Boise Startup Week in Review

Two weeks ago, Boise held its inaugural Startup Week, a five day celebration of the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.  Over 50 free events were held throughout Downtown Boise in venues such as Trailhead, Venture College, SBDC Business Accelerator, Knitting Factory and JUMP. These events included panel discussions, office hours, workshops, networking opportunities, and much more.


The energy throughout downtown was incredible. Hundreds of curious Boise residents and up-and-coming entrepreneurs showed up to learn more about various startup-related topics, such as human-centered design, patents, venture capital, market research, and app development. Even if someone only came for 10 minutes, they left knowing something new.


The panel discussions went over a wide range of topics, covering everything from the importance of nonprofits and social impact to raising money and building relationships with venture capitalists. The only aspect more impressive than the breadth of topics covered were the people speaking on these panels. CEO of AppDetex and Trailhead co-founder  Faisal Shah, Boise Bike Project co-founder, Jimmy Hallyburton, and the attorney who registered Boise State University’s blue turf with the USPTO, Brad Frazer, were just a few of the experts that we were lucky to hear from. A huge thanks to all of our panelists that took time out of their busy lives to impart some of their wisdom onto aspiring entrepreneurs.


One of the biggest bonuses from this first year of Boise Startup Week was having the Unity team in town.

They held workshops on making a game in Unity, virtual reality demos, and brought the Unity Certification Test to town. This was the Unity Testing team’s first trip to Boise and they left impressed. Duane Mathes from Block Box VR now holds the world record for taking and passing the Unity Certification Test in 24 minutes.



Another positive aspect of Boise Startup Week was the chance to meet really successful people willing to help entrepreneurs.

Office Hours are unique opportunities for people to sit down with business experts and flush out ideas and strategies. Typically, these are Trailhead member-only events, but, in the spirit of encouraging entrepreneurship, Trailhead made office hours available to the public during Boise Startup Week. This was a valuable addition to the entire week and gave members of the community a chance to have a one-on-one conversation with domain experts from around the nation.

Boise Startup Week Highlights 


2016 VR Bash

Idaho Virtual Reality Council knows how to throw a party. Over 900 people showed up Wednesday night to experience VR/AR first hand. The range of activities to check out ranged from locally-developed video games to studio produced Unity games.

VR Bash

VR Bash

VR Bash

VR Bash


Student Networking Event

Trailhead hosted a networking event for Idaho students to connect with local businesses. Over 100 students from all across the state were in attendance, and many had the chance to pass out resumes and talk about future employment opportunities with HR managers. The event started with companies such as Idaho National Laboratory, Paylocity, and Micron “pitching” their companies to the students.


Student networking event crowd view

Micron at networking event Raino and Eileen at networking event


Trailhead Block Party

At the end of the week, we closed the street! Funky Taco, Nosh and Nam, and Genki Takoyaki all served up food while the STEM Bus provided an interactive learning space between refreshments. To top it off, we brought out the ping pong table. The view of Downtown Boise couldn’t have provided a more perfect backdrop to end the week’s activities.

Trailhead Block Party Thomas and friends Trailhead Block Party


USPTO Patent and Trademarking Panel Discussion

Learning how to run a business is one thing, but what about protecting your intellectual property? Molly Kocialski and Josh Hallock from the Rocky Mountain U.S. Patent and Trademark Office along with Chris Cuneo, Elizabeth Schierman, Katy Ritter, and Brad Frazer sat down with us to discuss business strategies for intellectual property (patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights). 



Venture Capital Panel Discussion

The VC Panel turned out to be one of the most popular events of the week. This discussion was moderated by Trailhead’s Executive Director, Raino Zoller, and featured panelists Garrett Goldberg from Bee Partners, Jack Boren from Epic Ventures, Len Jordan from Madrona Venture Group, and Jerry Henley from Sorenson Capital. We all learned one really important point from this panel: Get to know an investor before you need money. 

VC Panel

Boise Startup Week wouldn’t have been possible without the help of its many sponsors and community organizers. A big thank you to the following organizations who sponsored Boise Startup Week:

  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • City of Boise
  • Trailhead
  • Idaho Virtual Reality Council
  • Adrian + Sabine
  • Perkins Coie
  • Wells Fargo
  • IGEM
  • MWI Animal Health
  • Hawley Troxell
  • Moffatt Thomas
  • Vynyl
  • Albertsons
  • Zions Bank
  • KTVB 7
  • Boise Valley Economic Partnership
  • Idaho State University
  • BYU Idaho
  • Idaho Tech Council
  • University of Idaho Boise
  • Boise State University

Boise Startup Week was truly an event put on by the community for the community. We’re excited to see what we all come up with next year.