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Blog post written by Angela Koukoulas, GJEP intern, West Slope Startup Week Organizer, and Colorado Mesa University student (graduation date 2021)

I think it can go without explanation, that 2020 has felt like a baseball bat to the knees. Each day has an absurd quality to it, the feeling that we are living in a space somewhat adjacent to a reality that existed only months ago.

It is easy to get stuck in that unsettling space, curl up on the couch, and eat macaroni until 2022 rolls around. Unfortunately, science says this is bad for us (not enough dopamine or vitamins). So, we must be resilient.  I don’t know how to look around, read the news, and see anything other than a dumpster fire. Some people, however, have a different set of eyes to view the world.

Throughout West Slope Startup Week, I have seen entrepreneurs, creatives, and wonderful people from across the country share their insights, new ideas, and passions. It is inspiring to watch people find opportunities during this time, indicating a brighter future ahead. Jonathan Greechan, the co-founder of the Founder Institute, held a session called “There Has Never Been a Better Time to Build a Digital Product: Here’s How”. During which, a parallel was made between the current crisis and the 2008 financial crisis. Top digital companies like Peloton, Venmo, and Uber were created during the recession and Greechan emphasized the similar potential for current entrepreneurs looking to develop a digital product. In addition, UX coach Toni Rosati held the session: “Prep for the Hunt: Getting Remote Work”. The session provided relevant information for anyone in a job hunt. The presentation was created before the pandemic, but the information proved to have great hindsight for today’s job market. She emphasised that there is still hope for those looking for work, only the “office” may have changed.

Even as WSSW moved to a virtual format, it was great to work with people who used the unique set of circumstances and pushed to make the event more accessible. We eliminated travel barriers and extended the event for a month. Sessions were recorded so viewers could access the content after the live event. Having only experienced the virtual format of WSSW, I can still feel the sense of community that last year’s attendees speak of so fondly. WSSW has been an innovative way to plug into a creative and energizing space for a few hours a week, allowing me to get a sense of a brighter future. Entrepreneurs have eternal optimism. Their resiliency and knack for opportunity is fascinating, inspiring, and dare I say contagious.