Better With Age -- The Evolution Of Colorado’s Startup Culture

Posted on September 30, 2021 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Candidates, For Candidates, Denver Tech Companies, For Clients

When making career decisions, tech professionals are often faced with two potential paths within the greater tech industry. The first is to support an enterprise, and benefit from the established culture, infrastructure, and processes. The second is to join a startup, which offers its own pros and cons, but mostly greenfield opportunities for professionals looking to learn new technologies and grow.

Every once in a while, we encounter candidates who have reservations about working for a startup, ranging from preferences on team size to fearing a lack of stability. Whatever their reasons, it’s a good practice to examine your own stereotypes once in a while, and consider the evolution of startups, especially in a region like Denver!

Turning back the clock a bit, 2018 marked a dramatic shift in funding for startups, as it boasted the most venture capital investment into Colorado-based startups in over five years, with about $2.4 billion invested across 401 deals. Investors caught wind of this boom and invested $2.3B in Colorado-based companies in 2019, and $2.7B in 2020. This suggests not only are startups stable, but a booming, viable pathway for executing new products and services. In this post, we’ll dive into the evolution of tech startups in Colorado, and why they should be considered as equally as enterprise opportunities.

Why Limit Your Options?

Limiting your search to just enterprises or startups is a personal choice, but not always recommended when seeking a great fit. Keep in mind that after nearly two decades of being a self-proclaimed startup hub, Denver has built an entire culture and support network around the startup mentality. Even despite a major global event that upset economies of all scales, the Denver area maintained 2-3% job growth for technical jobs in 2020.

That being said, it’s important to consider how different organizations can impact your personal career trajectory. While startups usually provide flexible hours and perks, the organization may not have a clearly defined path for career growth or tracks for management, yet... On the other hand, working for an enterprise is a safe bet for receiving structured training and a well-defined vision, but does that larger organization allow for employees to think creatively and embody important entrepreneurial skills? It's really about knowing what you need personally to succeed, and what type of organization can best support you.

What Sets Denver Apart From The Rest

If Colorado is peanut butter, startups are the jelly. A match made in heaven, Denver boasts a culture and network that’s welcoming to everyone, and this in turn allows innovative thinking and new businesses to thrive. While we could spend days breaking down what it is that makes Colorado’s culture so great, it also comes down to one simple fact, your money goes further in Denver whether you are an investor, founder, or an employee.

With salaries that compete with the Bay Area, endless opportunities, and a lower cost of living, Denver is an excellent choice for blossoming technologists and companies alike. In fact, the Denver/Boulder area actually employs engineers and developers at higher rates than the majority of other American tech cities (we’re #4 on the list.) According to research conducted by the Flatiron School, Denver is on track to surpass the total developer jobs in Boston and Chicago.

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At the end of the day, the increasing number of technology companies relocating or expanding to Denver reflects its unique atmosphere for fostering growth. As the largest non-coastal city in the US with one of the lowest unemployment rates, tech companies are finally recognizing Denver as the powerhouse it is. Forbes ranked Denver at the 4th place for doing business in the US, which only becomes clearer as we witness an influx of talent interested in moving to Colorado and shaking things up.

CO Startups Looking For A Range of Skillsets

With so much going on in Denver’s tech scene, it’s natural to wonder which specific skillsets and industries are finding success here. As it stands, app developers are the largest swath of tech talent in the Mile High City according to job applications, closely followed by system and web developers.

Other in demand skills are for Full Stack and Front-End Engineers, embedded engineers, Cloud system engineers, and those who have worked with big data technologies and have the experience to use that data to create stories and insights for company planning and forecasting. If you’d like to learn more about up-and-coming tech industries, take a look at our post for 2021. If you’re looking for more detailed guidance on the market and the most in-demand skillsets of today, download our Colorado Tech Salary Guide!

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Startups Have Solidified Their Purpose In The Tech Industry

Concluding with the observation of how drastically the startup landscape has changed in the last ten years, the data we’ve shared today certainly represents how startups have solidified their presence and purpose here in CO.

Today’s technology drives an entirely new consumer mentality, one of infinite choices, not limited by geography or availability. With this, businesses can get off the ground or launch a great idea with a lot less. The digitization of our lives leads to a great number of impacts: not only endless choices, but also global talent shortages, changing co-working spaces and work procedures, increased access and usage of digital tools, and a greater communication flow that creates shorter feedback loops for businesses to continuously improve on how they serve their clients.

Ultimately, what continues to make startups so attractive is their ability to pivot, thinking outside the box in response to customer needs. There’s an element of creativity, authenticity, and relatability that Americans love about a small business making a big impact. Additionally, a lack of established process can be a great benefit, allowing for creativity and continuous improvement to not only be a goal, but a way of life. With much to consider when it comes to startups versus enterprises, we can say confidently that the evolution of startup culture has brought a great deal to Colorado and the people that live here.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!