Shelley Widhalm, owner of Shell’s Ink Services, left, talks about her business during the Loveland Startup Week business showcase on April 7 to Paul Baron, co-founder of Beau & Belle Littles, and Wilynn Formeller, project manager of Desk Chair Workspace. (Photo by Kerri Ertman, Loveland artist)
Attending Loveland Startup Week is like a quick video take that packs business and entrepreneurial experience into three days of lesson sound bites.
The third annual networking and knowledge sharing event April 6-8 in downtown Loveland, Colo., met on location at restaurants, artist studios, offices and shared workspaces to build momentum around the idea of starting and growing a business. The free event, organized by the nonprofit Made in Loveland entrepreneurial group, is part of Techstars’s startup week series.
“People learned a lot, which was the point of it,” said Roger Ison, vice-president of Made in Loveland. “It was very interactive. It wasn’t just somebody giving a speech.”
Business Lessons in Sound Bites
Entrepreneurs and business professionals summarized their knowledge and experiences into 30-minute up to 2 ½-hour shoots to an audience of entrepreneurs, artists and small business owners. They presented more than 30 workshops, seminars and panel discussions on everything from drafting a business plan to social and traditional marketing.
Business owners, in turn, had an opportunity to promote their business startups during a business showcase Friday night. Twenty business owners and professionals participated, handing out business cards, showing their products and having some of their marketing materials on hand.
The workshops and discussions aligned with two tracks geared to artists and to business owners—about 400 people signed up for the sessions, open coffees and networking get-togethers. The artist track featured sessions on marketing geared for artists, film-making as a collaborative art and blending art and technology to produce artistic work. The sessions in the business track ranged from owning a small business to pricing products and services and engaging in blogging and Instagram to grow a business.
Loveland artist Kerri Ertman presented a workshop on Thursday about Getting Into Galleies; Do’s and Don’ts to provide helpful hints for artists who want to display their artwork in galleries.
“I’m working with information that was given to me when I was first getting into galleries,” Ertman said. “This information is not mine to keep but to pass along to other artists that are up and coming. It’s good to share the wealth, share the inspiration and share the knowledge. … It’s all about sharing information and good vibes.”
Loveland resident Paul Baron, co-founder and marketing director of Beau & Belle Littles, wanted to share what he learned after participating in Startup Week last year as an attendee. He presented two workshops on understanding basic SEO and using Facebook for business growth.
“It’s a huge reason why our business grew last year, and I’m here speaking this year because I loved it so much,” Baron said. “A lot of entrepreneurs and people that want to start a business lack resources and education in general and they don’t know where to find it. This is a great opportunity and a centralized location where you can get it all in one go.”
Doug Collins, owner of Avid Product Development, said during one of the morning coffee get-togethers that business owners need to have a banker, accountant and attorney before they run into potential issues.
“Every startup business should know that there’s a few connections you ought to have,” he said. “Get professional help to do the stuff you’re not good at.”
A Few Takeaways
Here are a few of the takeaways, or sound bites, from the sessions:
- Business Plan 101: Write your vision on the back of your business card and hand it out. (presented by Kathy Stewart, a consultant with the Loveland Business Development Center, one of the sponsors)
- Basics of Starting a Home-Based Business: It’s a myth that you can be your own boss, because your customers are your bosses, the same with your vendors. (presented by Michael O’Connell, director of the Larimer Small Business Development Center)
- The Entrepreneurial Artist’s Business Model Canvas: The idea of doing what you love and the money following as a result doesn’t always happen. “The world may not need what you created, and the money won’t follow.” (co-presented by Loveland author and entrepreneur Harrison Hand)
- Understanding the Universe of Marketing: Marketing is putting the image of what you want to convey into the head of customers. It’s what sticks with the customer, and if the messaging doesn’t fit with the branding, there’s a disconnect. (presented by Nick Armstrong, owner of WTF Marketing)
- Blogging Workshop: Blogging is a way to showcase your expertise and helps you become the go-to expert in your field. “You’re teaching your ideal audience to look to you for expert material.” (presented by Monica Miller, coach, writer and owner of Monica Writes)
Shelley Widhalm is a freelance writer and editor and founder of Shell’s Ink Services, a writing and editing service based in Loveland, Colo. She has more than 15 years of experience in communications and holds a master’s in English from Colorado State University. She can be reached at shellsinkservices.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.