Benjamin Kunkel on Colorado

Benjamin Kunkel is one of young American writers I follow. I loved his novel Indecision and try to stay on top of his magazine n+1 when I can. Over at the blog they write about Kunkel's contribution to State by State, the book of essays by writers about each state in America. It's on his native state of Colorado. Here's how he describes growing up near Eagle, Colorado:

The first of the beautiful ordinary things I remember are the creek gabbling away in its bed and the smell of rained-on sage bringing out an unsuspected sweetness from the land: thoughts of water in a dry place. But the thinness and dryness of the air on clear days–as of something brittle that would never break–was also thrilling, and what I liked doing on days like that was to clamber up the red mountain, which always offered some new place to be discovered among its troughs of brilliant dirt and tilted spines.

Nice. I love nature and the outdoors and enjoy Colorado for this reason. I plan to spend most of my life in major world cities but also plan to spend significant chunks of time in remote nature settings.

See the whole post for Kunkel's picks on the best books of or about Colorado.


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How Boulder Became a Start-Up Town

I have a ~2,600 word piece in the latest issue of The American, the publication of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, on how Boulder, CO became a start-up town. Excerpt:

In the past 15 years, Boulder has gone from a little hippie college town to a little hippie college town also boasting an impressive and growing congregation of Internet entrepreneurs, early-stage venture capitalists, and bloggers. How did Boulder pull this off? And what can other cities, policymakers, and entrepreneurs who want to boost their own start-up quotient—and overall competitiveness at a local level—learn from Boulder’s success?

The formatting — namely section breaks — is better in the print magazine.

Arnold Kling, in reflecting on the latest issue, called The American a "top notch" publication. I agree (my article excepted, of course!) it’s an engaging read for anyone interested in business and policy.

TechStars 2008 – 15 Days Left

If you’re thinking of starting a company, or are still in the early stages of a start-up, think about spending your summer at TechStars in Boulder, CO. TechStars in a summer camp of sorts for entrepreneurs. You get some seed funding, constant attention from mentors and business experts, office space, and immediately placement into a community of likeminded souls (fellow TechStars entrepreneurs). What could be better?

I’ve written a lot about how mentors have changed my life. One of my mentors, Brad Feld, wrote a whole essay on the topic for my book My Start-Up Life. What’s awesome about TechStars is it connects you on Day 1 with a group of engaged mentors who will help make your idea a reality. I have yet to find another organization or opportunity that so seamlessly brings together highly screened entrepreneurs with highly screened mentors.

Last year, I lived in Boulder for a few months and worked with my friend David Cohen — the ringleader of TechStars — as he was putting together the inaugural summer. Along the way I became friends with many of the Boulder tech entrepreneurs. I have fond memories of my time there mainly because of the wonderful people who call Boulder home. Most of these people — the Foundry Group gang, Paul Berberian, Lucy Sanders, Ryan Martens, Niel Robertson, Jared Polis, Wendy Lea, and many others — are involved with TechStars.

You have 15 days left to apply. It’s exclusive: only the 10 best teams get in. What do you have to lose? Come hang out with my friends (and me) in Boulder this summer — submit an application today!

Oh – one more thing – I’ll be hosting the second annual Casnocha Ping Pong Tournament in Boulder sometime over the summer. All TechStars entrepreneurs are automatically entered!

TechStars Gets Going in Colorado

One of the projects I worked on when I lived in Colorado during Q1 ’07 was TechStars, a start-up bootcamp to help incubate and launch new business ideas. It just got going! Ten outstanding teams of young entrepreneurs have moved to Boulder and are working hard at developing their concepts.

You can follow the progress at the TechStars Blog. David Cohen has posted a couple video updates of the progress, including this panel which talk about whether your idea needs to be brilliant on day one, how to consider customer feedback, and other useful topics.

I’ll be in Boulder from July 18 – 20 this summer. Among other things, I’m hosting the First Annual TechStars Ping-Pong Classic.

I look forward to meeting all the entrepreneurs this summer and battling it out on the ping pong table!

Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain Park

My folks came to town last weekend to celebrate my 19th orbit around the sun. We went to Rocky Mountain National Park to hang in the mountains and, most notably, snowshoe. Chalk up a new life experience!

The weather for snowshoeing was absolutely spectacular. Good snow on the ground but sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Majestic mountains never out of sight. Snowshoeing is drop dead simple: just walk. We trekked through the woods and hardly saw another person. It’s most fun when you walk on virgin snow and therefore create your own tracks.

If you’re a California softie but want to feel "hard" like Rocky Mountain folk, snowshoeing is an awesome, easy exercise. And I highly recommend Estes Park / Rocky Mountain National Park.