Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins goes WAY beyond apps to art, music, even food-based businesses

By Nick Armstrong

the Geek-in-Chief behind WTF Marketing


Fort Collins will erupt into a free public celebration of making things happen from Feb. 25 to March 2, and you are invited.


“We never see this much talent in the same place at the same time, ever,” says Franklin Taggart, musician, and consultant to creative businesses. “The value of Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins cannot be expressed in words. It has to be experienced in person. You just have to show up. It is an amazing opportunity to get resources, tools, and connections.”


Taggart, who will present on adding creativity into your income stream, is just one of many creatives sharing expertise during ARTup Week.


TechStars Startup Week and ARTup Week Fort Collins is a collection of entrepreneurial and business support sessions including over 100 panels, presentations, networking events and workshops, offered for free to the business and startup community. The weeklong event encourages and supports new and established businesses of all stripes.


According to Peggy Lyle, the director for the Downtown Fort Collins Creative District and lead organizer for ARTup Week, the goal is synergy by proxy.


“When lots of creative brains and entrepreneurs make connections, it’s a collision of diversity, creative ideas, and business models,” Lyle says. “It’s a safe space to bring new ideas and risky questions. Creative entrepreneurs will get a chance to talk about their opportunities and develop business strategies.”


Highlighting creative industry businesses alongside manufacturing, service and technology-based businesses allows for the special kind of “you-got-chocolate-in-my-peanut butter” type of meetings for which TechStars Startup Week Fort Collins is known. It’s in the mingling of industries, backgrounds, and specialties that complex community issues can be discussed.


“The biggest challenge for creatives is to be valued for your work and for others to see the creative industry as a legitimate business sector, an economic development tool, and a realistic career choice,” Lyle adds.


“The art market that exists in Fort Collins makes it challenging to expand beyond Fort Collins. Studio space and collaboration can be expensive and difficult to find. Artists can benefit most by having a clear plan of action,” says Jeanne Shoaff, a fine arts consultant who will be leading a panel to help artists develop business goals. “ARTup week acknowledges art is a different breed of business with different needs. It has so much to offer for artists and creatives.”


The event shines as a bastion of interconnectivity where problems can be solved through proximity to a wide array of fellow businesses. Expensive real estate is a common refrain across industries. “The biggest challenge a Northern Colorado food-based business faces right now is lack of commercial kitchen space. We just don’t have large facilities here,” says Sari Kimbell, founder of Food Business Success and Content Captain of the food-based business track.


“Food is not always seen as a creative industry, but there’s so much artisanry in local food products. Whether it’s sourcing simple local ingredients or reinventing traditional foods, these entrepreneurs bring creativity to our economy.”


Fort Collins is no stranger to this kind of creative synergy. From The Lyric Cinema Café’s integration of art throughout the building and recent expansion into hosting live music on the patio to The Downtown Artery’s many mashups of live art and music to the live concerts, science and art performances at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.


“I love the Poudre River Public Library District’s work. They’re doing an amazing job inviting global perspectives, hosting weird and wild ideas and providing resources to people in our community in cutting-edge ways,” says Julie Sutter, community manager for The Music District and the Content Captain of the music programming track for ARTup Week.


“Music is a shared language. By nature, it’s inclusive. We have work to do around access and inclusion and should explore every opportunity we have to invite more people in.” The Music District will close out TechStars Startup Week Fort Collins with the Sonic Social on Saturday, March 2. It will be an immersive open house event incorporating science fiction, fantasy, video games, alongside music, art, live performance and technology.


TechStars Startup Week and ARTup Week Fort Collins are free and open to the public from Feb. 25 to March 2 at venues in and around Old Town Fort Collins. A full schedule, map of venues, and more information can be found at


About the author 

Nick Armstrong is the Geek-in-Chief behind WTF Marketing and Fort Collins Comic Con.

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