For the first time since its inception, the Startup Games networking and charity event came to Colorado on October 15th for a fun day of competition in the name of good causes. High-growth startups in the community each donated money to play while also earning cash for their chosen charities.
This past May I had the opportunity to meet Sara Reeves, the Program Director of the Startup Games, and for months I worked with her to organize and bring the Startup Games to Denver. In the process I became not only a community advisor in finding volunteers and organizations to participate, but I also took on the role of Head Referee for the entire event.
Seven Denver-area organizations participated in the games: Blinker, Circle Graphics, HomeAdvisor, Ibotta, ReadyTalk/Dialog Lab, ReturnPath, and Sphero. Similar to the Olympics, there was an opening ceremony with each team marching out and displaying a flag that they created to officially kick off the day. Then, the competition rapidly began. Events included Jenga, Connect Four, Beer Pong, Flip Cup, Foosball, Liar’s Dice, Cornhole, Trivia, and more.
Over 250 people, including 36 volunteers and 17 sponsors, were in attendance as I officiated each exciting event. It was enlightening to see how strategic the teams became in the competition, meticulously planning which teammate would compete in a specific event based on their strengths. For example, Ibotta decided to put their best software engineer on Connect Four, and they won that event.
The teamwork and internal teambuilding I witnessed was great to see and a major part of the day, but it was dually wonderful to know that it was all in the name of charity. A staggering $25,000 was raised during the day, divided up between all the great charities in a sliding scale according to place.
After a first ever Startup Games tie-breaker had to be conducted, Ibotta emerged as the overall winner and as a result won a $7,000 charitable donation to their choice, Judi’s House. Second place went to Blinker who helped St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital take home $5,500, and third place went to HomeAdvisor with $4,500 awarded to Open World Learning.
My day began at noon and ended at nearly 7p.m., and while it was an exhausting experience it was something so fun and unique to participate in that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The Startup Games have been expanding across the country and will spread to Atlanta in 2017 and Chicago in 2018. I highly recommend any startup to consider participating, and everyone else to think about volunteering to witness all the fun and help out some great causes.
It’s great to see more events for the startup community in Denver, and I already can’t wait for next year’s competition!