A Whiteboard ‘Spark’ed Innovation

benbuie | 4/23/14

I published an article about whiteboards on SparkBoulder.com recently and it got me thinking about how whiteboards played a big part in the history of Spark Boulder, the first space for startups at CU.

Myself, Fletcher, and the nLab had worked for months trying to find a space on campus for student entrepreneurs. Despite our efforts, we were surprised to find that space on campus was a scarce resource. Without a space, we really didn’t know what to do next.

At about that time Fletcher got a grant from Awesome Boulder to create the Awesome Board (see picture above), a whiteboard setup in the middle of campus where students could write their ideas. The board was quickly filled with all types of thoughts from students, some funny, some sad, some interesting, and some inappropriate. I even busted out some of my street art for the hash tag #awesomeboard. All types of students came together around the idea of innovation, including the students who eventually made Spark a success.

It was at the Awesome Board that Fletcher Richman met Lexi Weiner, the leader of a parallel group looking to create a space on campus for innovation. We quickly joined forces and were excited when we realized that Lexi’s group knew of a space less than a block from campus that we could lease. This changed our focus from getting the school to give space to getting the school to lease space.

Unfortunately, getting them to give money wasn’t any easier than getting them to give space and we eventually turned to the community. This path wasn’t easy either, but eventually we found some amazing sponsors who bankrolled the build-out and launch of Spark Boulder.

It is pretty cool to think that Spark Boulder never would have never happened if some of its founders weren’t brought together by a whiteboard. I also think it is pretty cool that the whole purpose of Spark is to bring like-minded student entrepreneurs together to change the world.

About the Author

Ben currently works as a contract web developer and business consultant in Boulder, Colorado.

His passion for entrepreneurship led him to study business and learn to code. Although he never anticipated working on the web, Ben has spent the past 9 years learning everything he could about building and operating websites and web assets.

When not at work, Ben spends a lot of his time with family. He is married to a “beautiful” woman and they are raising 4 energetic boys. In his spare time he loves keeping up with technology, playing guitar, eating Sweet Cow ice cream, and painting (although he has very little time for painting these days). Other than that, Ben is a supporter of freedom and liberty, a fluent speaker of Russian, and he tries to be a humble follower of Jesus.

Read more about Ben.