In This Podcast Episode
Rob McNealy interviews Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper about his experiences as a business owner in Colorado. He also interviews Gary Held, president of CTEK, a company that provides information and capital to entrepreneurs.
Mayor John Hickenlooper’s Bio
Hickenlooper’s passion for Denver began in 1981 when his career as an exploration geologist brought him to Buckhorn Petroleum, where he worked for five years. After the collapse of the oil industry, he found himself with a healthy severance check, no immediate job prospects, and time on his hands. Inspired by a visit to a northern California brewpub, he spent two years developing the Wynkoop Brewing Company, the first brewpub in the Rocky Mountains. The Wynkoop group grew to eventually include seven Denver restaurants and a brewpub in Colorado Springs.
A respected entrepreneur, Hickenlooper was also involved with numerous downtown Denver renovation and development projects and is credited as one of the pioneers that helped revitalize Denver’s Lower Downtown historic district. In recognition of his efforts supporting preservation in Denver and downtowns across the country, Hickenlooper received a National Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1997.
John Hickenlooper was elected Mayor of Denver in 2003 and reelected in 2007. Since taking office, Mayor Hickenlooper passed a citywide charter reform initiative to modernize Denver’s personnel system, overcame a $70 million deficit to balance the City budget while averting major cuts in services and massive layoffs, reached deals with United, Frontier and Southwest Airlines enabling all carriers to grow at Denver International Airport, implemented the most sweeping set of police reforms in Denver’s history, built an unprecedented partnership with Denver Public Schools, launched efforts to create a more business-friendly environment in city government, initiated a citywide campaign to end homelessness, created Denver’s sustainable development initiative, and ushered in a new era of bipartisan regional cooperation culminating in passage of the largest regional transit initiative in the history of the United States.
In November 2005, Mayor Hickenlooper was the only mayor named by Governing Magazine as one of the top Public Officials of the Year, and in April 2005 – less than two years into his first term – TIME Magazine named Mayor Hickenlooper one of the top five “big-city” mayors in America.
Gary Held’s Bio
For over 30 years Gary Held has been involved in almost every aspect of starting, building, growing and selling businesses. Following ten excruciating years of corporate law practice in his own law firm, Gary became president of Connecting Point of America on the day of its Chapter 11 filing. Over the next four years the company bootstrapped its revenues from $0 to over $250M, exited Chapter 11, paid off all creditors, and sold for over $50M. Following that Gary became president of Northgate Computers, a small start-up hardware manufacturer. During the next three years Northgate grew to over $200M in revenues, went from 11 employees to 968, was listed as # 57 and #11 on the Inc. 500, went public, and was eventually sold. Since that time Gary spent a number of years screwing around, but also helped dozens of early stage and start-up companies get on their feet.
Gary is currently president of CTEK, a 501c3 non-profit organization assisting innovative entrepreneurs to create profitable and sustainable businesses through access to early and seed stage capital, a network of venture centers and experienced business advisors, and assisting in the commercialization of innovative technologies.
Among other charitable activities, Gary has serves the boards of many organizations. Gary also received a BA from Whittier College and his law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. Gary lives with his wife and the youngest of two daughters in Denver, Colorado, and is glad his jobs have never felt like real work (except the law thing).