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Denver is nation's seventh-greenest city

For the fourth consecutive year, Denver has ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of its office space qualified as green certified, according to a recent survey by energy consultants CBRE and Maastricht University.

With a modest year-over-year improvement, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, representing 41.9 percent of overall office square footage, according to the annual Green Building Adoption Index. That’s compared with 11.8 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively, last year.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five markets.

“Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.

“Denver companies are savvy, and they realize that operating out of an energy-efficient space can not only save money and benefit the environment but also be a point of differentiation when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Sam DePizzol, executive vice president with CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services in Denver. “With one of the tightest labor markets in the country, we are seeing more and more Colorado companies pay attention to the role their real estate places in creating a competitive advantage.”
 

Denver’s Magpie Supply among winners of $25k at 4th Go Code Colorado pitch competition

Magpie Supply was one of the three companies that won the annual Go Code Colorado pitch competition. The company, which shows historic farmers’ market prices to farmers to help them find new markets, won $25,000, as well as a trip to the AT&T Foundry and a opportunity to pitch at Techstars and Boomtown.

Like all Go Code Colorado participants, Magpie Supply harnessed the power of public data. In this case, the company mapped prices farmers were able to charge at farmers markets throughout Colorado. The company also plans to develop a feature to help small farmers combat the cost of transporting goods. 

“This idea is a spin-off from a business concept I worked on last year with a Go Code Colorado team,” explains Daniel Ritchie of Magpie Supply. “Our team has worked hard to identify the real needs and concerns for Colorado farmers to develop a truly valuable tool to get more produce to market.”

Magpie wasn’t the only winner at the competition this year. Judges selected three of the 10 finalists to win a $25,000 contract with the state. The other two winners were Drip, from Colorado Springs, and Hud Buddy, from Fort Collins. Drip is a tool that helps with water analysis, including well and water quality information and Hud Buddy allows for simplified noise analysis for HUD residential developments.

“I continue to be impressed by the creativity and collaboration of the Go Code Colorado teams,” says Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “Teams continue to show the value of public data if we can get it into the hands of innovative and entrepreneurial people who have a different perspective on how to use it.” 

With more than 1,000 proposals in Denver Startup Week is ready for your votes

The nation’s largest free entrepreneurial event—Denver Startup Week—received a record 1,039 session proposals this year. That’s up from 944 proposals submitted last year. Now it’s up to the public to help organizers choose which sessions should be held—last year the event hosted more than 300 programs. 

“Our entrepreneurial community is the envy of cities across the country,” says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “We now have nearly 700 tech startups in Downtown, employing close to 5,000 people. Companies large and small are coming to Denver to positively impact our economy and help grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“We continue to be impressed with not only the volume, but the quality of proposals submitted and now it’s up to the entire entrepreneurial community to help tell us what programs they find the most interesting and valuable,” says Ben Deda, vice president of channels and ecosystems at Vertafore and co-leader of the event’s organizing committee.

The organizers will accept votes for Denver Startup Week through May 28, 2017. The event's organizing committee will sift through the results and determine which proposals will become sessions during the sixth annual startup week from Sept. 25-29.

In addition to the five tracks of Denver Startup Week—Founder, Growth, Maker, Product, Designer, and Developer—this year’s schedule also will include topic and industry clusters focused social impact, the Internet of things, health care technology, diversity and inclusion, cannabis and business basics. 

“When more than 1,000 people step up to share their insight and knowledge with others, it signals that Downtown Denver continues to be one of the best places in the country to start and grow a business,” said Erik Mitisek, executive director of Project X-ITE at the University of Denver and co-founder of Denver Startup Week.

To help people wade through the potential sessions and vote, organizers recommended that voters search for trends, themes and topics that interest them. They can also sort session proposals by cluster and organize sessions by their favorite track. Site users can vote on each session once.

ParkiFi partners with Parkmobile, hoping to lure new customers with combined services.

As anyone who works or visits downtown Denver knows, parking is a pain. Now, Denver-based ParkiFi is making it easier to park by adding new features to its smartphone app. Previously, it could only show users where parking was available—but now users can pay for parking from the app. To help raise awareness ParkiFi is giving away a year of free parking in downtown.

“We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm around our real-time parking spot finder app since we launched in November, but we think users are really going to get excited about the payment capability,” says Ryan Sullivan, CEO and co-founder of ParkiFi.

The new capabilities are thanks to a partnership with Parkmobile, which allows transactions via smartphone. While ParkiFi was launched in Denver, it could prove a valuable service in any metro area in the US.

“Our goal is to make parking as easy as possible for Colorado drivers, everything from finding a spot to payment” Sullivan explains. “They can focus on getting to where they need to be downtown without worrying about where to park and how to pay, saving even more time and eliminating the headache of forgetting to pay for parking or potentially getting a ticket.”

ParkiFi is valuing the year of parking at up to $2,000. The company explains that people can enter the contest by downloading ParkiFi and using it to find and pay for parking at downtown properties where they can use ParkiFi between now and July 31. Each time a person uses ParkiFi, they’re entered into the contest. After that it will select a winner at random and work with them to find the best place for them to park for the year or reward the winner with a $150 a month credit to their ParkiFi account.

Currently ParkiFi is only available in downtown Denver, but the company plans to expand its capabilities into other Denver neighborhoods soon. "ParkiFi’s parking sensors are being used by parking operators and municipalities at 24 locations in 11 states and 13 markets to obtain valuable analytics on parking patterns including occupancy, turnover and more," says Abby Hagstrom, a spokesperson for ParkiFi. "ParkiFi is also excited to announce a new partner, Parking Revenue Recovery Services, which will increase ParkiFi's coverage in Denver by over 2,000 spaces."

Co.Starters now offering (an affordable) boot camp for would-be startups

The Co.Starters program has graduated more than 3,000 entrepreneurs nationwide and now it’s coming to Denver’s Commons on Champa. The nine-week business development program will launch on May 17 and will help participants learn about launching businesses with a community of peers. 

“This nine week program equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools needed to turn business ideas into action. Unlike traditional platforms, Co.Starters applies the lean business modeling methods popular among high-growth startups to businesses of all kinds,” explains Jacqui Dietrich program manager at the Commons.

“The program is new to The Commons and will be a regular offering focused specially on women and minorities,” Dietrich says. However, she adds, “The Co.Starters program is open to any new business or new product idea, regardless of sector or industry.” While this is the first time the program is launching in Colorado, it’s been used in other cities including Chattanooga, Cincinnati and Detroit. 

“Up to 15 aspiring entrepreneurs will be admitted to the first Co.Starters at The Commons cohort. The deadline to apply for the upcoming cohort is May 3,” Dietrich says. The program, supported in part by the Kauffman Foundation, will cost participants $125 including curriculum and meals. 

The program, Dietrich says, helps participants understand their assumptions about their businesses and how they will work and then enables them to talk with their target customers to validate their ideas. “This approach enables entrepreneurs to rapidly uncover flaws in their concepts and find viable models more quickly,” she says.

The Commons plans to offer cohorts on a rolling basis. Entrepreneurs can apply here and successful entrepreneurs who wish to serve as mentors for the program can register to help here. 

Want to get into the brewing business? Colorado Enterprise Fund will show you how

When Colorado Small Business Week launches on April 30, the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) will host a number of  events showcasing the state's smaller enterprises helping entrepreneurs launch new businesses. To help them capitalize on the regional brewing craze, CEF, for the first time, is hosting a workshop aimed at craft beer startups. The workshop, Crafting Success: From Home Brews to Beer Biz, will be hosted at the Commons on Champa on May 5 from 1:00 pm–2:30 pm. 

“With the increase in brewery startups CEF is financing in Colorado, we felt it would be helpful to showcase some of our successful borrowers so others could see it’s possible to follow your dream and make a living,” says Alisa Zimmerman, director of marketing and communications at CEF. 

The event will feature Chad Miller of Black Shirt Brewing Co, Brian O’Connell of Renegade Brewing, Tom Jasko of Colorado Craft Distributors and David Levesque of Launch Pad Brewery. Each of the companies received support from CEF. For instance, Renegade recently expanded into a 15,000 square-foot warehouse and received a working capital loan from CEF in August 2016. 

CEF also is supporting ancillary brewing businesses, like Colorado Craft Distributors, which launched in 2016. The business is a wholesaler of beer, cider, spirits and wine. The founders received a working capital loan from CEF in 2017.

“The featured borrowers each produce, package and distribute their products differently, and may share info on resources they use. We expect them to touch on these areas depending on their current operations and future plans,” Zimmerman explains.

As part of Colorado Small Business Week, CEF will host other events, including tours of refugee and immigrant small businesses in Aurora. It also will host the Colorado Emerging Ventures Breakfast, where entrepreneurs will learn about what a business needs to qualify for a loan. CEF also will host the SBA Colorado Business Week Awards Reception on Wednesday, May 3 at Denver Public Library.

Denver Startup Week Accepting Session Proposals Through Friday

The nation’s largest free startup event, Denver Startup Week, is gearing up for 2017 and it wants your input, soon. The event, which will take place Sept. 25-29, is seeking ideas for sessions in six different tracks to help entrepreneurs learn about launching and growing startups. The deadline for submissions, however, is April 21.

The sessions are in addition to headline events, which bring industry leaders to discuss entrepreneurship, launching a startup and more. The track categories this year include designer, developer, founder, growth, maker and product. Each is intended to address the functional roles in a startup team and will be led by industry experts. 

Last year, the event brought more than 13,000 people to 300 sessions. Organizers, including the Downtown Denver Partnership, Colorado Technology Association and Startup Colorado, expect this year’s startup week, the sixth, will attract even more attendees.

After the deadline passes track chairs will evaluate the submission proposals and approve them for voting on by the community. Then the organizing committee will use the votes and comments to guide the selection and scheduling process.

Sessions in the past have included individual and group presentations as well as panels, workshops and social events. Organizers said that ideas focused on transferring knowledge to the community have the best chance of being selected. T

Innovators, entrepreneurs and others can register and submit proposals here: SUBMIT A TOPIC.

Two teams from Denver make it to Go Code Colorado’s next round

The annual challenge to use public data to create business insights in Colorado, Go Code Colorado, is getting ready for the mentorship weekend April 21-23. Two Denver teams, <div>ersity and Magpie Supply, are among the finalists. In all, more than 230 people participated in the Challenge Weekend events this year. 

“Each year, Go Code Colorado participation and enthusiasm increases across the state,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, whose office runs the contest. “The high-caliber app and business concepts created during challenge weekend will further encourage government entities of all sizes to make their data available to developers and entrepreneurs so its inherent value can be fully utilized.”

The first team, <div>ersity, is harnessing data to create a hiring tool that will help companies build diverse teams. The other team, Magpie Supply, is using data to solve transportation problems for farmers. 

Both teams will join the other finalists in the expenses-paid mentoring weekend. During the weekend,the finalists will have a chance to discuss their ideas with leaders from Techstars, Boomtown, House of Genius and others from Colorado’s tech and entrepreneurial community. 

After that, they will compete for three $25,000 awards, which will be decided in a final competition on May 24. The awards will help the winners move their ideas into the next stage as apps or startup businesses.
 

Community Wealth Building Network announces first job opportunity

Metro Denver's Community Wealth Building Network aims to build wealth within the community through increasing local ownership, control of resources and income. To date, the network was supported by volunteers at other organizations. But now, it's ready to hire its first staff member. 

"We are looking for someone who can not only connect with disenfranchised community residents, but also feels comfortable meeting with organizational and Metro Denver leaders," says Patrick Horvath, interim vice president at The Denver Foundation. "Denver is on the cutting edge of this movement and we can be a proving ground for innovative economic strategies that lift whole communities."

To that end, the Community Wealth Building Network's new fellow will conduct on-the-ground research into current and potential community wealth building in the metro area. The fellow will work to strengthen connections between such efforts and with the network's partners. They will create a five- to seven-year community wealth building vision and plan for metro Denver.

Community wealth building engages in creating sustainable businesses that keep jobs and resources within the community. It also promotes land trusts, local procurement by institutions including universities and hospitals, local investing circles and community empowerment.

"Look at the Green Taxi company, which is the largest worker co-operative in Colorado: All the drivers own a share in the company as well as their vehicles," says Halisi Vinson, executive director of Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center (RMEOC), an organization that helps companies move from sole proprietorship to employee-owned businesses.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Commons on Champa looks back on its first full year at new campus

The Commons on Champa, Denver's center for entrepreneurship and innovation, recently released its 2016 impact report. The center reports that since launching its campus on the eponymous Champa St. downtown in 2015, it's served more than 23,000 community members.

The center has served those entrepreneurs through 450 programs and events it's hosted with 145 partners. That includes hosting 19 Meetup groups per month. The center also plays an integral part in Denver Startup Week and has hosted 4,000 people at events during that entrepreneurship juggernaut.

The bulk of those programs, 275, were hosted in 2016, according to the Commons. The programs were presented by 120 partners and 85 percent of them were free to the public. Through Denver's Office of Economic Development, the Commons also offered 326 hours of one on one assistance in helping people launch startups. 

To further support growth in Denver's innovator space, the Commons launched the InCommons Mentorship Program in 2016. That program connects entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors with business leaders, innovators, and investors. It allows them to attend monthly mentor hours at the campus, join industry specific and subject matter forums and share online resources. It also gains them access to online, collaborative goal-setting tools. The offering already includes 240 members and 80 mentors and financial support from 20 partners.

As a capstone to its efforts in 2016, the Commons on Champa was awarded an Inclusion Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The campus will use the $400,000 grant in 2017 and 2018 to expand entrepreneurship focused on the inclusion of military veterans, women, people of color and new American citizens. It offers eight-week programs to help participants launch their businesses.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Kauffman Foundation awards $400K grant to Commons on Champa

Denver's center for entrepreneurship, The Commons on Champa, won a $400,000 Inclusion Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The new grant will allow the Commons on Champa to launch the "Entrepreneurial Journey" accelerator program to expand its work with female and minority entrepreneurs and innovators. 

The new "Entrepreneurial Journey" program is free and will focus on educational resources for women, people of color, military veterans and new American citizens. It will be offered quarterly, includes a track-based curriculum and aims to serve hundreds of individuals from underserved communities each year.

"The Commons on Champa was founded to grow downtown Denver's culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and by reducing barriers to entry and supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. "We truly believe that economic growth and city-wide prosperity happens when entrepreneurs come together to create community, share ideas and empower themselves, and we thank the Kauffman Foundation for the support of The Commons on Champa."

The new award is one of 12 Inclusion Challenge grants awarded to nonprofit organizations. The Commons on Champa said that 376 applicants applied for the grant funds and support from the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Foundation presented the awards at its Mayor's Conference on Entrepreneurship in St. Petersburg, Fla. The awards ranged from $87,000 to $420,000 over the next two years.

"Collaborations like The Commons on Champa are creating empowering spaces for entrepreneurs from all walks of life to achieve their business goals, reducing existing barriers to starting up and driving a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "We welcome the opportunity to leverage this grant to better equip our women and minority entrepreneurs with the skills, network and resources necessary to turn their incredible ideas into successful businesses."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Denver Startup Week announces 2017 dates

Denver Startup Week recently announced that it will host the nation's largest free entrepreneurial event in 2017 from Sept. 25 through Sept. 29. In early 2017 the organizations behind the events will offer more details, including things like how to propose session ideas.

The event, which is returning for its sixth year in 2017, has quickly become massive. In 2016 1,334 people signed up to attend the events, which included 306 free programs held throughout downtown Denver aimed spurring and growing the local innovation and entrepreneurship community in the city and state.

"Denver Startup Week is a celebration of entrepreneurship, and the diversity of industries represented allows everyone to learn from outside of their respective 'box,'" says Anthony Franco, founder of Denver startup mcSquares. "There is something in the air here in Denver that is electrifying for founders, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

The organizing committee behind Denver Startup Week includes Galvanize COO Ben Deda, Downtown Denver Partnership CEO Tami Door and Executive Director of the University of Denver's Project X-ITE Erik Mitisek. They announced the new dates on Nov. 15, which the Obama Administration named National Entrepreneurship Day this year, in recognition of entrepreneurs across the country. 

"National Entrepreneurship Day was designated with a call to action to support budding entrepreneurs, and tap into the diverse skills and talents of the entrepreneurial community to create businesses of the 21st century. It seemed only fitting that we leverage this day to announce that Denver Startup Week will return for a sixth year as one of the best resources in the nation for those looking to start or grow a business," Deda says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Couragion named "Startup of the Year" at 16th annual APEX Awards

The Colorado Technology Association (CTA) held its 16th annual APEX Awards, which recognizes the accomplishments of Colorado technology companies. The CTA recognized 10 people and companies for their achievements in the past year. The Startup of the Year award was granted to Couragion, which aims to help students get into STEM careers.

Couragion was selected as the most promising tech company under two years of age. The grants are awarded to a companies that’s taken initiative in its field, its innovation and finding a need in the marketplace for a product or service. 

ViaWest won the Company of the Year award. The association says the company of the year award is granted to a Colorado-based company for its overall performance as a leader in its market.The CTA helps drive economic development in Colorado, explains Michael Marcotte, CEO of Acumen Digital and CTA board chairman. "People who care about this, and care about our future generations, share a passion in creating an environment that gives us a wonderful place to live, work and play. Those honored at the 2016 APEX Awards are a great example of continuing this legacy."

Other winners included Annette Quintana, who won the CEO of the Year Award for leading Istonish; John Suthers, Colorado Springs' mayor, who won the Advocate of the Year award; and Page Tucker, CEO of ProStar Geocorp, who won the Entrepreneur Excellence Award.

The awards were presented by Accenture and granted at the Seawell Grand Ballroom Nov. 9 at a red-carpet event. Independent panels of judges selected the winners and runners-up. 

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Need to park in downtown Denver? ParkiFi it!

Parking is getting more difficult in Denver. ParkiFi is launching an app that aims to make it easier to park in the city. 

The company already is generating significant interest. ParkiFi, which launched in 2014, has already raised $13.5 million in venture capital and was named a Denver Gazelle this year by the  Denver Office of Economic Development. Founders Ryan Sullivan and Rishi Malik say they created the company in response to an insight about downtown traffic that one out of three cars driving downtown Denver is actively looking to park. A process that takes an average of fifteen minutes.

"We're all guilty of circling block after block looking for a parking spot, and we're excited to launch the ParkiFi app to take this unneeded stress out of daily life," says Sullivan, the company's CEO. "Our app will help reduce congestion and, as a result, improve the environment and support Denver's 'smart city' initiatives. Our referral program is a great way to amplify this impact, while letting early adopters earn parking credits."

The app is slated to launch on the Apple and Google app stores in mid-November. It's designed to allow users to input an address into the app, which shows, in real time, which nearby lots and garages have open parking spots. The company plans to add metered street parking to the app in early 2017. 

Ahead of its official launch, the company also is offering early adopters a chance to get rewards for referring others to the app. People can register on ParkiFi's website, after which they'll receive an email with a unique link that they can share with others. When others use the link to sign up they receive parking reward, including discounts of $5 for five signups, $10 for 10 signups, $25 for 25 signups, and $75 for 75 signups.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

SRI Conference comes to Denver

Sustainable and responsible investments will be at the forefront of the 27th annual SRI Conference, which has moved from Colorado Springs to Denver. The conference, being held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center from Nov. 9-11, and will be headlined by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Chief Sustainability Officer Jerry Tinianow. 

First Affirmative Financial Network, which organizes the conference, calls it the largest annual meeting of responsible investment leaders in the U.S. The 2016 event will bring more than 650 investment professionals to Denver to discuss sustainable urban development, improve returns for philanthropic investors, clean energy policy and leveraging renewable investment opportunities.

"One of our goals this year in moving The SRI Conference from The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to Denver was to showcase some of the leading sustainability and impact investing experts who live right in our own backyard," says Steve Schueth, president of First Affirmative Financial Network. "This year's agenda reflects a greater focus on local people and organizations that are demonstrating a more responsible approach to business and investing -- one that is geared toward shifting the paradigm and creating a truly sustainable future."

As such, roughly 30 percent of the conference sessions will feature speakers from Denver and Boulder. Tinianow, Denver's first chief sustainability officer, will discuss how his office is working to implement Mayor Michael Hancock's "Scale, and Everybody Plays" agenda. Likewise, Ritter will join former National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Director Dan Arvizu to discuss clean energy policy in the U.S. and the opportunities it represents in terms of jobs.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.
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