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Why Colorado? Vibrant Tech Community Offers Innovation at Elevation

People are settling in Colorado for a lot more than the mountains

Kate Hyatt //July 23, 2018//

Why Colorado? Vibrant Tech Community Offers Innovation at Elevation

People are settling in Colorado for a lot more than the mountains

Kate Hyatt //July 23, 2018//

When people think about tech hubs, images of the Bay Area and New York City often come to mind, and it’s no mystery why. Those areas collect the most tech startup funding by far and are where many popular companies began. Movies and TV shows featuring ambitious entrepreneurs often portray the Bay Area as the backdrop to a tech fairytale. If you want to be part of the visionary, fast-moving, cutting-edge tech culture, you need to go to Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley.

Not so fast.

Companies in Colorado are delivering innovation that matters across industries. While people visit our state for adventures in the Rocky Mountains, this place has more to offer tech professionals seeking fast-paced careers. According to GOVERNING, Colorado had the second-fastest GDP growth in America last year, and part of that is as a result of the surging tech sector. Denver has become a bona-fide tech hub within a potpourri of art districts, unique cuisine and vibrant events.

At Healthgrades, the online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, the team saw this transformation firsthand, establishing headquarters in the Denver metro area nearly 20 years ago. At the beginning of 2018, Denver had the eighth-highest concentration of tech workers in the country, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.

Healthgrades employee Andy Puch, lead site reliability engineer, left Manhattan last year and moved to Denver with his wife. Like many tech pros, he considered moving to the West Coast to pursue new career opportunities. Denver didn’t initially cross his mind as a potential new home. That is until he and his wife, who works in the aerospace industry, came here for a vacation in early 2017.

“We started our trip in Denver and drove all the way to Vegas. We fell in love with the area,” says Puch. “It is absolutely beautiful. I knew tech was up-and-coming here. And it’s much more affordable than the East Coast or West Coast. Plus, my wife and I are outdoorsy people.”

At Healthgrades, Puch is helping develop a new product, giving him a startup feel within an established tech company.

“I really like the startup vibe. Everyone thinks that’s only available in big cities on the coasts, but you can find a lot of that here,” he says. “Everyone in my department is super hungry to learn. In a startup setting, you need to have that. You need really smart people in the room who have really good ideas.”

This “startup vibe” has begun to shape the city’s workforce and attracts ambitious tech talent. Last year, more than 17,500 people registered for the annual Denver Startup Week, making it one of the biggest startup events on the planet. The sector overall continues to balloon, even draining the local talent pool. Denver is one of the fastest growing big cities in America, and Colorado’s unemployment rate dipped below 3 percent in May, and it’s even lower in the tech sector.

Local tech companies are branching out to fill the growing needs of our booming community with top talent. To attract future employees from other tech hubs, especially Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, Healthgrades has teamed with other local companies for the “Pivot to Colorado” initiative, showcasing Colorado’s world-class tech talent and dynamic opportunities to engineers, product developers and tech leaders.

“I think we just need to get the word out,” says Puch. “A lot of developers like me don’t know how awesome it is out here. You don’t have to go to the West Coast to get the same exact tech that you want to work on.”

But people don’t just move to Denver for career opportunities.

For many, Denver represents a lifestyle change. Not only does Puch say he has more work-life balance here, he also enjoys having so much to do when he’s not in the office.

“What I think people don’t realize is, not only is there tech here, but if you’re into music, there’s tons of music; if you’re into sports, there’s tons of sports out here. And with the outdoors, Colorado is everything in one place,” Puch says.

The Denver metro area is one of a handful with teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS. And for concertgoers, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is one of the most iconic venues in the country. When Puch and his wife want to get out of the city, they enjoy rock climbing, hiking and biking.

If you haven’t visited Colorado in a while, you may not recognize it. This state has become a convergence of new tech, eccentric city life and world-renowned outdoor activities.

“The tech is here,” says Puch. “We’ve got all the things that the West Coast has to offer: Job opportunities, exciting career paths, as well as other things like great music concerts and the beautiful outdoors. We really have everything.”

Kate Hyatt, Chief People Officer, Healthgrades