Peak Startup began life in 2000 as the Peak Venture Group (PVG). PVG filed a void in the Colorado Springs community to bring people interested in entrepreneurship together for education and networking. The early years focused on one main monthly event, the PVG Breakfast. This breakfast consisted of a keynote speaker on an area of entrepreneurship and several new companies pitching their business. These early connections were critical because they brought together people founding, funding, and mentoring entrepreneurs to create a critical mass. Most of the early energy went into mentoring companies both with the pitch for their company as well as how to really build a business and seek growth capital.
After many years separate, Peak Venture Group took over the management of the Celebrate Technology event. Celebrate Technology is an awards event honoring technology companies and innovative people in the community, fostering a positive innovation climate that drives our economic vitality and well being. This event created an opportunity to recognize entrepreneurs and their entities in a formal awards setting. It also allowed the organization to draw nationally known speakers to Colorado Springs such as Steve Wozniak and Brad Feld.
In 2013 the Startup America Partnership was formed by the Kauffman Foundation to support and grow startups in America. Soon after a Startup Colorado chapter was formed, which quickly was the most mature and successful chapter in the nation. A local chapter, Startup Colorado Springs, formed to replicate the model that had been growing in the rest of the state. This included events like Open Coffee Club, Pitch Night, Office Hours, and Startup Cheers. This group shared many of the same passionate people as Peak Venture Group and the two groups decided to merge into Peak Startup in April 2014.
Peak Startup has focused on growing events locally for startups and their supporters. Peak Startup has hosted three Startup Weekends to date and expects to grow to more than one a year. It fully administers events such as Celebrate Technology, New Tech Pitch Night, and Entrepreneur Evenings. It supports community events like Startup Shuffle and 1 Million Cups. It also organizes Startup Week in Colorado Springs, which in its first year, 2014, had 30 events and 750 participants.
Colorado began the Startup Week phenomena and Colorado Springs participated only one year after Denver’s first event. Startup Week celebrates the achievements of entrepreneurial communities in cities across the globe. The mission is to develop and support thriving communities wherever they may exist. The best way to do this is to bring entrepreneurs together in a way that they can connect, share and bond. Over the course of five days, participants in Startup Week can choose the events they’d like to attend. Typically these events are held at various venues across a city. Speakers from the community, and outside it, are brought in to share their story to motivate and inspire the entrepreneurial community. Local organizers select the tracks they feel are most relevant to their community and choose speakers based on those tracks.
After Startup Week, participants find that they’re more connected to their community and no longer feel alone in their efforts. It’s this support network that can make the difference between closing up shop and pushing through to success.
Overall, Peak Startup supports more than 100 startup focused events a year in Colorado Springs and continues to connect Colorado Springs to the rest of the startup ecosystem in Colorado. It will continue to grow and achieve its goal of creating numerous new primary employers and high technology jobs in Colorado Springs.