1 Million Cups: An Introduction to New Companies in the Colorado Technology Market

1MC_LogoAttending my first 1 Million Cups event last June, I had no idea what I was signing up for. But, inspired by their tradition of asking every single presenter, “what can we do to help you,” I knew I needed to be a part of it.

1 Million Cups started in 2011 in Kansas City, MO by the Kauffman Foundation with the premise that they wanted to build a local entrepreneurial community. They decided that it would take (at least) 1 Million Cups of coffee to do that. Less than two years later they are now in 65+ cities, including the Colorado technology market!

Think Shark Tank, but without the pitch for money and the shrewdness of Mr. Wonderful. Each week, each city hosts two local entrepreneurs who prepare a six-minute presentation for the audience and then open it up for a twenty-minute Q&A session. The entrepreneurs get immediate, candid feedback and gain real connections (much more than just a LinkedIn acceptance). The presenters are founders of start-ups that are ideally under 3 years old, post revenue and/or funding.

Since stepping in as an organizer this past summer, I’ve taken on the role of Recruiter (imagine that) where I am responsible for finding and scheduling local start-ups. Thankfully, we live in a city (Go Broncos!) that is filled with incredibly brave and crazy entrepreneurs that are changing technology and software. While there are many ways to meet people, 1 Million Cups is unique. We happen over coffee, not cocktails. Yes, I know a nice Pinot Grigio in your hand can calm your nerves, but our format doesn’t force you to mingle and awkwardly approach someone with your own elevator pitch. We foster an educational environment where you can passively listen or actively engage

Last summer, I introduced an idea called “Super Star Start-up” – a chance to hear from Denver based start-ups that have already achieved great success, but are still early enough to vividly recall the feelings and emotions of their story.

In August, I was able to secure one of the co-founders of Craftsy, Josh Scott. Craftsy launched in May 2011 and offers hundreds of classes in quilting, sewing, knitting, cake decorating, cooking and more through online video lessons. And get this: it was founded by 4 guys in their late 30s who didn’t have any interest in crafts (in fact, they tried wine tasting and economics classes first)!

A few key takeaways from what Josh shared? 1) It is OK if you are not your customer. But even if you are your customer, 2) get to know your customer; listen and be humble in learning from them. 3) When hiring, be proactive! Don’t hire for your current pain, but for the long term.

Just this week, we had another “Super Star Star-up”, and welcomed co-founder Luke Swanson from Ibotta. Founded three years ago this March, and launched in December 2012, Ibotta is a free mobile app where you can unlock cash back rewards on great products; simply scan your receipt and get real, actual, spendable, cash deposited back in your account. Points are cute but cash buys coffee. Sweet, glorious, coffee. They now have over 6 million users and are one of the most frequently used apps (running stats comparable to the giants like Twitter, Instagram & Facebook).

Some things we learned from Luke are: 1) Don’t Assume! Early on, they were concerned users would be unwilling to take a picture of their receipt to save money; so they tested it. They set up a table outside of Coors Field, and asked people to try it. Gathering feedback showed them that this could work! 2) Technology is awesome: Ibotta founders built their app knowing what technology is capable of, rather than just trying to get a newspaper coupon on a phone like some of their competitors. They also added gamification to increase engagement. 3) Step out of your comfort zone: Luke left two well-paying, stable jobs for careers in start-ups. With risk comes tremendous reward.

While we are currently booked through March, there will certainly be times we have to scramble when a last minute opportunity fills up an entrepreneur’s calendar. Our presenters have given us a lot of feedback and believe 1 Million Cups provides meaningful connections and insightful feedback. You never know when that advice could help them raise that next funding round, connect with a business partner or acquire a new customer that could launch them into Super Star status.

As part of the Kauffman tradition, I will eventually pass the reigns of co-organizer to another bright-eyed audience member who has no idea what they’re getting into. Until then, I will continue my hunt for courageous entrepreneurs willing to share their story. I am so thankful for the inspiration, connections and friendships that the 1 Million Cups community has offered me. Huge shout out to our current team of organizers that make this happen every week- it takes all of us: Breahna Beecher (Lead- entrepreneur, Revive Design Studios), Brent Cutcliffe (entrepreneur, Qwinix), Antoine Valot (entrepreneur), and Martha Brown (entrepreneur, Brown Bear Social). Thank you!

We hope you will join us next week, February 25th for Cheddar Up and Equipment Village!

1 Million Cups is just one way I strive to fulfill the EdgeLink mission “to make a positive impact on the lives and people that we touch”.

 

EdgeLink Wins Inavero’s 2015 Best of Staffing ® Talent Diamond Award And Client Satisfaction Award

Best of StaffingPortland, OR – February 20, 2015 – EdgeLink, a leading employment agency in the technology industry announced today they have earned Inavero’s Best of Staffing ® Client Award and Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Talent Diamond Award after winning the Best of Staffing Talent Award at least five years in a row for providing superior service to job seekers. Presented in partnership with CareerBuilder, Inavero’s Best of Staffing in Client Satisfaction and Talent Diamond winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based completely on the ratings given to them by clients and the permanent and temporary employees they’ve helped find jobs. With satisfaction scores more than three times higher than the industry average, award winners make up less than two percent of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada who earned the Best of Staffing Award for service excellence.

Focused on helping companies find the right people for their job openings and helping to connect people with the right jobs to further their career, EdgeLink received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 63 percent of their placed job candidates, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 51 percent.

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Jeff Miller says, “We are thrilled to have been named an Inavero Best of Staffing Company for Talent and Client satisfaction again this year. We’re passionate about delivering an exceptional experience for all our employees and clients, and we’re grateful for all their hard work and great feedback year after year.”

No stranger to the Inavero Best of Staffing for Talent Satisfaction award, EdgeLink also received the Diamond Award for Talent, recognizing their sixth consecutive win.  “We love working with the best IT talent in the industry, and this award shows our commitment to those relationships,” says Co-Founder and VP of Contract Services, Mike Miadich. “The IT industry is extremely competitive right now, and we’re honored to have won such an award.”

“With a tightening labor market and a need for growing companies to stay flexible, staffing agencies are placing more people into employment opportunities than at any other point in U.S. history,” said Inavero’s CEO, Eric Gregg. “More companies and job seekers than ever before need a staffing agency with a proven commitment to service excellence. Bestofstaffing.com is the place to find winning agencies working in your city and area of expertise. We are incredibly proud of the accomplishment of our 2015 award recipients.”

About EdgeLink
EdgeLink is a technology staffing firm that recruits the best mid-to-executive level technical professionals on a contract, contract-to-hire and direct-hire basis.  Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, EdgeLink works with start-ups to Fortune 100 companies throughout the country.  Their knowledge of the technology industry allows them to take a personalized, targeted and consultative approach to match the right candidate with the right company.

About Inavero
Inavero administers more staffing agency client and talent satisfaction surveys than any other firm in the world. Inavero’s team reports on over 1.2 million satisfaction surveys from staffing agency clients and talent each year and the company serves as the American Staffing Association’s exclusive service quality partner.

About Inavero’s Best of Staffing
Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Award is the only award in the U.S. and Canada that recognizes staffing agencies that have proven superior service quality based completely on the ratings given to them by their clients and job candidates. Award winners are showcased by city and area of expertise on BestofStaffing.com – an online resource for hiring professionals and job seekers to find the best staffing agencies to call when they are in need.

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Contact
Jeff Miller, Managing Director
p 503.246-3989
f  503.246.4375
jeff@edgelink.com
www.edgelink.com

 

Strategies for Building a World Class Tech Team: Lessons from Portland Startup Week

Portland Startup Week

The Portland Startup scene is thriving, and EdgeLink is excited to be involved with the entrepreneurs and business leaders who are celebrating this growth. On February 5, EdgeLink’s Direct Hire Services Manager, Mark Schacter, hosted a panel of experts at the Portland Startup Week event, discussing “Strategies for Building a World-Class Tech Team.” Continue reading

The Attributes that Make a Company Great to Work For – EdgeLink sponsors DVSUG

20150126_183637On January 26th, 2015, EdgeLink Denver sponsored the Denver Visual Studio User Group and presented for the second time. The group is hosted monthly by Chris Wallace and held at Microsoft in the Denver Tech Center for developers who are utilizing the Microsoft stack. Aaron Mills, Denver Manager, presented on ‘The attributes that make a company great to work for’ after 6 weeks of research by the entire EdgeLink Denver team.

The team gathered information from both candidates and clients about what makes their company great to work for and how employee retention is promoted. The results were interesting to say the least! From waffle breakfasts, bike sharing, dogs in the office, and free lunches, the participants in EdgeLink’s study had plenty of information about why they love (or hate) the place they work.

Continue reading

EdgeLink to Host Expert Panel at Portland Startup Week

Portland Startup Week

EdgeLink is excited to be hosting an event at the Portland Startup Week, taking place February 2 – 6, 2015. EdgeLink’s event, “Learn from the Experts – Strategies for Building a World-Class Tech Team,” will be at 11am on Thursday, February 5.

Portland’s Startup Week is a conference that focuses on entrepreneurship in the community.  The event presents opportunities to learn from guest speakers, community leaders and fellow entrepreneurs. From panels and discussions to networking and happy hours, Portland Startup Week is essentially a celebration of the community’s entrepreneurial spirit. Continue reading