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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Upstart Co-Lab Founder & Impact Investing Expert Laura Callanan To Lead Designer Track At Denver Startup Week

Press Release – Sep. 12, 2017 – Denver – Laura Callanan of Upstart Co-Lab will be keynote speaker of the Denver Startup Week Designer Track, co-chaired by Brian Corrigan and Castle Searcy. Callanan will deliver a talk titled “Great Minds Don’t Think Alike: Artists as Innovators in Business, Government & Society” on Monday, Sep. 25, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. at Larimer Social, 1427 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80202.

Callanan is an impact investing expert and Founding Partner of Upstart Co-Lab, a New York-based non-profit connecting artists, impact investors, and social entrepreneurs to create opportunities for artist-innovators to deliver social impact at scale. Those registered for the Designer Track can hear her speak about opportunities for creatives across media and professions in her keynote address.

Callanan — formerly Senior Deputy Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and a consultant with McKinsey & Company — will bring her social innovation expertise to Startup Week as she discusses solutions for Denver’s creatives and Upstart Co-Lab’s campaign promoting Artists as Innovators.

“I could not be more excited to return to Denver — a city that understands that creativity drives business and community — to talk about how artists are innovators in business, government, and the social sector,” said Callanan. “Upstart Co-Lab is launching an Artist Innovator campaign and I can think of no better time to get it started than during Denver Startup Week.”

In addition to being the Designer Track keynote speaker, Callanan will moderate the panel “Impact Investing Through a Creativity Lens,” which features speakers Corey Vernon of Radicle Impact, Alice Loy of Creative Startups and Anne Misak of the Colorado Enterprise Fund, on Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. at the Herman Miller Workplace Resource located in Downtown Denver. This panel covers how to incubate and grow a creative startup; investing for financial return and social good; and why now is the time to bring capital that values inclusion, equity, and sustainability to this fast-growing segment of the economy.

Callanan’s research through Upstart Co-Lab, co-authored with Calvert Foundation in their “Creative Places & Businesses” report, concludes that the Creative Economy in the U.S. makes up more than $704 billion or 4.2% of U.S. GDP, yet 0% of impact investment is in the arts & culture sector. On a local level, the Colorado Business Committee for the Art’s biennial report estimates that metro Denver’s creative sector contributes $1.8 billion in local economic activity and provides over 10,000 jobs. Despite robust growth and economic stimulation, Denver-area creatives struggle with finding affordable living arrangements, suitable work spaces, and funding.

This year’s Denver Startup Week Designer Track addresses these challenges by focusing on the artist as entrepreneur, providing tools, insights, and resources for creatives to understand the types of capital available to them, advocate for themselves, navigate business relationships, secure funding, and achieve sustainable business growth. Sessions will cover topics such as legal considerations for creative businesses, the unique qualities creatives possess to problem-solve across sectors, how to predict cash flow, and the specific resources available to entrepreneurs in the creative economy.

“This year’s programming reflects the next chapter in how we invest in and support entrepreneurs in the creative economy,” said Brian Corrigan, Denver Startup Week Designer Track Co-Chair. “Our intention is to provide artists, designers, and cultural producers with the resources that our friends in tech have been afforded for some time.”

The Track’s speakers include leaders from entrepreneur accelerator Creative Startups, immersive art space Meow Wolf, Bay Area impact investment firm Radicle Impact, and legal firm Moye White, along with a host of local experts in fields including business development, design, and communications.

For more Denver Startup Week Designer Track schedule information and to register, visit

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