Up Here This Is My Office
By Brian O
Settled into a comfortable chair and wearing one of his favorite jackets, Chris O’Reilly is ready to begin a meeting. He’s hoping creative ideas and insightful discussion will ensue.
His environment is likely to further that purpose. The chair on which he’s seated is on Storm Peak Lift at the Steamboat Ski Area, and the coat he’s wearing is his ski jacket.
O’Reilly is the CEO and co-founder of LDM Global, a multi- national corporation specializing in legal information and litigation support solutions, with offices in London, Brussels, Paris, Sydney, Virginia, New York, Washington D.C. and Steamboat Springs.
“One of the reasons I like it here,” O’Reilly says, “is that you can duck out and go ski, sit on the chairlift and have a meeting. Out in nature, the mind is stimulated and you can be far more productive.”
A year ago, LDM’s local offices were in a condo; by this time next year, O’Reilly hopes to have purchased commercial space and be employing 20 people in Steamboat Springs.
“We came here for six months during ski season, and we ended up falling in love with Steamboat,” O’Reilly recalls. “That March, I had an epiphany. Why return to London: Why not move here?”
An affordable, highly educated labor pool, along with the lack of time spent stuck in traffic, were two of Steamboat’s many attractions. “I get to employ incredibly intelligent people at an affordable rate,” O’Reilly says. “And my morning commute is five to 10 minutes.”
An Australian, O’Reilly enjoyed his time in London, which is where his company really took off. But in the large, European capital, LDM was relatively anonymous. “Right now (in Steamboat), I have the whole community rallying behind me. That makes a huge difference, and it’s all positive. I haven’t missed a step here. Maybe I just timed it well. I might have been fortuitous, but I’m really a very normal guy. I have no magic wand, and I didn’t get any incentives, no big stimulus package.
“We live in the Rocky Mountains. The Zirkels and Soda Mountain — how much more incentive do we need?”
O’Reilly offers a bit of advice to other business owners who might want to move here: “Don’t be stopped by the fear of the unknown, the what-ifs. Jump over the abyss. The abyss isn’t so scary and on the other side is paradise. You will love it here. We’re living the dream.”All It Takes Is One SparkTo Ignite Imaginations
That basic concept drives Ignite Steamboat, which seeks to cultivate Steamboat’s economy by creative quarterly events that connect entrepreneurs, tech-junkies and innovative thinkers to socialize and share ideas.
“Spark Talks,” short live interviews with entrepreneurs and inventive thinkers from around the country, are at the heart of the events. People like Jen Lim (Delivering Happiness-Zappos. com) and software developer David Heinemeier Hansson (Ruby on Rails-37signals) Skype into the gatherings. Local speakers and others who are visiting Steamboat attend in person.
New ventures, businesses, methods of doing business, and technologies have resulted from the inspirational ideas presented at Ignite Steamboat events.
Ignite is a global program that began in Seattle, Wash., in 2006. The spark that fueled local Ignite events occurred in a basement in 2009. Since then, volunteers have hosted more than 30 events, and the group has grown to 300-plus members. There is no cost to become a member or to attend Ignite events.
Jay O’Hare, Jens Owen, Noreen Moore and Chad James are the founders of Ignite Steamboat. For more information, visit www.ignitesteamboat.com.