I’ve been in a year long battle trying to weigh the pros and cons of Denver vs Boulder for personal living and for my startup. My apartment lease is up in 45 days (and I don’t want to renew it) so I’ve been thinking real hard about where I want to live next & where I want to work should we ever move our office from its current Denver location.
I hope my thought process sheds some light on my experiences running a startup for the last five years in Denver and the importance (or lack therof?) of physical location for both personal happiness and business success. I’ve seen a lot of “Boulder is Great for Your Startup” type posts, but nothing comparing Boulder to Denver from someone who has run a startup out of Denver.
I first moved to Colorado in 2002 to attend the University of Denver. I lived near DU in South Denver from 2002-2006. I started Printfection in 2004 in my on-campus apartment. Printfection’s first real office came a few months later in beautiful (ha!) Aurora, and a year after that (2005) we moved to our current location.
After graduation I moved to the ghetto side of Downtown Denver (on the same block as a large homeless shelter amidst a sea of parking lots) and lived there from 2006-2008. In 2008 I moved up to Louisville as I became more involved in the Boulder tech scene and was, at the time, planning to move our office from Denver to Boulder. The timing just wasn’t quite right for the office move, so I still commute from Louisville to Denver and haven’t really got to experience as much of Boulder as I’d hoped.
As I’ve become a bit more involved with the local Colorado tech scene, it’s painfully obvious the entire local tech scene revolves around Boulder. Andrew Hyde, Boulder NewTech Meetup, David Cohen, TechStars, Ignite Boulder, Startup Weekend, Bar Camp Boulder, Brad Feld, Boulder.me, Startup Drinks, the list goes on and on and on. For better or worse, “The Republic of Boulder” is the center of the Colorado technology universe. With only 150,000 people compared to Denver’s 1+ million, there are 10x more tech events and happenings in Boulder than Denver. I know, it doesn’t make much sense. I still can’t figure out why all the rich liberals run the worldwide tech scene (Boulder, San Francisco, etc) but it is what it is and there’s no denying Boulder = Startups (in Colorado).
With my list of pros and cons complete, I still can’t decide. On paper Denver is cheaper, closer to everything, and should be the obvious choice. Denver’s tech scene seems to be improving. Plus, is physcial location even important for an internet company? We’ve done just fine over the past five years, in a warehouse park by the airport! There’s not another tech startup within 10 miles.
However, as I’ve become more involved with the Colorado tech scene I’ve started to spend more time in Boulder and have kind of fallen in love with the place. The community aspect of Boulder is amazing. I’ve met some truly great people up there, and it’s beautiful… but on the flipside it’s so darn expensive, tucked in a corner out of the way, doesn’t have a lot of diversity, and to be perfectly honest I don’t know if I could really live in a bubble filled with liberals who drive Subarus/ Priuses and are more concerned with spending $96 million installing government-subsidized solar panels on their roofs than worrying about the current economic crisis!
How much should I weigh business networking vs. cost of living vs. proximity to my current office vs. existing friends vs. the list goes on and on…. such a tough decision! That’s why they pay me the big bucks… haha yeah right!
Please, let me know your thoughts!
…and P.S. - I voted for Obama, I used to own a Subaru, and I successfully co-existed with tons of crazy liberals in Madison, WI for 18 years. It’s just too easy to poke fun at ‘yall!