What We Learned at Denver Startup Week 2017

What We Learned at Denver Startup Week 2017

At Volume Nine, we’re obsessed with learning. From #team Slack threads packed with can’t-miss articles (shoutout to Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays) to lunch and learns, we’re always looking for new ways of innovating to help boost our clients’ brands. Last week, V9ers powered down our laptops to attend talks lead by some of the best and brightest minds in the Mile High City.

We don’t want to say we dominated Denver Startup Week, but, as one attendee noted to V9er Sara after a talk: “Oh, you’re from Volume Nine? You guys are everywhere this week!”

While it’s hard to condense all the awesome information we learned last week into one blog post, some of the team has contributed their top takeaways from their favorite talks. If you missed out on DSW, read for the best advice we heard during panels, happy hours, and keynote speeches:

Hiring the Right People

Anne attended the Tuesday night keynote featuring Mark Cuban, Charlie Ergen, and Brad Feld. During the panel, Cuban, a billionaire investor, said that he has one main criterion when deciding whether to hire someone: “Do you cause more stress or less stress on people?” He will only hire those people who will make or do something to make life easier and less stressful for everyone else in the organization.

Working With Others

Miranda and Ann joined a talk about corporate culture lead by Justin Cucci, owner of Root Down, Linger, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, and El Five. Ann loved Cucci’s philosophy around being busy: “If I’m busy, it’s my problem, not your problem”. Miranda appreciated how Cucci set aside over a half an hour at the end of the talk for questions, saying “you came to get your questions answered, not listen to me talk about myself.” Both Miranda and Ann clearly saw how these statements can be applied to improving interactions among V9ers and with our clients.

Encouraging Diversity

During a happy hour at Choozle, the creators of a digital marketing and advertising platform, Ann spoke to Choozle’s CTO, John Schnipkoweit, who told her a story about hiring for an open developer position. He said that they had over 200 applications, and only two were from women. Instead of blaming the disparity on the position, he went back to the job posting and found that the posting itself was biased in favor of male developers. He overhauled the post to focus on creating a partnership than listing technical requirements, and, as a result, hired four women developers last month. Ann loved that he took a step back, recognized biases, and took active steps to fix the problem at a fundamental level.

Creating Copy that Sells

Barb saw BJ Enoch, the VP of Corporate Accounts at SocialSEO, speak at a talk about using content marketing to amplify your agency’s growth. Here at V9, we use online grammar checkers like Grammarly to check copy. While Grammarly is amazing for catching errors and calling you out when you use the word ‘awesome’ five times in a paragraph, Enoch points out you don’t want your grammar tools to take away your voice. As Barb summarizes, “There’s a difference between what looks good in Grammarly and what sells. If you put it in Grammarly and it’s red all over, it may actually get read all over.”

Selling Through Content

Carly checked out a panel on the pitfalls with personas. During the discussion, one of the panelists noted that you shouldn’t ask people directly to buy your stuff. Instead, you should give them reasons to want to buy your product. Don’t force your products on your customers – a phenomenal brand story, thought leadership pieces, and user reviews will all help sell your product without outwardly selling it.

Following the Commandments of Writing

Olivia joined a talk on the seven commandments of writing that featured speakers in togas, Greek food, and wine (brilliant branding right there!). One of the commandments particularly stood out to her: Stop writing about yourself. Don’t use your evergreen content to tell your reader what your company does – rephrase it to share with your customer how your business will help them achieve their goals.

denver startup week togas


The office was abuzz today with all the awesome advice that we picked up during Denver Startup Week – we can’t wait to share it with our clients. Did you attend talks? What were your key takeaways? Comment below, or send us an email!