Meet Doug. Serial entrepreneur. Software developer. Fearless visionary.
He’s been competing in Go Code Colorado since 2015 and believes in its power to bring software developers and entrepreneurs together for true collaboration and ideation.
“Not everything starts out amazing. You have to iterate. Go Code Colorado provides the space and energy and facilitation to keep iteration going. That’s when companies thrive.”
Doug was tinkering with computers back when Radio Shack actually sold radios. But he went a different direction first, studying medicine at Kent State and working in defense contracting in D.C. Eventually, he burned out on the commute, escaping to Vail in 2010 and answering his true calling: computers and skiing.
Vail didn’t have a lot of organized start-up spirit then. But Doug eventually found his people: Oracle, IOS and Android developers who wanted to ideate; go-getters who worked out of their garage; start-uppers who had amazing ideas, but didn’t know how to execute. To create community, Doug started 8150 (that’s Vail’s altitude), a meetup group that quickly turned into an idea tank for Vail valley innovators.
“I helped people realize they didn’t need a super expensive consultant to get going. That they shouldn’t let ecommerce or acronyms scare them. That they can, in fact, build a website in a weekend.”
When he heard about Go Code Colorado’s competition in 2015, he was intrigued. Hackathons never offered cash rewards. But Go Code Colorado was clearly different–they were, in fact, moving beyond the hackathon, with a far superior model.
Doug attended the Go Code Colorado Kickoff in Grand Junction. Most participants were college kids and he admits he felt a little out of place. But that’s when the magic of Go Code Colorado kicked in. Doug struck up a conversation with a graphic design professor, Adam Cochran. Doug knew coding. Adam knew marketing and design.
Boom, that’s how easily a team is born. And Go Code Colorado blew Doug’s expectations out of the water.
“The mentor weekend, especially, attracts some of the smartest, most talented coders and industry leaders in Colorado. It feels tight-knit, yet it gathers people from across the state. There’s no other event that comes close.”
In response to that year’s problem statement around congested transportation corridors, they wanted to build an app that would simultaneously alert mountain travelers to weather and traffic on I-70, giving them real-time information on “next exit” hotspots like ski retailers, restaurants and breweries.
This meant they had to connect and interface with CDOT, and were shocked when the organization granted them a five-year contract with access to data feeds and road cams. No security issues. Doug says he thinks CDOT understood that snow tends to terrorize Coloradans more than anything else.
“When we met with CDOT that day, we weren’t the only app developers there. Four other teams were waiting with their own traffic related app. But honestly, it was fine. People can steal your ideas, but they can’t steal your passion.”
Doug and Adam won at Challenge Weekend, making them a finalist team. As they neared the final competition, Go Go Colorado (their team name) realized that other teams had put far more time into coding. Their app fell short and they weren’t one of the three teams chosen.
But the app had been built. The iterations had begun. They were figuring it out. And at some point they realized that a tourist-spot-located kiosk (they call it Skiosk) would serve travelers better. With cheap materials, an Android stick and a USB cord, it was built. No custom construction needed.
And failure is part of the process. Last year in Durango, in Go Code Colorado’s third year, Doug began developing a portal to help Colorado businesses get started. He was envisioning a short-cut to show start-uppers how easy it really is to incorporate. But they soon realized that they couldn’t give legal advice, and that monetization wasn’t possible. For that and other reasons, Doug’s team succeeded in Durango, but didn’t win the final.
But as a serial entrepreneur, Doug is always lighting new passion projects. Grey Raven is an app to help communities reign in rogue AirBnB rentals and enforce government compliance. His other project is an app for the Vail tourist. Tell it your destination and it gives you transportation opps based on your exact location. Yes, you smell some AI there.