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Donate and upgrade baggage with eBags and Goodwill

For the first time, eBags has partnered with Goodwill and Give Back Box to offer a Trade In, Trade Up Program. Through the program, Goodwill and Give Back Box will find a new home for a gently used backpack, business case, handbag or duffel that they no longer need and customers get a 25 percent discount coupon and a free eBags Connected Luggage Tag.

The Give Back Box program reuses boxes for shipping. As such the program helps keep both used travel gear and shipping materials out of landfills.

It doesn't matter where luggage or travel item was purchased, according to Krista Paul, vice president of business development and partnerships at eBags. She adds, "The program is available across the US eBags customers need only download a pre-paid shipping label and either drop off or organize a pick-up from UPS or USPS." 

To help automate the program, eBags partnered with the organizations. The shipping is done courtesy of Give Back Box and is shipped to the nearest Goodwill location, according to Paul. 

The Greenwood Village-based company also recently expanded its product lines by 41 percent, including 11 new private-label products and the Connected Luggage Tag, an ID tag that uses an app to track lost luggage.

The expansion, holiday season and Trade In, Trade Up Program are driving new employment at the company. "In anticipation of extra business from the holiday traffic coupled with new sales from the incentives granted to customers who utilize the Trade In, Trade Up Program, we have added approximately 20 to 25 new customer service agents," Paul says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Denver Art Museum seeks ideas for Untitled Final Fridays in 2017

The Denver Art Museum is hosting "Meet Here: An Evening of Untitled Idea Brewing and Creative Criss-Cross" on Nov. 18, a brainstorming event for creatives and others to generate ideas for outdoor installations, residencies and the 2017 Untitled Final Fridays series of events at the museum. The events bring local artists and the community together for exhibitions and installations. The workshop is open from 6 to 8 in the evening.

"Ideas are needed for upcoming projects including outdoor installations, residencies, and 2017's Untitled Final Fridays," explains Camila Navarrette, a spokesperson for the museum. "Local craftsmen, chefs, musicians, artists and other movers and makers are invited to brainstorm the activities for the upcoming Untitled season and potential new programs for DAM."

The free event is being held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first floor of the North Building and will include food and beverages from a cash bar. The event will include mini-think tank sessions where attendees will work together to generate ideas. 

People can send RSVPs to lhegge@denverartmuseum.org.

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


Need to park in downtown Denver? ParkiFi it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

SRI Conference comes to Denver

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

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

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

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

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

CU Denver relaunches Nobel at Noon Series

Nobel at Noon has returned to CU Denver. It's a lunch-and-learn series of discussions open to the public about each of the Nobel prize categories and the ideas that win them. The discussions began on Friday Oct. 28 and are occurring every Friday at noon through Dec. 9 at the CU Denver Welcome Center in Admissions at the Student Commons Building.

CU Denver previously hosted the Nobel at Noon series most years from the mid-1980s to 2008. Previously it was for students staff and faculty, but the university is now inviting the public to join. 

"The series focuses on the Nobel Prize winners who were announced this fall and what the award-winning research means for society," says Emily Williams, a CU Denver spokesperson. She adds, "This Friday’s talk is about the prize winner in Medicine. The winner this year was Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won for a discovery he made about how cells stay healthy, which is critical in cancer research. Dr. Chris Phiel is the CU Denver faculty member giving the talk this week and he is amazing! In his lab, students also study cell behavior, so he should give a great presentation."

"We're really trying to involve the local community, particularly people who work downtown in this series," Williams says. "One of Chancellor Dorothy Horrell's key priorities is to make CU Denver a place where the downtown community can engage with our faculty and their research and we're very excited about this series."
 
During the series, CU Denver faculty will discuss the meaning, details and importance of each Nobel Prize in an informal presentation and discussion format. The presenters will explain the history behind each prize, its importance and help the audience gain a more practical understanding as to why the award matters.

The remaining events include:
 
  • Nov. 4: Nobel Prize in Medicine with Dr. Chris Phiel
  • Nov. 11: Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Dr. Phil Luck
  • Nov. 18: Nobel Prize in Peace with Dr. Manuel Espinoza 
  • Dec. 2: Nobel Prize in Literature with Dr. Sam McGuire
  • Dec. 9: Nobel Prize in Physics with Dr. Martin Huber
Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Bold Betties earns place among "Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America"

Denver startup Bold Betties, which outfits women for adventure as well as coordinates trips and activities, has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the "Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America" in its Entrepreneur 360 List.

"Our annual evaluation offers a 360-degree analysis of the current private-business landscape," explains Lisa Murray, chief insights officer of Entrepreneur Media. "Top performers are determined by how well-rounded they are in these four key operative areas. Entrepreneurship is a complex endeavor -- this listing recognizes those who have mastered the challenge and are thriving this year."

The Entrepreneur 360 List recognized Bold Betties as a well-rounded company that it said has mastered a balance of impact, innovation, growth and leadership. Indeed, since Bold Betties launched in 2014 it has grown to a community of about 18,000 women in Colorado and California. To meet the challenges of the explosive growth it also recently launched a new California chapter in San Francisco. The company also plans to expand into Oregon, North Carolina, Minnesota in 2016 and more markets in 2017, says co-founder Arezou Zarafshan.

To deal with the expansion, the company plans on adding positions in Denver, Zarafshan explains. "Our projections show that we would be adding positions in content marketing, community management and social marketing. In terms of exact count, that is yet to be determined but we expect to be at around 10 people by 2018." 

"We are so honored to be recognized by Entrepreneur for our accomplishments," says Niki Koubourlis, CEO and founder of Bold Betties. "We put our whole hearts into our work at Bold Betties and are so proud of the work we are doing to help women get outside of their comfort zones and connect with each other and the outdoors."

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


Agility Recovery moves HQ to metro Denver

Agility Recovery, a company that provides disaster recovery equipment and support within 48 hours of an event like a hurricane or flood, is moving its headquarters from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Westminster, to allow it to continue growing its business. With the move, the company will add to its local staff of more than 100 to meet the needs of its clients throughout North America. 

"In addition to the existing base of employees here in Denver, we plan to bring an additional 40-plus positions here," says Hyune Hand, Agility Recovery CEO. "This includes some that will relocate from the Charlotte office, and an additional 30-plus that will be new hires in this office."

The company has distribution and testing centers throughout North America, offering power generators, communications connectivity, office space and computers and other services to businesses, municipalities -- and more, that need to recover from an event. The company says it can help its clients reach functioning operations within two days of an event.

"The decision was made to better accommodate the growth of our organization while continuing to enhance access and service delivery to current and future customers," Hand explains. "By moving to Denver, we are better able to access the region's growing talent pool, while at the same time, becoming more centrally located in order to better serve our customer base. Physical recovery and support activities will continue to be facilitated from our various operations and distribution facilities across North America."

As the company grows its presence in Denver it will seek a variety of employees in different career tracks including sales, account management, finance, marketing, product development and more. "Leadership is seeking entrepreneurial leaders in key areas to facilitate the next evolution of an established, proven industry-leading firm with exponential growth potential," she says.

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

Cannabliss adds CBD-infused oils to massage

How can a massage get more relaxing and relieve more pain? Add Cannabliss, a new partnership between CAUSE+MEDIC and Peace of Mind Massage.

The spa and the skincare company partnered to offer clients a unique service that uses oils infused with cannabidiol (CBD) to help lessen inflammation in muscles.

"Peace of Mind Massage has been a fantastic partner to work with in the development of this new formula within our Cannabliss line," says Jamie Turner, co-founder and owner of CAUSE+MEDIC. "We have been interested in creating a massage-specific line for quite some time and Peace of Mind Massage . . . was the perfect match for the creation of the Peace of Mind/Cannabliss body oil and body butter."

The active ingredient in the new oils and body butters comes from cannabis. However, the cannabis industry is now able to separate CBD from tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient known as THC in marijuana. CAUSE+MEDIC says though the CBD has restorative properties it does not cause a high and such products are legal throughout the U.S.

"CBD massage can provide relief from chronic pain, muscle soreness and tension, symptoms associated with arthritis and autoimmune dysfunction, psoriasis, chronic dry skin and so much more," says Elena Davis, owner of Peace of Mind Massage at 1249 S. Pearl St. "We are thrilled to be able to offer our new Cannabliss massage to our clients as a safe, therapeutic treatment that anyone can enjoy." 

The Cannabliss massage is currently available by appointment only and is offered at Peace of Mind Massage's regular rates, which start at $78 per hour. In addition, Peace of Mind customers can purchase Cannabliss Body Butter at $40 or Cannabliss Body Oil at $60 exclusively at Peace of Mind Massage.

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

COIN announces new direction

The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) is announcing a new focus and direction to place Colorado at the forefront of the civic disruption conversation. The organization will concentrate on public sector innovation.

COIN is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade with the mission of advancing connections in the global innovation ecosystem to place Colorado as a leader in innovation. As such, it is pivoting toward more public sector innovation and will officially launch the new focus in early November. 

The public-private partnership has a physical and virtual global network of more than 2,000 people that support the state's innovation ecosystem, its growing companies, and are helping to create jobs in the state. 

The new focus will be announced at the Reverb Conference, hosted by COIN and Sound Ventures on Nov. 3. At the conference, COIN and partners also will announce the 2nd Imagine Colorado Innovation Challenge. The conference is aimed at matching public sector changemakers with entrepreneurs and innovators who are developing technologies ideal for the government.

The organization also is committed to expanding its actions with a new digital platform. COIN is expanding its reach through blogs, podcasts and video.

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

TalkBox makes business meetings more personal

Open floor plans are nearly ubiquitous in business these days. They offer some great advantages like collaboration among team members, easily configurable space, and they're less expensive. They're also louder and filled with distractions, which can make meetings difficult. That's where Denver-based TalkBox, which launched in July 2016, enters the picture. 

"Offices today are built around community/team areas, full openness for collaboration and temporary stations for the mobile workers," explains TalkBox co-founder Todd Budin. "Having a single-person room which can be moved around fits right into this new definition of the office." 

The TalkBox takes its cue from the tried and tested phone booth -- although it was designed for business. As such, it includes a desk space, ventilation, a door with a window and soundproofing. 

"We actually follow the ABCs of noise reduction in our design," says Budin. "A, absorb the user's sound so that it doesn't create a bad echo experience and so that it doesn't reverberate to be heard from outside. B, block external noise from coming in. C, cover the internal and external sounds with white noise to help mask anything left over."

The units are flexible Budin says, and take advantage of the wireless communications networks we use today. "We have a lot of clients who just rely on their wifi, but also some high bandwidth clients (e.g., engineering firms, big data companies) who drop an Ethernet line into the TalkBox," Budin says. "It's easier to drop a line in there than it is to wire up any sort of junction box, so we've gone that route." 

Currently, the company is selling roughly two units, which are made in Colorado, weekly. The majority of its clients are in Colorado, San Francisco and Detroit at this point. Thus far most are companies with open floor plans. But some coworking operations, like Shift Workspaces or Galvanize, are potential clients, Budin says. The rooms start at $5,700. 

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

New grant will help 350 people in Denver advance in retail careers

Thanks to a new $422,652 grant, 350 people in Denver will have a chance to get better employment opportunities in the retail industry. The city will use the grant to focus on empowering disadvantaged adults and working-age youth through a variety of job training programs.

"The majority of program funds will go toward getting individuals gainfully employed," says Denver Office of Economic Development Spokesperson Derek Woodbury. "We are also targeting efforts to assist employed retail workers with moving up the career ladder." We do not have a targeted figure for these advancements.

Denver's Workforce Development Board will use the funding to create a retail sector partnership with employers and education providers to offer people a chance to advance their careers through training experiences. Training will include formal education, certification training, on-the-job training and paid work experiences. The grant will also promote advancement opportunities in the retail sector.

While the grant is a standalone grant, it's not all the city is doing to help encourage workforce development. "We do expect to leverage other federal workforce development funding streams in order to co-enroll participants in other workforce services training and employment programs," Woodbury explains.

The grant was awarded part of a larger, $10.9 million award to The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership from the Walmart Foundation aimed at creating new models of career services in the retail sector. Of the 10 cities to which the partnership awarded grants, Denver won the most.

While the Walmart Foundation is funding the grant, Denver won't be providing any direct services to the company. "The grant agreement prohibits our office from providing workforce services to Walmart or any of its subsidiaries under this funding," Woodbury says.

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

AppIt Ventures grows in Denver, expands international presence

Since launching in 2012, AppIt Ventures has developed close to 300 custom software applications, ranging from an app developed for the Broncos' Emmanuel Sanders, allowing him to communicate directly with fans, to an app for a large cattle auction company to a gamified app for the Young Presidents' Organization. Now AppIt is expanding its international presence with a new office in India, while adding more positions in Denver. 

"We love building cutting-edge software that helps startups and established businesses engage and reach customers in new and exciting ways," says co-founder and CEO Rob Carpenter. "We've developed an Internet of Things platform for one local company, we're currently prototyping a virtual reality operating system for another company and we're building a variety of attractive mobile applications that we're really proud to share with the community."

To meet the needs of its quickly growing portfolio the company is expanding. "Within the next three months, we want to consider increasing our business development team, project management and eventually add a marketing position," he says Carpenter. It's likely those jobs will be filled quickly: The company recently won Millennial Week Denver's award for Best Company for Millennial Employees.

With the 2015 acquisition of a software company in India and a partnership in Costa Rica, the company currently employs 25 people across the globe, including nine in Denver, Carpenter says.

The young company may also add an office on a fourth continent. "We're in very, very early discussions with a few potential acquisition targets in London," Carpenter says.

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

Colorado Tech Summit returns to Denver

The technology sector now makes up more than 11 percent of Colorado's. To support further growth, the Colorado Technology Association will host the Colorado Tech Summit on Oct. 19 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. 

Gov. John Hickenlooper will open one of the sessions discussing cybersecurity and Colorado's role in the industry. Earlier this year, he announced the opening of a National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center in Colorado Springs, and the University of Denver launched a new, one-year cybersecurity masters program to help prepare tomorrow's workers for a career in the field. 

The event's keynote will be delivered by Dave Anderson of CH2M on virtual and augmented reality, and Eric Marcoullier of Cloudspace and Page Tucker of ProStar Geocorp will show how their companies are using virtual reality in different fields. 

The event will also feature breakout sessions on transforming businesses through the Internet of Things and innovation. It also will showcase how tech is being implemented throughout the state in its "Tech Tour on Stage" event.

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

Colorado Enterprise Fund awarded $2.4M to support small business in low-income areas

The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) received a total of $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to support its small business lending and technical assistance programs as well as its Colorado Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

Of the total, $1.75 million will go to CEF's small business lending and technical assistance programs. The remaining $650,000 will support HFFI in Colorado. 

"We are honored to receive these two awards from the CDFI Fund this year," says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund. "This dual funding will increase our ability to finance businesses that create jobs, enhance economic vitality and expand community prosperity, as well as contribute to the health of Colorado's citizens through broader access to fresh, healthy foods."

Since 1996, CEF has been awarded nearly $10.9 million to increase access to capital and technical assistance for small business owners. The awards have helped small businesses leverage more than $54 million in public and private-sector capital lending to more than 1,800 businesses creating over 16,000 jobs.  

The HFFI awards will help CEF reduce food deserts throughout Colorado and increase access to fresh, healthy food options. Thus far HFFI has received $2.2 million (including the $650,000 just announced) to support its programs. 

Two other organizations in Colorado also received funding from the CDFI, which gave a total of $185.7 million to 196 organizations designated as CDFIs across the country. The other recipients in Colorado were Colorado Housing Enterprises in Westminster and Alamosa, which received $1.25 million, and La Plata Homes Fund in Durango, which received $700,000.

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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