What do you get when you have over 250+ sessions on growing your tech and business, over 100K participant engagements, large enterprise companies, Mark Cuban and thousands of start-ups hanging out in Downtown Denver?  You get Denver Startup Week!  For the 6th year, Denver Downtown Partnerships has brought together thought leaders in various industries and connected them, through crowd-based polling, to topics meant to propel businesses in the Denver Metro Area.  Denver Startup Week is the largest, free, entrepreneurial event in North America all about innovation for founders, developers, product managers, designers, marketers, sales teams, and makers. Different businesses host sessions and sponsor talks throughout the week and as a local start-up in Denver, Quisitive was honored and excited to be in the mix of it all. Our teams presented on three panels to help growing businesses gain advice.

In our first panel, Data is the New Bacon, Quisitive provided insight and clarity to using Data-As-An-Asset.  Quisitive strategist, Lori Kirkland, and Data Scientist, Shannon Ragland joined Pluralsoft CEO and Choozle CTO (both Denver based companies) to talk about all thins Data.  The conversation leveraged ideas around how to structure data, manage data, and how to apply all the data companies are acquiring today.  Keeping with the theme, we talked about “how to get out of frying pan” of data overwhelm and put actionable steps in place to make data a benefit to the business and the customer.  Having a strong customer focus, our panelists shared stories of how each of them value data including making the customer experience better, improving healthcare by knowledge of the holistic picture, helping clients to see pattern and gain knowledge from the data for new uses of their offerings.

Forrester Research says that “Demand for deep analytic talent in the US is projected to be 50-60% greater than supply by 2018, leading to a shortage of 140,000 – 190,000 people as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts.” We dived into what a data project actually looks like. The spreadsheets, products and availability have greatly increased the ability to access and find results against a much larger data set than ever before.  But despite Harvard Business Review calling Data Scientists “the sexiest job of the 21st century,” much of the theories, methodologies, and analysis is the same process that has been happening for over a decade. The group and the audience were inspired by the possibilities of application of data to solve core business and human problems in the next decade.  An economist from the audience confirmed that the same methodologies still hold true from a financial stand point too.  Our talk concluded with busting myths about the ease of large data projects as well as identifying the potential for audience members to better leverage data in their daily lives.

Mid-week of Denver Startup Week had us on a panel called To Spanx or Not Spanx with the purpose of a conversation around the expectation of women in the workplace and how to create a more inclusive culture.  Our topic focused on how, like Spanx, women have expectations of looking “perfect” and hiding things about themselves in a workplace that was created for men.  From a serial entrepreneur, a start-up specialist, and two Senior Digital executives from telecom and healthcare enterprises, we had very active audience conversation around how there are ridiculous scenarios that women are often forced to face while men don’t face the same challenges.

With a mixed audience of both male and female, the discussion included references to and questions about the bias in Silicon Valley going on with large organizations like Uber, Twitter and Google. We heard about a startup, Witchsy, inventing a male co-founder that led to faster business results.  A repeated theme that emerged was learning to set your own boundaries.  The panelists discussed the value of defining their own work/personal boundaries and the importance of communicating those in an authentic way.  Once defined, women find more success when those same values were part of the company culture.  With an unconscious bias towards men in the workplace, women often find themselves having to prove themselves more than male counterparts with the same or less skillsets.  The conversational tone of the talk ended with the group agreeing that “It’s not that women deserve a seat at the table, it is that the outcome is better if they are there.”   Themes of authenticity, speaking up, and being aware of the balance led to empowerment conversations for start-ups and non-profits.

Quisitive finished the week participating in a talk on Design Collaboration at Scale.  Participating with powerhouse companies like Google, Amazon, and Basecamp, we shared our value of design and insight into how collaboration plays a key role in being successful as a tech consultancy.  We discussed that ideal team size of 4-5 members work best for ideation, that collaboration must extend to multiple departments and viewpoints to be most successful.   Walking through requirements gathering, the group was in consensus that user feedback throughout the process led to the fastest, most successful implementations. Balancing feedback requires different toolsets and agile processes to manage action vs. buy-in. From design-thinking workshops as tools, Journey Maps and Experience Maps as key artifacts, and identifying user-feedback through direct human interaction, we focused on the art and science of designing at scale.

Collaboration tools such as Slack, InVision, and online white boarding proved to be key for the panelists in maintaining business goals while gaining input from co-workers and customers. Talking with both start-ups and large organizations, the value of feedback on wireframes and design comps was a core theme. While discussing aspects from different points of view, the audience asked questions from the product, company, consultant, and educator perspective to ensure design is influential in all projects. Valuing the UX and bringing the human perspective to the forefront of the solution led the stories of the most successful technology implementations from our group.

Our participation included meetings, talks, panels, breakfast, events at night and a lot of inspiring conversations to solve core technology problems with innovation.  We’re happy to be in Denver and participating in the energy of the city!