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Denver Startup Week? More like Denver Startup Strong!

I apologize for my cheesy headline, but now that I've got it out of my system, I can't wait to tell you about the DSW Ambassador Program.

Hi, I'm Dan and I'm a creative director out of NYC. I applied to the program on a whim. See, I saw a post from former Ambassadors that I used to work with, in a Facebook group we are all in. I had only been to Denver once, and the majority of the time was spent in a conference room, so I figured, what the heck? Free trip? Why not?

Well, after returning from the three-day experience, I literally cannot think of any reason why not. I honestly didn't expect to get chosen, I am not an entrepreneur, I am not in the tech space, just a creative director. But, I was chosen and I am so glad I was. 

It all started on Monday, July 29th, when I received an email with the subject line, 

DSW Ambassador's Program: Congratulations! I was pumped! I mean, I was chosen out of 400 applicants to take part in this program, that's a pretty good feeling. 

And that good feeling continued during every moment leading up to the program. It was run absolutely flawlessly thanks to Lacey Hyde, the person in charge of communications, managing the ambassador hub (an enormously helpful website that housed every piece of information that an ambassador would never need), helping us redeem our FREE flights from Southwest.com (Thanks for the LUV Southwest) and making sure our hotel rooms were booked. She is a true rockstar, thanks, Lacey!

It didn't take long to see how amazing Denver is. 

Our three days in Denver went by quite fast and although we had a VERY busy schedule, there was still time to enjoy the city. 

Everyone there is happy, friendly and welcoming. It doesn't hurt that Denver has 300 days of sunshine. The only negative thing I heard was that the rent is too high. But coming from New York, the cost of rent is refreshing. 

Our first stop during our program was Catalyst HTI where we were treated to an incredible rooftop view, a delicious lunch, and a very inspiring talk on the state of the health care industry as well as the great things Catalyst is trying to build. After that, we headed over to Pie Insurance, (see the photo at the top to see the surprise that was waiting for us in our Lyft), for our next activity. Pie rolled out the orange carpet for us with some snacks, beverages, and an immersive breakout session where we addressed some questions Pie had about various aspects of their business. We then had to present our ideas and vote on the winning team. The losing teams' leaders all got...wait for it...pied in the face 🥧🥧. To end our first day we headed to the Basecamp for a VIP toast and lots of free swag! The swag was pretty useful, so leave room in your suitcase. 

Day two, I woke up bright and early and explored Downtown Denver on my own. I can't express enough how wonderful this city is. There were plenty of people out and about, on the scooters (which are everywhere), running, biking, and just enjoying the early hours before work. The temperature was perfect and the skies were as blue as a painting. 

Quick tip: If you go to Denver make sure to pack appropriately, while it gets very warm during the day, the mornings can be a bit breezy. So pack a light jacket. 

I returned to the hotel and met up with the other Ambassadors to head to Evolve Vacation Rental. Brian, the co-founder, and CEO kicked us off and let me tell you, this guy is great! He really loves what he does and I honestly believe he loves each of his employees, the culture at this place was so inspiring. Our last company visit of the day was Guild Education, and we were treated to a great panel discussion on what Guild does as well as what makes Denver so unique. 

The highlight of day two and the trip was the dinner at Polsinelli, a law firm that has an office in Denver. The view was breathtaking, it really gave rooftops in NYC a run for their money. This was a great dinner not only from a food standpoint but from a networking opportunity. Besides the amazing ambassadors, a ton of people from the host companies as well as others involved with DSW were invited to eat and network. I know I made some great connections that I am already in contact with to see how we can help each other. 

Finally, on day three, we visited Ibotta for another really interesting panel. Just a heads up Ibotta hit 🦄status. Way to go team. 

The experience at DSW was truly one I'll never forget. I was honored to be selected and proud to be part of such an intelligent and talented group of Ambassadors. There were so many amazing people in our group. I will stay in touch with all of them and look forward to seeing how they continue to succeed. 

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't say a huge thank you to Conor Swanson and the entire DSW team for putting on this program. 

TLDR: Apply for the Ambassador program! 

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