We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristina Corcoran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
They say that every great achievement comes with struggle, adversity and pain, but Denver Free Fun and Find Free Fun started with this. I got divorced at a time when the economy was crashing and ended up losing everything including my career in marketing and all my money. I stumbled into financial planning and was good at it for several years, but it was not a passion for me. In an effort to pull away from the financial industry, I went to work for someone who had previously been in mortgage and was looking to get into rentals and fix-and-flips. I negotiated a salary and benefits and went to work, finding renters, potential homes, contractors and realtors to facilitate the process. With five homes under contract and renters lined up, I had still not received the promised salary and there were always excuses for why. After this had continued for awhile, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation came to me to tell me that my boss was a crook and he had been stealing from several people including myself as I had money with him for a mortgage refinance. They asked me to testify against him, but all hope of getting paid was gone and the money I had given him was lost. This caused me to sink into a depression, but with two teenagers at home, I knew I needed to get out of the house and try to do things with them even though I was feeling despondent and poor. I started Denver Free Fun as a way to keep track of the things that the kids and I could afford to do by beginning a Facebook group page to track upcoming events. To my surprise, after a month the group had over 2000 members. I began to look at the possibilities of what that could become. I registered the business and began to look at building a website for the business. My children thought I was crazy, my friends told me to get a job and my family wasn’t supportive, but I pushed ahead. I approached businesses about potentially advertising without doing a market analysis and charged way under market value. I paid for the website and continued to build on a shoestring budget. There were days that I was in tears and questioned my own sanity. There were many “no’s”. But there were also many “yes’s” and many people messaged me to tell me thank you for providing the service that I did. There were families who needed a little extra help to get by, young adults starting out looking for something to do and many charities who needed volunteers. Because of this I continued to push ahead to build what I knew Denver Free Fun could become. Now within three years, Denver Free Fun has become the largest company of its kind in the Denver area with over 30,000 members. We have a strategic partnership with one of the largest networking companies in Colorado, have earned several awards including Best of Denver multiple times, grow on an average of 10-15% every month, have been featured in several news pieces and we are growing into other cities and states. We also have multiple advertisers and run Feed the Fam for homeless and in-crisis teens and their families as well as supporting many charity organizations. In answer to the question, “what was my thought process behind starting my own business,” it was a lot of happenstance, difficulties and uncertainty and to be completely honest, I am not sure there was a full thought process other than that this felt right and needed. There have been tears and joy. I frequently joke that like many of the successful small business leaders that I know, I suffered from “imposter syndrome” for a long time not knowing how I reached my successes. But I am incredibly proud of what it has become and the direction it is going. Sometimes you need to encounter difficult situations to achieve great success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Denver Free Fun is about all the free and cheap events going on around Denver and it turns out everyone’s favorite words are “free” and “fun”. From movies, to concerts, to food, to charity events and more, we cover it all. When asked about what sets me apart and how I grow so quickly, I tell people that it is about being consistent. I am constantly researching upcoming events, making a presence online within my target market, pushing my advertisers and offering more for the money to these sponsors than any other media company my size. I love the messages I get from members telling me how excited the are about an event, the visitors to town who come to my page for ideas for things to do while they are here and the pictures of events people have attended. The feedback I get makes every minute of hard work worthwhile. Getting here has meant showing up every single day and making sure there are events and entertainment available for my members. It has meant going out to networking groups and following other groups online to get my name out there and it has meant never giving up even when it felt hard. I have learned to value my time in that and while I still am the lowest cost advertiser around for my full media packages, I have increased my pricing over three years to reflect what people get for their money. I have learned that I cannot do everything by myself and now have a sales team, a virtual assistant and a web designer to help. We have a new app coming out through another partnership and have built a strategic partnership with one of the largest networking companies in Colorado to offer small business the opportunity to get in front of consumers while growing their businesses. As I grow and expand, I am learning new lessons too. Currently we are looking at investors and franchising opportunities as a joint partnership deal and with each addition and growth, it is a new learning curve. I have learned how to build contracts, include lawyers and put everything in writing. Delegating has also been a struggle for me, but I am learning how to do that as well. But the rewards of building Denver Free Fun have been immeasurable and watching it grow has been immensely gratifying. I love how much we are able to give back to the community through our efforts and that it can support that community. I am very excited to watch this company become everything I envisioned when I started it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a best friend in town visiting a few of my must dos would include Casa Bonita (everyone jokes about the food there, but I love that place and it still amuses me), Red Rocks for hiking, the Georgetown Loop followed by ice cream at the little ice cream parlor there and maybe a night in Breckenridge which is my favorite mountain town. I think we would also have to hit a Rockies game at Coors Field while enjoying a cold beer and a brat as well as head down to Colorado Springs for a little exploring at Cave of the Winds. For higher end dinner and drinks, we might need to hit The Ninth Door, Root Down and Olinger’s. I would also love to do one of the Haunted Denver tours and learn a little more about the history of Denver.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank the many Denver area business leaders who have grown their businesses alongside me and supported me within the networking community. They have guided me, advertised with me, partnered with me, run events with me and included me every step of the way. These people have become my friends and I love watching their successes as they cheer me on for mine. I would not be where I am today without their support. love and help. I would also like to thank my members for following along and helping me create this dynamic business endeavor through their endless encouragement.
The birthday picture and the porch portrait were done for Denver Free Fun from Denver Free Fun advertising sponsor Sandy Puc Photography