You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to start a successful company. Marc Nager, Co-founder of Startup Weekend, and Dave Mayer, Founder of Aspen Entrepreneurs, are pros at building ‘non-urban’ startup communities. Listen for insights into how Give First helped them grow startup ecosystems in Telluride, in Aspen, and beyond.

Too many people believe that you have to be in Silicon Valley—or some similarly hyped tech-obsessed locale—to be an entrepreneur. Techstars knows this isn’t true: successful entrepreneurship can happen anywhere. 

Marc Nager and Dave Mayer are living proof.  

Marc is the Co-founder of Startup Weekend, the former CEO of UP Global before it was acquired by Techstars, and Techstars Chief Community Officer after the acquisition. He is on a mission to bring entrepreneurship to rural America. 

Dave is the Founder and CEO at Technical Integrity and Massive Impact and the Founder of Aspen Entrepreneurs, and an active and passionate member of the Colorado startup community. 

Both are hugely active in their local startup communities, Marc in Telluride, CO and Dave in Carbondale, CO outside of Aspen, and both see how entrepreneurship can thrive in these relatively small places—and what entrepreneurship can bring to them to make them economically sustainable for the long term. 

Listen to hear Marc and Dave talk with Brad Feld—who literally wrote the book on Startup Communities—for a deeply thoughtful exploration of the how and why of entrepreneurship in a ‘non-urban’ environment. 

Listen for Marc’s and Dave’s take on…

Marc and Dave on the economic benefits—and potential—of entrepreneurship in a small town: 

Marc:  “I fundamentally believe entrepreneurship is the most powerful force in advancing human welfare.”

Marc: “We can look at Telluride as a microcosm for what’s happening in the rest of the country through the lens of economic development, and see how can entrepreneurship can play a massive part in a vision for creating a more sustainable economy over the long term.”

Marc:  “You find some incredibly accomplished people in these small towns. Likely they’re the people who grew up here who went off, had careers, and came back, and they’re looking to participate in different ways, as entrepreneurs or as investors. You end up with a vast resource of this intellectual and financial and network capital in these small towns.”

Dave: “For me it’s about quality of life, right? Broadband means that people can work from wherever they want now. All you need is a laptop and a great internet connection and a great idea—and obviously an ability to execute—and the ability to build a great team around you.”

Dave: “The word entrepreneur, the word startup—some people worry that we’re going to attract a Facebook to some 50,000 person valley and it’s going to change everything. That’s not really the goal, right? It’s getting five or 10, $10 to $20 million companies that can create real jobs for people and give them great health care. Those people can raise their kids here, live the life that they’ve dreamed of, and not be forced out by these rising prices around Aspen or Telluride.”

Marc and Dave on the new definition of success: 

Marc: “The new American dream isn’t getting a fancy job and climbing the corporate ladder. It’s about living and working where you want—and having meaningful work.”

Dave: “Everybody has their own definition of success. And if that means working out of a coffee shop and hitting a powder day and then working with your friends and on something that you’ve been dreaming about forever, then that’s an easy one. That’s an easy success.”

Companies, people, and resources mentioned in this podcast:

 


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