top of page

Is Colorado in an Investor Drought?


By Joseph Haecker

Aug 17, 2022

Or is the ecosystem simply failing to draw investors out to events?

Denver, CO – So you are an entrepreneur in the greater Denver Metro area, and you want to start a business or tech company. The common advice is to get out to networking events, to go find potential co-founders and investors.

And now, “post-Covid” (can we say that yet?), there are a ton of events. Whether you fancy finding events on Meetup, Facebook, Slack Channels, a friend of a friend, how ever you find an event, there is a common theme…

A. This will be a networking event at a brewery

B. This will be a pitch event

C. This will be an event put on by an incubator or an accelerator

The fact that we are having events again is fantastic!

This means that if you are crazy enough to start your own business, there are events to go to and network.

But take a moment and look around at the other people that showed up to the event…

Let the sounds of “So, what do you do?”, “My company solves the problem of…”, let it all fade to silence…

Look around the room.

Who do you see?

Marketers? SEO? Another founder? That guy/girl that was tired of being at home and finally got out to an in-person event?

Who’s missing?

Do you see it?

Still don’t see it?

Where are the “investors”?

Where are those guys from Slack, Twilio, Amazon, Google?

Where are the people that have “made it”, and can add pedigree to the startup that you are forming?

When I launched my second startup in 2014, my inhouse team included:

- The Brand Strategist from Adobe

- The Director of Marketing for the Honda Center

- The President of Tech Coast Angels

- The Founder of Bright White

- The Former CTO of Gateway Computers

- The CFO of OlliClip

- The Director of UI/UX from Auto Trader

- Developers from Nortel Systems, Google and Amazon

My advisors were:

- Jeff Weiner – LinkedIn

- Nick Bell – Snap Inc.

- Michael Jones – MySpace

The ecosystem was a place that invited and supported networking with investors, venture capitalists, successful founders, and all of the would-be, could-be and someday will-be, successful entrepreneurs.

An ecosystem where successful founders understood that they were only where they are today, because of an ecosystem that supported them back then.

We had phrases like:

“You don’t need to get to the top of the hill, to reach back and help someone else”

“The CEO should be the dumbest person at the table”

“A CEO’s job is chief recruiter and chief motivator”

“Your concept is only as good as your team”

“Investing your time early on, helps create better deals upstream”

We had an ecosystem that invested in the new crop of entrepreneurs, through an investment of time and being present.

I mentioned this in a previous Opinion Piece, but did you know that only 1-3% of ALL startups will ever be accepted into an incubator or accelerator?

Did you also know that only 2% of ALL venture capital is allocated to founders of a minority origin?

In a town where the world-famous Tech Stars casts a long shadow, the Colorado ecosystem basically behaves like a college town.

When you visit a college town, you notice that all the town’s commerce revolves around that college.

Here is Colorado, everything is about the incubators and the accelerators.

Even our Department of Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) considers itself “the best kept secret”.

But in a world where our global economy is supported through job creation, why is Colorado funneling everyone through either hidden, or programs that knowingly will only serve 1-3% of the community that needs these resources?

Here’s my solution…

Calling All Potential Investors!!!

If you are a private investor, a private equity investor, an angel group, a VC group, or you are the gatekeeper of institutional funding…

Please for the love of God…Attend more events!

If an angel investor showed up to a local 1-Million Cups and provided feedback to the startups that pitch there weekly…the advice that you give, would dramatically improve the level of feedback provided currently.

If Angels and VC’s introduced themselves and worked with local event organizers to host Q&A’s, Panels, Fireside Chats, literally ANYTHING… Our events would have so much more substance.

I call them “entry points”.

If the investor community, got involved with event organizers at the entry points, then we wouldn’t need to be educating our startups so late in the game.

Think about this…

Local Angel, VC, incubators and accelerators are currently hosting pitch instruction, founding workshops, cofounder matching events, etc.

But what if they simply threw that to the entry points and the rest of the ecosystem?

When a founder shows up at the doorsteps of an incubator, accelerator, Angel group, or Venture Capital Group, that founder should be well seasoned because they cut their teeth and learned throughout the ecosystem.

They should arrive at the doorsteps of investment prepared!

It is not the job of an Angel to teach a founder “All they know”. It’s an Angel’s job to groom a founding team, open up their network, and lead that founder into the next round of funding.

An incubator shouldn’t be distracted teaching startup 101, when they should be filtering out the cream of the crop, and accelerating that founding team’s growth.

I get it. We live in the shadow of Tech Stars. So, we behave like a college town.

What we need is investors to invest their time and some of their money into the event organizers, whose job it is to groom the would-be, could-be, may someday be, startups.

The “ecosystem” should be helping create better deals upstream.

We need investors to start getting involved locally.

If you are an investor reading this article, and you are wondering where to get started? Call me directly!

I will tell you about my buddy Daniel. Or 1Million Cups. Or my buddy Mason. Or Zach. Or Sam. Or any number of event organizers that could use your help.

And more importantly, the ecosystem needs your presence.



Joseph Haecker is a serial entrepreneur, with over 23 life-time registered businesses, $4.5 million in raised capital, 3 exits, and advisor to dozens of startups and small businesses. Joseph leans towards education and a more planned infrastructure for small business, tech and startup roadmap. In a world where our local, national and international economies depend on entrepreneurship, Joseph believes that we should be providing more accessible and free education to entrepreneurs.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this Opinion Piece, please feel free to email joseph at:

Comments (1)

Vadim Ostrovsky
Aug 17, 2022

Joe, can't agree more. Well said again.

bottom of page