Ignite Steamboat stays consistent as profile rises

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— Jay O’Hare said Ignite Steamboat hasn’t changed what it’s trying to do in this corner of Colorado.

The group established to provide a community for entrepreneurs and location-neutral workers in Steamboat is doing the same things as when it started four years ago.

It’s been consistent, and the growth has been consistent, as well.

“What’s changed is a lot more people are noticing,” O’Hare said.

More people are aligning themselves with an entrepreneurial or location-neutral ethos, and the profile of both has been on the rise in Steamboat as they make up a growing chunk of the economic pie.

“The visibility of the group has grown tremendously because I think there's a big demand for that,” O’Hare said. “We see value in ideas spreading and connecting people or providing a venue or community to connect people. Those two things have been able to happen because we’ve been able to operate with no budget.”

And as the sectors’ profiles have risen in Steamboat, Ignite has been working to raise the profile of Steamboat outside the valley.

“The big design behind the Spark Talks was to not only bring good minds into Steamboat but to also infect their circles,” O’Hare said about the quarterly events Ignite hosts with short presentations. A number of Steamboat companies have benefited directly from introductions made through Ignite, he said. While noting the organization is “flat” and doesn’t have designated officers, O’Hare has represented Ignite and Steamboat at startup or tech events outside the valley.

Ignite Steamboat also fields inquiries from entrepreneurs who are looking to relocate and other communities looking to replicate what it has done here.

“It’s led to people that are second-time entrepreneurs, those that have had a really good exit at a major tech or entrepreneurial hub, saying, ‘I can live anywhere now. Where do I want to go?’” O’Hare said. “As they begin to look around, there’s this community of people like me (in Steamboat). It’s got all the wonderful things, and it’s also got some smart people.”

One thing that has changed, he said, is that the group’s increased size and visibility has lead to more local organizations seeking insight or help from Ignite.

“That’s been a benefit to give back,” O’Hare said.

“We have reached a little bit of a tipping point,” O’Hare said. Where participation was once an issue, the size of the group now provides ample volunteers.

The group now might need a more defined framework, he said, to help define how new projects are started or how to interface with other groups, such as the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association or Bud Werner Memorial Library.

“How do we be effective in supporting them where it makes sense,” O’Hare said.

“I think one of the things we can do more of in the future is be a voice and advocate for location neutral and entrepreneurs in the community,” O’Hare said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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