If you go

What Angel Investing Gotchas -- In the Park

When 9:15-11:15 a.m. Thursday

Where Near the bandshell in Central Park in Boulder, corner of 14th and Canyon

Cost $15

There's a reason business has long been done on the golf course.

Studies show that meetings on the move can stimulate new ideas, refresh the mind and body, build connections among colleagues and spark creativity.

But you don't have to hit balls with a stick to reap the benefits.

One group of Boulder investors, the Impact Angel Group, holds walking meetings along Boulder Creek, regular "investor hikes" up Chautauqua and informational workshops in Boulder's Central Park.

They call the latter the Summer Learning Series, although the monthly hikes and walking meetings are planned to continue year-round. Last winter, in a true only-in-Boulder-moment, a group of these businesspeople pulled out their snowshoes to take their meeting up the mountain in a snowstorm, according to Elizabeth Kraus, of Boulder.

"This is just proof that Boulder is such a great place to be, if you want to have a balanced life between work and your well being," she says. "These are some of the smartest people in Boulder who are out doing active things."

The Impact Angel Group, which connects startup businesses with would-be investors, is not the only Boulder business taking their work outside. In July, startup CEO Bart Lorang blogged about hiking with entrepreneurs.


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The philosopher Aristotle was said to have walked while he taught. Other famous faces throughout history were known as walking workers, from Kant to Kierkegaard.

Countless studies back up the health benefits of not only getting outside but exercising. Both can reduce stress, reduce anxiety and even boost productivity and job performance. Exercise actually boosts brain power -- from memory to learning -- according to Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey, as cited in U.S. News Health.

Joe Hackel, of Boulder, says he experienced a surge in creativity after attending a recent Summer Learning Series workshop in the park.

"By being connected to nature, it stimulates imagination. You are in an open space," he says. "This is not a conference room. This is not a meeting where information goes one way. This is a dialogue."

Kraus started the Impact Angel Group two years ago as a way to teach other entrepreneurs the lessons she had learned hard when she founded MyUSearch.com, which is similar to an eHarmony-style matchmaking service that connects students with colleges.

That's not the only business Kraus has started. She also runs Take it Out group fitness, which offers a variety of outdoor group fitness and fitness classes.

But that still wasn't enough to fill her desire to spend as much time as possible in Boulder's outdoors.

"Because I love to be outdoors so much, I started inviting entrepreneurs to go on a hike with me instead of going to a meeting," she says. "What I learned was that I actually had much more productive meetings on a hike, because they would open up more and spend more time with me."

Plus, it got the entrepreneurs -- who Kraus says tend to be workaholics and work "crazy hours" -- outside and exercising. This was a huge incentive for them, she says.

"Suddenly people who are really hard to get meetings with would spend two hours with me, because they had the opportunity to go for a hike," she says.

Soon, she began opening up her hikes and walks to the public. The Boulder Creek walks bring potential investors together with people who are running a startup business; the startups can pitch their ideas to investors, and investors get to know them on a more personal basis. It saves Kraus time, too, because she does not have to schedule and sit down with each of the seven to 10 startups looking for investors every week. Note: Only about 1 percent of pitches ultimately get funded. But you can still get some good advice from people who have launched a successful company, as Kraus has.

Earlier this summer, Charles Jones attended a workshop in the park, followed by an hour-long walk along Boulder Creek. Jones, a cognitive scientist, is the executive director of the Institute for Adaptive Mastery. In addition to looking for funding, he says he hoped to get advice on whether he should make his company a nonprofit, a for-profit or some form of hybrid.

Jones says the walking meeting felt much different than a business meeting in a boardroom.

"I love the opportunity to get to know people while you're exercising, while you're moving, while you're shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than across from each other."

The scientist in him quotes the studies backing up the value in that: When people walk shoulder-to-shoulder, they interpret it as moving toward the same future, whereas if they sit across from each other, the interaction feels more vulnerable and confrontational, he says.

Although he admits he had a hard time hearing everybody in the park.

"And it's ironic to me that I'm walking past homeless people on my way to a venture capital meeting," he says.

Contact Staff Writer Aimee

Heckel at 303-473-1359 or

heckela@dailycamera.com.