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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.

DUGood is the University of Denver's new crowdfunding platform

The Pioneers are forging ahead with a new crowdfunding tool to finance projects on the University of Denver campus. To help faculty, students and staff develop impactful projects, the school recently launched its new DUGood site.

Crowdfunding has helped many small businesses get their feet on the ground or get their first order completed. In this case, however, the university is making sure that the projects created and are committed to improving the campus and the services it offers. 

One of the first projects on the site is an effort to create a Student Emergency Fund. The fund will provide support to university students facing emergency situations from the need for textbooks to the need for emergency travel. Another project aims to support the Daniels Student & Refugee Partnership to mentor resettled refugees through the African
Community Center.

While only staff, students and faculty can propose a project, anyone can donate any amount they please to support the projects of their choice. What's more, even if a project isn't fully funded the project organizers will receive what they raised through the DUGood platform within 60 days of a campaign closing.

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

City releases new Denver Capital Matrix funding directory

The fifth edition of the Denver Capital Matrix  includes more than 400 potential funding sources. The city's Office of Economic Development offers the directory to help connect entrepreneurs and innovators with organizations and entities that can help them grow.

The office introduced the matrix during toward the end of Denver Startup Week to help give it maximum impact among startups and entrepreneurs. "Access to capital is a critical thread through every startup venture, and there are far more options for financing than many entrepreneurs realize," says OED Executive Director Paul Washington. "Denver enjoys a very healthy mix of investment and financing resources that are supporting our entrepreneurs."

The funding sources identified in the Denver Capital Matrix are a mix of investors, including banks, venture capital firms, private equity firms, angel investors, mezzanine sources, investment banking institutions and others. In addition to contact information, the matrix also identifies what type of investor they are and their target industries.

The matrix has grown significantly. "The 2012 edition listed approximately 260 resources, while this year's edition includes just over 400 resources," says Derek Woodbury, communications director with the Office of Economic Development. 

As a data source, the Denver Capital Matrix is limited to data and doesn't go into details, Woodbury explains. "While the document does not include grant forms or capital pitching tips, our office does provide one-on-one advisory hours to startups and entrepreneurs at the Commons on Champa."

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

Denver Startup Week breaks record with 12,500 attendees

The 2016 installment of Denver Startup Week again broke records, with 12,500 people registering for the more than 300 events, drawing celebrities and entrepreneurial rock stars. For the first time, the nation's largest free startup event also hosted a pitch fest, awarding a package worth $35,000.

It was another significant year of growth for the event, with nearly 2,000 more attendees and about 70 more events than 2015.

"We convene community better than anywhere in the country, and Denver Startup Week is an excellent representation of our thriving and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership and co-founder of Denver Startup Week. "Our strength in numbers grows our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and further establishes a powerful platform in Downtown Denver to attract the most innovative companies and investors in the world."

Other than panels with celebrities like Under Armor co-founder Ryan Wood, a former Dallas Cowboys fullback and owner of Steamboat Springs' Sweetwood Cattle Co., and Silicon Valley regular Suzanne Cryer, the most anticipated event was likely the Pitch Challenge, which had awarded a package of cash and mentorship worth $35,000.

The competition was winnowed down to eight finalists who made their pitches to an audience of their peers and a panel of judges. The three finalists were Orderly Health, edn and Sidekick Holdings. The winner, Sidekick Holdings, makes a device that simulates soccer training with a partner. Orderly Health, the third runner-up, helps users get on-demand information about healthcare via text messages. The second runner-up was edn, a Techstars company that  introduced an indoor garden for herbs, vegetables and flowers.

The event also saw new funding for startup-focused nonprofits. JPMorgan Chase granted $60,000 to each of four nonprofits including the Commons on Champa, Accion, Mi Casa Resource Center and the Path to Entrepreneurship Program.

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

Founder Institute offers free entrepreneur classes to explore launching semester in Denver

The Founder Institute is offering free classes aimed at entrepreneurs to gauge interest in launching a winter 2016 semester of classes in Denver. The institute will launch the free classes on Sept. 21 with "Making the Leap from Employee to Entrepreneur."

"The Denver/Boulder region is one of the most attractive places in the country to build a startup," says Adeo Ressi of The Founder Institute. "Our program aims to identify and develop the next great set of entrepreneurs in Denver and prepare them to take advantage of everything the region has to offer."

The institute, which helps launch startups from the idea stage, has operated in Denver since 2010 and has helped launch companies including BittyPets and CipherPoint Software, among others. Its program is unique in encouraging people to grow their businesses even if they're still working day jobs. Also, with those startups that enter into its incubator program the institute offers an equity share when one of those startups reach success. 

In Denver the new efforts are being led by Mollie Rusher, Rob Rusher and Chad Johnson, who are Denver's co-director of the local Founder Institute. "A new Denver Founder Institute program could provide aspiring entrepreneurs (including people with just an idea) with the training, mentorship and network to build a global company in Denver," says Rob Rusher, Mollie's husband and founder of Cheddar Up, GrowBuddy and RealSoulful. "It is a great fit for Denver because explosive growth and strong entrepreneurial community."

“Working with hundreds of startups as a founder of a co-working space, I'm excited for the opportunity for Founder Institute to help people understand what it's like to go from employee to entrepreneur, and help them achieve success in their business,” adds Johnson, an architect and founder of Thrive Workplace.

Following the initial session, the institute will hold two more free sessions: "Startup Funding 101: How to Raise Capital for Your Idea" on Oct. 6 and a Founder Institute information session on Oct. 12.

The Founder Institute is requesting  people to fill out an interest form at http://fi.co/apply/denver before Oct. 16.

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

Denver Startup Week kicks off schedule of more than 250 events

This year's Denver Startup Week kicked off Monday morning with a breakfast headlined by former Dallas Cowboys fullback and Under Armor co-founder Ryan Wood. Also the owner of Sweetwood Cattle Company in Steamboat Springs, Wood was flanked by other entrepreneurs, including Eddie Kim of Gusto, Lee Mayer of Havenly and Chris Terrill of HomeAdvisor.

During his keynote at the breakfast Wood opined on his career(s) moving from football to athletic undergarments to beef jerky. Regarding Under Armor, he said: "We went from just a product to brand almost overnight." To get there, however, took a lot of work, a lot of face time and a lot of travel, he said. "We took it to a broader audience, team sports is what we knew and we saw the benefit of what these types of fabrics and this fit could make for sports."

The NCAA, the NFL and Major League Baseball "were our main targets. We went after those guys with great intensity," Wood said. "You've got to be creative, you've got to be different and you need to figure out a way to differentiate yourself and your strategy from larger competitors."

Following the breakfast, the Downtown Denver Partnership released the Downtown Denver Startup Report, which found, among other things, that in the last year alone 56 startups in Denver have raised more than $420 million in venture capital in the last year. 

"The growth of tech startups is strong, both in terms of number of new businesses and job creation," said Tami Door, Downtown Denver Partnership CEO. With events like startup week and support and services including The Commons of Champa, the organization is helping startups as they strive to become the next Under Armor. "We are focused on providing access to free resources and education to further establish Downtown Denver as the leading place for businesses to succeed."

The report looks at how startups are changing the employment sector in Denver. The city now has 664 startups, with 165 launching in 2015 alone. Startup growth is strongest in the technology sector, as startups represent 10 percent of all companies downtown and employ 4,508 people.

People can register online to attend more than 250 events or go to Basecamp hosted by Chase at 1515 Arapahoe St.

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

CU Denver launches 15th annual THE CLIMB business plan competition

THE CLIMB, a competition to develop a business plan through the University of Colorado Denver's Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, is set to begin its 15th year with a new, non-collegiate competition, expanded footprint and a citizen vote. The competition, which starts Sept. 8, will culminate in an award event on Nov. 10.

The goal of the competition is to help entrepreneurs transform concepts into viable businesses through mentorship opportunities. Previously, the competition was only available to college students but now includes a non-collegiate track for Colorado-based startups. In addition the competition is now open to collegiate applicants from Arizona as well as students from Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana. 

Since the competition began in 2001, it's awarded $1 million and shared more than 500 mentor hours. Some of the previous winners of THE CLIMB include Rosenberg's Bagels, AppIt Venturesbeautifuli.com and Living Ink Technologies, says Sarah Engel, assistant director of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship. "Rosenberg's Bagels is definitely recognizable in Denver," Engel says. 

"With thousands of business plan competitions available in the U.S. alone, these events are more than just a means to fund a big idea," says Madhavan Parthasarathy, director of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship and an associate professor at CU Denver. "We redesigned our competition to deliver a comprehensive, real-world business and learning experience. The caliber of entrepreneurial experts, organizations and faculty that teams have access to in this competition is truly priceless. The financial payout is simply a bonus." 

Judges, including namesake Jake Jabs, will send 10 collegiate teams to the semi-finals. During the Collegiate & Community Pitch Night on Oct. 13 the audience will have the opportunity to invest "CLIMB cash" to advance one more collegiate team and three community startup businesses to the finals event in November. "As a public university with strong ties to our community, we wanted to give people an opportunity to engage in the competition and cast their vote for who they think would keep Colorado's entrepreneurial spirit moving forward," Parthasarathy says.

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

Rose Community Foundation awarding Innovate for Good grants

The Rose Community Foundation will host an event at the Cable Center on Sept. 14 to award grants through its Innovate for Good program, which is supporting youth projects and youth-adult projects with a total of $250,000. The program announced the nine finalists for the youth-adult partnerships this week and will choose the six awardees, each of which will receive $30,000 to realize their projects, at the event.

The organization already selected four youth-led projects to each receive a $5,000 grant and support to realize their projects. The youth awards will support the CeC Early College Mentorship Program, which will mentor-match high school junior students with high-school freshmen; the Juniors for Seniors project to build one-on-one relationships with teen volunteers and nursing home residents; the Stories Worth Saving project for teens to document stories of assisted-living residents; and the Theatre for Social Change Group project which aims to offer teens ways to use the arts to explore difficult social issues. 

For 2016, the second year for the awards, the foundation asked youth and youth partnering with adults to develop projects that answer the question: "What idea could you bring to life to empower youth to make the community better?"

Last year's awards challenge didn't have a thematic focus, according to Sarah Indyk, Rose Community Foundation's director of special projects. This year it was separated into two different pathways, with the youth awards and the youth-adult awards. "The youth-led projects were really conceived of by youths without formal adult partners," she explains. She adds that since the adult-youth partnership projects are a lot different it made sense to go through a parallel process; the Sept. 14 event will decide which youth-adult projects will be funded.

“Both groups will benefit from extensive training coaching and support from the Youth Leadership Institute,” Indyk says. "We're running a full incubator providing support to all awardees and finalists. It's a way we could support all the finalists even if they don't receive funds. That amounts to $50,000 in additional support."

Visit rcfdenver.org/IFG to learn more about the program and finalists.

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

Denver Startup Week will feature "Silicon Valley" show members, and first pitch challenge

With hundreds of events lined up and more than 10,000 expected attendees, Denver Startup Week 2016 has something for every entrepreneur, including a job fair, the Denver Startup Week Pitch Challenge and a discussion with Silicon Valley regular Suzanne Cryer and producer and writer Adam Countee who will take at a panel called The Intersection of TV and Tech Startups.

This year's events kick off with a Sept. 12 breakfast keynoted by Ryan Wood, a former fullback for the Dallas Cowboys and co-founder of billion-dollar Under Armour. The day will end with a party at Denver Union Station expected to draw 1,500 people or more. 

Beyond being just for entrepreneurs, this year's startup week will feature a startup job fair on Wednesday at the Buell Theatre. Organizers say that last year more than 40 companies were at the job fair seeking candidates and this year they expect even more companies to attend. 

However, what's likely one of the more anticipated events is The Intersection of TV and Tech Startups, a discussion with Countee and Cryer of HBO startup spoof Silicon Valley, hosted by Colorado-based satellite TV provider DISH. They will talk about the show's comedy and the culture of tech startups and participate in a Q&A. 

The week will end Thursday night at Galvanize Platte with the finals of the first Denver Startup Week Pitch Challenge.

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

Denver Startup Week Challenge will offer awards to most innovative startups

It's almost time for Denver Startup Week, and already things are heating up. Event organizers and the University of Denver's Project X-ite recently announced the Denver Startup Week Challenge, asking the most innovative companies in Denver to give their best pitched to a panel of judges. The best pitch will win awards, which have not yet been named.

Like Denver Startup Week, the challenge will be divided into four tracks, which will be determined based on the submissions received. Up to eight semifinalists will be chosen by entrepreneurs and industry professionals who will judge submissions related to their field.

Interested companies can submit their proposals through Aug. 29. Semifinalists will be notified of the their status around Sept. 1. On Sept. 13 and Sept. 14, the entrants will compete. The top two finalists from each track will present their pitch in front of the startup community on Sept. 15 at Galvanize on Platte.

The organizers said that all Denver-area based startup with less than $5 million in outside investment are eligible to participate. They must also be less than three years old.

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


Gaming bar Board Game Republic opens in Baker

Denver's Board Game Republic is holding its grand opening this weekend. The pub and cafe boasts more than 600 board games for those who aren't just satisfied with the average game of Sorry! anymore and want to up their Parcheesi game instead.

"Board games are perfect at bringing people together and creating interaction," says founder Keith Meyers. Meyers is well-suited as game master and curator for the cafe. He's worked for Hasbro, The Game Keeper and IELLO, among others, and  has invented dozens of games and taught classes in game design.

The pub will host its grand opening on Aug. 20-21. The opening will include local gaming celebrities and publishers.

"We'll have hourly drawings for free stuff -- games, promos, toys and just plain goofy things," Meyers says. "We'll have pop-up tournaments for prizes, scattered over the weekend." He adds that events will culminate in a grand prize drawing of $250 worth of board in games, sponsored by Time Well Spent games and $250 in smaller prizes.

Like newer room escape adventures, Board Game Republic is designed to embrace Denver's gaming culture without sticking them in front of a computer screen. The collection of games ranges from Monopoly and Clue to modern titles including Settlers of Catan or Pandemic, and party games such as Telestrations and Codenames.

Visitors to the unique pub on 1st Avenue and Santa Fe Drive can pay $5 to receive all-day access to collection of games. Staff is on hand to serve food and introduce visitors to new games.

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


FullContact brings in $25 million to expand, add employees

Cross-platform contact management startup FullContact announced that it raised $25 million to fuel its growth. The company said in a statement that the funding will allow it to grow its business, recruit global talent and fund acquisitions.

FullContact officials plan to more than double its workforce next year. The company will begin hiring in the second half of 2016 and and begin opening additional offices. With headquarters in Denver, FullContact already has offices in Riga, Latvia and Dallas, and plans to open additional offices.

The new funding round was led by Foundry Group and included investments from Baird Capital, Shea Ventures and Blue Note Ventures. With this round of funding the company has raised $50 million.

"With over 40 billion contact records under management, FullContact was already on track to more than double recurring revenue for the fourth straight year," says Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group. "The funding will be used to support the company's rapid growth by further expanding sales, marketing and engineering." He adds that the funding also will grow its technology and data assets.

The company has previously acquired other companies including mobile contact management application Cobook, an SaaS-based customer data intelligence service and social address book Brewster.

FullContact's suite of products is aimed at contact management for individual professionals, businesses and software developers. It offers free iPhone and Android apps, which can transcribe business cards, add social profiles to contacts and sync contacts across multiple address books.

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


All Copy Products, Inner City Heath Center offering free vision screening

On Aug. 20, All Copy Products and the Inner City Heath Center (ICHC) will offer children and adults free vision screening as part of national Children's Eye Health and Safety month. The offering is intended to help those who may have health insurance but lack coverage for vision benefits.

All Copy Products, which offers digital office equipment, print services and IT services for companies, calls it a win-win partnership. The company is doing it not just to be beneficial to the community but beneficial to itself.

"Employees -- particularly the newest generations to join the workforce -- are actively seeking employers who take community giving seriously, and win-win partnering takes us well beyond writing a check to staff engagement with programs like the upcoming vision screening," explains President Brad Knepper.

All Copy Products says it is contributing $35,000 to ICHC in 2016 and plans to grow its contributions to the center to nearly $60,000 in 2017. "Denver nonprofits need partners like All Copy Products that take this collaborative and organized approach to corporate giving," says Kraig Burleson, CEO of ICHC. "This partnership is a game-changer for our organization because it allows us to plan for and use contributions in the most strategic manner possible. . . . It's also helpful to have a pool of volunteers who's support we know we can depend on."

All Copy Products' employees will and more than 20 volunteers from the Lions Club of Denver will aid at the ICHC at 3800 York St. in Denver to support the center's first free vision screening.

At the screening ICHC will have bilingual volunteers and also offer recycled glasses to patients who need them.

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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