This morning, we spoke at Colorado University with Brad Bernthal, professor of law and Techstars mentor. He has spent the last few years researching and supporting the Boulder startup community. He talked to us about what role he thinks a university should take in a startup environment, and what it is that Colorado University offers to their students in Boulder. Below is a short overview of the programs they offer.
Students and faculty can take part in a semester-long program that offers a preparation track for people with ideas that want to turn their idea into a real business.
This program consists of 3 phases:
- Noise making
This phase is meant to provide inspiration through a host of events, as well as forming a team and finding a mentor for your business. Those mentors can be serial entrepreneurs, functional specialists (CFOs, legal experts, etc.), investors and community connectors.
- Company creation and development
During this phase the mentorship really begins, combined with a series of workshops to help the startups progress as quickly as possible and tackle any pain points that the startups experience.
The pre-accelerator program ends with a series of pitch events, where the startups are brought in contact with different audiences, depending on the category their company falls under. This all ends in a big Oscars-like party, where the startup that did the most for the community is awarded a price.
Organised by Silicon Flatirons, every month the Colorado Law University invites a serial entrepreneur to tell his or her story to a group of students (and the public, it’s open for everyone!) for about an hour, and discuss any interesting problems or experiences they had in the past.
Spark Boulder Co-Working Space
Set up by Fletcher Richman in 2013, Spark is a co-working space in Boulder created by & for students. Currently, there are more than 35 companies residing here, of which about 30 are companies of students from CU.
During the summer, CU connects students, including students from other states, to local companies for summer internships. If the students are interested in exploring entrepreneurship opportunities, they are offered the possibility to work as an intern during the day, and work on their own startups in the evening and participate in startup events.
For more info about what CU does to support entrepreneurship, take a look at the CU’s Entrepreneurship website.