West Slope Startup Week

Montrose City Manager Bill Bell and owner of Storm King Distilling Co. David Fishering will both be sitting on the panel of one of the West Slope Startup Week virtual sessions.

After making a shift from in-person to digital, the West Slope Startup Week will now be taking place virtually during the month of July. Montrose City Manager Bill Bell and owner of Storm King Distilling Co. David Fishering will both be sitting on the panel of one of the sessions.

The Startup Week event will have virtual programming and events every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, July 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30. The program will also be built upon eight “tracks” that participants can focus on, including communications, capital, tech, toolbox, people, makers, ag/food and fun.

Montrose’s panel session will be entitled “Sleeping with the Enemy: Five Ways Business and Government can Play Nice,” in which “individuals will gain helpful insight and knowledge on partnering with their local government, becoming better partners with one another, and how you can both accomplish goals for your business and community together.”

“I’m really proud that Montrose is part of West Slope Startup Week this year,” said Montrose Community Marketing Specialist Caitlyn Love. “I think we have unique community assets to offer: I think Montrose has the tools to help others.”

Love also hopes that on the flip side, Montrose can gain insights and connection from other communities across the Western Slope.

“Everybody has a way of going about success, starting a business or partnering with local government organizations,” Love said. “There’s always something we can take away from other communities. With the chance to connect and network with other individuals who are doing a similar project, there’s always a chance to learn.”

Startup Week is an international program through Techstars, and Denver Startup Week is the largest in the world, with 20,000 attendees last year. Building off that success, West Slope Startup Week was founded with more of an emphasis on smaller rural communities.

Mara Hardy, Business Development Manager at the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, said the Startup Week program is meant to both help business owners and entrepreneurs connect as well as boost local businesses. The program will encompass the entire West Slope of Colorado, from Steamboat Springs down to Durango.

“Last year, we had over 300 attendees and it’s hard to describe the magic, but once you go, you get it,” Hardy said. “Just being able to bump into entrepreneurs and business owners and leaders in your region that you would never get exposed to.”

Love said that the event is as social as it is educational, and that the ability to choose a schedule based on the eight tracks makes it a unique experience.

“I really like West Slope Startup Week because it’s not a conference you go to, it’s more sessions you pop in and out of,” Love said. “I think that anybody participating will find something that they can learn from and people to connect with.”

Hardy agreed that the program is for anyone looking to expand their skills and network, and that they can visit as many sessions in as much of a variety as they want.

“It’s not just tech. It’s also for business owners and executives, it’s for professionals who are just looking to gain new skills,” Hardy said. “It’s free, so the barrier is really low. It’s a great way to get to connect with other folks in the region during this critical, difficult time. They can pop into a session, and if they don’t like it, they can leave and try something else.”

Without a set location, the program is now accessible to anyone who wishes to participate. Love said that the pandemic created challenges for many businesses, and that connecting through the Startup Week program can help find solutions together.

“The past few months, being in isolation, it’s an awesome time to learn how other communities are functioning right now and some of the really cool ideas individuals are working on,” Love said. “It’s a good time to be inspired.”

The community is encouraged to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for updated schedules and registration instructions. More information can be found here.

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