How Your Startup Can Foster Community Support Through Local Events

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Earlier this month, Hygge Power joined a panel discussion featuring some of Colorado’s coolest companies at Colorado Inno’s first “State of Innovation: 2019 Startups to Watch.” Speaking for Hygge, this was one of the best panel discussions we’ve been on in some time, and it probably had something to do with the fact that we sat alongside Aidan Chopra, co-founder of BitsBox, Mike Linton, co-founder and CTO of Parsyl, and Eric Schraufnagel, co-founder and CTO of ClinOne

It’s always fun speaking to a packed house, and we tried to focus our discussion on helpful nuggets that can empower fellow founders. During the panel discussion, we discussed why 2018 was a big year for each of our companies, what some of the challenges we faced along the way were andwhat our plans are for 2019 and beyond. Here’s a quick primer on some of the things we covered during our discussion.

Vision is Crucial

We all agreed that when you have a clear, passionate visionarticulated up front, it's easier to bring people on board because they can buy into a shared enthusiasm. Setting a vision lets everyone know what direction we’re going in, and early hires initially band together, galvanizing around a problem because they believe they can play a role in the solution.

Of course, each founder has this passion and a vision to bring the company to life, and at the beginning, that vision allowed us to set the goals that will define our path and progress going forward. Letting your vision direct your team requires smart and motivated people who you can trust. When your team can easily see where you’re headed, they are much more likely to tie their individual values to that shared vision.

Launch Does Not Equal Success

It was fun to hear that each founder on the panel held a view that we were “successful” companies the moment we launched because we had that big, overarching vision, but once we began talking about our companies publicly, each founder realized how much more work there is still to do before bringing a successful product to the marketplace. In other words, launching our companies did not equate to immediate success. 

Our ideas and vision didn’t matter until we started executing on them in the real world. When a member of the audience asked us whether there’s a “secret sauce” or “magic bullet” solution to launching a company, we all unanimously agreed that’s not the way it works. While success may not come right away, you have to jump in, even if you aren’t sure how it will turn out.

Expectations Don’t Always Meet Reality

To that end, Hygge Power was the youngest of the featured companies on the panel, and we have so much more to do to get to the level that some of these other companies arealready at — so even though I was a panelist, I got to be a fanboy and hear how these same companies faced similar challenges as we are now and how they were able to overcome them. It’s silly for any company, even for us two years ago, to expect that you’re going to have a successful acquisition within a few years — it just takes so much work to get to that point, and expectations don’t always align with reality.   

Why Local Events Encourage Community Support

By not having a niche-specific focus, Colorado Inno’s event offered a different, more general perspective that was a welcome change of pace from my daily utility- and energy-focused grind. The only other events I know that have more generally focused panelist discussions are the Boulder and Denver Startup Weeks. Events like these are more open to public audiences, less heavy on investment and are wonderful for building awareness and making connectionslocally. We’re trying to get more actively involved with this type of event to see what other things we need to do or can do to start generating local investment, partnerships and support.

In the end, Colorado Inno’s State of Innovation: 2019 Startups to Watch was incredibly energizing and informative. If you’re a founder or entrepreneur interested in industry-agnostic knowledge and opportunities for strategic involvement and local connections, check out their next event.

Caleb Scalf