By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Startup Week is the largest free entrepreneurial event of its kind in the country, giving people the chance to start their own business and for people to join a company in the early stages of its development.

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“They see a problem and create a solution and build a company around that,” said Vito Leccese, a member of the Denver Startup Week team. “Newer companies have a really good mind for what their employees are looking for.”

Leccese recently graduated from college and decided to help out the organizers of the annual event. He hopes to eventually find a startup he can work for full-time.

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“Nanno is an on demand childcare platform like Uber or Lyft, but for babysitters,” said Liz Oertle, CEO & co-founder of the startup. “In our careers, there were all these times when our childcare plans would fall through leaving us totally high and dry.”

Oertle launched Nanno with Desi McAdam a few years ago not sure if it would be used more than just a last-minute situation when someone needed childcare. But the founders say the response has been strong. People are using the app to schedule a babysitter well in advance.  The company is now a sponsor of Denver Startup Week and helping to provide childcare at the event.

“It’s for the community by the community,” said Kate Barton, vice president of executive office and special projects for Downtown Denver Partnership. “The tech and startup industry in Denver has seen amazing growth over the past several years.”

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There are 772 startup companies in Denver and 8.4 percent of the employees in downtown are working for a startup, according to Barton. She says the job fair and company showcase is the largest in the region. It speaks to the appeal to not only launch your own business, but for people to work for those new companies.

“There’s a lot of excitement in the air, and it’s really a good place to be if you’re interested in startups,” said Oertle. “I think the number one thing that people take away from Startup Week is that it’s possible.”

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Oertle says the startup culture is nurturing and helps people to realize their dreams. She says the energy during Startup Week helps to fuel that inspiration.

LINK: Denver Startup Week

“It’s totally uncharted territory. You’re just making it as you go along, figuring it out as you go,” she said.  “Somedays that’s the most amazing feeling, some days it’s the most scary feeling.”

But everyone in this field cautions those interested in working for a startup to know the risks. It’s a non-traditional workplace that some will thrive in but may not be for everyone.

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“I think the startup personality is a self starter, ownership personality, a person who really wants to be invested in their own work,” said Oertle. “You see something and you can think of six ways to improve it, then you belong in a startup.”

It’s the challenge that comes with a startup that can be the appeal and what makes it most rewarding, ultimately giving you a chance to do more than you might for other businesses.

“I really like to look at companies that I want to work for that fill a role in their community that I think is really valuable,” said Leccese.

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Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.