise.
  • Denver is experiencing growing pains that cities have when they grow at such a breakneck pace. While still more affordable than neighboring Boulder, the real estate market getting costlier annually, and traffic is becoming an issue for commuters.
  • There aren't as many regional angel syndicates as there should be, and Series B funding has been cited as being difficult to attain, resulting in companies scaling out of the Denver area.
  • The presence of major multinational corporations has not necessarily translated into more support for the local community.
  • Denver is still perceived as a "flyover" city, a reputation that will change with time. However, this creates challenges for startups and major venture capital firms looking to relocate.
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