James Eberhard is the CEO and Founder of Fluid Truck. James Eberhard
- James Eberhard is the CEO and founder of Fluid Truck, a tech platform for renting commercial vehicles.
- He says Denver’s low tax rates and strong infrastructure offer a great environment for startups to thrive.
- Denver also boasts a low cost of living and a plethora of outdoor activities for workers.
Denver has always been my home, even when I wasn’t technically a city resident. After living in places like London and Washington, DC, when it came time to decide where I wanted to launch and build my business, Denver was the only option for me. The Mile High City offers so much, including a diverse talent pool, natural beauty and inspiration, and affordability.
Denver also offers a chance to build sustainably successful businesses outside the confines of Silicon Valley or New York City. In fact, analytics company Palantir is one of the latest tech firms to leave Silicon Valley for a new headquarters in Denver, citing the Denver area as a better cultural fit.
This move reflects a broader trend: According to LinkedIn’s recent Workforce Report, Denver is up +1% in employment and hiring compared to last year, while San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York are all down, -13%, -11% and -9.4%, respectively.
If you’re looking for somewhere with a strong tech culture, but also the benefits of a lower cost of living, a higher quality of life, and a less competitive job market, Denver might be the place for you. The Mile High City is on the fast track to becoming a new micro-tech hub as its own right.
A place for sustainable growth
While still an up-and-coming city in the tech industry, it’s clear to see that Denver is an ideal place for the long-term development of sustainable businesses. The city has a strong infrastructure between the international airport and a transportation system that ranks No. 12 in the country.
The local government has been committed to investing in transforming the city into a tech hub, and it shows. There’s an entire ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs, and the business scene also feels more diverse because tech isn’t the only booming industry. In fact, Colorado is the sixth state in the country with the highest concentration of creatives, giving startups and major companies access to a diverse talent pool. A 2019 PowderKeg survey found that 80% of tech founders in the Denver area felt there was sufficient access to talent.
Most importantly, there’s incredible variety in terms of company size. Denver’s businesses don’t necessarily subscribe to the approach of growing as large and as quickly as possible; they prefer a more sustainable trajectory that mitigates the possibility of flopping. And while giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon all have offices in Denver, the city is also home to startups and smaller tech firms in varying stages of development. New businesses benefit from mentorship opportunities, community organizations, and local sales opportunities.
Affordable cost of living
As companies recover from the pandemic, cost savings have become a major point of focus in the tech industry, especially concerning office space as companies transition to more hybrid working models. Denver offers affordable office locations for these tech firms with flexible options that are easy to scale, and modern office spaces designed to accommodate flexible hours.
On average, office space costs around $30 per square foot, and can go as high as $37 in the Central Business District while dropping in the city’s suburbs. Compared to office space exceeding $70 per square foot on average in San Francisco, Denver is significantly more affordable.
Additionally, while rental prices are slightly above the national average, Denver remains a very affordable city. The average apartment rental costs $1,674 a month for 848 square feet. For a “fly-over” city, Denver certainly offers east and west coasters much more space for their money.
California culture with more collaboration
Denver is a business-friendly city with its 4.63% corporate income tax rate, but the city as a whole is also a lifestyle. Known as the city with the most microbreweries per capita and a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s no wonder that the top two best places to live in the US in 2020 were both in the Denver Metro area.
This quality of life has attracted a workforce that displays the palpable intention to successfully build their individual company and created a collaborative culture that nurtures the growth of other burgeoning startups and ambitious talent within the community. This friendly work culture makes create a tech community that is inclusive, opportunistic, and innovative.
Denver is an overall great fit for people seeking a higher quality of life, with outdoor activities, a unique dining scene, and thriving nightlife. It’s west coast culture without the steep price tag.
Opportunities in tech
The innovative culture of the Mile-High City has the potential to be the home of the next unicorn startup. As the impact of the pandemic becomes larger on the tech industry, it’s likely that more small and mid-size companies will renounce their Silicon Valley or New York City headquarters and adjust to the mountain life.
One thing is certain: The dynamic and culture that Denver offers will continue to attract tech workers looking for an affordable city that offers unique opportunities in their field, as well as a better quality of life.
Denver is cementing itself as a leader for a new generation of resilient founders challenging that status quo. And the city’s culture is evolving to ensure this momentum isn’t lost.
James Eberhard is the CEO and Founder of Fluid Truck, a technology-based truck rental platform enabling small and mid-sized businesses, as well as consumers, to rent commercial vehicles in only a few minutes with their mobile device — 24/7, 365 days a year.