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Boulder gets boco, its own mini, tech-focused SXSW

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This Friday, October 2 marks the launch of boco, a one-day conference in Boulder that combines food, music and tech. Featuring panels with names such as "Handheld Awesome Detectors" to "Autotune your brand?," plus speakers that include everyone from an artisan chocolate maker to a "cyborg anthropolog[ist]" and hosted happy hours and dinners, the event promises to be unique.

Over the course of a day, attendees will participate in discussions and panels on the future of tech, food and music with local and national experts. That diversity in focus may seem a little schizophrenic, but organizer Ef Rodriguez feels it actually makes perfect sense, since the conference is a reflection of Boulder itself. "We didn't want to limit ourselves to just technology. Boulder has way more going for it than tech," he explains. "Some of our favorite startups delve into food and music, in addition to tech. So we wanted to spotlight that spirit."

That means preventing things from getting too hidebound by keeping people on their toes -- literally. "We're moving people here and there throughout the city," Rodriguez says. "Panels at the Boulder Public Library, dinner downtown, happy hour downtown, concert at the Boulder Theater. We like that our conference is active, which mirrors the Boulder lifestyle. Boulder has more bounce to the ounce. Three out of four scientists agree."

Most of the panels are limited to ten people, to keep things focused and personal. "We were aiming for a South by Southwest vibe, but a bit more intimate," Rodriguez explains."Lots of our speakers are approachable local experts and the conference is smaller by comparison to other [festivals], which allows for intimacy and intensity."

The fest is the creation of Andrew Hyde, the founder of Ignite Boulder and Startup Weekend, and an employee of Boulder tech-incubator TechStars -- a man, who knows a thing or two about bringing people together to do interesting tech things. His aim with the event is to get people fired up and thinking about the future. ""We want passionate conversations -- not small talk," Hyde says. "Boulder is exploding with innovation and possibility, and we want to share that with as many people as we can." It won't be the last time either; Rodriguez says. They're already planning on another boco next year. "We're incurable optimists and daredevils," he says.

Tickets are $99 and attendance is limited to 175 participants. It's happening from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the downtown Boulder Public Library, followed by a hosted drinks, a dinner whose cost is included in the admission price and a live concert by Paper Bird. The full schedule of panels and events can be found on the boco.me website. For more updates and information, you can follow the conference on Twitter at @bocome.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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