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FORETHOUGHT.net bringing gigabit speed to Denver

FORETHOUGHT.net is bringing gigabit per second speed Internet connections to Denver -- at last. The company recently installed fiber in an apartment building at 2330 Broadway, among the first apartments in Denver to offer fiber-based Internet service.

There aren't too many options for high-speed Internet for most Denver customers.The main choices for somewhat high-speed Internet are Comcast or CenturyLink. At about 50 megabits per second for Comcast and 40 Mb/s for CenturyLink, they're are a far cry from a screeching telephone modem topping out at 320 kilobits per second. While a telephone modem connection moves at a snail's pace, high-speed Internet walks, and FORETHOUGHT.net's gigabit fiber-optic options screams by in a rocket to Mars.

Even though there's far more bandwidth on Comcast's cable lines than old phone lines, there's still a lot of information -- cable TV, Internet and phone, going through the copper lines, which slows the transmission speed down. "That's the main advantage of having the fiber at the last mile,” says FORETHOUGHT.net Director of Business Development Patrick Mann. "Over a copper connection, that’s where things slow down. That direct fiber connection you're going to get that gigabit Internet and we do not throttle or put any limitations on the bandwidth or limits on the amount of downloads that our customers do on the Internet connection."

The foundation for the services offered by FORETHOUGHT.net were put in place in the 1990s, when dark fiber -- unused fiber optic cable -- was originally installed throughout parts of the region and state, Mann explains. He joined the company last December to expand its services to commercial buildings and multi-unit residences in Denver and throughout Colorado.

"It's a huge initiative for us to start driving the gigabit fiber into these large commercial buildings as well the multiple-home units giving the residents choice there as far as Internet service providers," Mann says. The set rates for the service are $70 a month for residents and $200 a month for commercial buildings -- Comcast's 50 Mb/s service has a base price of $50 a month.

Still, the new choice won’t be ubiquitous in Denver anytime soon. "Due to the buildout cost, we do have to do some pre-sales and gauge the interest as to how many customers we can get," Mann says, noting that it won’t be cost-effective for the company to come out and retrofit every home in a neighborhood anytime soon.

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

CU Denver students complete 'monster' of a short film

CU Denver students pursuing their BFA with the Digital Animation Center are showing their recently completed short film, I Need My Monster, based on the children's book of the same name. The film is showing at RedLine through May 8 as part of its BFA showcase and will culminate in a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on the final night of the exhibition. 

The film is capstone project for the three-year curriculum, explains Area Head Howard Cook. "The job is to create a high-production value short film in about 22 months," he says. This year, that's culminating in the eight-minute film, which has about 12,000 frames in all, at a rate of 24 per second.

"Each year it changes," says Instructor Stephen Baker. "We've done more historical things, we've done fantasy stuff, space. We kind of change it up each year so we don’t look like the same cartoon characters."

The university launched the fast-paced concentration core in 2000, and it's been garnering awards and attracting interest, drawing students from as far away as Egypt, Italy and Africa, Cook says. "The last four films have been in over 100 national and international film festivals and they’ve won 25 of those…for animated shorts," he says.

The department has developed a lot of resources that are helping the students learn the business, including two motion capture studios and software and hardware that’s the same or similar to what pros are using in studios like Sony and Pixar, in fact one of the students, Jeremy Kuehn, recently became the third student from the program to win an internship at Pixar.

Cook says the department invites professional animators to the school. "When they come in they're usually pretty impressed with the level and quality of equipment we have," he adds.

“The studios recognize the three-semester capstone,” Cook says. "They recognize that as being as close to real work as you can do and when these guys sit down in an interview and start talking, the guy or the woman on the other side of the table is going to know right away that they've been through a production."

That’s makes the program successful for students. "We're somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of our students getting hired out of school within nine months," Cook says. "That's in a wide range of fields. We have kids working in forensics animation, medical animation, all the way to working Disney or Pixar or places like that."

Still Hollywood or that nexus between it and Silicon Valley is where they want to end up. After all, one student remarked: "A lot of us want to work on feature films. Pretty much everything here we’re learning is geared toward that."

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.

Signpost finds a new home in Denver

New York City-based Signpost has officially opened its new office in the historic Pacific Express Stables building on the corner of Blake and 24th streets at an event attended by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. The company, which offers a marketing software solution aimed at smaller businesses, is making Denver its second home.

"We started Signpost years ago with the vision of helping local businesses succeed in an increasingly complex world," explains CEO Stuart Wall. "Over the past few years, we've talked to over 10,000 small business owners to understand the challenge that they have and how we can help them succeed and we built software today that helps them automate their presence across every social directory that matters, collect information on those customers and then engage those customers in a very simple way."

When Signpost expanded to Denver last year, it was in a cramped office on 16th Street. But things have quickly changed. "It’s been a great expansion for us in Denver. We raised a $10 million funding round in November of last year," Wall says. "That allowed us to expand even more in the city."

The 8,500-square-foot facility gives Signpost’s roughly 30 local employees some space to stretch their legs -- for now. Wall says the company plans to hire at least 75 more people in Denver this year alone. He anticipates that most of the Denver hiring will be in sales, marketing and customer experience. The growth is partly due to Denver's central location, which allows greater time-zone flexibility when connecting with clients across the U.S. He says he could also see hiring some front- or back-end developers at the office.

Hancock sees Signpost’s move as evidence that Denver’s emphasis on attracting small companies and tech companies is working. “Something phenomenal is happening in the city,” he says. “Last year we saw 1,000 new companies get started in Denver. Denver is the second best city in the nation to start a company, particularly a tech startup."

Walls explains some of the city’s attractions for company like his: “We came because we think it’s a great city, with a very talented pool of people that we could add to our team. It has a growing tech ecosystem…and a quality of life that New York certainly can’t come close to matching.” He also speaks to the ability to retain talent in Denver.

Hancock says Denver's developed a capital matrix to help discuss Denver's small business story and how it is working to support more small businesses. "These are the things driving this economy today," he says. "The whole goal is about strengthening Denver's bench so that small business really drive our economy."

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.

Buy your car's fuel up front with Autowatts

Autowatts, a startup with roots in Denver, will soon start offering electric vehicle (EV) buyers a chance to purchase all the energy their vehicle will ever need when they buy their vehicle by financing a solar rooftop for EV owners.

"The premise of what Autowatts is doing is paring the purchase of a fuel supply with an electric vehicle," says Founder Alex Tiller, also CEO of solar installer Sunetric, which was recently purchased by RGS Energy. "This has never been possible in history, really."

Tiller explains that previously the size of the EV market, the vehicle's battery technology and the cost of photovoltaics were all factors that made creating this type of product offering difficult, it not economically feasible, but that's changed. "We're at a point in time now where essentially a buyer can prepay all the transportation fuel in one fell swoop and they can actually finance it," Tiller says.

"If you use a renewable energy system to offset your transportation miles, you are competing with oil," Tiller explains. "We know that in markets where oil creates the electrons, oil gets its butt kicked by solar." In Hawaii, where Sunetric is headquartered, just such a situation has played out, because most of the island state's electricity currently comes from oil or diesel-fired generators, which is more expensive than solar power. "You can get as little as a four-year payback on a residential solar system in the Hawaii market," Tiller explains.

To put it another way; "Imagine if you're going to buy a new car. If the car salesman offered at that time, 'Hey, for an extra $10,000, would you like to pay for all the gasoline you're ever going to need for this car, and for your next five cars, and I can finance it and that monthly payment is less than you would be spending on gasoline.' Most would say, 'yes,'" Tiller contends.

The solar array may not directly feed the vehicle but with an EV it helps simplify owners' energy costs. "The electrons get commingled in the house. It's not like the power system goes straight into your car. Your home is a small load system and we put the solar on the house." When most homeowners with EVs are at work, the system will produce power they can net meter, or sell energy back to the grid. Then when the homeowner comes home, they can charge their vehicle at home.

Another option, which will likely occur in the future as battery costs continue to come down, is actually storing the solar energy in batteries at the home until the homeowner comes home to charge their EV up. As of 2014, however, battery technology is generally still too expensive to justify the expense, though Tiller sees that changing.

Autowatts completed its first beta in Hawaii where Sunetric is headquartered. "We're still a very early technology. We are in a beta mode right now," Tiller explains. While he was tight-lipped on the launch strategy, he says the company will roll out the new version in some markets before the end of 2014.

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

TurboVote growing in Denver

Democracy WorksTurboVote tool aims to make it easier for people across the U.S. to vote.

"If you take a national view of things, there's an election somewhere in America every Tuesday all year every year. says Wes Morgan, Chief Technical Officer of Democracy Works, which makes TurboVote. We're trying to get people to vote in those as often as in the presidential elections."

People across the country can register at the non-partisan site and it allows people to download and print voting forms for their jurisdiction, and people can also pay a small fee to have the organization mail the documents. "We have people who work day in and day out to make sure it does the right thing for people no matter what kind of election jurisdiction they happen to be in," Morgan states.

The non-profit parent organization is headquartered in New York City, but it opened up a second office in Denver after hiring Morgan in 2011. He began working for the organization at home part-time, then went full-time in 2012.

"Fast-forward to today there are five of us now," says Morgan. "We have a suite in the coworking space at 15th and Blake in LoDo and we love it. One of the people here was given the choice between here and Brooklyn and said they would much rather be in the Denver office."

"One of the big things we push is voting by mail," Morgan says. "We see that as like a convenience factor. It's a way of meeting people where they live in the 21st century and voting on your couch with a laptop to research candidates and the issues. We think it’s a lot better than standing in a long line at the polling place then having a few minutes in the booth."

To help expand the reach of voters, the organization also is partnering with other organizations, colleges and universities, which align with the emphasis on voting by mail, according to Morgan. "Generally at any school, a significant portion of the students need to vote by mail," he contends.

As partners, the schools can pay for TurboVote's services and help students use the service with no costs. "When we partner with these schools we also work with them to help them role out best practices for getting the most of those people registered to vote, getting them to vote and voting in every election possible," he says. To help with those efforts, TurboVote can send texts and emails to voters that sign up at the site.

"We're starting to partner with election authorities," Morgan says. "One of the things we're working on is a ballot-tracking tool so that when people do vote by mail they can have some insight as to where it is throughout the mail system."

The organization has more plans to make it easier to vote. "We’re actively going out there to partner with organizations and eventually we’re going to do a big push on opening up the APIs and open-sourcing our code, allowing others to incorporate this stuff into other projects," Morgan says.

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

Shaking up the work week with Artifact Uprising

People get stuck in the nine-to-five work week pretty quickly and if you’re working at a fast-growing startup that can turn into round-the-clock if you’re not careful. That's what happened at Artifact Uprising, which turns digital photos into books and other forms of memorabilia. The company founders often started working at 4:30 a.m. to get ahead of all the distractions.

"Something needed to change," says Artifact Uprising’s COO Jess Lybeck. So in April the company decided to do something about falling into that sometimes stifling drudgery by experiment with a six-hour workday. A lot of the experiment is based on theories presented in The 4-Hour Workweek, she says.

"We're trying to inspire in ourselves and other people to get out there and document their lives and live a great life, and we wanted to make some time to do that," Lybeck explains.

"The biggest distractor we found as a team was sort of the constant interruptions from other team members and quick questions and impromptu meetings and scheduling a lot of meetings and tons of emails sent back and forth," Lybeck says. "I think the biggest release that we've seen thus far is reducing the numbers of distractions during the day."

That's at the heart of the new work schedule, which splits the day into three distinct parts. From 9 to 11 a.m., employees focus on their work avoiding distractions -- particularly from coworkers, including impromptu meetings and emails. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ,employees have more open time to talk with each other, schedule meetings and have lunch. And from 1 to 3 p.m in the afternoon they have another "heads-down" period, Lybeck says.

"It’s helping a ton," Lybeck contends. "So much to the point where its sort of like I’ve been complaining that I don't have enough time and now that I have time, I don't know what to do with all of that great amount of space.”

It's also helped with creativity on the job, she adds. "In the first three days I’ve more time to think big and be creative than I have in the last couple months. I think it has a lot to do with making the space for that."

The additional free time is also allowing team members to enjoy the day more. "I've taken some long walks with my dog and other members of the team have gone to the museum at three o’clock…or go on mountain biking trips with friends," Lybeck says. "I think it's interesting to see what each employee and each team member is gravitating towards."

The experiment is still in its infancy but Lybeck thinks at least elements of it will stay with the company. To see how comfortable the team is with it, the company is conducting daily surveys to see if staffers feel overwhelmed or happy about the new schedule.

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

2014 Denver Digital Health Summit offers innovation opportunities

On Tues. April 8, the PrIME Health Collaborative will host the 2014 Denver Digital Health Summit in South Denver at the Lone Tree Arts Center where companies and innovators from Denver and Colorado will converge to address how the digital world can help the healthcare industry. The keynotes at the event include presentations from Denver-based iTriage as well as from WellTok and IBM Watson.

Overall the event will have more than 200attendees and feature 30 panelists addressing issues facing the healthcare industry today and how the digital world can address those issues with innovations including telehealth, applications and other digital health products.

The event is sponsored by Aetna, featuring a keynote titled "Innovation in Action" from Michael Palmer, Aetna Innovation Labs’ chief innovation and digital officer. Overall, the summit will have a heavy focus on innovation with roughly 25 exhibitor booths. Companies exhibiting at the event will showcase emerging technologies focussed on the field of digital health from throughout, including mobile apps, big data and analytics, enterprise health IT systems, telehealth and telemedicine.

Denver-based iTriage CEO and Co-Founder Peter Hudson, M.D. will present a keynote speech: “Building A Consumer Healthcare Company." iTriage is a mobile device app that helps people make more informed decisions about their healthcare and what actions to take when faced with a medical issue. The company’s site boasts that it’s been downloaded more than 10 million times by consumers.

WellTok COO Jason Kellor will be joined by IBM Watson Group’s Dhruv Jaggia to co-present a keynote called "CaféWell Concierge: IBM Watson + WellTok." WellTok, which bills itself as a social health management company, offers CaféWell, a wellness awards program that rewards participants for engaging in healthy behavior.

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

Auckland Outdoors sets out to become the Airbnb of camping gear

Want to go camping for a weekend but don't have the gear or don't know where to go? Check out the recently launched Auckland Outdoors. The company offers competitively priced rentals ($8 a day for backpack, sleeping bag and tent) but it’s also designed as a peer-to-peer rental site, kind of like the Airbnb or Couchsurfing version of the outdoors. It's likely the first company to offer such services for camping.

So if you're traveling to Denver -- or live in Denver -- you can check out what’s available to rent, not just from Auckland Outdoors, but also from others who have registered to offer their gear, be it a camp stove, disc golf set, snowshoes or gaiters from the company's site Outdoors.io. Already about 150 people -- mainly from Denver but also San Francisco and other cities -- have signed up to either offer their gear or to rent gear from the company and others on the site, says Founder Rob Auston.

"Ultimately our mission is to make it easier for people to have outdoor experiences," Auston explains. "Who we’re really targeting is kind of that person that moved out here for the lifestyle…and they quickly find out that if I go spend $2,000 on a road bike I'm now limited to the other opportunities I can do because I can't afford to buy the gear."

He adds, "Sometimes not just about the cost, it's about the space. Living downtown in a 500-square-foot space. I just don’t have the space for all my gear."

The core of the site is now focused around the gear. But Auston observes that there are other important components to the outdoor experience. "There’s the community piece: 'Who can I do this with?' And the discovery piece, you know: 'Where can I go camping?' But right now our focus is just on the foundational piece, let's get that right and let's try and unlock all this gear that sits idle in people's closets most of the year,” he says. "We're starting to build some features around community and discovery aspects."

Auckland Outdoors, named after Auston’s experience in New Zealand, also has a bunch of the basic gear available for rental. "Eddie Bauer gave us $10,000 in camping gear. So we've got tents, sleeping bags, backpacks all ready for people to rent," he says. At this point all of that gear is still virgin -- after all, camping season in Colorado doesn't really get underway until May.

Whether you're a renter or a gear junky who wants to rent out gear when you’re not using it, you can register at the site for free. If you've got gear to rent, Auston says the process is pretty easy. "You can take a picture of whatever the gear is and put in the price you want and add a description," he explains. The gear owner can accept or reject requests and can set up a meeting place. Transactions are handled through Auckland Outdoors, which takes a 15 percent transaction fee.

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

Caveman Cafeteria evolves Paleo dieting

Caveman Cafeteria has neither a cave or a physical cafeteria, yet this Denver-based Paleo-food service has already evolved significantly. The company, which provides catering services, has gone from a food truck in 2012 to a spot on the the 16th Street Mall to a mail-order delivery food service. It might just be the first business to offer shipped meals adhering to the popular Paleo diet.

"We're going to be the first company that’s going to really introduce people to what I consider a simplified healthy lifestyle that I don’t think that a lot of people have really quite grasped," says Founder Will White.

The company began shipping its prepared meals in January 2014 via FedEx. Already they have more than 200 clients across 12 states. Local customers can pick up their meals at a number of CrossFit or other locations in Boulder, Denver and Littleton.

White started Caveman Cafeteria after leaving the Army. "We are basically expanding this model here in Denver for our national headquarters,” he says. This year, among other places, he plans to move into the California market.

White was already in Colorado when he left the Army and decided it was the ideal location to start a food company. "I loved the city," he says. "I knew I would love living here. Then also there's just the track record of so many successful startups and especially food brand startups coming out of Denver that I felt that there’s just got to be something right here."

The company has been growing and hiring. "We just hired a part-time delivery driver," White says. That's in addition to a full-time chef they hired about four months ago. In all, the company has about five full-time employees and three part-time employees now and White says they're likely to hire about five more employees in the coming months.

The company's meal plans start at $549 for 10 meals a week over four weeks (40 total) with a recurring payment system. For that customers get delicious, Paleo-inspiried meals. "Our philosophy's really simple," White explains. "We just basically do everything Paleo by default in the sense that there's no processed oils ever, no added sugars and there's no grain in anything. That's kind of the main thrust of Paleo right there -- those three things."

The growth of the meal plan business has pulled away from its catering business, White says. Still they cater at offices, weddings and other special events like Paleo food and nutrition seminars. "Since we started out with the meal service, we're more selective with that now but we still love to do our catering which is $25 per person for office catering."

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

NAMJet moves operations to Denver

NAMJet, a manufacturer of marine propulsion systems -- think boat motors -- and Denver announced that the company will relocate both its headquarters and manufacturing operations from Arkansas to a 50,000-square-foot facility at 4959 Kingston St. in northeast Denver. The move is predicated by a $250 million contract with the U.S. Army for nearly 400 Bridge Erecting Boats (BEBs).

The relocation will create about 63 jobs in Denver as well as a $4 million capital investment from the company.

Under the new contract New Orleans-based Bidron Americas, a sister company to NAMJet, and fellow subsidiary of Australia's Bidron, the companies will replace the entire fleet of BEBs for the Army in coming years. The new BEBs are 23-foot boats powered by dual 250-horsepower (hp) Cummins engines mated to NAMJet Traktor Jet 381 HH’s.

"Denver is well known for its thriving tourism sector and quality of life, but it is also emerging as a global leader in manufacturing and export operations," said Jim Ducker, General Manager at NAMJet. "The city's exceptional labor force and business-friendly environment provide us unparalleled opportunities for growth, and we've been welcomed with open arms by the entire community."

"Denver is growing as a manufacturing hub for high-growth industries," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. Denver's Office of Economic Development (OED) is supporting the company's move with incentives including a reimbursement for its corporate relocation and start-up expenses through the city's Business Incentive Fund. Denver's Business Investment Program will provide business personal property tax credits. The firm will make an estimated capital investment of $4 million at its 50,000-square foot leased site at in northeast Denver.

The BEBs usually provide propulsion and maneuverable thrust to support temporary floating bridges but are also used in ferry configurations to transport equipment supplies and troops, and to tow other BEBs, according to NAMJet. The vessels are transportable via road, rail and air, and are often used when existing bridge crossings have been destroyed in military conflict or other events like flooding.

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

Choozle, marketing platform for all, boogies out of beta at Prost Brewing

Choozle is launching out of its beta phase with a party at Prost Brewing on March 20. The company’s marketing platform harnesses the power of "big data" for the rest of us. 

"There are tons of very powerful players that play in the high end [of software marketing platforms] and what we wanted to do is really simplify the ad-tech stack for everyone," explains company Co-Founder and CEO Andrew Fischer. "Even if you're a small or medium-sized marketer or independent agency you don’t have to go out and basically contract a data management platform. It can be very expensive, very time-consuming and very confusing."

Choozle, according to Fischer, allows companies to harness big data to better understand the demographics of people visiting their sites, including information on age, location and what people are shopping for, and it helps its subscribers dig into to the data to better target the audiences appropriately. "The bottom line is we're making it easier, simpler and more cost-effective for marketers to use online advertising technology and we put it into one simple easy-to-use platform," he contends.

"The whole idea is to create from end-to-end a simple platform a much lower cost," Fischer says. He calls Choozle a disrupting platform in the marketing space. "Because that’s a big, expensive piece of technology that traditionally that costs tens of thousands of dollars. You have to go to Oracle or big players. We're able to offer it starting at $199 a month."

Choozle was launched to offer an alternative to big data management systems like those offered by Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce.com, Fischer says. "Marketing is kind of one of the last bastions where all the big players are assembling a tech stack. They've bought tons of different types of marketing software across the spectrum over the last 10 years, including everything from email marketing automation, to social media management, to display advertising."

Before going commercial Choozle tested the platform with roughly 20 beta testers -- among them Dick's Sporting Goods, Merriam-Webster, EVOL Foods and more. "All of our test partners are converting into pay members. We are now generating revenue with the new platform," Fischer says.

Choozle also is seeing a lot of interest from other companies. "We're working with local companies and national brands," Fischer says. "The interest in the product have been extremely high, which is exciting."

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

Calling all kiosks: Downtown Denver Partnership seeks summer vendors

For those interested in operating one of the kiosks gracing the midst of the 16th Street Mall, now's your chance. The Downtown Denver Partnership is holding a "Marketplace on the Mall" informational meeting March 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. about applying as a vendor for the summer 2014 season.

The marketplace program is managed by the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID) and is focused largely on three types of vendors: food vending; merchandisers and retail sales and experiential vendors. The latter category is the broadest and includes caricatures, portraits, henna tattoos, face painting, flowers and other entertainment vendors.

The overarching theme of the session will be on food vending, but the session will also discuss the long-term vision for vending on the mall and will discuss other options as well, particularly related to increasing the experiential opportunities on the mall.

"We want to create more fun on the mall, more a-ha moments," explains Downtown Denver Partnership 16th Street Marketplace Manager Cord Rauba. "We talk all the time about how do we support creative talent downtown? How do we make them want to be here?"

The current fee schedule will be discussed at the session -- and prices won't be rising, Rauba says. "We are looking to make the fee schedule for artists more flexible," she adds.

Overall, between 20 and 40 vendors operate on the 16th Street Mall throughout the year and the BID is looking for more. "The goal is to continue to add more quality, unique and diverse local businesses to the mix," according to the BID's informational materials. "While numerous opportunities exist, strong efforts are taken not to duplicate uses and product."

"We will be doing some new stuff with the vendors, like clustering them in groups on the mall," says Downtown Denver Partnership spokesperson Jenny Starkey. "There are obviously vendors all along the mall, but we're looking at innovative strategies to bring more people to the mall."

Merchandisers must use Retail Merchandising Units (RMUs) provided by the BID. In all, there are eight units to rent out and vendors must be between Welton Street and California Street. They can operate between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday to Saturday from May through October. In addition to the retail units, however, BID owns four enclosed kiosks, one of which is an information center, while vendors can apply to use the others.

To get a better idea of what is currently on the mall check out the current food vending and retail map. To learn more about the vendor meeting on March 18, email info@downtowndenver.com.

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

SquareHire gives smaller companies a leg up on hiring

Applicant tracking systems allow companies to harness the full-power of the Internet to search for job applicants across the nation. They're behind the job search engines like Monster and CareerBuilder, but such systems are primarily geared towards large employers and listings for individual positions are costly at about $400 a piece. Enter SquareHire, a software-as-a-service application for the little guy on the grow that launched in February.

"I'm focused exclusively on companies with fewer than 100 companies," says SquareHIre Founder Rudy Lacovara. “A lot of people will come to the market and will see that you can make money quickly by targeting your services to recruiters or adding features for larger companies that really aren't appropriate to companies with companies fewer than 50 employees or even fewer than 100 employees."

"I really think that the Internet and the connected market we’re in today kind of democratizes things I think hiring is an exception," Lacovara says. "I think hiring has gotten harder for your average small company. I think they had a much easier time when they could put an ad in a local newspaper."

"It’s not like that anymore. If a small company wants to reach 90 percent of the job seekers in a market they have to use five different job boards or social networks," Lacovara asserts. "To make matter worse…small guys end up paying more to post on those job boards.…They're probably going to pay four times the amount that IBM does to put ads on that same job board."

A large company like IBM is making enough hires on an annual basis that it negotiate posting prices with Monster, he says, but a small employer may only hire one or two people a year, making each post more expensive. "We sell Monster ads to SquareHire customers for $149 for a 60-day listing."

Lacovara explains that the tools provided by SquareHire are geared to meet smaller businesses needs. The tools offered through the company do three essential things: gives a company a hosted career page on their site; publishes job postings to free job boards; and offers applicant tracking. The tracking inputs applicants' input to a permanent database that allows users to rate applicants, review their resumes and other common tasks to the hiring process. Plans are available for free and run up to $99 a month.

The service was previously known as HireFlo but relaunched as SquareHire with more targeted tools, according to Lacovara and it’s retained many of those clients.

"Right now we've got just under 800 companies," he says. He expects the company to grow in 2014, which may require additional staff in customer service and marketing to start. He adds that right now he's the company's only full-time employee.

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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