Denver Startup Week is the largest event of its kind in the world. Almost 20,000 people from around Colorado and the whole country descend on the Mile High City for hundreds of programs and events that build Denver’s thriving, innovative startup community. It was created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and best of all, it’s free!

With so many things to do and people to meet, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about where to start or how to get the most value out of the event. As long-time attendees, volunteers, and sponsors, Skookum’s team can help. Here are our top 5 tips for making the most of Denver Startup Week.

1. Gear up.

Having the right supplies makes a big difference when it comes to comfort and productivity.

Before the first event, be sure to register and pick up your wristband, which is required for entry to everything. Also wear comfortable shoes and sunglasses since you’ll be walking a lot, and bring a bag with the essentials:

  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Chargers for all your devices
  • Notebook and pen (or download a note-taking app)
  • Business cards
  • Extra room for all the awesome swag you’ll be collecting

Denver’s weather is also known for changing quickly, so check the forecast ahead of time, and come prepared for sun, rain, wind, or even snow...sometimes all within a few hours.

2. Use the schedule builder, and pace yourself.

Regardless of whether you’re a planner or prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, we highly recommend using the schedule builder to map out events to attend. This is super helpful for several reasons:

  • The best events fill up fast, so by registering for the ones you know you want to go, you can ensure you get in. For first-come, first-served events, be sure to show up early.
  • With multiple tracks, “clusters,” and special events, there is a lot going on — often at the same time. Use the schedule to prioritize what to attend, save time deciding in the moment, hear about diverse topics, and avoid missing the must-sees. (Another pro tip: Attend at least one talk or event each day that’s outside your discipline or comfort zone. Even if it doesn’t relate exactly to what you do, you’ll be surprised what you learn!)
  • Startup Week events are scattered throughout the city, and getting from one location to another can take a long time. Plan to stay in the same vicinity for at least a few hours to be most efficient, and coordinate transportation or carpooling ahead of time.

Also remember: Denver Startup Week is only a week, but it’s a long week. Don’t go so hard in the first few days that you’re exhausted by mid-week. Set some goals for your experience, use the schedule to pick your talks and events wisely, and pace yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

3. Ditch your ride before going downtown.

Downtown parking can be a nightmare, so don’t plan on driving from event to event. Instead, walk, grab a scooter or bike (they’re everywhere!), or hop on the 16th Street bus, a free line that runs every 4-6 minutes along 16th Street from Civic Center to Union Station.

4. Check out cool workspaces during Startup Crawl.

Startup Crawl is a great way to visit local companies and experience their culture firsthand. The event was recently extended to two nights, so there are even more opportunities to make your way to each office. Whether you’re on the hunt for a new job, a new workspace, or just a fun night out, Startup Crawl is a must.

Also, visit the Startup Week calendar right before the Crawl to access the Stumbl app (designed and developed by Skookum!). It will show you an interactive map of all the businesses participating in Startup Crawl so you can get directions to each one and record your visits to earn prizes.

5. Get happy — and connected — at the happy hours.

While many happy hours are full of cheap drinks and loud people, Denver Startup Week happy hours are more about good conversation and connections. These events are not only opportunities to unwind after an action-packed day, but also to mingle with other attendees and make meaningful connections. Just don’t forget to pace yourself (see #2) and go home early so you can be awake and focused the next day.

If you can’t make it to the happy hours or opening party, or if you’re just looking for a place to rest your feet between sessions, be sure to stop by Basecamp throughout the week. As the nucleus of Denver Startup Week, it’s a common place for attendees, speakers, event organizers, and other cool people to hang out and get to know each other.

We’ve been part of Denver Startup Week for years, and it’s so exciting to see it get bigger and better every year. We hope these tips come in handy as you celebrate this free opportunity to explore all that Denver’s entrepreneurial community has to offer. See you there!