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Apr 12

The Intermountain West: Part I (with apolgies to Eddie Vedder)

Posted by: Mark Solon        

People often ask me what I mean when I describe that our firm’s geographical investment focus is the area known as the “Intermountain West”. Well, it was explained to me when I moved here from Boston 10 years ago that it is defined as the area from the Rockies on the east to the Cascades & the Sierras on the west.  All in all, a pretty remarkable piece of real estate. What I’ve enjoyed the most about our focus on this region is the different towns that I get to spend time in and the unique entrepreneurial vibe that each of them have. Being a music fan, I thought I’d try and give you my analysis of a few of the towns that make up this region, albeit with a rock-n-roll twist…

Bozeman: This one’s easy, The Black Keys. It’s hard to imagine that three guys can make this much noise just as it’s hard to believe that Bozeman (a town of about 50,000 people) can have as much going on entrepreneurially as they do. It all starts with TechRanch, a dynamite incubator associated with Montana State University.

Boise: Stillwater. Haven’t heard of them? Exactly. Remember Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece “Almost Famous?” Stillwater’s the band that thinks they’re a little better than they are. Don’t forget though that in the end,  Stillwater finally bags the cover story on Rolling Stone and goes onto greater glory. Stay tuned…

Boulder: Pearl Jam. The biggest show in the region. These guys are hitting on all cylinders and the energy is off the charts. Spend a few hours at TechStars and you can feel the electricity. Even their VC’s are rockers. Foundry’s Jason Mendelson & Ryan McIntyre are in a groovy band called Soul Patch. This town is a sellout every night.

Soul Patch's latest effort

Soul Patch's latest effort

Denver: The Traveling Willbury’s. While I know I’ll take some heat from my pals in Denver, Boulder has become so hot that Denver is like this ultimate side project. However, don’t jump to any conclusions here. Remember that the Willbury’s put out some pretty remarkable music!

Salt Lake City: Jack Johnson. A close second to Boulder in start-up activity, Salt Lake City’s never going to cause any controversy. They just keep making hit records, just like Jack…

Provo: Kings of Leon. Just less than an hour south of Salt Lake City, Provo is emerging as it’s own young tech hub with a slew of smart, highly-motivated and hard working young entrepreneurs . As a matter of fact, cut a little hair off the three Followill brothers and these sons of a Pentecostal minister would look like they’re getting ready for their senior year at Provo’s BYU.

In my next post, I’ll take a more serious stab at why I think the Intermountain West is well positioned to become the most popular place to start a company in the US.

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4 Responses to “The Intermountain West: Part I (with apolgies to Eddie Vedder)”

  1. Hey Mark. What about Missoula, Montana? Perennial high rankings in just about every entrepreneurial survey and list that comes out. The Montana Associated Technology Roundtables focuses on raising the abilities of entrepreneurs and business professionals to work together to develop world class companies throughout the region and it's free.

    And just down the road is Rob Ryan's Entrepreneur America where Rob takes good ideas and makes them great.

    Boulder can't have Pearl Jam because the band loves Missoula so much that bassist Jeff Ament live here! Rock On! There's no place better to live and work than Missoula!

  2. avatar Jamie Cooper says:

    A post only Solon could nail. I just submit one possible tweak for your consideration. How about Boise as G Love? Ya know Jack's good surfing buddy that is trying to make it but mostly wandering around still working the small venues. But man - a hell of a show and he is having a blast! Whatever the case love the analogies and Mark, glad you are here with us in the Intermountain West and left Britney Spears behind in Boston.

    Rock on dude.


  3. […] If you’re not from around here, I wrote two posts about the region earlier this year, one tongue-in-cheek and one a little more serious. One of the goals of having our blog is to familiarize our readers […]

  4. Soul Patch is Great!!!But man - a hell of a show and he is having a blast! Whatever the case love the analogies and Mark, glad you are here with us in the Intermountain West and left Britney Spears behind in Boston.

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