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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 proposes dedicated fund for affordable housing

On July 13, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech introduced the details of the city's plan to create funding to support affordable housing.

Pending approval by Denver City Council, the funding will be generated by way of development fees and property taxes. Over the next 10 years, the new funding stream could generate $150 million, allowing for the construction of 6,000 new homes for low- to moderate-income families in the city and catalyze thousands of jobs in the process.

"There is no more important a priority in Denver right now than affordable housing," Mayor Hancock said. "In my state of the city speech yesterday, I spoke about the thousands of people who lack the simple advantages so many of us take for granted, like a place to call home. Home ownership gives families a foundation to build equity, build wealth and build a life. This is a fair, balanced and modest approach to address one of the most pressing problems facing Denver today."

The proposal from the mayor's office are expected to cost residential property owners $1 a month and commercial property owners $145 annually for every $1 million worth of commercial valuation. It also would establish a one-time development fee on new construction projects collected when a project receives its building permit. Residential construction fees for single-family homes will carry a 60 cent per square foot fee and multi-family homes will carry a $1.50 per square foot fee. Industrial projects will pay a 40 cents per square foot fee and retail, hotel and other commercial development will pay a $1.70 per square foot fee.

"By pairing a small portion of the property tax revenue that Denver voters approved almost four years ago with what would be one of the lowest one-time fees on new residential and commercial development in the nation, our broader community will be coming together with a sector of the economy generating some of the demand to create a bold solution for affordable housing in Denver," Kniech contended.

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

Denver Startup Week receives proposals for nearly 1,000 sessions

The organizers of Denver Startup Week received a total of 944 proposals for sessions in 2016. Until July 15, people can vote on which sessions they want to see and attend at the annual event being held this year from Sept. 12 to 16.

"We continue to be blown away by the support for those looking to start and grow a business in our community," said Erik Mitisek, executive director of Project X-ITE at the University of Denver and co-founder of Denver Startup Week. "This level of community engagement and support for Denver Startup Week is proof positive that downtown Denver is the best place to start and grow a business."

The proposals received this year represent a significant, 76 percent increase over the 535 proposals received last year. Voters chose 235 sessions for last year's startup week, which ultimately was attended by nearly 11,000 people. Given the number of proposals submitted to the event this year it's likely even more will attend than last year.

"Now it's up to our attendees to tell us what they will value most by voting on their favorite sessions," said Ben Deda, chief operating officer at Galvanize. "There is no doubt that Denver Startup Week attendees receive unmatched quality of programming to support their business growth."

Entrepreneurs and likely attendees and others can vote for the sessions they want to attend at Denver Startup Week 2016 in one of six categories: Founder, Growth, Maker, Product, Designer and Developer. Organizers say the final program will support all industries and stages of business. Vote at www.denverstartupweek.org.

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


March shapes up as Denver's other big beer month

Almost half a year from the other big beer event in Denver, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), March is shaping up to be just as important for Colorado's fermentation revolution.

Colorado Craft Beer Week begins with the one-of-a-kind Collaboration Fest on March 19 and pours through March 30 at Strange Craft Beer Co. with an auction and IPA Throwdown. In fact, for the purposes of innovative brewing and moving the local industry forward, March might even be more important to craft brewing than GABF.

Collaboration Fest, being held for the second year at the Broncos' stadium at Mile High, is probably the most innovative of all the events since it invites breweries from across the world to come together and create what are mostly one-off beers with their fellow brewers. In fact, last year it was dubbed "America's most creative beer fest" by Food & Wine Magazine.

It's an important event for the industry because it encourages brewers from all over the world to exchange notes and practices -- and of course plenty of beer. "We can guarantee one thing: the beers of Collaboration Fest are sure to be some of the most unique, delicious and limited offerings you've ever tasted," say festival organizers, which include the Colorado Brewers Guild, Visit Denver and Two Parts. "Per festival guidelines, one brewery must based in Colorado and a member of the Colorado Brewers Guild, while the collaborating partners could be located next door, across the state, across the country or even overseas."  

This year the fest will boast more than 85 projects from 149 brewers. While most participating breweries are in the U.S., the fest also is bringing international attention with five international breweries participating this year.

Beyond that Denver will serve as a hub for Craft Beer Week, with events happening throughout the state. While many are at breweries, others have unique locations -- like the Mighty Beer Run in Platt Park on March 26.

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


Booming OneReach melds calls and texts for customer service

Customer service is a pain point for customers and companies alike. In response, Denver's OneReach offers a tool that allows companies to interact with their customers via SMS and call center.

"We've built a web application that makes it very easy for companies to create any sort of custom SMS or call in solutions whether it's inbound or outbound," explains OneReach Managing Partner Elias Parker. The tool makes it easier to integrate Twilio, the engine behind Uber's ability to connect riders with drivers. "It's a development platform that makes it easier to custom code any text messaging solutions," Parker says.

"OneReach is an end-user solution that allows companies to create those same types of custom text message solutions without writing them," Parker says. "We're thought of as the Twillio UI."

As positive reviews of its services and bigger clients have come in, the four-year-old company has realized faster growth. Parker says it grew by 34 percent in the past year, swelling to 27 employees at its new office in Sunnyside.

"We just moved a month ago," he says. "We were in Galvanize in a private office. For at least half of it we were sitting on each other. We would have to ask people to work from home and have people working out of the common space because it was so full."

With service packages starting at $22 a month the company has a wide range of clients, including National Geographic, United Nations World Food Program and Re/Max. "Some clients are really small, some are huge," says Parker. "They range from a small chain of coffee shops in Denver to a massive company that has thousands of customer support people."

The company is also looking ahead to the next steps. "In the future, hopefully in the near-term road map, we'll releasing a more mobile-friendly solution but for the time being it's accessed via a web browser on laptop or desktop," Parker says.

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

Jiberish gets technical with Grand Cru outerwear line

Denver's Jiberish has entered into a new market for the urban/extreme-skiing garment startup company—technical outerwear. Earlier this fall the company introduced its Grand Cru line.

The new line starts at $275 for The Corton, an extended-length, insulated shirt that's also comes as a button-out layer for the company's $850 flagship coat, The La Tache. The line of five coats embodies a look that's home in the city and on the slopes.

For  example,The La Tache is a waterproof, 3-in-1 jacket that can be worn with The Corton or each piece separately. The company calls it "a clean, minimalist jacket with no zippers visible on the exterior." It's easy to see how Jiberish is trying to balance function with fashion. 

The company, which formerly produced its clothes in Denver, has moved production overseas. That's particularly important as the company moves into more technical clothing as most garment manufacturers in the U.S. can handle basic manufacturing but much of the more technical manufacturing processes and fabrics are harder to find domestically. The company sources technical fabrics from Switzerland, Japan and elsewhere.

The new line is already available online and is making its way into some of Jiberish's retail partners as well as its own stores in Boston, Denver and Park City, Utah.

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

Bold Betties Outfitters starts up to rent outdoor gear to women

More and more women are taking to the outdoors, but outdoor activities can require a lot more stuff than other hobbies or sports. That's where Bold Betties Outfitters comes in, by offering women a chance to rent gear they'd otherwise have to purchase.

Nikki Kourbourlis recently launched the service after creating Bold Betties, a Denver-based Meetup group for women interested in the outdoors, earlier this year. "We stared the Meetup group about four months ago, doing fun Colorado trips." The trips include white-water rafting, mountain biking and camping.

"Once you realize that you want to participate in a variety of outdoor activities you quickly see how much it costs to gear up for all that stuff," Kourbourlis explains. She says that the traditional outdoor enthusiast might have gear for a couple of winter sports and summer sports but not all sports.

She's also seeing a new class of adventurer. "The new outdoor consumer is a little more casual. Variety is what they're looking for as opposed to wanting to invest in a couple activities," Kourbourlis says. One of the most important focuses for her is on apparel. Whereas men might be able to borrow gear from another guy at this point women aren't as likely to have as much gear at their disposal for as many sports.

Kourbourlis is trying to get more women involved in the outdoors and thinks Bold Betties Outfitters will help. "I think there will be a lot of conversion of a lot of people who aren't very involved in the outdoors getting more involved," she says. She anticipates that some of the people who rent gear from the site may choose to buy it or something like it once they get more involved in the outdoors.

Though the site is still in beta, Kourbourlis plans to continue to add more gear and content to it in the coming weeks and months. The content will include trip tips and packing lists for lifetrip adventures, among other tools and information.

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

Dinner Lab brings its dining experiment to Denver

Don't expect to see Bunsen burners and test tubes when Dinner Lab hosts its first event in Denver on Sept. 26 -- although it's hard to know exactly what to expect. Part of the idea is allowing up-and-coming chefs to experiment with ideas and present them to members and guests.

Dinner Lab held its first events in New Orleans about two and a half years ago, according to Market Development Manager Ken Macias. Since then, it has held its events in 10 locations from New York City to San Francisco. Now it's bringing its pop-up dinner club to Denver and eight other locations. 

The concept gives new and little-known chefs a chance to stand out. "We don't usually use the head chef, but a sous chef or a line cook," Macias says. "We're really trying to give the chefs an opportunity to develop their own menus."

The company recently had its first tour of chefs. Based on member response, the company chose the best chefs to cook for more markets throughout the country. In fact, the chef who will kick off Denver's event is Danny Espinoza of Chicago's Mexique.

The other chefs that will serve dishes at the Denver have yet to be named, but they will be about 50 percent local chefs and 50 percent from Dinner Lab's other markets, Macias says.

If you're interested in joining the soiree, you'll have to sign up ahead of time. "We don't disclose our locations until the day before the event," Macias says. "We'll email them the day before. As far as our chefs and menus go, we release them three weeks out."

Membership is $125 and events will typically run $60 to $80 per person, and dinners will be staged in wineries, galleries and even empty warehouses.

The company has partnered with investors to help the best chefs in the program open their own restaurants, says Macias.

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

Find local breweries and more with CraftedHere

Want to find the nearest or newest brewery or marijuana dispensary in Colorado? Check out Denver-based Craft Boom's recently launched app, CraftedHere.

The app is available on Apple and Android devices and the information also is available via craftedhere.us.

Craft Boom CEO Chase Doelling explains that the company launched the app about a month ago and are now starting to bring attention to it after a softer launch.

"What we're hoping to capitalize on now is cannabis tourism," Doelling says. "As people come in they're mainly focussed on trying cannabis because its legal. But there are all these breweries here and all this here and you can capture all the side markets. People might not know what's around the corner from them outside of just landing in downtown and wandering close to the center of the city."

Currently the app and site cover five categories of Colorado-friendly crafts: breweries, cannabis shops, coffee shops, distilleries and wineries. Doelling says the information is populated from state records and actual experiences. Information for each brewery includes information about their awards at the Great American Beer Festival. However, instead of customer reviews, the app uses badges to rate the sites.

Also, the map-based app can show users what's nearby. "So if you're in a brewery it will tell you what's the nearest coffee shop, the closest park and going down the list," Doelling says. In the future, the Craft Boom team could cover restaurants and other points of crafty interest, he adds.

At this point, the information is only available for Colorado and users can manually submit information about new breweries through email, but can't add them to the app or site. As the user base grows, Doelling hopes to expand it to more markets to the western U.S.

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

LoHi Labs' Three Cents polling app a quick hit

LoHi Labs launched its free Three Cents polling app in May, and it quickly took off. "We got featured by Apple out of the gate as one of their 'Best New App's on the front page of the App Store and we've actually been featured every week since in the social networking category which has been pretty awesome," says Co-Founder and Product & Business Guy Conor Swanson.

So far, it hass generated more than 400,000 votes across the world since launching, including polls generated as far away as Indonesia. Not bad for LoHi Labs first internal product.

"We do a lot of client work helping build out applications for other startups around Denver and, actually, around the country," Swanson says. "The idea is something that we essential bootstrapped using funds from the consulting business."

The iPhone-only app is designed so that others using a phone or computer can respond to the polls,Swanson explains. It integrates data from numerous sources including Yelp, iTunes, TripAdvisor, Rotten Tomatoes, the App Store and more.

"One of the coolest things we've done on Three Cents is create an experience with Twitter," says Swanson. A poll published to Twitter becomes part of the Twitter stream "so you can see the full poll inside of Twitter and vote with one click without ever leaving Twitter."

"A really famous talk-show host in Indonesia who has 13 million followers on Twitter used our app to create a poll and ask a questions about public exams," Swanson says. "Over the course of the day, he got over 10,000 votes via Twitter on his Three Cents poll."

The polls are open to the public or sent to specific people, depending on what the user wants. "There are a lot of polls around social and political issues that are happening," Sawnson says. "We see a lot of question about sports, social topics, current events, personal preferences and relationship things. People go there to get ideas for movies to watch over the weekend."

Currently the developers are focussed on the consumer side of things. "There's a lot of interesting potential for the app down the road with regards to advertising and some of the other things we're doing in the app itself," Swanson says.

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

Avanti Food & Beverage to be a "Galvanize for restaurateurs"

A cluster of shipping containers in the former Avanti Printing & Graphics building at 3200 Pecos St. in LoHi might be a panacea for restaurateurs or chefs looking to introduce and test new restaurant concepts without all of the costs associated with launching a full-fledged restaurant. That's the concept behind Avanti Food & Beverage, which is being called a Galvanize for restaurant startups.

"What we're trying to do is create this incubator as a whole," explains Co-Founder Patrick O'Neill, who started Choppers Custom Salads and The Club in Vail. O'Neill partnered with Brad Arguello, a founder of Über Sausage and Rob Hahn, a local real-estate developer and investor, on the concept. It is expected to open in early 2015.

"Brad and I wanted to create a low-risk, culinary think tank for chefs and restaurateurs," O'Neill says. They can launch their concept at the site for an about $12,000 investment up front, he says. "As opposed to $300,000 minimum for a standard brick and mortar." The restaurants will also pay a flat monthly rental rate and a small percentage of the sales.

"There are eight different licensed restaurants all based out of modified shipping containers," he adds. "Each one of these containers will be outfitted with high-end restaurant equipment -- ranges, flat grills, press tables, storage, refrigeration. It's all going to be there with a kind of communal, shared space as well."

Avanti is targeting restaurant concepts with smaller plates and prices no higher than $15 to allow people to try a variety of foods, according to O'Neill.

"It's going to be anchored by two bars, one downstairs, one upstairs," O'Neill says. "There will be five containers downstairs and three upstairs. There's also a good amount of deck space upstairs. It's all under one liquor license as well."

They anticipate that after a year in the incubator the restaurants will double their investment. "We really want to provide support," O'Neill says. "If they want to expand into a brick and mortar, we'll form something like an advisory committee. We'll have architects and builders and potential investors and ourselves and we'll sit down and say, 'Here's what you've got to do to take the next step.'"

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

Digital Media Academy brings world-class tech training for teens to Denver

This summer, teens and youth are getting their first chance to enroll in a summer camp that could help them become masters of the digital world through the Digital Media Academy (DMA) at Regis University. The camps are part of a program that was created at Stanford University in 2002 and are quickly reaching capacity here in Denver.

"We're about finding kids that want to be the next Steve Spielberg, the next Steve Jobs," says Vince Matthews, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for DMA. "Technology today has turned them into kind of a maker generation where kids can take apps and bring them into a computer program and modify them and do something unique or different with them. We're about empowering people of all ages to create the future."

That's where the DMA steps in. "We teach anything related to digital media primarily creating things with media creation tools," says Matthews, citing C++, Java, iOS and Android as well as app and game development. The company also teaches filmmaking, photography, and "anything related to those creative arts and related to those creative arts and creating something with technology including…robotics," he says.

The program differentiates itself, Matthews says, with experienced educators. "Our instructors are industry professionals or technology educators that have been doing this for years," he says. "They are leaders in their space from a standpoint of working in the space for years and are teaching real world skill sets using the same tools and technologies that professionals use."

The camps are quickly selling out with only two starting on June 23 having availability. The camps for kids from 6 to 17 run through July 11. "We're expecting to sell out at all of our classes at all locations this summer," says Matthews.

The company also offers adult training and certification but that's currently only available at Stanford, according to Matthews.

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

Ready, set, vegetable! Find your local farmers' markets online

You can always go and get your fruits, and vegetables from the grocery stores, but they come from parts unknown and suffer from a lack of diversity -- and it's expensive.

It's June, it's time to be outside. Over in Palisade, peaches are ripening, and like wildflowers, farmers' markets are once again popping up. Overall, there are nearly 30 farmers' markets in the metro region with a lucky 13 close to Denver's heart.

Finding them and figuring out where and when they open and close can be frustrating, but Derek Rojers of Extra Space Storage recently created a Google map with all that information, making it easier to see how close people at to their local farmer's markets.

"I made this map as a way to help local businesses and people, who are the main support for our business here at Extra Space Storage," he says. "It is a community effort that we are hoping will help to grow the local community, help people, and keep money in Denver."

Rojers says he scoured the Internet to learn about local farmers' markets and got some added input from people who emailed him. "People cannot add their markets to the map, but they are more than welcome to email me and I will add them," he says.

Oh, and did we mention all the free samples farmers and local food manufacturers like salsa and sauce and jam makers give out? In a word, yum.

Check the map out and find your local farmers' market below. 


Map provided by your local Extra Space Storage

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

Ticket Cricket offers an alternative to parking tickets

It seems Denver thrives on issuing parking tickets and infractions, after all when you’ve forgotten to pay off previous parking tickets -- after all, it’s not called the Oklahoma City Boot or the Big Apple Boot, it's the Denver Boot. But at least one local startup, Ticket Cricket, is trying to change that with a new app and perhaps a nicer way to avoid getting a ticket.

"What’s the purpose of the parking ticket?” asks Ticket Cricket Co-Founder and CEO Taylor Linnell. “If you get a ticket on your windshield two things happen: One, you have no idea you have a ticket, obviously you would have tried to pay your meter; or two, you got a ticket and now you’ve got no incentive to move your car. If the whole goal of parking tickets is to increase parking turnover, then actually issuing a parking ticket does the reverse of that."

“We want to give coverage to people when life gets away from them or the need goes a little longer than you thought, life’s just so busy and chaotic," Linnell adds. “It helps everyone involved. Why not find them a solution focussed on cooperation?" That’s where the Ticket Cricket app is trying to make headway in Denver and other cities.

The premise behind the app is the ability to extend the time a user can stay in a spot after the meter expires without receiving a ticket -- but still paying a fine -- for the time they need to get back to their vehicle and move it. For instance, a user could get 5 more minutes for $5 or 10 minutes for $10 -- still less than a $25 ticket but enough to make them want to move their vehicle before getting a full-fledged ticket. Linnell originally set up some ideal times and target prices but says the system needs to be flexible to allow different cities to implement it at the rates they deem appropriate.

The app works by communicating with parking patrollers and chirpers (users). When a user parks their vehicle they can log in, geotagging their vehicle. When a parking patroller nears a car owned by a chirper close to or after the time the chirper's time at the spot is up, the patroller is alerted and can push a request to the chirper to extend that time for a fee. The chirper can choose to pay to extend their time at the spot for a short time or get the ticket.

Taylor says he has an upcoming meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock about the app and is in talks with other cities about implementing the Ticket Cricket system, but so far it hasn't been deployed. That said, the ad-supported app is already available for download at the iOS store.

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

Cameras rolling for One Day in Denver on April 26

What do you want to say about Denver? What do you want people to know about Denver and what’s great or not so great here? That’s the focus of One Day in Denver, the local version of One Day on Earth's latest project, encouraging people to go out and film their cities and focus on the issues they think are important.

The project, which is taking place in 11 U.S. cities from New York to Los Angeles, will ultimately result in a three-part television series that will air on CPT 12 PBS locally, explains Kristin Nolan, the local producer for project. Nolan also produces the Starz Denver Film Festival and other projects in the city.

Nolan anticipates that roughly 200 films will be submitted locally. Some of them will be raw footage while others will be edited. Ultimately, they’ll become part of the larger project. "They'll be culled through and pieces to help highlight storylines will be pulled out and really speak to the overarching themes behind the event, which are: Where are we now? What do we appreciate? Why do we live in cities? What are some of the issues that we face living in cities? What are some resolutions to those issues that we’re looking at? All of those items will be highlighted in that series across the three parts."

"All of the participants, filmmakers, organizations, individuals are creating pages within our website and it's very much a social website, an interactive geotagged website where everyone can say:, 'Hey, here's who I am, here's what I do. Here's how you can engage with my work and here's what I’m bringing to the table for One Day in Denver." The site also features an interactive map with links to the other participating cities.



It's been a changing experience for Nolan. "I've sensed Denver in a way that I never have before and learned so very much about organizations and the passions and individuals," she says. "Other people can have that experience as they move through the map."

Videos must be filmed on April 26 and submitted by May 26. "If someone wants to do an edited piece I’d recommend one to four minutes," Nolan says. "Something dynamic that's digestible." Those uploading raw footage can upload more than one piece, but each is limited to 500 megabytes.

You can register to participate in the project here. Nolan is hosting an event April 17 at SPACE Gallery at 400 Santa Fe Dr. from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to discuss the project and answer questions.

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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