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OrderUp is Uber for your burrito

There are times when you want to order in and don't want something from a restaurant that delivers -- or maybe Micky D's. (Hey, it happens, not judging.) That's where services like OrderUp Denver come in. It's like an Uber app for your food. The company recently re-branded from Mile High Menus to OrderUp, a national brand with an app that allows people to order everything from a Big Mac to a Jamba Juice for delivery.

Brothers Mike and Dan Rolland launched earlier versions of the food delivery service at Indiana University (B-Town Menus) and in Boulder as Hungry Buffs. In the Denver area, they now have agreements with about 150 restaurants in the Denver area. Regardless of order size for the majority of the restaurants in the program the delivery fee is $4.99. Some -- mostly those who offer delivery services themselves -- have lower rates.

The app features a delivery tracker so restaurants and customers can see where the food is in transit. It also lets people coordinate orders via text or email, so it's not just one person going around trying to figure out what everyone wants in the office at lunch or at a party.

By re-branding under the OrderUp umbrella, the company is able to establish more continuity and name recognition, helping to establish the business under a nationally recognized brand while remaining local. As such they're joining the ranks of ordering services like GrubHub, Foodler and others.

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

Laws Whiskey House introduces Secale, a Colorado-sourced rye whiskey

When Laws Whiskey House opened publicly last year, the company introduced a complex bottle called A.D. Laws Four Grain Bourbon using corn, wheat, rye and barley. Now it is introducing two more offerings in A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Whiskey Married Batch 1 and A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Whiskey Single Barrel Cask Strength, both of which are unique in using rye grown on a family farm in the San Luis Valley and malted in Colorado.

When Laws introduced the four-grain bourbon last year, it turned heads. Bucking trends of many startup distilleries, namesake Al Laws and head distiller Jake Norris, Stranahan's first distiller, worked under the name Project Gargoyle and waited  nearly three years to introduce a whiskey distilled and aged in Colorado, rather than use imported spirits or distilling other spirits like vodka or rum while the whiskey aged. Now the company is introducing a rye whiskey that it's already aged for three years.

The rye in the whiskey is harvested fresh, cleaned and malted by the Colorado Malting Company, within a week of harvest, according to Laws. Quickly thereafter, it's delivered to the distillery where it's cooked and open-air fermented to lock in the fresh flavor.

The married batch is 100 proof (or 50 percent alcohol -- many whiskeys are barreled much lower proofs like 80 proof) and sells for $78 a bottle. The single-barrel rye is poured from "the cream" -- the first half of the first 10 casks and -- is bottled at cask strength: an average of 139 proof. It's selling for $110 a bottle.

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

Denver expands employment opportunities for low-income youth

On Sat. June 13 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Denver Workforce Center will host an event aimed at helping low-income youth -- those between 16 and 19 -- get a job for the summer. The office, part of The Denver Office of Economic Development, has employment opportunities that pay $8.23 per hour for up to 160 hours (about $1,300 before taxes).

To qualify for a position, the teens must be eligible to work in the U.S. and meet at least one of the qualifying conditions. The conditions include qualifying for reduced or free lunches, living in public housing or Section 8 housing, meeting low-income guidelines or receiving assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The program offers interested youth a week of career exploration, which includes life skills and job readiness training. That’s followed by job placement with a local business, nonprofit organization or government agency.

Youth can register for the event here. The registration is being held on the first floor of the Westside Workforce Center at 1200 Federal Blvd. in Denver. Those that complete the registration process will receive gift cards. Those under 18 must have a parent with them and registrants must have proof of qualification for the program as well as proof of address, birth certificate, social security card and Student Colorado ID Card or school ID card.

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

Skill Distillery IT bootcamp is first to accept VA funding

Denver's Skill Distillery, a 19-week Java-programming bootcamp, is the first in the U.S. to accept the GI Bill to fund veterans' enrollment in the program. Last week the company announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs gave veterans the ability to use their GI Bill education benefits at Batky-Howell's Skill Distillery -- it's a first for the agency.

"There's a massive developer shortage in the U.S., around 500,000 open positions," contends Cole Frock, director of education at Skill Distillery. "It puts companies into unique situations. They want their employees to have the most current training." To fill those positions requires a new kind of educational program, he says.

The Skill Distillery program also is part of the White House's recently launched TechHire initiative, which aims to help fill these positions. The program spans 20 cities and 300 companies or organizations across the U.S.

It's an ideal program for veterans transitioning back to civilian life and looking to train for a new profession. The jobs, according to Cole, start at about $65,000 and are some of the highest paying opportunities for those coming out of the military. "Defense contractors need veterans who can program. They need employees with top secret clearance, or the ability to get it."

While a lot of tech programs focus on Ruby on Rails and other more modern programming languages, Skill Distillery is teaching tried and true Java. "Java most sought after skill," Cole explains. Yet not many schools or bootcamps focus on it. "We're the only school that does Java in the state. There are only two in the country."

Skill Distillery launched its Java classes this year. The second class will start July 6. "It looks like it will be a full class," Cole says. Right now the company can train up to 15 people per class.

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

Law firm uses Apple Watch to engage with clients

Law firm Fennemore Craig has adopted the Apple Watch to help serve its personal injury clients in Denver. The law firm is using the watch in unique ways, including its digital touch and health monitoring features to meet both its clients' needs and its own needs.

"In the pilot program, a select number of Fennemore Craig clients are currently borrowing the Apple Watch, free of charge, as a part of the services they receive from the firm," explains Marc Lamber, of Lamber Goodnow, the Fennemore Craig affiliate using the watches in cases. He adds that the digital watches are being loaned to Fennemore's clients only during the course of their case.

"The Fennemore Craig team has harnessed many of the watch's unique functions . . . to communicate in new, more personal ways while also advancing their business' operations and functionality," Lamber says. The device, for instance is being used with clients whose injuries have limited their abilities in mobility or communication.

"The Apple Watch helps us communicate with clients quickly and in ways never before possible," said James Goodnow, another lawyer with Fennemore. "We've witnessed first-hand the importance of fast, seamless communication with clients. Simply put, the Apple Watch takes communication to a new level."

The lawyers also use other electronic devices to communicate and monitor their clients' health, Lamber explains. He says they've used Google Glass, FitBits, iPads, and other tech tools, and that they reuse the devices after a case is settled. "Specifically, the Apple Watch integration also helps monitor, report and improve clients' physical, mental and emotional well-being," he says.

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

The Imaginarium at Denver Public Schools launches the Design for Equity Challenge

On June 10 the Imaginarium at Denver Public Schools is launching a new competition to come up with solutions that meet the needs of Denver's students, the Design for Equity Challenge. The two-day event will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at High Tech Elementary School in Denver.

This challenge brings the public, non-profits, private and entrepreneurs together to focus on blended learning and educational technology. In all, up to $80,000 will help a total of four teams fund their winning projects -- with each winning team able to capture up to $20,000 to make their vision a reality.

The Imaginarium is inviting the public to come to the event and pitch ideas to help make Denver Public Schools better. It's also inviting the public to attend the event to vote on which projects to support and enjoy food, music and activities.

This is the second challenge the Imaginarium has launched in 2015. Earlier this year it held a $50,000 competition focused on personalized learning, according to organizer Sarabeth Berk. "The winning team focused on changing electronic worksheets to make them more interesting," she says.

This round of the challenge will focus on more blended learning solutions, with Janus Capital Group leading the funding for the program. "This time it's focused on educational technology since Janus is inserted in blended learning and technology."

The Imaginarium also has plans to launch more challenges. "Our goal is to do about three a year. We're trying to instill these challenges as a regular event," Berk explains. "Different funders are sponsoring different challenges and depending on the theme the amount of money available may shift. But we expect a significant amount of dollars each time."

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

Galvanize hosts Internet of Things startup weekend

Galvanize's newest location on Platte St. in Denver will host a first-of-its-kind startup weekend  focused on creating hardware and software for the Internet of Things (IoT) May 29-31.

The startup weekend will bring teams together to prototype hardware with software and internet connectivity, with a winning team getting a free, one-month membership to Galvanize's newest location at 1644 Platte St. 

Participants will have a chance to work on one of 15 internet-connected prototyping boards donated by Particle (formerly Spark). The boards will allow the teams of innovators to prototype connected hardware as easily, and quickly as a web app, according to the organizers. Particle itself is moving forward out of the startup stage. "Particle got its start via a Kickstarter campaign in mid 2013," explains Steve Herschleb, one of the event organizers.

Teams participating in the weekend long event will have access to prototyping software, hardware and other tools that will allow them to create a product. The goal of the project is to prototype a product and pitch a business based on the prototype by Sunday evening.

"The Particle Core is Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity which is how the price has remained so affordable," Herschleb says. "Like other hardware prototyping devices, additional functionality . . . can be added by connecting additional hardware. Particle also has another product called the Electron that has cellular connectivity," he says, giving more insight into what's possible with the devices being used in the event.

Tickets to participate in the event that starts on May 29 at 6 p.m. are $99, and are available here. Galvanize and Up Global are offering Confluence Denver readers a 33 percent discount if they use the code: Confluence Denver.

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

Colorado Lending Source wins innovation award

The National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) has recognized Colorado Lending Source with its Innovation in Economic Development Award. The Denver-based organization, was recognized for its use of the Ice House Entrepreneurship program to help train people to become entrepreneurs.

"This award is meant to be presented to an organization who has used innovative means in order to meet the economic development goals of a specific community or population," says Sally Roberston, NADCO chair. "This means that the winning organization created a new program, service, or delivery process that has never before been applied, which benefits underserved communities or populations."

Denver's Colorado Lending Source has a long history of supporting small businesses and startups across Colorado. focusses on underserved populations, including veterans, low-income and unemployed persons. It says that in 2014 alone it helped more than 200 small businesses. Those businesses that worked with the organization put nearly $275 million into Colorado's economy last year. Those companies also provided just shy of 2,000 jobs.

Colorado Lending Source has adopted the Ice House Entrepreneurship training program from the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI). The immersive, 10-week course focuses on eight aspects of creating a small business. They include recognizing opportunities, putting ideas into action, pursuing learning as well as the power of being persistent and others. The organization licenses the curriculum and course materials from ELI.

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

Techweek expands to Denver

Techweek is coming to Denver. It's no surprise that the national conference, which focuses on the tech scene across the U.S., is coming here -- the tech scene along the Front Range is, to say the least, booming.

The announcement was made earlier this week as was the announcement of Techweek’s new CEO, Katy Lynch. As one of her first moves as CEO she announced the expansion of the national conference series to six new locations, including Denver. "Techweek Denver will be a standalone event where we focus wholeheartedly on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Denver," Lynch says.

"As one of the fastest growing municipalities in the U.S., we have had our eye on the Denver/Boulder area for some time," Lynch explains. "We can't wait to jump in and shine a national spotlight on the innovative companies in the area. We expect only more growth from the tech & startup scene over the next few years -- and know that the Techweek community will completely embrace Denver's incredible young companies, beautiful and growing city, and spring skiing!"

Techweek attracted 28,000 attendees across the U.S. last year. Its events include an all-day hackathon, a fashion/tech show, a TV and film fest and a hiring fair, and the Launch Championship to help springboard startups. The events also include panels, keynote speakers, workshops and more.

The Launch Championship offers startups $50,000 in cash and prizes in each market that hosts a Techweek event, according to Lynch. "The winners from each city are flown to the national championship in Miami at the end of the year to compete for an additional $50,000," she adds.

At this point, the event in Denver does not have a set date. Lynch says the group will announce the date in the coming months.

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

Denver's new entrepreneurial hub, The Commons on Champa, opens doors

To capitalize on the popularity and support the community of startups in the city, Denver has launched The Commons on Champa, a new, collaborative workspace that's being billed as a public campus for entrepreneurship.

The Commons is located at 1245 Champa St. next to the Denver Performing Arts Center making it easy access downtown from the Light Rail and other forms of transportation. The Commons was created through a partnership between the Downtown Denver Partnership, City and County of Denver, Colorado Technology Association and several businesses.

The 20,000-square-foot facility is designed to meet the needs of today's startups, with a focus on technology. It's also designed as a center for entrepreneurship education. As such, it will offer entrepreneurs at all stages of developing a business, resources. This includes mentoring help, meetups, panel discussions, leadership spotlights, award initiatives, workshops and industry-specific labs.

"The Commons on Champa is about turning our entrepreneurs' ideas into successful startups and small businesses and setting them on a solid path to grow right here in Denver," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. "Denver's ideas economy is booming. This public-private venture is now here to help our innovative community realize their dreams and boldly move to create jobs and opportunity in our city."

Echoed Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership: "This first-of-its-kind 'public campus' for entrepreneurs will facilitate connections, encourage collaboration and support the transformative ideas that will propel our city and economy forward."

The facility is hosting a grand opening Wed. May 13, with events throughout the day. People can register for the events, which will include a ribbon-cutting, a town-hall discussion with entrepreneurial leaders and a celebration with local foods. To learn more and register for the event, click here.

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

John Denver celebrated in new Rockmount collection

Denver's favorite adopted son, John Denver (a.k.a. Henry John Deutschendorf), was known for first his music and second (or maybe third) for his colorful Western shirts. The late musician's estate recently asked Denver's Rockmount Ranch Wear to bring some of those shirts back to the retail racks.

"There's a good chance he wore our shirts, and if he didn't, he should have," asserts Rockmount President Steve Weil. "We know he wore a lot of Western shirts."

The LoDo-based cowboy shirt maker also is giving John Denver and Rockmount fans a chance to vote on which of the shirts to produce. "We have one in production and decided to float the other designs to see what the response was," Weil says. People can vote on the designs at SurveyMonkey.

It's not the first time Rockmount has done a line of celebrity shirts, Weil says. "Rockmount has been a mainstay among the rock and roll crowd for a long time." The company has created or reproduced shirts worn by numerous legendary music-makers. "Over the years we've had two really strong responses Eric Clapton and Robert Plant," Weil says. "This one's a third. Considering the army of artists we're been involved with, it's remarkable."

Weil says reps from John Denver's estate "came to us with the idea. We like when other creative people come to us with a collaborative design," he says. "There's a certain amount of historical significance to doing this collection. We take great pains to do these reproductions with care. We're being truthful to the originals he wore."

Weil's favorite John Denver song? "It's got to be 'Rocky Mountain High.'"

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

Denver Startup Week 2015 open for submissions

The 2015 edition of Denver Startup Week is open for event submissions until May 31. It's the third year for the event, which takes place across Denver in offices, collaborative workspaces, breweries and other locations.

In soliciting submissions, the organizers said they're making some changes. "This year, we are doing things a little differently and making the focus on you, the individual," explain the organizers, including the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Colorado Technology Association, and a host of growing Denver startups. "How can Denver Startup Week make you a better founder, developer, product manager, marketer, salesperson, designer or maker?" 

Denver Startup Week is looking for workshops, keynotes and panel ideas that fit into one or more of six categories: founder, developer, product, growth, designer and manufacturer.

Tracks will cover traditional startup topics like developing products and going to market, as well as developing a team. They will also focus on taking young businesses to the next level through marketing and sales.

Other tracks will focus on more IT-specific needs, given the thriving nature of the IT community in Denver and Boulder. Those tracks will focus on back end architecture, APIs and more. Other events will focus on local designers and makers who are creating everything from 3D printers to craft beer to skis.

Learn more about the tracks and make submissions 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.

Loyalty-tech provider FiveStars adding 100 jobs in Denver

Customer loyalty company FiveStars Loyalty announced that its second office will be in Denver where it plans to hire more than 100 people -- primarily in sales -- by the end of 2015. The company develops customer loyalty programs for small and medium-sized businesses, among them Denver-based companies like Lodo's Bar & Grill, Stoney's, and GB Fish & Chips.

The news comes following an announcement that San Francisco-based FiveStars raised $26 million in Series financing. The financing round, led by Menlo Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and DCM, will help the company essentially double its staff to 300 employees as it strives to provide services to its more than 7,000 clients.

"We are thrilled that FiveStars has chosen Colorado to expand its operations and create new jobs in the high-tech industry," said Gov. John Hickenlooper. "Not only is FiveStars creating jobs here, they are also providing a platform for local businesses to develop customer loyalty programs that were once only accessible to large corporations, allowing small businesses to compete on a large business scale.

In Denver, the company has leased 10,000 square feet of office space at Battery621. “We evaluated over a dozen cities and by the end it was a no-brainer -- no other city offered what Denver had,” said Victor Ho, CEO and Co-Founder of FiveStars. "We wanted to pick a location where employees would have an excellent quality of life and we're ecstatic that we found our second home in Colorado."

"The FiveStars announcement further demonstrates that Denver is quickly becoming the small business and startup capital of the country," said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

The company looked at locating in other cities, including Austin and Seattle, but ultimately chose Denver. In making its decision, the company sited state and city tax incentives offered to attract tech companies.

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

Valid Eval, Kauffman Foundation partner to find why startups are successful

Denver-based Valid Eval partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to research exactly how startups and small businesses achieve success.

The organizations announced that they will look into Valid Eval's information on more than 2,000 companies across the U.S. "The principal question is: Is it possible at scale to pinpoint where entrepreneurs are on their developmental trajectory? And to do so on an an evidentiary basis," explains Valid Eval CEO and Co-Founder Adam Rentschler. "Valid Eval will assert that is true."

By working with the Kauffman Foundation's experts the groups hope to prove that assertion is true. "The holy grail is can we tie a causal relationship between these evaluations and the entrepreneurs' success and ultimately wealth creation."

Valid Eval's clients include government agencies, accelerators, universities and incubators, according to Rentschler. This includes clients like the Arizona Commerce Authority, which offers startups a chance to compete for $250,000 in funds twice a year. In all, the authority allocates $3 million annually through the program.

As companies apply through Valid Eval's platform it collects anonymous feedback information related to their applications from the experts that evaluated the companies. "If you're Kauffman, you can look at a a data set collected using a structured framework," he says. The feedback information includes qualitative and quantitative information about applications and the strategies within them.

"Measuring what is happening within large numbers of entrepreneurial companies as they develop is notoriously difficult," explains E.J. Reedy, director of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "Our team will look at Valid Eval's standardization of the evaluation and development processes to better understand if such structured work is helpful to improving entrepreneurial outcomes."

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

DSTILL grows with craft distillery movement

There are now more than 70 licensed distillers in Colorado, including such Denver standouts as Laws Whiskey House to Leopold Bros. DSTILL, an annual celebration of craft spirits in Denver in its third year, is mirroring the industry's growth.

"DSTILL is a platform that brings people together," says Chuck Sullivan of Something Independent, founder of the week-long event. "The heart and soul of the programming is with with the craft-distilling community both in Colorado and nationally." 

In 2015, the April 16 showcase, where 49 craft distillers participating from across the country poured tastes of their spirits, was the most popular event, drawing more than 1,000 people.

"It is distillers and bartenders and those craft spirit enthusiasts from every on point on the compass. I think there is a great opportunity throughout the week for distillers to connect in a lot of different ways both with consumer and industry," Sullivan adds.

This year's event expanded to include a DSTILL Rocks, a music event at the Bluebird Theater with Nathaniel Rateliff and Paper Bird, as well as what Sullivan calls pop-up bars showcasing spirits at Union Station. Both of which were new events for the multiday event.

"It's safe to say the DSTILL Rocks Concert will become a main staple event of DSTILL each year," Sullivan says. He explains that all of the ticketed events of the conference were sold out this year. "That is indicative of the story of DSTILL and how it has evolved to be a serious celebration of the American craft spirit."

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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