United States Air Force Academy
Colorado Spring, CO

DEF is coming to Colorado Springs in August! #DEFxColorado

Colorado is home to numerous military bases and startup communities; DEFxColorado will leverage the strengths of both groups to create [email protected] within the defense community. DEFxColorado will be held in Colorado Springs – our Nation’s national security capital of the West – home of the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, Peterson AFB, and Schriever AFB, with Buckley AFB just down the road. Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs all have active ROTC programs and boast growing startup scenes with innovative companies.

get tickets here

Building on the success of the monthly Colorado Springs Drink & Think meet ups, we’re hosting a day long DEFxColorado to tackle issues at a deeper level. We will begin the day with TED talk-style speakers and a panel of successful innovators. We’ll then learn the Lean Startup process and Influence Strategies to develop real solutions and strategies to effect change and pitch those ideas to a Shark Tank of senior military leaders and experienced venture capital investors.

DEFxColorado is an event organized by the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization disrupting the status quo by inspiring, connecting, and empowering leaders to create a culture of innovation in the defense community. As with all DEF events, uniforms and ties can be left at home - come casually dressed.

Innovation @ Elevation


Friday, August 11th - Happy Hour at Cockpit Craft Distillery (Evening)

Cockpit Craft Distillery is a local, veteran-owned business started recently by Calder Curtis, our very first Drink & Think speaker. Cockpit has some of the best drinks in town and is generously providing a complimentary first drink, discounted food and a tour of the distillery to DEFxColorado attendees.


Saturday, August 12th - USAFA's Eisenhower's Golf Course (All Day)

Our keynote speaker - Brigadier General Andrew Armacost

Brigadier General Andrew Armacost is the Dean of Faculty at the US Air Force Academy. General Armacost has been a champion of innovative initiatives such as the creation of the technological innovation program at USAFA where cadets develop new technologies for military and civilian use and the launch of Air Force Cyberworx.


Our panel of DOD Intrapreneurs

Major Joe Byerly is the founder of the widely read blog, From the Green Notebook. The blog features leadership lessons from NCOs to 4-star generals. Joe is an Army Armor Officer currently assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

Major Matt Cavanaugh is an Army Strategist currently assigned to Army Space & Missile Defense Command (a component of Strategic Command). He co-founded and remains a Fellow with, the Modern War Institute at West Point. His writings have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, among other outlets.

Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Roof witnessed and led innovation in elite Counter Terrorism units for over a decade while serving in US Army Special Operations Command. Aaron is an Infantry Officer and currently the Professor of Military Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Captain Bryce Luken is a Professor of Management at USAFA and drastically 'scaled up' the Air Force Academy's technological innovation program having taught over 500 cadets across 48 startup teams and winning national competitions at MIT, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon and others. Bryce has co-founded two successful startups and is currently the VP of Finance for FoodMaven, a local food tech startup.


Our Intrapreneur's Toolkit Speakers

Darren Halford is the Executive Director of Hacking for Defense Incorporated (H4Di), which drives change in the public sector by applying Lean Startup principles to real-world challenges. H4Di is expanding the H4D course started at Stanford University to schools nationwide. Darren is a retired Air Force Colonel who was instrumental in standing up the MC-12 Project Liberty intelligence collection aircraft program which was the fastest weapons system delivered from concept to combat since the P-51 Mustang in World War II. He will also be on the panel.

Lieutenant Colonel Aram Donigian co-founded the West Point Negotiation Project in 2009, has taught negotiation at West Point and the Air Force Academy and has provided negotiation training for dozens of units, including Special Operations. He has co-authored articles in the Harvard Business Review, Military Review, and elsewhere. Aram is an Infantry officer and currently, serves in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the Air Force Academy.



All of our sponsors are small businesses owned and operated by veterans in Colorado.

Lead Sponsor - BluCore Shooting Center is a full-service shooting facility based in Denver, owned and operated by former special operations personnel.

Happy Hour Sponsor - Cockpit Craft Distillery a new Colorado Springs-based distillery started by Calder Curtis.

Video & Photography Sponsor - Jay Billups Creative Media a new creative media business started by Jay Billups in Colorado Springs.



If you want to arrive early or stay late there are plenty of activities to fill your schedule. Book a tee time at USAFA's #1 ranked golf course in the DoD, visit Garden of the Gods, go fly fishing and hike the Manitou Incline with 2,000 feet of elevation change in less than a mile. You can also hike, drive or take a cog train up Pikes Peak "America's Mountain" and great Whitewater Rafting isn't far away either. Check out Visit Colorado Springs Website for more information on things to do in the area. Email us at [email protected] if you have any questions or would like suggestions.


Email: [email protected] for more info, to join the event team, or to nominate speakers.

Tickets will be available via Eventbrite in starting May 23rd!