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Tech Trek aims to drive talent to Colorado

MBA candidates from across the country preview Denver-Boulder technology firms


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Inspired by a desire for more diversity in the Colorado technology arena, Ibotta’s VP of Data Analytics, Bijal Shah organized the Colorado Tech Trek, inviting 15 MBA students from Top 10 programs throughout the country to tour local technology companies March 2-3.

Calling the Tech Trek a passion project, Shah – who developed the program alongside her colleagues, product manager, Phil Carter and Alison Meadows, vice president of human resources – says the goal of the program is to help recruit technology experts from Silicon Valley and reputable universities across the country to Colorado for internships and full-time positions. She says attracting diversity will result in a “more exciting economy.”

“We’re all fighting over the same talent,” Shah says. “But if you want Colorado to thrive and find great leaders and make great teams, you’ve got to attract top talent.”

The two-day tour consists of stops at:

To start, Shah and two colleagues at Ibotta “looked at our friends who had transplanted from other cities to Colorado and asked what schools they came from,” she says of the process to plan the Trek. “We took it one step further to figure out why they brought their skills and built their lives here.”

Shah, who has only lived in Denver for three years, notes that Colorado has only recently emerged as a tech hub, competitive on a national scale.

While business school at attending MIT, she and her classmates took “treks” to visit startups and tech companies to assess where they would end up.

When she approached Denver-Boulder-based CEOs and CTOs with the idea for a local tour, they agreed on the common challenge of attracting talent and diversity.

“My initial ask was, would you be willing to have a group of students come by your office, learn about your company and ask why you choose to come to Colorado?” Shah recalls.

As Denver-based marketing and email services provider, Sendgrid has committed itself to be an active member of the local startup and technology community, their team jumped on the opportunity to participate in the Tech Trek.

“Helping top talent understand the opportunities available in the Denver-Boulder tech scene is critical and SendGrid wants to help build the overall brand as well as have an opportunity to share the SendGrid story,” says Pattie Money, SendGrid’s chief people officer. “This is an important first step in building awareness of the number of tech companies in Denver, the growth of that sector and opportunities to build an amazing career in a lower cost market.”

The MBA students come to Colorado from Stanford Graduate School of Business, Yale School of Management, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management and other high-ranking programs. Student paid their own ways because, “We wanted people who are interested and committed to learning about Colorado,” Shah says.

The two days worth of programming will culminate with a panel and happy hour reception at Ibotta on March 3, where representatives from CorePower Yoga and Guild Education will share insights.

“We believe that once they understand how vibrant, rich and rewarding life can be in Colorado – both personally and professionally," Shah says, "we’ll improve our ability to recruit people from top schools all over the nation.”

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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