What to Say and Take Away from Denver Startup Week

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By Virginia Santy | Editor in Chief

The second installment of a two part series from our editor, guiding you fab feminists through the annals of Denver Startup Week. Part one covered what to attend. Part two includes tips on how to make the most of the week. 

Now that you know where you want to be during Denver Startup Week, September 24-28th, (and you've registered--right??) it's time to think about how you are going to leave your mark both week of and in the future. 

What to Say

Use your voice, broads! Be sure you make the most of your time at these panels and events by talking to people, making connections, and asking important questions. A few ideas:

  • “I am wondering why there are no women/people of color on this panel?”

Conversely: “It is really great to see such a diverse panel. Thank you.”

  • “How do you promote diversity throughout your company culture?”


“What are you doing to attract and retain women?”

In other words: Do you work with anyone who looks different than you? Why the heck not?

  • “Great to meet you and chat with you at this event, Chad. Do you want to come with me to the next panel I am checking out, 'Women Owners: Why and How Your Business Can Be a Force for Good’?' I know there will be a lot of women attending and it would be great to make sure its message is heard by men as well. C’mon, let’s do this!” [Optional high-five.]

What to Take Away

When DSW is over and downtown streets are no longer lined with nicely trimmed beards wearing crossbody messenger bags stuffed with business cards and moleskins, what remains? This is what I want for you, ladies:

  1. A nice blend of inspiration and indignation. DSW is the largest startup week in the nation. It is impressive. Its content is educational. Creative, successful, fascinating people lead the sessions and attend events. Soak it up. I want that for you. And then I want you to feel a little uncomfortable. To realize women are 51% of the professional workforce and are increasingly more educated than men, yet the number of women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies is down by 25% so far this year. In 2017, women entrepreneurs received just 2% of VC funding. Sure, read that sentence again--sadly the number will still be a two! So yes, feel the motivation running through your veins after DSW closes, then allow yourself to feel that “wait-a-second!” follow-up realization that things could and should be better. Women are a huge force in our state economy. I’d like for all of us, ladies and dudes, to see the contribution women make in our state and get more fired up about how best to invest in and support women in return.

  2. Meet one good girl. Advice straight from my dear friend, Olivia Omega, who also happens to be Chair of the Founder Track of DSW, one of the most amazing entrepreneurs I know, and an introvert. All the DSW networking and conversatin’ can be overwhelming, and following up on that stack of business cards you collected may not be the best investment of your time. Instead, think about who you met, who you connected with, and what you could do for each other. Reach out to her and build a relationship; grow your network in a slow, but thoughtful and valuable way.

  3. Get involved. The Downtown Denver Partnership is working to make DSW more inclusive and 2019 will bring new opportunities to enhance DSW for all who attend. Why not be a part of it? Submit a panel for next year and make it on to 2019’s Feminist Guide to Denver Startup Week.