Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Fort Collins-Loveland, CO

Fort Collins , Loveland Colorado

The Fort Collins – Loveland area is one of the top cities for creative minds and is building a reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Fort Collins, CO, the seat of Larimer County, is the state’s fourth-largest city. Nearby Loveland, appropriately nicknamed “The Sweetheart City,” is Colorado’s 14th most populous city. Despite their relatively diminutive size, however, the cities offer a somewhat robust environment to its local entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Both cities (often grouped collectively) appear on a number of lists ranking the best places for entrepreneurs: they were ranked 18th overall on a 2018 list of the most innovative cities in the US done by 24/7 Wall Street. Similarly, the Fort-Collins-Loveland area finished 12th overall on Verizon’s ranking of the most innovative cities. Loveland itself was ranked 81st on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business, including a ranking of 77th in the “Business Environment” category. Finally, Fort Collins made an appearance on a list not exclusively based on entrepreneurship that suggests a culture of innovation: Thrillist’s 2019 list of the best cities for creatives.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Fort Collins-Loveland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Business Divas meetup group aims to give women in entrepreneurship and business the opportunity to find connections, support and more.

The Business Networks meetup group meets twice a month to network, make connections and even brainstorm solutions to business problems.

Northern Colorado Community’s Business Networking meetup meets regularly to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in the surrounding area.

Also known as The Caffeinated Business Network, Networking Fort Collins is a networking group specifically aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and their startups.

Based in Loveland, the Northern Colorado Networking meetup group hosts a variety of regular networking opportunities, workshops, and other events to support the business community.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

1 Million Cups is an organization that hosts weekly events during which entrepreneurs can network and present their startups to one another.

The eWomen Network supports women entrepreneurs has a branch in Northern Colorado that hosts events for local entrepreneurs.

The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a number of events ranging from annual conferences on business and innovation to monthly networking events for members.

Fort Collins is home to one iteration of Startup Week, Techstar’s annual weeklong conferences celebrating entrepreneurship held in multiple cities across the country.

 

Startup Competitions:

The University of Northern Colorado in nearby Greeley hosts an annual entrepreneurship competition with major cash prizes given out to several winners.

The Innovate Fort Collins Challenge is an annual competition in which a handful of projects or companies designed to help the community can earn grants.

Held in conjunction with Fort Collins Startup Week, PitchNo.CO is a competition for companies in Larimer and Weld Counties.

 

Co-working Spaces:

In addition to co-working space with a variety of flexible membership plans, The Articulate offers a fully-functional photography and video studio for rent.

Cohere Coworking offers both traditional co-working spaces and private offices as well as large and small conference rooms available for rent.

Located in Loveland, Desk Chair Workspace offers a variety of membership plans to best meet the needs of those looking to use the space.

Based in a historic old building in Fort Collins’ Old Town, Jefferson’s Study offers office space for rent with full-time, part-time and drop-in rates available.

Fort Collins’ Linden Street is home to 14,000 square feet of co-working space and 139 dedicated desks offered by the company Spaces.

 

Makerspaces:

The Natural Sciences Education and Outreach Center at the University of Northern Colorado’s College of Natural Sciences includes a small makerspace for students.

Fort Collins Maker Hub is a nonprofit makerspace that offers 4,000 square feet of space and a wide variety of tools and equipment available for use by members.

The Loveland CreatorSpace is a makerspace that provides access to tools and resources as well as placing an emphasis on educating and supporting the area’s youth.

Located less than 30 minutes south of Loveland in Longmont, TinkerMill is a huge makerspace with a wide variety of equipment available and regular classes.

 

Incubators:

Innovative Preneurs (InnoP) is dedicated to supporting startups by providing workspace, mentorship and access to other important development resources.

Innosphere provides incubation services to promising science and technology companies throughout the state of Colorado.

The Larimer Small Business Development Center hosts events and runs programs that support business and entrepreneurship throughout Larimer County.

 

Accelerators:

The Institute for Entrepreneurship at CSU provides student startups with support, mentorship, and access to valuable industry connections.

Located in Loveland, The Warehouse is an accelerator program that specifically works with second stage technology and manufacturing companies.

 

Colleges/Universities:

Colorado State University organizes a number of resources and programs to support entrepreneurship in students, both inside and outside of the classroom.

With locations across Colorado, the Front Range Community College offers a certificate program in Small Business Management.

The University of Northern Colorado’s Monfort College of Business offers an undergraduate minor program in entrepreneurship. Additionally, they host an entrepreneurship competition.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Colorado Angel Investors is a group of investors that meet in Fort Collins and make investments in seed-stage companies in Northern Colorado.

A program of Innosphere, the Innosphere Investor Network is a collection of accredited investors that work with technology startup companies.

The Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association aims to invest in promising companies throughout the region.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

BizWest, a business journal focusing on Boulder Valley and the Northern Colorado area, offers several levels of subscription plans.

Among the newsletters offered by The Coloradoan newspaper is Biz Beat, which covers business and entrepreneurship news in Northern Colorado.

ColoradoBiz covers business news throughout the state. They offer a daily newsletter containing the biggest headlines and reminders for upcoming entrepreneurial events.

 

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Fort Collins – Loveland not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.