Kitty Kolding, CEO of Chrysalis Partners, is a forward-thinking woman in tech. She started her first data business out of college and went on to run several companies. Kolding started Chrysalis Partners, a company that synthesizes, interprets, and articulates existing data to drive revenue. Here’s what she’s learned as a female business leader in Denver South.
Denver South: You’ve referred to yourself as a professional CEO. What does that mean?
Kitty Kolding: When I haven’t been running my own company, I’ve been asked by founders or venture capitalists to run other companies on an interim or long-term basis because of my expertise in marketing, tech, and data. Even though I’m not a finance genius by any stretch, I’m very focused on product strategy and sales. Sometimes I get hired just because I’m good at leading small companies and turning them into something more substantial.
DS: How do you think that the business climate in Denver changed over the past 20 years?
KK: Over the last five, six or, seven years, especially, the tech industry continues to amaze me, especially considering the relatively small population of this State. It’s very diverse, with all different kinds of technology companies. I’ve been very impressed at how much is happening just between Denver and then the Tech Center. There’s a ton of energy and it doesn’t have the same downsides that you see in other markets that are also heavily tech.
DS: Why do you think the tech industry in Colorado is different than in other places?
KK: I’ve found that people want to be here; they share a different view and a different set of priorities than those in New York, for example. Colorado folks are much more interested in being good business partners and being healthy, successful people inside and out. What that means as an entrepreneur is that you aren’t spending energy on some of the nonsense that you would in other places. Instead, all of your energy goes into growing your business.
DS: Is there anything missing in Denver South for entrepreneurs?
KK: I’ve always felt like there needed to be more innovation hubs, or places where lots of people can connect and engage on a regular basis. The area is pretty spread out and there’s a lot of traffic. The coworking trend is good; coworking is typically affordable, convenient, and located in well-positioned office space. But, you can typically only seat two or three people in a space and if you get bigger than that, you run out of options. The trend has to run out of gas at some point. I wish there was something bigger and broader.
DS: Are there any industry lessons learned that you’d offer to a young woman coming up in this environment?
KK: I started my very first company, which collected data that was previously manually handled, as a young woman in my twenties in Chicago. A lot of people, including young men, weren’t as forward-thinking and didn’t take me seriously. I decided to make being forward-thinking my strength and I just kept going. What I’m trying to say is that being a sore thumb is fine, particularly for women in tech. Use it to your advantage. Don’t conform to them, make them conform to you.