Hi! My name is Kayleen Cohen and I’m the founder of Mtn. Dog Media. I started my small business almost eight years ago in Boulder, Colorado under the watchful eye of many of our region’s most legendary startup entrepreneurs. In 2017 I moved myself and my brand to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and became a part of the West Slope startup community. I was thrilled to find a bubbling, blossoming startup community coming to life in my humble little mountain town, much like the one that had fostered my business in Boulder! Manufacturing, freelance, brick and mortar, services business, artists… Look and you’ll find it ALL on the west slope! So imagine my stoke when I found out about the inaugural West Slope Startup Week in Grand Junction. An opportunity to meet, connect, and learn with so many inspirational entrepreneurs, freelancers, and motivated minds.
West Slope Startup Week: What to Expect
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the 2019 West Slope Startup Week. Traditional “business conferences” aren’t really my thing. I’m a relentless enthusiast for continued education and networking, but stuffy rooms and boring, fundamental lectures not so much. Knowing that West Slope Startup Week was being organized by a group of super fun, super smart, COLORADO folks assured me that this event would be anything but boring and fundamental. When I packed up my car for Grand Junction I had camping gear, business conference clothes, trail running shoes… a little bit of everything! Leave it to a gaggle of Coloradan’s to put together an event this perfectly professional and playful!
Kickoff: It All Comes Full Circle
I knew I was in the right place when 2019 Keynote Speaker Brad Feld took the microphone during the kickoff luncheon. Brad, one of the most well respected startup entrepreneurs in the nation, is an icon in the Boulder startup scene. I remember serving him coffee when I was a full time barista in Boulder hustling double time to start Mtn. Dog Media. He had told me about Techstars and encouraged me to give it my all. Now here I was, seven years later, six years full time self employed, looking up at one of my original idols! In Grand Junction, Colorado nonetheless. How cool?!
Panels, Lectures & Workshops
The first day of West Slope Startup Week I sat in on two stimulating panels. Amy Kemp’s panel on storytelling was absolutely riveting and hilarious. Panelists described their personal experiences creating brands and building businesses through authentic, creative storytelling. On the subsequent days I attended several workshops and lectures from the people and communications tracks. I was thrilled to hear several presenters talking about mental health and other difficult, relatable topics.
Adventure Time: The West Slope Provides
One of the highlights of the whole West Slope Startup Week experience for me was getting to camp, hike, and run among the red rocks and cliffs. The WSSW “Fun” track hosted several events in the area including a fun run, hike, and mountain bike excursion complete with beer and cider from local breweries. Instead of staying in Grand Junction, I opted to camp along the Colorado River in Palisade and found this to be a perfect compliment to the day’s activities.
Meet, Mingle & Grow Your Network
West Slope Startup Week was like summer camp for big kids. I made friends and professional connections that I keep in regular contact with. I’ve collaborated on projects, planned events, and taken calls with people I met that week! And I’m stoked to return in June of 2020 to meet, mingle and expand my network to even more inspirational Coloradans!
Blog post written by Kayleen Cohen, founder of Mtn. Dog Media and Communications Track Captain for West Slope Startup Week