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Lyft Locates Driver Hub in Steam on the Platte

Rideshare company Lyft has opened a driver Hub at Steam on the Platte in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood.

Lyft chose Steam on the Platte for its driver support center because of its convenient access to highways and thoroughfares, as well as the development’s location in the heart of Denver.

When development firm Urban Ventures was discussing the types of tenants it wanted to locate in Steam on the Platte, words like entrepreneurial, energetic and pioneering came to mind, says Susan Powers, president of the firm.

“We love the values of Lyft,” Powers says. “We love the way you treat your drivers and customers.”

Steam on the Platte is within walking distance of the Auraria campus and the Broncos' stadium. It also is at the intersection of the Lakewood Gulch and Platte River bike paths and a short walk to two light-rail stations at Decatur-Federal and West Auraria.

Urban Ventures and White Construction Group formed a partnership to acquire the property in 2014 from the estate of the late Englewood-based real estate agent Arvin Weiss. At the time of the acquisition, there were two illegal marijuana grows operating and the Evil Souls motorcycle gang had taken over one of the buildings as its clubhouse.

Urban Ventures and White have since created a mixed-use project that has attracted several other tenants in addition to Lyft. NIMBL, a technology consulting company, moved into the space in September. Two Denver architecture firms also have moved into Steam: Olson Lavoie and Davis Wince.

Urban Ventures and White Construction have started working on the next phase of the project: converting a 6,000-square-foot former gas station with a bowstring roof into a restaurant. The other buildings on the 3.2-acre site have been demolished to make way for more office space and residential buildings.

Delta Dental leases space at Catalyst HTI

Delta Dental of Colorado is the latest healthcare company to announce it will locate at the Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation (HTI) development in Denver’s River North district.

Delta Dental will lease 2,000 square feet on the second floor of the building. The nonprofit dental insurer plans to use the space as a center for collaboration and innovation, working alongside startups and larger companies within Catalyst HTI and inviting in entrepreneurs to develop and test new concepts.

“The oral healthcare industry is seeing the development of exciting new, innovative technologies that have the potential to significantly, if not dramatically, improve patient outcomes and care,” says Helen Drexler, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado. “As the state’s leading dental benefits provider, it is imperative that we’re at the forefront of these efforts and on the leading edge of developing the future or oral healthcare.”

Catalyst HTI is an “industry integrator” bringing together a full spectrum of stakeholders in healthcare. Startups will have access to potential clients and investors in established companies. The project is being jointly developed by Koelbel and Company and health-tech entrepreneur Mike Biselli and the landowners.

Delta Dental joins a growing number of health-tech startups and healthcare organizations, including Hitachi, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Kaiser Permanente, American Diabetes Association, Prime Health and Medical Group Management.

“Delta Dental broadens the conversations within Catalyst HTI in important ways and expands the community’s opportunities,” Biselli says. “Delta Dental is a perfect fit for this ecosystem, both as a leading voice on the importantce of oral health and as a health and wellness company with an intense focus on innovation.”
 

Colorado Enterprise Fund gets $776,500 grant

The Colorado Enterprise Fund has received a $776,500 grant to support its small-business lending and technical assistance programs statewide.

Colorado Enterprise Fund is among seven Colorado Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. Other recipients include Denver -based Mercy Loan Fund, Mile High Community Loan Fund and Triple Bottom Line Foundation, as well as Aurora-based Community Enterprises Development Services. Outside of Denver, First Nations Oweesta Corp. in Longmont and La Plata Homes Fund in Durango received awards.

“We are honored to receive this funding from the CDFI Fund again this year,” says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund. “This award will expand our ability to finance businesses that create quality jobs, enhance long-term economic vitality and expand community prosperity to insure more residents benefit from Colorado’s robust economic growth.”

Certified as a CDFI in 1996, the Colorado Enterprise Fund received its first CDFI Fund award of $275,000 in 1997 to increase capital access for small-business owners across Colorado. Since then, Colorado Enterprise Fund has been awarded nearly $10 million to continue that work and expand its focus to increase access to healthy foods and serve more communities of color and businesses located in persistent poverty counties.

Rail~Volution conference will showcase Denver's transportation advances

Rail~Volution is coming to Denver Sept. 17-20.

The conference, hosted by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and local partners, focuses on building livable communities through transit and multimodal investments. National leaders, planners and advocates will examine and discuss all that the Denver region has accomplished since it last served as the host city for the gathering 17 years ago.

During 25 mobile workshops and more than 75 sessions over four days, leaders and practitioners from the fields of government, transit, real estate, business, finance, environment and advocacy will explore pertinent transit issues, opportunities and challenges common to the Rocky Mountain West.

“Denver has an extraordinary story to tell about how transit investments and cross-sector collaboration have changed the economic trajectory of the regions,” says Dan Bartholomay, CEO of Rail~Volution. “The Denver community found the right mix of investments that lead to truly livable places — places that take care to ensure affordability and access to jobs, good homes and healthy lifestyles. The Denver region’s integrated approach is exactly what other cities and regions are hoping to learn about at Rail~Volution.”

Featured speakers include Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit in Seattle; Phil Washington, CEO of L.A. Metro; Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer; Maurice Jones, president of Local Initiatives Support Corp. in New York; Christine Marquez-Hudson, president and CEO of The Denver Foundation; and John Martin, president and CEO of the Southeastern Institute of Research Inc. in Richmond, Va.

Nursing moms now have privacy at all downtown sports venues

Nursing moms now have a quiet place to breastfeed or pump at all of Denver’s downtown pro sports venues as a result of UCHealth’s partnerships with the Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos. 

The new Mamava nursing suites are being installed in the main concourses at Coors Field and Sports Authority Field at Mile High. UCHealth's recent purchase and installation of the air-conditioned lactation suites makes Denver the first city in the country to offer nursing suites in all downtown professional sports venues. UCHealth also purchased and installed the lactation suite located in the concourse at Pepsi Center, home to the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets.

“UCHealth’s commitment to improving lives extends beyond the doors of our hospitals and clinics,” says Manny Rodriguez, UCHealth chief marketing and experience officer. “our investment in nursing suites with our partners at all of Denver’s downtown professional sports venues makes it easier for nursing moms attending events — from games to concerts — to live extraordinary lives doing what they love, with their loved ones.”

The sports teams collaborated with UCHealth to provide the clean comfortable spaces to nurse in private. The lactation suite is a self-contained, mobile pod with comfortable benches, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet for plugging in a breast pump and a door that can be locked for privacy. The 4-foot by 8-foot pod is intended for individual use but has plenty of room for mothers with diaper bags, babies and other children in tow.

AAA moves to Tech Center; Green Solutions takes its space

AAA Colorado is relocating its corporate headquarters to the Denver Tech Center after the sale of its 63,335-square-foot office building at 4100 E. Arkansas to Denver-based Tributary Real Estate.

Tributary plans to renovate the building for The Green Solution’s (TGS) corporate office.

“At Tributary, we pride ourselves on achieving a high level of involvement in creating lasting partnerships with our clients, working closely with them to determine how our investment, development and brokerage services can be combined to support their business objectives,” says Ryan Arnold,  principal of the firm. “We’ve developed a strong relationship with TGS Management through several successful transactions over the past four years, and we look forward to continuing the relationship as TGS Management grows as an organization.”

TGS Management is a vertically integrated cannabis operations company that employs more than 660 people in cultivation, manufacturing, research and development and retail. About 125 employees will move into the new space on Arkansas.

“We’ve worked with Tributary for several years on our real estate,” says Kyle Speidell, co-founder of TGS Management. “Their commitment to understanding our short- and long-term goals and their ability to deliver solutions tailored to our unique needs has helped to propel our growth and expand our real estate holdings.”

The Green Solution currently owns 12 retail locations across Colorado and 300,000 square feet of cultivation facilities.

AAA moves to Tech Center; Green Solutions takes its space

AAA Colorado is relocating its corporate headquarters to the Denver Tech Center after the sale of its 63,335-square-foot office building at 4100 E. Arkansas to Denver-based Tributary Real Estate.

Tributary plans to renovate the building for The Green Solution’s (TGS) corporate office.

“At Tributary, we pride ourselves on achieving a high level of involvement in creating lasting partnerships with our clients, working closely with them to determine how our investment, development and brokerage services can be combined to support their business objectives,” says Ryan Arnold,  principal of the firm. “We’ve developed a strong relationship with TGS Management through several successful transactions over the past four years, and we look forward to continuing the relationship as TGS Management grows as an organization.”

TGS Management is a vertically integrated cannabis operations company that employs more than 660 people in cultivation, manufacturing, research and development and retail. About 125 employees will move into the new space on Arkansas.

“We’ve worked with Tributary for several years on our real estate,” says Kyle Speidell, co-founder of TGS Management. “Their commitment to understanding our short- and long-term goals and their ability to deliver solutions tailored to our unique needs has helped to propel our growth and expand our real estate holdings.”

The Green Solution currently owns 12 retail locations across Colorado and 300,000 square feet of cultivation facilities.

Interactive artwork unveiled at Levitt Pavilion

The latest addition to the city of Denver’s public art collection was dedicated July 20 as part of the grand opening celebration for the newly built Levitt Pavilion Denver at Ruby Hill Park.

“Sky Song” by Colorado artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf is a two-part interactive sculpture that blends light and sound through interaction with the viewer and even the sky above. 

Comprised of mirror-polished stainless steel, “Sky Song” invites viewers to create music by pressing any combination of 33 buttons on an eight-foot-tall sculpture on the plaza. The kiosk is linked to its companion piece 30 feet away on the building’s facade. During concerts at Levitt Pavilion, the interactive function transitions from sound to light. With 25 lights and bells, “Sky Song” is an engaging public artwork.

The Levitt Pavilion is programmed, managed and supported by Friends of Levitt Paviolion Denver, a local nonprofit dedicated to building community through music. 

Upcoming concerts include:
  • July 23: The Stone Foxes
  • Aug. 3: The Suffers
  • Aug. 4: John Fulbright
  • Aug. 5: The Reminders co-headline with Fed Rez
  • Aug. 6: Rocky Dawuni with the Bunny Gang
  • Aug. 9: Hippo Campus with Slow Caves and Corsicana
  • Aug. 10: The Dustbowl Revival with Charley Crockett
  • Aug. 13: The Band of Heathens with Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir
  • Aug. 17 The Haunted Windchimes and Edison
  • Aug. 18: My Body Sings Electric and Chemistry Club
  • Aug. 19: Smooth Hound Smith with Anthony Ruptak & The Midnight Friends
  • Aug. 24: Gaby Moreno
  • Aug. 25: Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra with Fiesta Colorado Dance Company
  • Aug. 26: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
  • Aug. 27: New Breed Brass Band with Denver Municipal Band
  • Aug. 30: Ripe with Chris Daniels & the Kings with Freddi Gowdy
  • Aug. 31: Inspector with Izcalli
The public is invited to bring their picnic blankets and lawn chairs to the free concerts. There also will be a handful of ticketed shows featuring artists like UB40 and 311.

Denver is nation's seventh-greenest city

For the fourth consecutive year, Denver has ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percentage of its office space qualified as green certified, according to a recent survey by energy consultants CBRE and Maastricht University.

With a modest year-over-year improvement, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, representing 41.9 percent of overall office square footage, according to the annual Green Building Adoption Index. That’s compared with 11.8 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively, last year.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five markets.

“Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.

“Denver companies are savvy, and they realize that operating out of an energy-efficient space can not only save money and benefit the environment but also be a point of differentiation when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent,” says Sam DePizzol, executive vice president with CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services in Denver. “With one of the tightest labor markets in the country, we are seeing more and more Colorado companies pay attention to the role their real estate places in creating a competitive advantage.”
 

Prime Health challenges entrepreneurs to innovate patient care, offers $150k in awards

The Prime Health Challenge is on for 2017. This year the Colorado Health Foundation is offering a total of $150,000 to early growth stage digital health and health tech entrepreneurs whose aim is to improving healthcare outcomes while reducing patient costs. The awards will help fund a pilot study with a Colorado healthcare company. It’s the fourth annual Prime Health Challenge. 

The Prime Health Challenge, which is open to companies nationwide, will help winners pilot their products or solutions with Colorado-based health care providers, payers or safety net institutions. After submitting their idea through the Valid Eval platform, subject matter experts will evaluate each proposal on its merits. The experts will provide feedback and will select a group of applicants to move forward in the challenge. 

The selected group will pitch their products at a Shark Tank-style event on Oct. 19. The winners chosen at the event will each receive a portion of the $150,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation to help launch their pilots.

The challenge explains that interested companies must be launch-ready for a pilot. Companies can apply to the challenge through July 7 by clicking here: http://bit.ly/2017PHChallengeApps and paying a $99 application fee. 

Third annual Shed Summit to focus on “Water Is Your Business” takes place on June 29

As one of the nation’s major suppliers of water, Colorado’s watershed is critical to the country's infrastructure, and many are working to balance the needs of the state's residents. That’s where the third annual Shed Summit comes in.

The one day event, taking place at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ York Street location on June 29, will focus on the theme of “Water Is Your Business” and will cover a range of issues regarding the management of Colorado’s water, including the evolution of conservation and climate change under the Trump Administration, the importance of watershed health to recreation, and the role of agriculture in Colorado’s future.

This year the event is expected to bring more than 250 water utility executives, business leaders, conservation experts and others. With the 2017 theme, organizers, which include Denver Water, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Center for ReSource Conservation and more, are seeking to broaden the conversation about watershed management. “The goal is to bring local influence to global issues,” organizers say. They hope to introduce innovative ideas, and break down silos around water management.

The $50 event begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m., followed by a happy hour at 6 p.m. Tivoli Brewery will provide beer.

Explore LoDo app launches, shows Denver’s past and present

To help connect visitors and residents with Denver’s history as well as its current businesses and attractions the LoDo District recently introduced Explore LoDo. The new app shows off historical places in the heart of Denver and harnesses information from Historic Denver, Denver Public Library and other sources to give users updates on what’s going on in the neighborhood. 

“LoDo is a dynamic neighborhood with a unique blend of history and modernity,” said Leslie Sale, Executive Director of the LoDo District. “We have been able to protect this balance because of the work of historic preservationists and creative reuse strategies. This app will help locals and visitors discover, engage and connect with Lower Downtown Denver, as well as preserve its history and stories of yesteryear.”

The app, which was developed by Envie Media, uses beacons and geofencing to alert users to the history of more than 25 locations in LoDo when they’re nearby. The alert offers a short history of each location and includes historical pictures of the location and contemporary pictures of the location. Users can also share their pictures and stories of LoDo through the app. 

Explore LoDo also includes a directory of downtown’s businesses, including restaurants, places to go for entertainment, clothing stores and more. It also provides them with information about events taking place in LoDo.

The app is available for Apple devices and Android devices. People can check out the app at lodo.org/app.

Denver launches business accelerator for healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods

The Denver Office of Economic Development has partnered with The Unreasonable Institute to launch the Food Access Project  in underserved neighborhoods. The accelerator is offering a training and mentorship program to support 10 ventures to improve access to food in select low-income communities in Denver. 

“It’s exciting to be able to bring the city’s resources together with the ingenuity of entrepreneurs,” says Teju Ravilochan, CEO of The Unreasonable Institute. “This partnership combines the innovation of nimble startups with the systems-shifting capabilities of the city government, creating the potential to really make a lot of people’s lives better.” 

The program is focused on reducing food insecurity in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Montbello, Westwood, Northeast Park Hill, Five Points, and other neighborhoods. Early stage ventures can apply to the Food Access Project through June 25.

“This is part of our proactive approach to building healthier communities throughout the city,” explains Amy Edinger, OED interim executive director. “By targeting entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits, we recognize that Denver has a broad talent pool of individuals that, with a little support and key introductions, can make a lasting difference in addressing food insecurity.”

The program will provide each of the participants with a five-day in-person bootcamp. The effort will also provide six months of support from mentors, financial modeling training from Unreasonable Financial Architects, access to investors, and a network of over 530 Unreasonable Institute ventures across the world.
 

Denver’s Magpie Supply among winners of $25k at 4th Go Code Colorado pitch competition

Magpie Supply was one of the three companies that won the annual Go Code Colorado pitch competition. The company, which shows historic farmers’ market prices to farmers to help them find new markets, won $25,000, as well as a trip to the AT&T Foundry and a opportunity to pitch at Techstars and Boomtown.

Like all Go Code Colorado participants, Magpie Supply harnessed the power of public data. In this case, the company mapped prices farmers were able to charge at farmers markets throughout Colorado. The company also plans to develop a feature to help small farmers combat the cost of transporting goods. 

“This idea is a spin-off from a business concept I worked on last year with a Go Code Colorado team,” explains Daniel Ritchie of Magpie Supply. “Our team has worked hard to identify the real needs and concerns for Colorado farmers to develop a truly valuable tool to get more produce to market.”

Magpie wasn’t the only winner at the competition this year. Judges selected three of the 10 finalists to win a $25,000 contract with the state. The other two winners were Drip, from Colorado Springs, and Hud Buddy, from Fort Collins. Drip is a tool that helps with water analysis, including well and water quality information and Hud Buddy allows for simplified noise analysis for HUD residential developments.

“I continue to be impressed by the creativity and collaboration of the Go Code Colorado teams,” says Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “Teams continue to show the value of public data if we can get it into the hands of innovative and entrepreneurial people who have a different perspective on how to use it.” 

Denver Peak Academy’s employee program saves city $22.5M over 5 years

Called the “School of Innovation” by Fast Company Magazine, Denver Peak Academy has helped the city’s employees save the city $22.5 million over the past five years, and is on track to save it $5 million this year. The city said that for every $1 spent on the program, it’s saved the City and County of Denver $5.

The academy was launched in 2011 by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock during a budget shortfall. The academy has trained 6,500 employees and led to 2,300 employee-led innovations ranging from reducing the time it takes to obtain a business license to 20 minutes rather than two hours and cutting the time of a DMV visit to 20 minutes from the 80 minutes it previously could have taken. 

“Through innovative thinking, employees are now able to do more with less, while bettering our customer-experience,” Hancock says. “Peak has become a revered national model adopted by some of the largest municipalities in the country, and we look forward to continuing our forward progress here in Denver.” 

The academy is a four-and-a-half day curriculum that includes problem solving and behavioral economics allowing the voluntary attendees to examine inefficiencies and speed up work processes. Since the program launched it’s been adopted by over 150 cities across the country and globe. The academy said that includes Brussels, Belgium; Ottawa, Canada; San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Kansas City and others.

“Denver Peak Academy provides employees with the tools to be a catalyst of positive transformation. As a result, our employees  continue to build Denver into the best city in the world,” says Denver Peak Academy’s Director Brian Elms. “We are excited and inspired that other cities are adopting Denver Peak Academy principles to empower their employees to improve their cities as well.”

Denver launches “Race to Raise,” chance for early-stage companies to win up to $100k

A new competition will help early-stage companies in Denver raise venture capital through its “Race to the Raise” pitch event on June 13. While the prize for the contest is only $25,000, there’s an additional $75,000 at stake in the future, meaning the winner could ultimately net $100,00 in venture capital from the Denver Venture Showcase, part of the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED).

“There is no shortage of early-stage firms that are doing great things in Denver,” says Mayor Michael Hancock. “We’re committed to doing all we can as a city to spotlight these firms, foster additional growth and investment, and propel our culture of innovation to an even higher level.” 

Indeed, the city and OED offer a myriad of events and opportunities throughout the year to support the industry of nascent companies. Chief among them are the Commons on Champa and Denver Startup Week

The OED is offering the contest to early-stage companies that have raised at least $250,000, but less than $4 million. In addition to the grand prize, two runners up will each receive $15,000.

Whichever company is the first to raise an an additional $500,000 in equity or convertible debt within six months, will receive a $75,000 boost from OED, the office says.

“We’re tremendously excited to send the winning firm to the Colorado Venture Summit,” explains Turid Nagel-Casebolt, director of business development at OED. “With investors from around the nation, the Summit offers incredible potential for a growing firm to land a significant amount of operating capital. This could truly be a quantum boost for a small firm that is just beginning to learn how to present itself, demonstrate promise, and raise funding.”

In addition to raising the required capital, the entrepreneurs must demonstrate that they have developed a growth and job creation plan to help grow Denver’s economy. Companies can apply to participate in the competition through June 2 via this link

They will be judged by local startup experts and scored by Denver-based Valid Evaluation’s evidence-based platform. The judges will select finalists to compete at the June 13 event which is being hosted at Holland & Hart, a co-sponsor along with US Bank. They will have five minutes to pitch their company to the judges.
 

Who is the best CEO in Denver? Here's one pick.

The best-rated CEO of a public company in the US is Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco. The best-rated CEO in Denver, however, scoring higher than Jelinek is Convercent’s Patrick Quinlan, according to Owler's inaugural Top-Rated CEO Rankings. The rankings are based on more than 250,000 insights gleaned from members of the crowdsourced business intelligence platform. 

“Owler’s first annual list of top-rated CEOs is the only official ranking that provides a true market view of America’s best-loved leaders,” contends Jim Fowler, founder & CEO, Owler. “These executives received high approval ratings from employees, suppliers, partners, and even competitors, to beat out 99.4 percent of other CEOs featured on our platform. They truly are the best of the best in the global marketplace.” 

While CEOs of numerous private companies scored as high as 99.9 on the points system, Jelinek accumulated a rating of 94.9 points, according to Owler. Quinlan, CEO of Convercent, an enterprise compliance management and analytics software firm, outscored Jelinek with 96.1 points out of 100 possible. Other high-ranked CEOs in Denver were Ombud’s Thad Eby who scored 94.3 points; and Cloud Elements’ Mark Geene, who scored 93.3 points, and Ping’s Andre Durand who scored 92.5 points.

The rankings include all CEOs across 50 cities covering 25 industries, according to Owler. In order for CEOs to receive a ranking they must have at least 10 ratings. Owler asked employees, followers, competitors, and other general users to rate CEOs. Ultimately the company says it analyzed approval ratings of the top 5,000 most-rated chief executives. 

This gives the company more insight into how company leaders are seen in a region. For instance, Owler notes that Denver’s CEOs had an average score of 65.5 points. As such Denver struggled to make it into Owler’s Top 30 Cities list, coming in at number 27. Owler says that suggests Denver’s business leaders aren’t as well-liked as in other cities, like Nashville, where CEOs had an average approval score of 82.4 points. 

Results for Denver’s CEOs can be found here: https://www.owler.com/ceo-ratings.htm?cityName=Denver
 

With more than 1,000 proposals in Denver Startup Week is ready for your votes

The nation’s largest free entrepreneurial event—Denver Startup Week—received a record 1,039 session proposals this year. That’s up from 944 proposals submitted last year. Now it’s up to the public to help organizers choose which sessions should be held—last year the event hosted more than 300 programs. 

“Our entrepreneurial community is the envy of cities across the country,” says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “We now have nearly 700 tech startups in Downtown, employing close to 5,000 people. Companies large and small are coming to Denver to positively impact our economy and help grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“We continue to be impressed with not only the volume, but the quality of proposals submitted and now it’s up to the entire entrepreneurial community to help tell us what programs they find the most interesting and valuable,” says Ben Deda, vice president of channels and ecosystems at Vertafore and co-leader of the event’s organizing committee.

The organizers will accept votes for Denver Startup Week through May 28, 2017. The event's organizing committee will sift through the results and determine which proposals will become sessions during the sixth annual startup week from Sept. 25-29.

In addition to the five tracks of Denver Startup Week—Founder, Growth, Maker, Product, Designer, and Developer—this year’s schedule also will include topic and industry clusters focused social impact, the Internet of things, health care technology, diversity and inclusion, cannabis and business basics. 

“When more than 1,000 people step up to share their insight and knowledge with others, it signals that Downtown Denver continues to be one of the best places in the country to start and grow a business,” said Erik Mitisek, executive director of Project X-ITE at the University of Denver and co-founder of Denver Startup Week.

To help people wade through the potential sessions and vote, organizers recommended that voters search for trends, themes and topics that interest them. They can also sort session proposals by cluster and organize sessions by their favorite track. Site users can vote on each session once.

ParkiFi partners with Parkmobile, hoping to lure new customers with combined services.

As anyone who works or visits downtown Denver knows, parking is a pain. Now, Denver-based ParkiFi is making it easier to park by adding new features to its smartphone app. Previously, it could only show users where parking was available—but now users can pay for parking from the app. To help raise awareness ParkiFi is giving away a year of free parking in downtown.

“We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm around our real-time parking spot finder app since we launched in November, but we think users are really going to get excited about the payment capability,” says Ryan Sullivan, CEO and co-founder of ParkiFi.

The new capabilities are thanks to a partnership with Parkmobile, which allows transactions via smartphone. While ParkiFi was launched in Denver, it could prove a valuable service in any metro area in the US.

“Our goal is to make parking as easy as possible for Colorado drivers, everything from finding a spot to payment” Sullivan explains. “They can focus on getting to where they need to be downtown without worrying about where to park and how to pay, saving even more time and eliminating the headache of forgetting to pay for parking or potentially getting a ticket.”

ParkiFi is valuing the year of parking at up to $2,000. The company explains that people can enter the contest by downloading ParkiFi and using it to find and pay for parking at downtown properties where they can use ParkiFi between now and July 31. Each time a person uses ParkiFi, they’re entered into the contest. After that it will select a winner at random and work with them to find the best place for them to park for the year or reward the winner with a $150 a month credit to their ParkiFi account.

Currently ParkiFi is only available in downtown Denver, but the company plans to expand its capabilities into other Denver neighborhoods soon. "ParkiFi’s parking sensors are being used by parking operators and municipalities at 24 locations in 11 states and 13 markets to obtain valuable analytics on parking patterns including occupancy, turnover and more," says Abby Hagstrom, a spokesperson for ParkiFi. "ParkiFi is also excited to announce a new partner, Parking Revenue Recovery Services, which will increase ParkiFi's coverage in Denver by over 2,000 spaces."

CodeSpire summer camp for kids takes off with new drone, robot options

Just in time for summer, CodeSpire is launching new programs. It’s a summer camp for the 21st century, a coding camp for children to help them learn about how they can use coding to make games, apps and even how to program drones and robots. 

It’s the second year for CodeSpire, says Director Rebecca Parrent. “We have full day camps, as well as half-day camps with other on-site half-day camps from Science Matters, Sticky Fingers, and Play On!” The summer camps include CodeSpiration, exploring multiple coding languages; Python coding, to learn game coding and JavaScript camps for Minecraft mods and drones and robots. It’s the first time CodeSpire is offering a camp to program drones.

The deadline for the June camps, the first of which begin on June 12 is May 31. They’re held at a number of places in and around Denver, including Golden and Aurora. “Campers at the CU Denver campus will receive a campus tour, as well as see some technology programs that are offered at the university,” Parrent says.

Each camp can hold up to 15 people for full-day camps and 10 people for half-day camps. The day camps cost $495 and the half-day camps cost $295. However, Parrent says Confluence Denver readers can use the code “confluence" to get a $75 discount on a full-day, week long camp, if they use the code by May 15.
 

Galvanize, Women Who Code Partner to Increase IT Opportunities for Women

Late last month Denver-based Galvanize partnered with Women Who Code (WWCode) to increase opportunities for women in technology positions through access to education, resources and other pathways.

"Galvanize's continued support for WWCode demonstrates a commitment to empowering women to become leaders in the tech industry,” says WWCode Vice President of Partnerships Jennifer Tacheff. “This partnership helps to propel our catalytic work of providing training and skills for women to level up in their careers, so they can innovate and continue to shape the future of tech." 

Through the collaboration Galvanize is now recognized as an official WWCode school.

“We are thrilled to be an inclusion partner of WWCode, whose mission to inspire women to excel in technology careers is one which we wholeheartedly support,” said Galvanize CEO Jim Deters. “At Galvanize, we are committed to investing in technology and education that is accessible to anyone — specifically the traditionally underrepresented — with the determination and drive to learn the skills they need to transform their lives.”

Bold Legal and Innovation Pavilion partnered to offer legal services for startups

With so many startups launching in the Denver and greater Front Range region, there’s a need for legal help designed to meet startups’ needs, from establishing company bylaws to organizing business operations and more. To meet those needs, Innovation Pavilion (IP)—a startup center—in southern Denver has started Bold Legal to provide counseling and legal services. 

“A legal structure is crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial venture and we are excited to extend this fantastic resource to our community,” explains IP CEO Vic Ahmed. “We are grateful for Bold Legal’s support and I am certain our community will reap many benefits from their work.” The organization has a history of making innovative partnerships to help its tenants start and grow their businesses.

Bold Legal will provide a number of services including regular monthly hours and free access to legal advice for IP’s tenants. Also, Bold Legal’s first billable hour for IP’s tenants will be free. It will provide insight into issuing equity, raising capital, hiring and more. It will also provide a ‘starter suite’ of documents and forms for IP’s startups, including bylaw and articles of incorporation forms, investment agreements, non-disclosure agreements and more. 

“More than a co-working space, Innovation Pavilion is a training ground, a social capital nexus and a home for the entrepreneurial community of Colorado,” says Bold Legal founder and attorney David Ray. “Entrepreneurs and startup companies deserve fearless service providers. Our job is to facilitate evolution, simplify complexity, push through the conventional envelope and smooth the way for great ideas to change industries. We are delighted to partner with Innovation Pavilion and, together, deliver exceptional value to Colorado’s rich entrepreneurial community.”

The legal firm, which has offices in Denver and Boulder, also will co-sponsor IP’s monthly “Access to Capital” events. The events include panels of venture capital, angel and other investors who will discuss the capital-raising process for entrepreneurs and startups.
 

BuildStrong Education launches, supporting a foundation for education in the Front Range

Oakwood Homes has built its Foundation for Educational Excellence into BuildStrong Education. The newly launched foundation renews its focus on creating high-quality schools and improving the relationship between communities and schools to build bonds that make neighborhoods safer and stronger.

The Foundation for Educational Excellence was launched by Oakwood Homes Founder Pat Hamill in 1997. The Denver-based residential developer, has helped fund and plan numerous schools in communities it’s developed. It has invested more than $4 million into educational programs in Green Valley Ranch, Montbello and the broader Front Range. The initiatives have included professional development, student recognition, new school development and the creation of collaborative public/private partnerships. 

“Pat Hamill’s dedication to building strong schools has created tremendous educational opportunities for our children in far Northeast Denver,” explains Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “If we want great communities, the schools will lead the way, and Oakwood Homes’ BuildStrong Education is setting the stage for these schools to soar.”

The new organization has a focus on northeast Denver, where it says only 34 percent attend high performing schools, which it calls the lowest rate in the city’s school districts. That’s despite it housing two of Denver’s highest performing schools.

The organization also will support the recently launched Colorado Homebuilding Academy. That organization is aimed at training students and others to find gainful employment in construction industries. In Colorado there are currently more construction jobs than workers. 

Co.Starters now offering (an affordable) boot camp for would-be startups

The Co.Starters program has graduated more than 3,000 entrepreneurs nationwide and now it’s coming to Denver’s Commons on Champa. The nine-week business development program will launch on May 17 and will help participants learn about launching businesses with a community of peers. 

“This nine week program equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools needed to turn business ideas into action. Unlike traditional platforms, Co.Starters applies the lean business modeling methods popular among high-growth startups to businesses of all kinds,” explains Jacqui Dietrich program manager at the Commons.

“The program is new to The Commons and will be a regular offering focused specially on women and minorities,” Dietrich says. However, she adds, “The Co.Starters program is open to any new business or new product idea, regardless of sector or industry.” While this is the first time the program is launching in Colorado, it’s been used in other cities including Chattanooga, Cincinnati and Detroit. 

“Up to 15 aspiring entrepreneurs will be admitted to the first Co.Starters at The Commons cohort. The deadline to apply for the upcoming cohort is May 3,” Dietrich says. The program, supported in part by the Kauffman Foundation, will cost participants $125 including curriculum and meals. 

The program, Dietrich says, helps participants understand their assumptions about their businesses and how they will work and then enables them to talk with their target customers to validate their ideas. “This approach enables entrepreneurs to rapidly uncover flaws in their concepts and find viable models more quickly,” she says.

The Commons plans to offer cohorts on a rolling basis. Entrepreneurs can apply here and successful entrepreneurs who wish to serve as mentors for the program can register to help here. 

Want to get into the brewing business? Colorado Enterprise Fund will show you how

When Colorado Small Business Week launches on April 30, the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) will host a number of  events showcasing the state's smaller enterprises helping entrepreneurs launch new businesses. To help them capitalize on the regional brewing craze, CEF, for the first time, is hosting a workshop aimed at craft beer startups. The workshop, Crafting Success: From Home Brews to Beer Biz, will be hosted at the Commons on Champa on May 5 from 1:00 pm–2:30 pm. 

“With the increase in brewery startups CEF is financing in Colorado, we felt it would be helpful to showcase some of our successful borrowers so others could see it’s possible to follow your dream and make a living,” says Alisa Zimmerman, director of marketing and communications at CEF. 

The event will feature Chad Miller of Black Shirt Brewing Co, Brian O’Connell of Renegade Brewing, Tom Jasko of Colorado Craft Distributors and David Levesque of Launch Pad Brewery. Each of the companies received support from CEF. For instance, Renegade recently expanded into a 15,000 square-foot warehouse and received a working capital loan from CEF in August 2016. 

CEF also is supporting ancillary brewing businesses, like Colorado Craft Distributors, which launched in 2016. The business is a wholesaler of beer, cider, spirits and wine. The founders received a working capital loan from CEF in 2017.

“The featured borrowers each produce, package and distribute their products differently, and may share info on resources they use. We expect them to touch on these areas depending on their current operations and future plans,” Zimmerman explains.

As part of Colorado Small Business Week, CEF will host other events, including tours of refugee and immigrant small businesses in Aurora. It also will host the Colorado Emerging Ventures Breakfast, where entrepreneurs will learn about what a business needs to qualify for a loan. CEF also will host the SBA Colorado Business Week Awards Reception on Wednesday, May 3 at Denver Public Library.

Denver Startup Week Accepting Session Proposals Through Friday

The nation’s largest free startup event, Denver Startup Week, is gearing up for 2017 and it wants your input, soon. The event, which will take place Sept. 25-29, is seeking ideas for sessions in six different tracks to help entrepreneurs learn about launching and growing startups. The deadline for submissions, however, is April 21.

The sessions are in addition to headline events, which bring industry leaders to discuss entrepreneurship, launching a startup and more. The track categories this year include designer, developer, founder, growth, maker and product. Each is intended to address the functional roles in a startup team and will be led by industry experts. 

Last year, the event brought more than 13,000 people to 300 sessions. Organizers, including the Downtown Denver Partnership, Colorado Technology Association and Startup Colorado, expect this year’s startup week, the sixth, will attract even more attendees.

After the deadline passes track chairs will evaluate the submission proposals and approve them for voting on by the community. Then the organizing committee will use the votes and comments to guide the selection and scheduling process.

Sessions in the past have included individual and group presentations as well as panels, workshops and social events. Organizers said that ideas focused on transferring knowledge to the community have the best chance of being selected. T

Innovators, entrepreneurs and others can register and submit proposals here: SUBMIT A TOPIC.

Two teams from Denver make it to Go Code Colorado’s next round

The annual challenge to use public data to create business insights in Colorado, Go Code Colorado, is getting ready for the mentorship weekend April 21-23. Two Denver teams, <div>ersity and Magpie Supply, are among the finalists. In all, more than 230 people participated in the Challenge Weekend events this year. 

“Each year, Go Code Colorado participation and enthusiasm increases across the state,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, whose office runs the contest. “The high-caliber app and business concepts created during challenge weekend will further encourage government entities of all sizes to make their data available to developers and entrepreneurs so its inherent value can be fully utilized.”

The first team, <div>ersity, is harnessing data to create a hiring tool that will help companies build diverse teams. The other team, Magpie Supply, is using data to solve transportation problems for farmers. 

Both teams will join the other finalists in the expenses-paid mentoring weekend. During the weekend,the finalists will have a chance to discuss their ideas with leaders from Techstars, Boomtown, House of Genius and others from Colorado’s tech and entrepreneurial community. 

After that, they will compete for three $25,000 awards, which will be decided in a final competition on May 24. The awards will help the winners move their ideas into the next stage as apps or startup businesses.
 

Low-income Coloradans could lose small business funding under budget proposal

Denver’s Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is warning that important funding for low-income communities in Colorado is at risk under President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal. The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has issued $40.3 million to Colorado’s 15 CDFIs, including CEF. 

Local CDFIs are able to leverage every $1 in federal funding with up to $12 in private investments from banks, foundations and other funding partners, explains CEF President CEF Ceyl Prinster. “The total economic impact of CDFI grants in Colorado is as much as $480 million supporting businesses, affordable housing and nonprofit community projects.” Under the budget proposal all that economic development could be at risk as the Trump Administration has proposed slashing CDFI’s, says CEF President CEF Ceyl Prinster. 

“CEF was the first mission-driven lending organization in Colorado certified by the CDFI fund in 1996 to serve low-income and minority populations. Over the last two decades, CEF has leveraged $8.5 million in CDFI fund awards to loan more than $58 million, financing nearly 2,000 small businesses in our state,” Prinster states.

The fund has a national budget of just $250 million, Prinster asserts that the CDFI fund costs each American just 79 cents annually.

“CDFIs fill a vital need in the nation’s financial services eco-system by serving communities and market sectors that conventional lenders cannot,” Prinster says. “The ultimate goal of CDFIs is to bring their customers into the mainstream economy as bankable businesses, home owners and/or individuals.”

Indeed, the fund has the support of major banking associations, including the American Bankers Association, who have issued a letter to Congress in support of the CDFI fund.

Denver takes advantage of a soaring economy with JumpStart 2017

Last week Denver introduced JumpStart 2017, its sixth annual strategic jobs plan for economic development.

JumpStart is more than an annual strategy, it is a statement of values for how Denver builds a local economy that secures our community’s legacy and maintains our city’s unique character in the years ahead,” according to Mayor Michael Hancock, who unveiled the plan, put together by the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED).  “In 2017, our eyes are squarely focused on taking the necessary strides to help ensure that all residents have the opportunity to benefit from Denver’s vibrant economy.”

As such, the plan focuses on increasing economic mobility and establishes anti-displacement strategies in certain neighborhoods. In 2017 that focus will include the neighborhoods of Montbello, Westwood, Globeville and Elyria-Swansea. The strategies are designed to help uplift ailing neighborhoods while reducing urban poverty. 

The mayor’s office said that the JumpStart is helping to create jobs in Denver. The previous year’s report aided the development of nearly 3,000 new jobs and assisted the city in retaining 7,000 jobs, according to the office. The strategies helped spur $111.4 million in capital investments and also funded the creation of 579 affordable homes. 

“With strong employment and wage growth, Denver has led the nation as one of the most vibrant economies,” explains OED Executive Director Paul Washington. “We’ve thoughtfully identified goals for JumpStart that we believe will make the most of the opportunities before us.”

The 2017 strategies include encouraging developers of projects financed by OED to hire low-income residents for entry-level positions. It also will support the creation of a maker space, a collaborative space to allow entrepreneurs access to manufacturing resources. The plan will also help create cooperative business ownership models in the targeted neighborhoods.

Colorado Homebuilding Academy trains workers for an industry that badly needs them

One of the continuing stories across Colorado, and the Denver metro area in particular, is growth. The region is experiencing nearly unprecedented employment and population expansion, thanks to numerous sectors like, such as IT and cannabis. That has also led to a construction boom and the demand for more housing, which means it needs construction workers. That’s where the newly launched, Colorado Homebuilding Academy fits in. 

The Denver-based academy is aimed at training unemployed adults, military veterans and youth for careers in homebuilding and construction. It offers a "construction skills" boot camp that lasts for eight weeks. The academy already has partnerships with five high schools. “We have high school training programs that last for a semester with our partner schools and our superintendent training program has 5 courses that last for about 9 months,” explains Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy.

“The training programs are offered at no cost to the participant if they can genuinely commit to wanting to enter the construction industry and are ready to start a career after training,” Smith says. “The tuition is covered by a blend of supporters from industry contributions, local government workforce development offices, and community grant programs.”

The need for construction workers is greater than ever as vocational training programs have waned. “Our peers in commercial construction (Associated General Contractors) commissioned an economic impact report that stated over 30,000 people are needed for the Colorado construction industry over the next 5 years...and that count is not including those that are retiring over the same period,” explains Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy. 

“Over 80 percent of the builders polled by NAHB are experiencing labor shortages that are slowing down the home building process,” Smith adds. Nationwide that means the homebuilding industry could add roughly 200,000 employees to meet the latest homebuilding boom. 

The new academy was initiated by Oakwood Homes’ CEO Pat Hamill, who brought the industry together to support it. “Oakwood Homes is leading the industry by providing substantial financial support for the development, operations and student tuition assistance programs for the Colorado Homebuilding Academy,” Smith says. “Precision Building Systems, a manufacturer of trusses and wall panels for residential construction, has donated 25,000 square feet of their manufacturing plant to house the Academy offices and training center.”

“The homebuilding industry has been plagued by a shortage of high-quality workers,” Hamill says. “Preparing and training the workforce is the key to ensuring our industry remains healthy.”

 

Turning the Corner offers insights on retaining tech talent

Denver's tech scene is booming, drawing plenty of talent to the region and developing talent locally. The city also is constantly ranked one of the best places to live. However, at least one ranking from Indeed in 2016 found that Denver's employees were the most disgruntled in the country, leading to high turnover rates. 

"It's primarily because the small business community here does not know how to create great work environments for people to thrive," explains Kendra Prospero, CEO of Turning the Corner, an employment services company. "We work with thousands of people every year and eight out of nine reasons they leave their job are because of management issues. This is magnified here in Denver -- the lack of investment the small business community is making in leadership and management basics is appallingly low, and it shows up with low engagement and high turnover."

In the tech industry, for instance, a PayScale report puts the average tenure of an employee at three years, even as employment in numerous parts of the tech industry are expected to see continued growth through at least 2024. Between high turnover and quick job growth, it's harder for companies to develop deep pools of talent in their employees. 

Prospero says that employers can change this trend in Denver by developing mindful leaders by investing in training that promotes better management. "We need to strive to make Denver the place that creates the most emotionally intelligent leaders, and if we do that, we'll have no problem attracting the best to any industry and any job," she says.

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

Denver launches JumpStart Academy for startups

Denver is further cementing its reputation as a capital for startups with its recently launched JumpStart Academy. The academy is focused on second-stage growth, to help startups reach their next stages. 

The new academy is aimed at training, mentoring and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs. It builds on the other startup tools and resources Denver offers including the Commons on ChampaDenver Capital Matrix, Denver Startup Week and Denver Venture Capital Report.

The academy's initial class includes six local founders with the potential to attract capital and create jobs. Each of the companies in the inaugural class, including HyprLoco, LockState, Maria Empanada, Sugarwish and TurtleWise, have graduated from local incubator or business accelerator programs.

The new academy was launched by the Denver Office of Economic Development, the University of Denver's Project X-ITE and Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. "With the powerful expertise of both the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network and Project X-ITE to draw on, we're listening to these firms, and responding to their needs with a curated curriculum that positions them for their next round of funding," explains OED Executive Director Paul Washington.

During their six-month training at the academy the founders will receive customized training, mentoring and introductions to help their startups grow.

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

"The Whiskey Film" launches crowdfunding campaign

The filmmakers behind brewing documentary Crafting A Nation are now turning their lens on craft distilling in their new project, The Whiskey Film.

The project follows the story of the craft distilling revolution that's taken hold in Colorado in the recent years. "The whiskey industry in the United States is over 200 years old and when a Congressional resolution declared bourbon whiskey as America's native spirit in 1964, it gained a legitimacy in heritage. No other country can call their spirit bourbon whiskey. Since then, state laws have loosened to allow more distilleries to open and thrive," says Thomas Kolicko, the film's director. "What we're seeing now is a lot of very creative and driven entrepreneurs build upon the tradition. The Whiskey Film features the new generation of whiskey craftsmen and women and dives deep into the agriculture ties behind the end result."

The documentary, which will feature craft distillers from across the country, has focused on three Colorado companies: Colorado Springs-based Distillery 291, Deerhammer in Buena Vista and Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa. The documentary crew is currently looking for up to nine more distillers and whiskey-related agricultural operations to capture their stories, according to Stacey Fronek, a producer with Traverse Image, the production company behind the documentary. 

"This is a story about American craft whiskey and to tell that story well, we want to include distilleries from across the country who are innovating and demonstrate a strong connection to agriculture," Fronek explains. 

While Bourbon County and Kentucky Bourbon are often considered the home of bourbon and the heart of US whiskey manufacturing, Fronek says:  "To us, Colorado is the symbolic epicenter of the movement that is defining craft whiskey." Still, she adds, "We love Bourbon County and Kentucky bourbon, and have high hopes for filming there because of the rich history and tradition."

Traverse Image launched an Indiegogo campaign to support The Whiskey Film on March 15. It hopes to raise at least $100,000 to support the production of the project as each minute of the documentary costs roughly $1,000 to complete. "As we continue to fund the campaign, new filming locations will be 'unlocked' on the Indiegogo page," Fronek says. "Until then, the site of our next shoot will remain a mystery!"

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

Alterian relocates to Denver, re-emerges as marketing services provider

Alterian, a marketing services company, is making major changes. Following a management buyout by SDL, the company relocated its headquarters from Bristol in the United Kingdom to Denver and relaunched as a marketing services company focused on adaptive customer experience.

The company's services are aimed at allowing marketers to use consumer data and history to engage with customers in real time. Its Dynamic Decision Engine allows marketers to personalize the customer, manage the experience even if they're engaging with a site and over the phone at the same time, ensure followup and incorporate new learning about the customer into the system. 

"Our goal is to give marketers the ability to bring the rich history of consumer transactional data together with the real-time context of how the consumer interacts with the brand, providing a unique and consistent customer experience across channels," explains Robert Hale, Alterian CEO. "For many marketers, this is first time they can really seize the opportunity to connect data with customers -- on customers' terms -- to spark an instantaneous, welcomed exchange and create a profitable relationship."

In addition to the real-time services, Alterian's services also conduct batch campaigns and analytics. Those tools help marketers rapidly define audiences and find opportunities across their ecosystem, the company says.

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

Comcast Media and Technology Center opens at CU Denver

The $5 million Comcast Media and Technology Center at the University of Colorado Denver opened March 2. The new center is offering a specialized curriculum aimed at students of engineering or arts and media to solve real-world problems and engage audiences in collaborative activities in media.

"If creativity is the currency of the 21st century, then academic institutions need to join with media and technology organizations to work toward discovery and excellence in creativity," says College of Arts & Media Dean Laurence Kaptain. "Denver is the ideal place where our college can align with Comcast to advance the creative economy and the tools necessary to succeed after graduation."

The new center is part of the partnership between Comcast and CU Denver's College of Arts & Media and College of Engineering and Applied Science. It will bring together not only students and researchers but also Comcast employees and the community to develop new technologies. Courses in the center will help students build collaborative skills to create innovative media content.

"The Comcast Media and Technology Center is an example of how CU Denver works with our industry partners to develop innovative approaches to the problems of today," says CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell. "We're grateful for Comcast's support and delighted to be able to offer this resource for the community."

Comcast also will offer internships to CU Denver students. "The Comcast Media and Technology Center will help to empower the professionals of today and tomorrow with the skills they need to innovate the next generation of rich, immersive media experiences," says Comcast Technology Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt McConnell.

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


Lockheed Martin to move hundreds of jobs to Colorado, Florida

Lockheed Martin announced that it will move a total of 650 positions to Colorado and Florida by 2024. The company is making the move to relocate its Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) program from California.

"As our business evolves, we're adapting to ensure we deliver the innovation, affordability and performance our customers demand," says Mathew Joyce, vice president and general manager of Strategic and Missile Defense Systems for Lockheed Martin. "We've laid out a long-term strategy that will achieve that evolution and position us for the future, while offering our employees time to plan and prepare for the transition." 

The move is being made to cut costs and centralize its expertise in key locations, the company says. The sites in Florida and Colorado have complementary facilities and employee skill sets and most of Lockheed's employees will be offered a chance to move to work at one of the facilities. 

"We value the deep expertise of our employees, and we're working diligently to shape a transition that leverages the knowledge of this team," explains Rick Ambrose, executive vice president for Lockheed Martin Space Systems. "Reshaping our Fleet Ballistic Missile program will help us take full advantage of our engineering and manufacturing facilities and centralize key skills, saving costs for the Navy on this critical national security program."

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

Boa rebrands to focus on consumers

Denver's Boa Technology, the company behind an innovative closure mechanism originally designed to replace laces in snowboard boots, has launched a new site and logo design to focus more directly on consumers. The company had focused first and foremost as a business-to-business company but is now moving to focus on consumer marketing and education. 

The company's closure systems can replace everything from traditional shoelaces, to closure mechanisms for casts, prostheses and ski boots. It had primarily offered its products directly to manufacturers but now it's focusing on brand awareness, consumer marketing and education. As part of the effort, the company launched a new site, TheBoaSystem.com.

"With the re-brand, Boa is shifting focus to speak more directly to consumers rather than B2B, and in the last year, Boa has seen a good amount of growth in the brand and marketing teams in preparation for the change in approach and re-brand," says Casey Raymer, a spokesperson for the company. "The Boa global HQ will continue to operate out of its Denver office in the RiNo neighborhood."

The company will move into a larger space at TAXI in RiNo in late 2017 or early 2018, Raymer adds. She explains the new space will be better suited to the company's current needs and planned growth.

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

Community Wealth Building Network announces first job opportunity

Metro Denver's Community Wealth Building Network aims to build wealth within the community through increasing local ownership, control of resources and income. To date, the network was supported by volunteers at other organizations. But now, it's ready to hire its first staff member. 

"We are looking for someone who can not only connect with disenfranchised community residents, but also feels comfortable meeting with organizational and Metro Denver leaders," says Patrick Horvath, interim vice president at The Denver Foundation. "Denver is on the cutting edge of this movement and we can be a proving ground for innovative economic strategies that lift whole communities."

To that end, the Community Wealth Building Network's new fellow will conduct on-the-ground research into current and potential community wealth building in the metro area. The fellow will work to strengthen connections between such efforts and with the network's partners. They will create a five- to seven-year community wealth building vision and plan for metro Denver.

Community wealth building engages in creating sustainable businesses that keep jobs and resources within the community. It also promotes land trusts, local procurement by institutions including universities and hospitals, local investing circles and community empowerment.

"Look at the Green Taxi company, which is the largest worker co-operative in Colorado: All the drivers own a share in the company as well as their vehicles," says Halisi Vinson, executive director of Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center (RMEOC), an organization that helps companies move from sole proprietorship to employee-owned businesses.

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

Colorado Harvest Company introduces Operation TransparenC

Colorado Harvest Company is introducing Operation TransparenC, an effort to show its growing processes in great detail to consumers and other industry members. In doing so, the company is aiming to show consumers how legal cannabis growers are distinguishing themselves from black market growers. The company is posting information about the purity and potency cannabis available from its three Colorado Harvest centers.

"Colorado Harvest Company is leading the way on  TransparenC, but our hope is that other companies follow suit," says CEO Tim Cullen. "I would welcome any partnership that has the same goals in mind." 

The company announced the new program last week after the the Colorado Department of Agriculture showed the purity of Colorado Harvest’s cannabis for the second consecutive year. The department tested hundreds of the company’s samples between November 2016 and January 2017. 

"We are constantly working toward ways to be different while providing a high quality experience for our customers," Cullen says. "There are two ways to look at regulation. One, it's a great opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from the black market and shine for our customers; or two, the regulation becomes the focus and not the customer. We have to keep our eye on the ball while we comply with ever increasing demands from regulatory bodies." 

Cullen has begun speaking with 22 officials from state agriculture departments as far away as Florida and Guam. He also is presenting information about profitable and compliant production methods at two upcoming cannabis conferences.

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

Agility Recovery adds offices nationwide with new ReadyComplete suite

Agility Recovery, the Denver-based disaster recovery company that helps companies recover from hurricanes, floods, fires, blizzards and other challenging situations, is opening more than 3,200 locations across the country and internationally as part of its new ReadyComplete suite of services. The company provides its customer businesses with power, communications, computers and office space.

"Agility is providing access to thousands of office locations across the US and Canada, as well as overseas," explains Scott Teel, Agility Recovery marketing VP. "They are not Agility-owned office locations but are instead powered by the extensive portfolio of Regus-managed facilities."
 

The expansion is being funded by its investor, LLR Partners, Teel says. As the company expands it will add more positions both in Colorado and across the country. "We expect a company-wide head count increase of more than 10 percent for 2017 and continued growth over each of the next three years," Teel says. 

Agility relocated its headquarters from Charlotte, NC, to Denver in Oct. 2016, creating more than 40 jobs. "In 2016 we nearly tripled the number of employees on the Colorado team," Teel explains. "Some of these were transfers from the Charlotte office, but many were new hires. In January, we grew our Denver staff by 10 percent."

Teel says the company also expects to add more positions here. "We expect to add about 10 percent to our Denver head count over the course of 2017. Though we are always seeking to increase productivity and scalability through improved process and technology, we are still predicting even greater employee head count growth in Denver in 2018-19."

The growth comes as the market for recovery services is growing. It's currently valued at $40 billion and growing by 10 percent annually, according to TechTarget figures.

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


Gates rejoins Innovators Colorado

Gates Corporation has rejoined Innovators Colorado (iiCO), a network of Colorado-based companies working together to solve each others' problems and launch new companies and services to meet members' needs. The organization is the first regional chapter of Innovators International.

The Colorado chapter of Innovators International has already launched a company called iiFund, explains Thomas Knoll, president of Innovators Colorado. "It's a corporate venture capital fund created to help our members acquire and license new technologies." He adds, "We're in the process of creating several new companies that will acquire and license new technologies for our members. These companies will serve our members' strategic and financial interests."

Gates Corporation has renewed its membership to bolster its efforts to build the most cutting-edge growth engine in their industry. "Gates is interested in creating a new innovation management system that allows new ideas, products and services to move through their company more rapidly while producing better results," Knoll explains.

The organization's members include chief innovation officers and meet on a quarterly basis to discuss solutions to each other's innovation challenges. They also share venture capital and consulting services aimed at building innovation engines.

"The marketplace requires a relentless pace of continuous innovation and by joining forces with other large, innovative organizations we are better positioned to ensure our competitiveness," says Tom Pitstick, Gates SVP of Innovation.  "Innovators Colorado plays a critical role in helping Gates Corp build a reliable innovation department -- an engine for our company's growth."

Knoll says that Gates will use its partnership to help the company create a new innovation management system. The system will help new ideas, move through the company rapidly to create new products and services.

The group will have its next meeting at Colorado's CableLabs -- a member of iiCO -- on Feb. 23.

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

Utivity acquires Besomebody's Experience Marketplace

Denver-based Utivity, an outdoor adventure platform, acquired Besomebody's Experience Marketplace, to expand its national presence. The Besomebody marketplace allows people to book and host more than 400 types of experiences ranging from art to adventure.

Utivity offers more than 1,000 types of experiences -- everything from archery and basketball to wakeboarding and yoga, but outdoor and adventure activities are its most popular experiences. It plans to expand its outdoor base as it begins to scale up nationally.

"We started this company with one goal: empower both instructors and doers to experience every activity under the sun," says Utivity CEO Kyle Granowski. "The acquisition of Besomebody's Experience Marketplace allows us to pursue that goal with an extremely talented instructor base while expediting our growth efforts."

Utivity has helped more than 2,000 experience providers in the Denver-area earn more than $200,000 since it launched in 2015. The acquisition will more than double its user base and help accelerate its expansion, Granowski says. Through it, Utivity will gain access to Besomebody's large user and provider base across Texas, California and New England, as well as internationally.

"We couldn't be more excited to join forces with Besomebody to help people discover unique experiences, and make money doing what they love," says Granowski. "The Besomebody team has done an incredible job building a huge community of people who want to get out, and do more. We've had our eyes on them for a while, and the timing was finally right to make something happen. As Besomebody moves forward with their focus on education and employment, we're honored to be the premier platform where people come for activities and adventure."

Under the purchase, which was made for an undisclosed sum, Besomebody will retain its branding, trademarks and community assets. Besomebody will transition its hosting and booking strategies, services and data to Utivity and help it tap into Besomebody's partner network. Besomebody's founder and CEO Kash Shaikh will also join Utivity's board to assist with transition and growth plans.

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

Apto hiring 10 new employees in wake of accolades and awards

Apto's real estate platform for commercial real estate brokers was recently named one of the Best Mobile Apps by the Real Estate Tech Awards. The company was named by Outside as one of the best companies to work in 2016, and was also ranked among Inc.'s fastest growing companies in the U.S.

It should be no surprise that the company is increasing hiring and naming new executives. Case in point: Apto announced that it is hiring Steve Neely as its vice president of engineering. "Steve is uniquely qualified to lead Apto's engineering efforts and will uphold our commitment to providing unparalleled solutions to our customers," explains CEO Tanner McGraw. "We hired him for his proven ability to run a high-performing engineering team and to build products that help our clients be more successful. His international experience and perspective are certainly valuable both strategically and culturally." 

Neely has more than 15 years of experience in the technology sector. He most recently was part of Rally Software's research and development division at Rally Software. In his new position, Neely will advance commercial real estate technology innovation at the firm. 

The company also said it would hire at least nine more key people by March. "We're significantly scaling up our sales and engineering functions, so we're hiring sales reps and sales managers, as well as senior and junior developers," McGraw says.

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

Faction to expand its cloud with $11M funding round following year of big growth

Faction is growing its cloud rapidly. After growing 44 percent year-over-year, the cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider will continue to grow its operations in Denver, with a new $11 million round of funding. 

"The Faction team has earned our respect and enthusiasm by consistently delivering strong top-line growth coupled with substantial gross margins," says David Solomon, managing director of Meritage Funds. Meritage Funds and Sweetwater Capital are increasing their investments in the company. The new round of funding also included two new equity investors, Charterhouse Strategic Partners and Rifkin-Pottle Group, and debt financing from Ares Capital Corp.

"Faction's IaaS offerings clearly met and exceeded the needs of the company's target customers as evidenced by the addition of a record number of new customers, a record-setting number of Faction customers expanding their current service and customer retention rates well in excess of industry expectations," Solomon says. He states that the company shows a strong commitment to service as well as expanding its services.

In 2016, Faction was named a leading service provider on CRN's Data Center 100 list last year. The company partnered with Level 3 Communications, and BluePrint Information Management and Security Services. The company also released its Faction Internetwork eXchange (FIX) service allowing enterprises to connect private cloud and colocation resources into public clouds and introduced Faction Forums, a networking event series.

"The continued substantial support we're receiving from reputable and knowledgeable investors is a testament to the groundbreaking technology developments we're creating in the cloud arena, especially with our unique hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments," says Luke Norris, Faction founder. "This new funding round will go toward serving our rapidly growing customer base, bringing new products to the market, expanding our employee base and growing our global footprint." The company is likely to introduce new products and services in 2017, he adds. 

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

Colorado Technology Association wins Microsoft STEM grant for Denver students

More than 800 Denver students interested in STEM-based careers will get additional opportunities to learn through Denver Public Schools' CareerConnect program. That's thanks to a new grant awarded to the Colorado Technology Foundation, a nonprofit created by the Colorado Technology Association (CTA).

"The grant will specifically support outreach and engagement throughout the tech community, benefitting students who have opted into the TechConnect pathway of study within Denver Public Schools," explains CTA spokesperson Fred Bauters. "TechConnect courses include web design, UX/UI, coding, computer science, robotics, intro to computer design, 3D animation and video game programming." 

The amount of the annual, multi-year grant was not immediately disclosed but it is part of Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative and will help CTA continue to grow the program. The organization said that it has helped nearly 500 high school students through the program placing them with more than 60 Colorado tech. The grant from Microsoft will allow it to continue serving students prepare for the future in 2017 and beyond.

"This grant to the Colorado Technology Foundation . . . is one of the many ways we're working to create opportunities for students to connect to and pursue STEM careers," says Phil Sorgen, Microsoft corporate vice president of enterprise sales.

"The work-based learning opportunities available to students through DPS CareerConnect prepare and equip students to pursue training programs and university degrees beyond high school," Bauters says. "DPS educators and industry mentors assist students with exploring post-secondary options and considering various career opportunities."

 While the program does not directly place students into jobs, Bauters observes that "[s]tudents are occasionally hired by host companies directly out of high school -- circumventing the need (and additional expense) for additional training and/or higher education." 

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

SecureSet Academy closes $4M Series A financing round

SecureSet Academy, which offers cybersecurity training in a bootcamp-style setting, announced that it raised $4 million in a Series A round of funding led by the Colorado Impact Fund (CIF). The funding will allow the academy, currently encompassing campuses in Denver and Colorado Springs, to expand its offerings into new markets.

"Partnering with Colorado Impact Fund and raising this Series A round is a huge step for us," says Bret Fund, founder of SecureSet Academy. "We have validated our curriculum and instructional model, which more effectively creates job-ready cybersecurity professionals for an industry with a severe shortfall of talent. This new round of financing and partnership allow us to take our validated model and expand it to new geographic locations. We're excited and ready to grow." 

SecureSet offered its first classes last year. It's one of a growing number of companies and organizations in the state that are aimed at cybersecurity. In 2016, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a new National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs and the University of Denver launched a new, one-year cybersecurity masters program.

"There is a dramatic supply-demand gap in this industry. Organizations who need cybersecurity professionals have found that certifications aren't enough," says Ryan Kirkpatrick, a CIF partner. "Our diligence suggests that SecureSet Academy's high-intensity education, world-class curriculum and experienced team will position the company to scale quickly while providing benefit to students, government and industry."

The funds will allow SecureSet Academy to scale its educational offerings. It says there is a critical need for cybersecurity expertise across the country. Thus far, the academy says it has placed 100 percent of its students in a security job within two months. The average starting salary in the industry is $84,000.

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

Go Code Colorado's 2017 challenge launching Feb. 1

The Go Code Colorado challenge is about to kick off in 2017. The state will announce the goal of this year's challenge on Feb. 1 at an event at the Golden Triangle Galvanize

It's the fourth year for the challenge. The event that brings together entrepreneurs, business partners and developers to harness the wealth of public data to create apps aimed at solving problems. 

Secretary of State Wayne Williams will kick off the event which will include thought leaders from across Colorado who will talk about what's happening in the tech/innovation sector with their community. It will be the first of numerous events in Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins and Grand Junction that will culminate in choosing winners at an event on May 24.

"Two teams from each challenge site will move on to a mentor weekend in Boulder to further flush out ideas with tech leaders, lawyers and entrepreneurs from across the state," says Go Code Colorado spokesperson Brandy Whalen. "Ultimately, 3 teams will take home $25,000 for the best app concept." The funds will help the teams make the concept a reality. 

The event is proving popular. "Last year we had around 200 people divided amongst 35 teams," Whalen says. 

In 2016 the teams were asked to create an app and business concept that helps businesses build a competitive strategy. The winners were Foodcaster, Regulation Explorer and Hively. "All three winning teams from last year are actively working on business and app development," Whalen explains. Foodcaster integrates foot traffic and cellular service data, food truck parking regulations, Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook to help food truck owners find optimal locations and times. Regulation Explorer aims to streamline the permitting process for oil and gas exploration. Hively is using employment data to help businesses make better hiring decisions.

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

Cloud Elements raises $13M in Series B financing

Denver's Cloud Elements, an API integration platform provider, raised $13 million in a Series B funding round led by Harbert Growth Partners. With the latest round, the two-year-old company has raised $21.2 million. 

The company, named a "Denver Gazelle" in 2016, has enjoyed dynamic growth since launching, experiencing revenue growth of 40 percent on a quarter-over-quarter basis. The company said that makes it the fastest growing API management vendor in the industry.

"Over the past few years, the industry has witnessed exponential growth in public and private APIs," says Mark Geene, co-founder and CEO of Cloud Elements. "Businesses now rely on APIs as a critical component of daily operations, and the number of APIs needed per business will only continue to rise, leading to higher costs and delays for go-to-market strategies, customer programs and more."

Since launching in 2012, Geene's company has grown from offering a few API integration services to more than 120 pre-built API connectors to integrate multiple programs. "Our vision for the next generation of digital business is to unify the world of APIs in such a way that makes it easy for businesses to quickly and seamlessly integrate applications of any kind at a much lower cost -- something that has only been a daydream of developers until now," Geene says.

The integration platform that Cloud Elements has created allows developers to integrate cloud services, enterprise application and connected devices. "APIs are what enable businesses to really embrace digital transformation," explains Tom Roberts, a general partner at Harbert, who joined Cloud Elements' board. "Cloud Elements has been a pioneer in establishing this new space of enabling all APIs to work together, which is reinforced by their fast growth since they've launched their platform. We're excited to support their next-generation initiatives for the modern business and are to see where they lead."

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

CDOT's $500K RoadX challenge open through February

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched the RoadX Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge in 2016 to develop better systems to help those on foot and bicycles travel more safely. The RoadX challenge is open to proposals through Feb. 27. 

The challenge is made through a partnership with the Colorado Innovation Network's Imagine Colorado. The department said it is the nation's first statewide open innovation challenge platform to generate new ideas. In this case, the platform is taking on the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety. 

Department officials hold that technological solutions to pedestrian and cycling safety can save lives. Studies have found that pedestrian crashes represent 10 percent of all fatalities and 7 percent serious injuries in Colorado. Bicycle crashes represent another 2 percent of all fatalities and 4 percent of all serious injuries in Colorado. 

The department will award $50,000 to the best ideas to help put them into action and the rest of the funds will support bringing concepts into reality, according to advocacy organization Bicycle Colorado. It will divide the awards into two tracks, the "Idea-thon" and the "Do-athon."

Under the first track up to five winners will each receive $10,000 for submitting a groundbreaking technological idea to improve bicycling and pedestrian safety. Under the second track, innovators can submit a unique and implementable idea that they must deploy within eight months of being selected as a finalist on March 31, 2017.

CDOT will select up to five finalists to build a proof of concept and will support each with $75,000 to help them launch the pilot. Of those, the one that implements the best program in the time period will receive $150,000 to continue it. The runner-up will receive $50,000 and the third runner-up will receive $25,000 to further develop their safety deployments. 

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

Grad students help design a more walkable Montbello

WalkDenver, in its latest partnership with CU Denver graduate students, is tackling walkability issues in northeast Denver’s Montbello neighborhood. 

Bordered by major streets including 56th Avenue, Peoria Street, Chambers Road and I-70 the neighborhood struggles with ensuring its pedestrians, including the children who make up about 40 percent of residents in the area, have access to safe walking routes.

WalkDenver reports that more than 90 percent of students at McGlone Academy and Maxwell Elementary -- part of its 10 school Safe Routes to School Travel Plan project -- live within a mile of their respective campuses and don’t have school buses, meaning that children in the area walk, bike or are driven to school. In making the assessments, the CU Denver students performed on-site audits, researched demographic data interviewed local residents and used the WALKscope tool.

The CU Denver students and their assistant professor, Ken Schroeppel, presented their findings to community members. They found a number of ways to help make Montbello a safer place for pedestrians. They recommended upgrading sidewalks to current wider standards throughout the neighborhood and identified a lack of safe crossings on the wide roads throughout the neighborhood. Other factors that reduce walkability in the neighborhood include poorly maintained sidewalks, high speed limits and a dearth of shade trees. The students recommended improving sidewalks, crossings and bicycle lanes close to schools, parks, recreation centers and libraries.

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

 

Denver-area startups win $15K in national Calvert Foundation competition

It was a Denver-area sweep for the 2016 Calvert Foundation Small Business Competition, with three local businesses winning the top three prizes in the national competition.

Outdoor adventure and clothing store Feral Mountain Company, took the top prize, $10,000. Denver's Pearl Wine Company took second, winning $3,000 and Golden-based rock and ice-climbing service Golden Mountain Guides, took third, winning $2,000.

"We are very proud of all our borrowers who participated in this competition and heartily congratulate those who won," says Ceyl Prinster, CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF), which supported each of the winners. "Starting a business can be cash-intensive, so when our borrowers are able to access additional funding that can help them grow to the next level, we are all for it."

It was the first time the Calvert Foundation held the competition, which was open to small businesses that received financing from nonprofit lenders like CEF. The goals of the contest, sponsored by the Calvert Foundation, were to promote small businesses with ties to the local community, enhancing business operations and educating people on investing in the local community and businesses that create local jobs. The contest also was aimed at generating awareness of the Calvert Foundation's Community Investment Note, which supports investments in small businesses. 

"We had over 5,000 votes -- way more than we expected," says Senior Officer of Investor Relations at the Calvert Foundation Katherine St. Onge. "We are so thrilled that the participants were able to showcase the value of small businesses to so many people!"

The Maryland-based Calvert Foundation launched the Ours To Own (OTO) Denver campaign in 2014. That effort is designed to channel capital towards community development efforts in Denver.

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

Commons on Champa looks back on its first full year at new campus

The Commons on Champa, Denver's center for entrepreneurship and innovation, recently released its 2016 impact report. The center reports that since launching its campus on the eponymous Champa St. downtown in 2015, it's served more than 23,000 community members.

The center has served those entrepreneurs through 450 programs and events it's hosted with 145 partners. That includes hosting 19 Meetup groups per month. The center also plays an integral part in Denver Startup Week and has hosted 4,000 people at events during that entrepreneurship juggernaut.

The bulk of those programs, 275, were hosted in 2016, according to the Commons. The programs were presented by 120 partners and 85 percent of them were free to the public. Through Denver's Office of Economic Development, the Commons also offered 326 hours of one on one assistance in helping people launch startups. 

To further support growth in Denver's innovator space, the Commons launched the InCommons Mentorship Program in 2016. That program connects entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors with business leaders, innovators, and investors. It allows them to attend monthly mentor hours at the campus, join industry specific and subject matter forums and share online resources. It also gains them access to online, collaborative goal-setting tools. The offering already includes 240 members and 80 mentors and financial support from 20 partners.

As a capstone to its efforts in 2016, the Commons on Champa was awarded an Inclusion Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The campus will use the $400,000 grant in 2017 and 2018 to expand entrepreneurship focused on the inclusion of military veterans, women, people of color and new American citizens. It offers eight-week programs to help participants launch their businesses.

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

Denver Food Vision introduced for public comment

The first draft of the Denver Food Vision is open to public comment through the end of January. Officials aim to help the city further improve the food system, create jobs and improve access to healthy food.

Officials say Denver's food system includes tens of thousands of skilled food system employees, thousands of businesses and hundreds of nonprofits, school and community gardens. It also includes food pantries and emergency food access. Despite those factors, the city also states that nearly 20 percent of children experience food insecurity or hunger. The new plan aims to address all those issues.

"From farm to table, Denver's food system presents an incredible opportunity to strengthen the health of our communities, as well as promote business development and job creation," says Mayor Michael Hancock. "Through this community vision, we will have a solid framework in place to help guide public and private resources to build a stronger, more resilient Denver."

In developing the food vision plan, the city held 11 community listening sessions and 11 focus groups with food businesses that generated nearly 5,000 comments. The city also is seeking feedback and hosting two hearings on Jan. 12, one at Mile High United Way from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m and another at the Commons on Champa from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. People can also comment on the draft via an online survey. People can also email their questions and comments to DenverFoodPlan@denvergov.org.

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

Access Gallery launches 2017 with "Stick 'em up Chuck"

Access Gallery in the Art District on Santa Fe is aimed at helping those with disabilities experience art, including by making art. Its latest gallery show, "Stick 'em up Chuck," which opens Jan. 6 and runs through Feb. 3, is a prime example of accessible art by using stickers as the medium.

The works were inspired street artists and Gonkar Gyatso, a contemporary Tibetan artist, whose work uses both Buddhist iconography and pop images like colorful children's stickers.

"We wanted to see what we could really do with everyday objects that need little if any artistic talent," explains Access Gallery Director Damon McLeese. "We have a smiley face piece made of 10,000 smiley face stickers, a huge teddy bear, a fish and a car based on one of our ArtWorks artist drawings."

The exhibit is the culmination of the VSA Colorado and Access Gallery's fall residency programs in which the participants explored mediums that are highly accessible materials for those with significant physical and mental disabilities. They focused on materials that are inexpensive, easily transported and workable as well as sticky, tacky and tactile. Stickers, they found, met those needs.

"One of our volunteers hooked us up with a bevy of stickers and we decided to make an entire gallery show made of stickers," McLeese says. Longmont, Colorado-based StickerGiant provided the bulk of raw materials for the show.

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

Blinker app refinances car loans

Denver's Blinker has just launched an app aimed at disrupting the trillion-dollar auto-loan market.

"People want to finance their car just as easily as they can call an Uber," says Rod Buscher, founder and CEO of Blinker. "We offer car loans that are competitive, transparent and easy to complete from anywhere. Car-owners can finance a used car purchase or refinance an existing loan in minutes -- all on their mobile device. No banks, no dealerships." 

Users take pictures of a vehicle and its license plate, and its patented image-recognition technology allows the company to recognize the vehicle. After uses answer some questions they can refinance their vehicle to reduce the costs associated with their loan. There are no origination or loan fees.

The app offers a refinancing quote, payment and cash-back options. After a user selects an option they authorize Blinker to perform a credit check. After approved Blinker pays off the existing loan sets up the new payment plan -- and if a user chooses to refinance for cash, deposits it in the user's bank account. 

Without affecting credit scores, Blinker can give refinancing quotes for vehicles from 2010 or newer with less than 100,000 miles and at least $5,000 left on their auto loan. Currently, the app is limited to users in Colorado but Blinker plans to expand it beyond the state soon. 

Throughout the country users can use the app to take a picture and learn the make, model, year and estimated value and mileage of any vehicle on the road. It's like taking the license plate game to whole new level.

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

Colorado Enterprise Fund reaches new heights for 40th anniversary

The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) saw record growth in its 40th year. Among other things, its total portfolio balance increased to $16.2 million and its loans increased from $4.4 million in 2013 to $9.2 million in 2016. 

In terms of jobs, its loans helped the companies it supports retain and create 2,369 jobs in fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30. That's up from 1,747 or 36 percent in fiscal year 2013. 

"This was an amazing team effort," says Ceyl Prinster, CEF president and CEO. "Our ability to help more businesses start and grow so their communities can prosper was only possible through the tireless dedication of our staff and strategic support of our board of directors. We're thrilled to have made history as we celebrated our 40th year of helping small businesses in Colorado!"

Since launching in Denver in 1976, CEF has issued more than $56 million in loans supporting more than 1,900 small businesses and creating and retaining more than 16,000 jobs. Since then the fund has become a US Treasury Department certified Community Development Financial Institution.

Over the past few years, the organization saw increases across the board, allowing it to help fund even more small businesses and foster more job growth. It closed $9.2 million in loans in 2016, an increase of $2.1 million, 30 percent higher than in the previous year. It also closed a total of 217 loans which is 13 percent higher than in the previous year.

In the past three years, the amount of loans CEF managed grew from 365 to 550 loans. The organization also expanded who it granted loans to as well. CEF loans to minority-owned businesses increased 111 percent while loans to low-income entrepreneurs increased 72 percent. Loans to women-owned businesses grew by 36 percent and were nearly half of all the loans CEF closed over the past three years. 

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

Kauffman Foundation awards $400K grant to Commons on Champa

Denver's center for entrepreneurship, The Commons on Champa, won a $400,000 Inclusion Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The new grant will allow the Commons on Champa to launch the "Entrepreneurial Journey" accelerator program to expand its work with female and minority entrepreneurs and innovators. 

The new "Entrepreneurial Journey" program is free and will focus on educational resources for women, people of color, military veterans and new American citizens. It will be offered quarterly, includes a track-based curriculum and aims to serve hundreds of individuals from underserved communities each year.

"The Commons on Champa was founded to grow downtown Denver's culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and by reducing barriers to entry and supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. "We truly believe that economic growth and city-wide prosperity happens when entrepreneurs come together to create community, share ideas and empower themselves, and we thank the Kauffman Foundation for the support of The Commons on Champa."

The new award is one of 12 Inclusion Challenge grants awarded to nonprofit organizations. The Commons on Champa said that 376 applicants applied for the grant funds and support from the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Foundation presented the awards at its Mayor's Conference on Entrepreneurship in St. Petersburg, Fla. The awards ranged from $87,000 to $420,000 over the next two years.

"Collaborations like The Commons on Champa are creating empowering spaces for entrepreneurs from all walks of life to achieve their business goals, reducing existing barriers to starting up and driving a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "We welcome the opportunity to leverage this grant to better equip our women and minority entrepreneurs with the skills, network and resources necessary to turn their incredible ideas into successful businesses."

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

Denver Startup Week announces 2017 dates

Denver Startup Week recently announced that it will host the nation's largest free entrepreneurial event in 2017 from Sept. 25 through Sept. 29. In early 2017 the organizations behind the events will offer more details, including things like how to propose session ideas.

The event, which is returning for its sixth year in 2017, has quickly become massive. In 2016 1,334 people signed up to attend the events, which included 306 free programs held throughout downtown Denver aimed spurring and growing the local innovation and entrepreneurship community in the city and state.

"Denver Startup Week is a celebration of entrepreneurship, and the diversity of industries represented allows everyone to learn from outside of their respective 'box,'" says Anthony Franco, founder of Denver startup mcSquares. "There is something in the air here in Denver that is electrifying for founders, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

The organizing committee behind Denver Startup Week includes Galvanize COO Ben Deda, Downtown Denver Partnership CEO Tami Door and Executive Director of the University of Denver's Project X-ITE Erik Mitisek. They announced the new dates on Nov. 15, which the Obama Administration named National Entrepreneurship Day this year, in recognition of entrepreneurs across the country. 

"National Entrepreneurship Day was designated with a call to action to support budding entrepreneurs, and tap into the diverse skills and talents of the entrepreneurial community to create businesses of the 21st century. It seemed only fitting that we leverage this day to announce that Denver Startup Week will return for a sixth year as one of the best resources in the nation for those looking to start or grow a business," Deda says.

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

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.

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.


Pop-up beer garden coming to Skyline Park

Beginning Aug. 19, Skyline Park will host a pop-up beer garden showcasing Colorado craft beers. Adults will be able to enjoy a beer at a 40,000-square-foot area at Skyline Park and relax in the shade under a tent or in open-air seating. The beer garden is part of the city's effort to encourage activities in Denver's public spaces like the Meet in the Street events.

"The Downtown Denver Partnership is excited to bring forward a new and unique program to encourage residents, employees and visitors to gather in Downtown Denver in one of our most vibrant parks," says John Desmond, executive vice president of downtown environment for the Downtown Denver Partnership. "The Skyline Beer Garden builds on several initiatives to bring diverse and attractive programming to Skyline Park and support long-term strategies to create a premier outdoor downtown that contributes to an economically thriving center city."

The family-friendly beer garden will feature 12 beers on tap and serve food from the Lowry Beer Garden. Oktoberfest-style tables will seat more than 350, and the operation will create 15 to 20 jobs while open through Sept. 15. 

The menu will include gourmet brats, burgers, salads, pretzels and dipping sauces. The garden also will host music on Fridays and Saturdays and the garden will include ping pong, a nine-hole miniature golf course and cornhole. 

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

Follow Your Fruits & Veggies Journey, a monthlong celebration of local foods, kicks off


This August, the Colorado Department of Agriculture and its Colorado Proud program are celebrating local food and food manufacturers with the Follow Your Fruits & Veggies Journey. The celebration launched Aug. 1 on Colorado's 140th birthday as part of Gov. Hickenlooper's Colorado Proud month, with a pop-up picnic at the History Colorado Center.

More than ever, Colorado restaurants are sourcing locally grown produce, and manufacturers are using local ingredients ranging from honey to fruits to vegetables to grains. Supermarkets carry local cheeses, spreads, sodas, tinctures and other products.

"The event is a great way to recognize Colorado's past and celebrate the people that continue to make the state a great place to work and live," says Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "We are excited to host a pop-up picnic on Colorado Day as it allows us to educate consumers on the benefits of buying and eating local produce while celebrating the farmers, ranchers and food producers that contribute to the vitality of the state."

While Denver is often regarded as an IT mecca, it's worth remembering that the state's economy is largely an agricultural one. In fact, the agriculture department notes that it's one of the state's top three industries with more than 173,000 jobs and that it contributes $41 billion to the state's economy annually.

In all, the campaign is hosting 20 events -- with multiple events in Denver -- throughout the month. The events throughout the month will take place at stores, farmers markets and other venues, including events at Union Station, Fiddler's Green and Old South Pearl Street. Events will link the stages of locally grown produce and connect Coloradans to local farmers and educate consumers about local produce, like Palisade peaches, Rocky Ford melons and Olathe sweet corn.

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


Arts in Society grant program launching in Denver

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Hemera Foundation and RedLine Contemporary Art Center have launched a new Arts in Society grant program. Bonfils-Stanton and Hemera are supporting the grants, which will range between $10,000 and $50,000. RedLine is administering the program, which will support social practice projects.

"Social practice or socially engaged art is where the artist integrates communities and topics or issues that are informed or relevant to those communities within the artwork in a collaborative way," says Louise Martorano, RedLine executive director. As such it will support projects that work across multiple sectors. "An artist could collaborate with a nonprofit service provider that focused on healthcare or homelessness," Martorano says.

"There are many national examples of this type of work like with Theaster Gates and the Dorchester Projects in Chicago, Rick Lowe and Project Row Houses [in Houston], Creative Time [in New Orleans] and their production of Waiting for Godot," says Martorano. A local example comes from RedLine's resource artist Tracy Tomko asked artists to envision, in art, solutions for emotional and psychological challenges through her "Institute for Non-Bizarre Treatment" project. The gallery also will host another example of the type of projects the grants could support in Baltimore artist Graham Coreil-Allen's New Public Sites walking tours project on Aug. 10 and 11. The tours showcase overlooked public spaces.

The site for the new grant program will go live Aug. 10 and the portal for applications will be available Aug. 15. Artists must submit a letter of intent by Sept. 26 to be considered for a grant. RedLine will host information sessions about the new program on Sept. 1 and Sept. 11. To attend, email Martorano at louise.martorano@redlineart.org.

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


Colorado STEMworks helps investors find STEM programs

Colorado STEM has added six science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs ideal for investment to its STEMWorks database.Three of the programs in the database were newly added, the three others moved up in the program, joining a number of other programs in the database that the organizers deem investment worthy for business leaders, funders and advocates.

Colorado STEMworks lists more than 20 programs as potentially worthy of investment, up from seven programs in its first year. These include locally grown programs like Denver Public Schools CareerConnect, Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Urban Advantage Metro Denver and local versions of Smithsonian Science Education Center's Leadership Assistance for Science Education Reform.

Adams 12 Five Star SchoolsSTEMinspired, Open World Learning and ST Math were added to the Colorado STEMworks database. KidsTek and LAB-AIDS boosted their status in the database from "Promising to Accomplished."

"Defining quality in STEM education and supporting programs to meet a high bar of excellence for Colorado students ensures that companies have a way to make meaningful investments in education," said Angela Baber, STEM Director of the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). "We are delighted to be welcoming more programs into this growing coalition of STEM programs that we know deliver results for Colorado kids and Colorado companies." The STEMworks database is organized by CEI and the Colorado Technology Association using the national Change the Equation model of application and review to add programs.

The program has drawn investments from major local companies like Arrow Electronics. "Arrow's investment in STEMworks is an opportunity to help shape the next generation of employees," said Alex West, corporate social responsibility manager at Arrow. "Will they work for Arrow some day? Who knows, but I certainly hope so." 

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


"Debugging the Developer Shortage" offers informal IT job fair

With Denver and Boulder suffering from a shortage of IT workers, Girl Develop It (GDI), Turing, and The Dialog Lab are hosting "Debugging the Developer Shortage," a networking event and informal job fair, on Aug. 3 at RiNo's Green Spaces aimed at filling some of those empty positions.

"The event is open to any and all developers, but helping women find tech jobs is definitely close to our hearts," says Alena Bowen, a spokesperson with The Dialog Lab. "Organizations are actively seeking to build more diverse engineering teams, and orgs like GDI are helping women gain the skill sets they need to succeed in developer roles -- this event will connect the dots," she adds.

ReadyTalk is one of the event's sponsors. "We plan to have eight to 10 companies at the event," says Bowen. "Alteryx, GoSpotCheck, SendGrid and Rachio are currently confirmed attendees." In addition, more than 70 people have signed up to attend the event already and the organizers expect about 100 to attend.

"The event came out of a conversation between The Dialog Lab and Girl Develop It," Bowen says. "We work closely with tech companies who are struggling to keep up with the demand for great developers. GDI is incredibly successful at training developers, but doesn't provide direct support for finding jobs. We thought it would be fun and impactful to bring the two groups together. Turing was excited about the event when they heard about it, so joined in as well."

Companies attending the event will send their engineers and human resources people -- who won't be collecting resumes, just meeting and talking with potential hires.

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

Denver proposes dedicated fund for affordable housing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary Clinton visits Denver trading startup PanXchange

PanXchange announced that Hillary Clinton visited the startup shortly after it launched the first U.S. pilot of its web-based trading software. Clinton was on hand to discuss her innovation and technology agenda at the woman-led business.

"I know just a little bit about commodities -- and their trading, their buying, their selling -- both futures and the actual commodities themselves," Clinton remarked after touring the facility at Galvanize. "And what you are doing, Julie [Lerner], is just transformational. . . . This kind of effort is opening up markets, creating more transparency which will benefit so many of the people who are actually doing the hard work of producing food and trying to get it to market, and create a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities. So, I'm thrilled by that."

The visit came the day after PanXchange launched its pilot for feed grains in the U.S. The pilot launched with 15 industry partners and already has added more. The pilot will run through July and is expected to launch out of beta in September. In 2015 the company launched its platform in East African countries including Kenya Uganda and Tanzania allowing the trade of maize, millet, sorghum and dried beans.

"I was expecting a quick meet and greet, but was pleasantly surprised at how pointed her questions were. It was clear that she was familiar with the work we're doing," Lerner says of the visit. "She asked about the inroads we've been making in East African grain and beans markets and our launch in U.S. feed ingredients. We then showed her the live trading screens and discussed our plans for growth."

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


Mile High WorkShop expands, offers local makers space

Mile High WorkShop, an innovative job training program that helps disadvantaged people learn employable skills, is expanding. The workshop, which launched in 2014, is expanding into a 13,000-square-foot space where other businesses will have an opportunity to rent space.

"A larger space will allow us to grow our business and increase our ability to employ and train members of our community who are rebuilding from prison, addictions and homelessness," says Mile High WorkShop Director Andy Magel. "The additional square footage provides room to partner with innovative businesses in town while furthering our job-creation mission."

Magel says Mile High Workshop will share the new location with Bud's Warehouse. Local businesses and makers can rent the space on a sliding scale. If the business uses Mile High WorkShop's employees and their services, which include woodworking, laser engraving, packaging and assembly services, they can get lower rent.

The workshop already has more than 20 partners, including furniture making for Relevant ReUse and Old Wood Soul. It also manufactures pillows for V&R Naturals and makes camera accessories for Artisan Obscura, among others.

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

Denver Startup Week receives proposals for nearly 1,000 sessions

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

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

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

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

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

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


Asynchrony Labs growing in Denver

Earlier in 2016, IT services company World Wide Technology and its subsidiary Asynchrony Labs opened up an office in downtown Denver focused on regional sales, engineering and development. It's already looking to expand the office as it ramps up hiring.

"Asynchrony's Denver office is staffed with 25 employees and is looking to grow to over 60 software developers and Quality Assurance executives by the end of the year," says Dave Costello, a spokesperson for the company. He adds, "The company is looking for mid- and senior level developers (iOS, .NET, Java) and quality analysts for its Denver office."

The St. Louis-based IT company chose Denver for its strong concentration of technology resources and tech professionals. Ultimately the company plans to expand further in Denver. "It's projecting to grow its Denver office to over 200 people in the coming years to keep up with its hyper growth," Costello explains.

The company said that in addition to hiring up to 200 new software developers it also plans to hire 50 field sales representatives in the Denver market. The employees will help serve Worldwide Technology's enterprise customers in Denver, which include federal government agencies and Cisco Systems.

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


Colorado Technology Association starts tech internship accelerator

To encourage high schoolers to enter or consider careers in the booming tech industry, the Colorado Technology Association (CTA) partnered with Denver Public Schools and DPS CareerConnect and more than 20 civic and industry partners to launch the inaugural Civic Tech Internship Accelerator (CTIA). The new program for high schoolers was launched last week with 34 high school student interns.

Students from three DPS schools -- Abraham Lincoln, West and High Tech Early College (HITEC) -- are participating in the program. The curriculum will cover cybersecurity, cloud computing, GIS, UX and design sketching, creativity software and other technologies to show them what directions the industries are moving in and what opportunities are available while equipping them with the skills and knowledge for such careers.

The accelerator is not a full internship program, explains Program Coordinator Cyrus Martin. "It is an accelerator coinciding with DPS CareerLaunch, occurring every Friday during the six-week program." CareerLaunch is part of DPS CareerConnect program for students.

Fifteen companies are participating in the program. Among them are: Apple, Bit by Bit Analytics, Choozle, Coastal Cloud, Couragion, DaVita, Handy Networks, Ibotta, KidsTek, Minerva, OhHeckYeah, Secure Set, Turing, Universal Mind and Zayo Group.

Martin says that the junior and senior student interns work with their host organizations most of the week fulfilling 20 of their required 25 CareerLaunch hours. "We are fulfilling the other five each Friday by delivering 15 one- to two-hour industry-led tech trainings."

Currently, the internships are singular opportunities for the students and aren’t tied in with other local training programs or colleges directly, according to Martin. However, "Some of the civic hosting partners have expressed to the students that there are other opportunities to stay involved and some have informed students of additional, longer-term internship opportunities within their companies/organizations," he says.

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


QuickZip's sheets win $250,000 at Capital Championship

Denver-based QuickZip has reimagined one of most used pieces of people's homes -- sheets. The line of products make it easier, quicker and cleaner to change sheets on beds ranging from cribs to California Kings.The company won the 2016 Capital Championship and $250,000 to help the company expand.

QuickZip's sheets cover the bottom of the bed, and the top is zipped into place. The flat top layer of the sheet s changed and washed and the bottom remains in place. Clothes don't get stuck in the sheet in the dryer and the clean sheet can be folded flat for easy storage. When the sheets are changed, people don't have to lift or move the mattress.

"This is a well-deserved win for QuickZip as they faced incredible competition from numerous startup companies across the country," said David Brey, executive director of Capital Championship. The championship, funded by Blue Ocean Enterprises and sponsored by OtterBox, Hewlett Packard, FirstBank, EKS&H and Hogan Lovells, had 10 finalists this year. It is aimed at the startup community to help entrepreneurs gain exposure, networking mentoring and cash.

"We saw tremendous presentations throughout the tournament and are thrilled for QuickZip. We appreciate the work they put into their company and hope this new cash infusion and mentorship helps move them to the next level, continuing the company's trajectory to success," Brey explained.

QuickZip will use the prize to help further its growth. "We will use the money for sales and marketing and product development so that we can bring smarter bedding solutions to more people and in new market segments," says QuickZip founder Elizabeth Sopher. "We will squeeze every drop out of the mentorship offered by OtterBox and Blue Ocean Enterprises to maximize the impact of the funds. In the short term we will gain capacity through our partners and contractors and would likely hire in the longer term," she adds.  

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


Decibel Blue launches Decibel Green, a cannabis-focused marketing agency

Decibel Blue, a decade-old national digital marketing and public relations firm with offices in Denver and Phoenix, has launched a new sister agency, Decibel Green. The new agency will focus on cannabis and sustainability.

"Decibel Blue has been servicing cannabis clients for three years. It's the right time to give them more focus," says Decibel Blue Founder David Eichler. He explains that creating the sister agency will better position both companies to best serve their customers.

"My passion for cannabis is not only rooted in 30 years of enjoying it," Eichler says. "I have a chronically painful neck and my wife had cancer, thankfully a long time ago. I know first hand how powerful a medicine it can be. I am fortunate to have partners and a team who delivers incredible value to Decibel Blue's real estate, retail, healthcare and restaurant clients in both Denver and Phoenix. This deep bench allows me to focus on helping Decibel Green's clients achieve their goals."

The company has created local and national campaigns for the cannabis industry, already. In Washington, D.C., it's working with clients including the Marijuana Policy Project and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Locally, it has represented Puff, Pass & Paint and Your Green Contractor.

According to Eichler the company can advertise nationally, even though cannabis isn't legal across all the states. "Many dispensaries and content providers like Leafly do screen users by age when visiting their website. It's essential the industry is diligent and vigilant in making sure that cannabis is only being marketing legally, to adults," he says.

Decibel Green isn't the only cannabis-focused marketing agency in the U.S., according to Eichler. "There's plenty of business for everybody. What's important is that we foster a sense of community across every facet of this industry, including creative agencies."

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


EatDenver, MSU Denver launch leadership incubator

EatDenver and Metropolitan State University of Denver have announced the Hospitality Leadership Incubator, a new boot camp to help restaurateurs boost their knowledge and skills in hospitality. The new program brings together educators and local hospitality leaders from companies like Chipotle and Restaurant Solutions.

"Because of the sheer volume of new restaurants, there's a greater need for a skilled workers who, ideally, will learn and grow alongside a restaurant or bar," explains Adam Schlegel, executive director of EatDenver, a local non­profit consisting of locally owned restaurants. "This program helps to address this need and will surely be a huge benefit to the city's restaurateurs."

 "We are testing the waters with this first session but due to the interest and registrations already, we anticipate continuing to offer and grow the Hospitality Leadership Incubator," Schlegel says. Indeed, in under a month the first boot camp is full. "Ideally, the Hospitality Leadership Incubator will be offered on an ongoing basis -- with even more courses added to the curriculum."

The first boot camp will include five courses starting July 12. Schlegel says the courses are aimed at preparing staff to advance within the hospitality industry. Each of the five sessions will last for two hours and will include hands-­on experience and coursework.

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


Denver Startup Week seeks proposals for 2016 event

Calling all entrepreneurs! The nation's largest free entrepreneurial event, Denver Startup Week, is seeking your proposals for its fifth annual event. The event, which takes over the heart of Denver's innovation and business incubation centers like The Commons on Champa and Galvanize, is being held Sept. 12-16, 2016.

Now is your chance to influence what will be discussed at this year's event by submitting a session proposal, but hurry up: Organizers are accepting submissions through June 15.

The event, which began in 2012 has quickly ballooned. Last year 10,875 people registered to attend 235 sessions, explains event coordinator Brea Olson of the Downtown Denver Partnership. "We are expecting to exceed that number this year," she adds.

"We continue to look for quality and diverse sessions across all of our tracks: Founder, Growth, Designer, Developer, Maker, and Product," Olson says. "We’re also looking for sessions that appeal to a range of industries and at various stages of business."

Denver Startup Week has received more than 200 proposals for sessions for the 2016 event. "Last year, we had more than 520 total submissions and we are looking to meet or exceed that number again this year," Olson asserts.

"We will open up voting to finalize the program in the coming weeks," Olson says, explaining the next steps. People can register to attend the free events starting in August.

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


Innovators take on improving schools with Startup Weekend Education

Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) is aimed at improving education and schools by harnessing the power of innovation to create new tools, learning models and schools of thought. University of Denver hosted SWEDU from June 10 to June 12.

The Happy team won first place at the event and three tickets to SXSWEDU in 2017. The team is focussed on creating a way to help students communicate their emotional state. It also will allow teachers and administrators to track student emotions and understand how they tie into incidents and the school's culture. The team also tied for the people's choice award with Youprentice, to match underserved students with paid apprenticeships. Teachify took second place overall and Syllabusy took third. Teachify is tackling boring online education and Syllabus is working to help freshmen manage their time better. 

"The focus of the weekend is about tackling challenges in education -- it is also about breaking down the walls of communication that sometimes exist between these groups, connecting them with one another, and letting them experience the process of entrepreneurship together," explains Katy Kappler, co-founder and president of Crafted Education, one of the event's organizers.

"SWEDU embraces education in the broadest sense, including ideas focused on early childhood, K-12, higher ed and continuing education, professional learning, et cetera," Kappler says. "It is focused on bringing together individuals from across the education spectrum -- including students, educators, administrators, developers, designers and entrepreneurs who have a passion for improving the education space."

"We welcome solutions to any educational challenge. We have intentionally left this open, so the diversity of participants is wide," says Lauren Almon Dietz, school happiness ambassador for Schoolrunner, another organizer. "Any idea with the intention to promote education and learning is fitting."

The project is intentionally open to solution types, Dietz explains. Teams created apps, programs, toys, robotics or other things to address issues in learning. In such an event, "Teams will form around an idea and participants will be grouped based on team needs," she says. "For example, if an educator pitches an idea for an app and we have a developer without a team, they will be grouped together. We also have mentors with diverse backgrounds coming who can provide general feedback on the idea and business direction."

The three best solutions that come out of the weekend received free or discounted access to 4.0 Schools Essentials Denver, according to Kappler. "All three teams are guaranteed an interview with the AT&T Aspire Accelerator." Other awards included a people's choice award and a Pearson Learning mentorship package award for the Best Solution for Higher Education Learning Design.

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


Junior Achievement hosting mocktail hour

To prepare young people for careers Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain (JA) is hosting a mocktail event at The Curtis Hotel on June 8. The event will give more than 200 students from across Colorado a chance to participate in an event like a networking event to practice networking skills.

"JA provides programs for students which focus on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness. The goal is to teach concepts through experiential learning, allowing young people to put their new knowledge and skills into practice," explains Kim McGrigg, JA spokesperson.

"JA Business Week is one of our most in-depth and impactful programs; however we do offer many other K-12 programs," McGrigg says. "With the help of 6,000 volunteer role models, JA reached 136,000 local students this school year. Of those students, 44 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch."

The mocktail event is part of JA Business Week. The organization's aim is to prepare today's students for professional careers.

"Students who are returning to JA Business Week for the second or third time participate in the mocktail event," explains McGrigg. "There, they will learn the fine art of 'working a room' as they network with 25 volunteers from the business community."

During the week, which runs June 5-10, McGrigg explains that students will go to volunteer-led workshops. "For example, they attend a personal branding session as well as a networking/relationship-building workshop," she says, to help prepare them for the event.

Students attending JA Business Week for the first time will attend an etiquette dinner at The Curtis. "During the three-course meal, they learn about dining etiquette from a speaker with JDW Cotillion," McGrigg says.

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


Posner Poverty Hack comes back for second year

Launched in 2015, the Posner Poverty Hack, a 2.5 day-hackathon aimed at fighting global poverty issues, brings teams together to address issues of poverty. This year's event will focus on creating solutions for three of the Posner Center's organizations: the Africa Agenda, Starfish and The Women's Bakery.

"The challenges are informed by the expressed needs of these communities and we're actively working alongside these communities to support the development of meaningful solutions," explains Posner Center Director Meg Sagaria-Barritt. "We're looking for people with skills in tech, education, database development, entrepreneurship and much more," she says.

The Africa Agenda is challenged with a new digital strategy and news service to change the way people understand, talk about, and interact with Africa. The organization wants to engage African communities and the inform the public with African news and information. Starfish is focused on empowering young women in Guatemala to lead transformational change. It wants to develop a platform to monitor and evaluate their holistic educational and empowerment program. The Women's Bakery (TWB) operates in East Africa where it provides opportunities for women based on a nutritious bakery business model, training, and long-term development opportunities. It wants to develop a mobile application to support local bread sales, enhance safety for sellers and increase accountability and professionalism.

The hackathon will be held at Denver's Posner Center July 10-12. The event will culminate in a happy hour on July 12 when winners of the hackathon will be named.

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

"The Marijuana Show" returns to Denver, $20M in startup investments at stake

The Marijuana Show is readying for its third season, holding Denver auditions between May 23 and May 25 to help the next great "Ganjapreneurs" bring their ideas into reality. This year up to $20 million in investment capital is at stake, and Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Recordings, will serve as a guest mentor on the show. 

"After the unparalleled success of The Marijuana Show during seasons one and two, we are scouring the country to find ground-breaking and original business ideas to introduce to the cannabis industry," explains producer Wendy Robbins. "With this season capping out at $20 million in investment capital, the level of competition this time will far surpass previous seasons and set a new bar for our contestants."

The show is the first to serve as a "Shark Tank for Ganjaprenuers," creators say. In the first two seasons, it’s already helped raise $18 million in investments for innovators in the cannabis industry. The series is holding auditions in 50 markets in the U.S. Judges will choose up to 15 entrepreneurs and four accredited inventors and mentors to participate in a three-day Bud Camp that will culminate in pitches to a panel of accredited investors. 

Previously the show has resulted in creating the first cannabis-powered car, a major Hollywood "stoner comedy," a cannabis advertising agency and a line of CBD-infused dog bones to the market.

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

PlainSmart offers DNA testing to aid in weight loss

In the never-ending quest to help people manage and lose weight, there is a slew of options. Now Denver's PlainSmart is offering a new tool, DNA testing.

The company is using DNA testing to help understand how genetic markers can impact metabolisms. "DNA testing identifies a body's strengths and weaknesses in processing nutrients, as well as personal requirements for physical activity. When we look at a client's genetic profile, we can interpret the markers and understand how their body is able (or not able) to metabolize foods," said Kassandra Gyimesi, RDN, PlainSmart's clinic director. "The report guides a lifetime nutrition plan that is medically sound, realistic and created solely for each individual's needs and lifestyle. With these diagnostic tools, we can pinpoint a client's metabolic rate, body composition and how his or her body responds to macronutrients -- focusing on unique needs for optimal weight-loss success."

The company claims that genetic testing, accomplished through a cheek swab, can show a genetic profile that reveals how a person processes proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and how to properly proportion them within a nutrition plan; ideal intensity and duration of physical activity for weight, energy and overall health; and a person's tendency to develop and maintain healthy eating habits.

The testing can help develop a nutritional and exercise program for PlainSmart's clients and is just one of its tools. It also uses a body composition analysis (BCA), meetings with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and provides a customized plan for its customers that starts at $295.

"Weight loss is a personal journey.  And, nothing is as personal as DNA, so we recognized it was time to bring them together for the best possible weight-management outcome," said Jonathan Harding, president of PlainSmart.

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


Denver launches civic innovation accelerator

Colorado's municipal governments -- as many across the country -- remain cash-strapped, there's a need to make more out of less, harnessing the power of entrepreneurs and innovators to find low-cost solutions to civic issues and needs. That's where the Governmental Entrepreneurship Leadership Accelerator enters the picture.

The accelerator, a partnership of the City and County of Denver, Silicon Flatirons, University of Colorado Law School Dean Phil Weiser and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, gave five law students a chance to work with nine Denver employees to address civic issues over a 12-week fellowship. The fellowship will conclude July 21 with a pitch fest attended by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock at Galvanize.

"To our knowledge, no other city or government has collaborated with a university for an accelerator program like this one before," says Courtney Law, communications director with the city's Department of Finance.

The pilot program will build on Blackstone's other work to support startups through its Blackstone LaunchPad and Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. Its charitable arm, through the foundation has committed more than $40 million to such efforts since 2010.

Participants will work to address homeless transportation solutions, developing a retail regulatory framework, providing Internet access for low income individuals and increasing access to composting services. They'll be joined by mentors and guest speakers locally and from across the country to learn about and test entrepreneurial solutions to civic problems.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is supporting the pilot with a $75,000 grant. Silicon Flatirons will use the grant to run the pilot program.

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


Linux Foundation's MesosCon coming to Denver

Apache Mesos is the data center management system that's running everything from Siri to eBay, to CERN and a host of other technologies.The Linux Foundation will host MesosCon, a conference about Apache Mesos, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center on June 1-2.

The conference is focussed on users and developers and is hosted to share and learn about the project, which was originally developed at the University of California Berkeley. Sessions over the two-day conference will focus on the Mesos core, the ecosystem that's developed around the project and related technologies.

This year's keynote speakers include Dr. Ken Birman, professor of computer science at Cornell University, and Matei Zaharia, CTO of Databricks, creator of Apache Spark and assistant professor of computer science at MIT. In all the conference will have more than 50 sessions and will feature talks from representatives from Netflix, Uber and Twitter.

Birman's keynote will focus on why the Internet of Things has been hard to integrate with cloud computing. "I'll start by describing work Cornell has done over the past few years on creating a cloud platform to host 'smart power grid' applications," Birman says. In this pursuit the school has developed new rack-scale management solutions for round the clock applications, real-time storage solutions and replication of information with ultra-fast updates -- all of which is open-source.

The conference will include an evening reception, sponsor technical showcase and a hackathon sponsored by Cisco. The prize and focus of the hackathon have yet to be named. The Linux Foundation is enabling mass innovation through open source software. The full schedule of sessions can be viewed here.

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


Prime Health Innovation Summit returns to Denver

The Prime Health Innovation Summit brings together thought leaders from around the country to address innovations in health and healthcare from apps to new digital technologies. To be held at the Colorado Convention Center May 16-17, the 2016 summit will feature more than 40 national leaders in healthcare innovation. Organizers anticipate that more than 1,000 will attend the conference; the 2014 event drew roughly 200 attendees. 

"Achieving interoperability, providing quality care with good outcomes, ensuring patient and provider satisfaction, and managing chronic diseases are all top concerns for the healthcare system, which is why we've created a series of collaborative discussions that will address each of these concerns at the summit," according to a statement from the Prime Health Collaborative. The event will provide a forum for participants from digital health ecosystems across the country to share ideas and discuss best practices.

Healthcare leaders like Joe Sowell, the vice president of corporate development and innovation strategy at HCA, and Gary Loveman, the executive vice president at Anthem and the president of Healthagen, will be in attendance. One session will feature a discussion on the innovations that the healthcare system needs with Ashley Simmons, director of innovation at the Florida Hospital System and Joe Sammen of the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved, and others. Another on building digital healthcare models includes Adam Brickman of Omada Health and Matt Sopich of myStrength.

The collaborative also will showcase the results of its efforts. "We'll be offering a public demonstration of Prime Health Qualify, a first-of-its-kind tool that will allow digital health companies to gain traction in the healthcare system by helping them demonstrate clinical efficacy. Prime Health Collaborate, an online collaborative platform built in partnership with Salesforce, will also be demoed at the summit to encourage members of other regional ecosystems to join our community of digital health innovators," the organization's statement explains.

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


Innovate for Good 2016 challenges Denver to empower youth with up to $250K

Rose Community Foundation has announced its Innovate for Good 2016 challenge. This year, the organization is calling for people to answer the following question: What idea could you bring to life to empower youth to make the community better?

"We believe Denver's youth can do great things," says Lisa Robinson, Rose Community Foundation trustee and chair of the Innovate for Good Committee. "And, through the Innovate for Good project, we are thrilled to give them a voice and the resources to help make our community even better."

The challenge not only asks what can empower youth in the city, it asks youth between 13 and 18 to propose ideas. Adults, working as equal partners with youth, can submit their ideas through through the foundation's website. Submissions must be in by May 31 and the submission process requires applicants to answer a series of questions and submit a video, up to a minute long, about their team's idea. Finalists will be announced in August and awardees will be selected in September.

"More than ever, as the greater Denver community continues to grow, empowering youth to inspire change can have great benefits for the next generation," Robinson says. "They have the energy, talent and potential to share innovative ideas, and we felt it was time to tap directly into their experiences and perspective." 

In all, the foundation will award up $250,000 in grants to implement winning ideas. The foundation says it is looking for innovative Denver-based projects that can make an impact within a year.

The foundation launched the Innovation for Good Challenge in 2015. It had more than 400 applicants and awarded grants to 10 proposals.

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


Trustpilot to open new office, add 40 jobs in Denver

Trustpilot, an online ratings and review company based in Denmark, opened an office in Denver on May 1. The company will hire at least 40 people to handle its customer growth in western U.S.

Trustpilot offers a TrustScore of businesses based on recent reviews of a company’s services or offerings. The company says it has more than 19 million consumer reviews from and that its online community is growing by 10,000 users a day. They have produced 120,000 businesses and is live in 27 companies.

"Since establishing a U.S. presence less than three years ago, Trustpilot has enjoyed a tremendous growth trajectory here, stemming from the increasing expectation for trust and transparency between businesses and their customers," explains Fred Mather, Trustpilot's general manager, Americas.

The company says it chose Denver over other cities "because of its growing technology industry, its reputation as a hub of innovation and strong local talent pool." Trustpilot plans on hiring everything from account executive to sales managers for the new Denver office. The new positions will expand the company’s workforce by roughly 20 percent.

The office will be based in the new WeWork space in LoDo and will be one of the first tenants in the space. The company says it plans to search for its own office space and to sign a permanent lease later this year.

Trustpilot says its hires in Denver will receive the same benefits it offers at all of its employees around the world. Among them: sit-stand desks, catered weekly lunches and breakfasts, extracurricular activities, paid family leave and generous paid time off.

The company lists open positions on its website.

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


Colorado Enterprise Fund celebrates Small Business Week

May kicks off with both the national and Colorado versions of Small Business Week, a celebration of craftspeople, entrepreneurs and innovators. From April 30 to May 7, the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is supporting the efforts of entrepreneurs with multiple events.

The nonprofit, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary of supporting small businesses in the state, is hosting a Startup Financing for the First-Time Entrepreneur workshop at the Commons on Champa on May 3 starting at 1:30 p.m. The workshop will highlight how three local businesses, Knotty Tie Co., Tom and Chee and Let Em Have It Hair Salon, have benefited from CEF loans. Registration is encouraged as there are only 200 seats available.

In addition, CEF is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) on additional National Small Business Week events. Among them are the Denver Business Resource Fair on May 2 and the Lenders Panel Discussion on May 5.

The CEF events are just a smattering of what's going on in and around Denver for Small Business Week. For the full calendar, visit www.coloradosmallbizweek.com.

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


University of Denver launches one-year cybersecurity master's program

Some estimates show that there are roughly 12,000 cybersecurity job openings in Colorado. The University of Denver is stepping in with a new accelerated MS program in cybersecurity at a 50 percent discount aimed at helping fill some of these positions.

"The average salary for a cybersecurity engineer is roughly $170,000 and very few master's programs in cybersecurity currently exist, this unique degree offering is an attractive option for those wishing to switch careers and improve their earning potential," according to a statement from the University of Denver.

The master's program is being offered through the University of Denver's Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science and classes will begin in the fall. While a computer science background isn't required for the program it says that strong analytical and quantitative skills are required for the program. The university also is offering bridge courses in computer science to help those without a background in computer science.

Still it's difficult to tell just how many positions are really available in the field in Colorado. Erik Mitisek, executive director of the university's nascent Project X-ITE, recently told The Denver Post that Colorado Springs may have the highest concentration of cybersecurity experts in the country. He added that it's hard to know because many employees in the field may have special clearances or can't talk about the programs they're working on.

Project X-ITE launched last fall as a collaborative initiative between DU's Engineering/Computer Science, Law and Business Schools to promote entrepreneurship at the university and across Colorado. Project X-ITE hosted its first event, the Cybersecurity Summit at the Cable Center on April 19. "We anticipate hosting additional cybersecurity-focused events through Project X-ITE that students from the cybersecurity master's program will be able to organize, lead and/or attend," JB Holston, Dean of the Ritchie School.

Holston says they anticipate having up to 20 students per cohort beginning the fall. "This will be an ongoing offering," he adds.

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


NSR, Kickfurther partner to boost data-driven investments

Denver-based NSR Invest is partnering with Kickfurther to boost the latter company's financing marketplace. Under the partnership, NSR's data-driven analysis tools will help Kickfurther's clients choose offers.

"This partnership has the potential to add tens of millions of dollars into our crowdfunding ecosystem," says Kickfurther CEO Sean De Clercq. "We admire the team at NSR Invest and their leadership as pioneers in FinTech. We're incredibly excited to work together to find more ways for all our customers to grow their money."

NSR connects investors and borrowers with plug and play investment opportunities. It provides services for individuals, wealth managers, family offices and institutions. Kickfurther will add another opportunity for investment on the NSR platform.

"Kickfurther provides our clients with a differentiated opportunity to access investment opportunities that provide enhanced yield," says NSR CEO Bo Brustkern. "Kickfurther is a fast-growing platform in the inventory financing space providing attractive short term yield opportunities on a fractionalized basis for both retail and accredited investors. This is an excellent fit for our 5,000-strong user base and aligns beautifully with our mandate."

Kickfurther helps young companies and startups finance inventory orders on a short-term basis. Company officials say its offers represent an average of 30.04 percent annualized growth.

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


Everyday Colorado wants your opinion on health and the environment

The Colorado School of Public Health is seeking comments from Coloradans about the environment, public health and community development. To do so, the school and its graduate students have partnered with the Tri-County Health Department and public health professionals across the state to launch Everyday Colorado, a new website to gauge public opinion on the issues. Organizers are using #EverydayCO to promote the site and survey tool.

"The Everyday Colorado interactive online tool asks participants to identifying values, rank concerns and offers the opportunity to learn more about emerging issues that may affect the health and well-being of Colorado communities," explains CSU Professor Jennifer Peel, co-director of the project.

The project aims to investigate current and emerging environmental health issues across Colorado, organizers say. As such they're encouraging people to take the survey and share the site with others across the state.

"The success of this project relies on people sharing their stories with us to inform how we do business. We want to know about the everyday concerns and priorities of people in the diverse communities of Colorado, from Denver to Silverton to Sterling and everywhere in between," adds Tom Butts, deputy director of the Tri-County Health Department and project co-director.

Professor Jill Litt, who teaches this class at Colorado School of Public Health and is a co-director on the project, says, "The student involvement, through community engagement and developing content about environmental policies and action steps, is a critical component of this community-based learning project."

Organizers will collect information in the coming weeks. They plan to publish a comprehensive report based on the results later in 2016, "highlighting local and professional perspectives about Coloradans' values and necessary action steps to prepare the state for emerging challenges."

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


MOO opens office in Denver for digital printing

MOO, a digital printing services provider, has opened its third office in Denver. It's one of the companies where people can get business cards, flyers, stickers and more. The company will hire a small team to help the company serve its clients and customers in central and western U.S.

MOO is initially opening an office at the Golden Triangle Galvanize. Company officials see it as a good location in the coworking community and tech and startup scene.

"As we continued to grow in the U.S. and beyond, it was important for us to be there for our customers in the central and western U.S.," says MOO COO John Kennedy. "We already print and ship from our Rhode Island facility but, to be able to serve our growing customer base as efficiently as possible, we've taken our first steps to having a full presence further West."

MOO's other offices are in Boston and Providence, but the move is intended to focus sales teams within their respective time zones and add efficiencies to customer service.

The company could have opened in other locations, but ultimately saw Denver as the best fit. Kennedy says, "We were hugely impressed with the culture and spirit of entrepreneurialism in Denver and felt that we could find a great team to help support our growth."

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


The Greenway Foundation to test MSU Denver students' trash removal machines in Cherry Creek

On April 30, five unique devices will be placed in Cherry Creek at Confluence Park as part of the Clean River Design Challenge. The devices were designed by Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) students for trash removal and will be tested as part of the Greenway Foundation's annual spring cleanup event.

Students developed and designed the devices over the past eight months. Originally 10 teams demonstrated their machines to a panel of judges from The Greenway Foundation, The Water Connection, the City and County of Denver, MSU Denver's One World One Water (OWOW) Center, the Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant and Rose Community Foundation.

Then judges selected the final devices for the Clean River Design Challenge. They're intended to raise awareness of and strive towards the development of solutions to trash pollution in the South Platte River and its tributaries. Five teams were awarded $1,000 to create a working model of their design to be tested on the Cherry Creek. Their machines will be used in conjunction with the CH2M Spring RiverSweep presented by The Nature Conservancy, MillerCoors and Noble Energy as part of Comcast Cares Day. 

Placing the machines in the creek will allow their effectiveness to be observed, according to the foundation. "This competition will both raise awareness of, and strive towards the development of solutions to this source of pollution in the South Platte River and its tributaries," officials explained in a statement.

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

Denver seeks public comment on four-year workforce plans

City officials is seeking comments on its workforce development services and program plans for the next four years. The plan is a draft for the city's state and federally funded workforce development services and programs and will help guide Denver as it strives to maintain a vibrant community with plenty of job and career opportunities.

The Denver Office of Economic Development said the report is designed to implement a "one-stop model that integrates WIOA [Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act] and [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] TANF programs into a seamless service delivery system." It will help the city plan how it will prepare the workforce of today and tomorrow. That includes developing places like The Commons on Champa to help encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

The plan will help the city and its citizenry identify career pathways and develop learning experiences that are business-driven, including transitional jobs, professional internships and on-the-job training, with a focus on developing apprenticeship programs in areas including IT and advanced manufacturing. It also will assist the city in developing a preferred training provider list that will offer clear and transparent information to prospective students about career pathways and preferred education and training programs for potential careers.

People, businesses and organizations may comment on the Denver WIOA 2016-2020 Area Plan through April 30. Public comments may be provided to Cindy Gaertner at cindy.gaertner@denvergov.org.

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


New app designed to help people deal with OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition affecting millions of people in the U.S. Sufferers have uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and behaviors. It can interfere with school, work and home life. Best friends Stephen Michael Smith and Daniel Greenfeld developed a new app called nOCD to help those with OCD.

Smith is a quarterback at Pomona University who suffers from OCD and was barely able to leave the house. Since 2014 he's worked with Greenfield and they've developed an app to help with some of the most chronic impacts of OCD. "My worst episodes never occurred when my doctor was with me, so when I needed help the most I was always on my own," Smith says.

The app is Greenfeld's first venture since graduating from Trinity University in 2014. He moved to Denver thereafter and began working on launching the app. He and Smith quickly raised $80,000 in funding to launch the app and recruited board members, including health entrepreneur Glenn Tullman, founder of AllScripts and CEO of Livingo Health.

The app launched in February 2016 and already Smith and Greenfeld are improving on it and its associated services. It offers guidance when needed and homework, allowing users to work on their compulsive behavior on their own time. It also records real-time biometric data, tracks types of episodes, offers guided cognitive behavioral exercises and keeps users accountable to staying on track with their treatment.

"We've gotten a wonderful response," Greenfeld says. He explains that the tool is designed not just for those with OCD but also for those who deliver treatment. "One of the ways we tried to create the tool is to make it useful for therapists." As such, the founders are launching a therapist portal that will allow therapists to securely access their patient information, whether they're dealing with just one or 30 or more patients with OCD.

"The future of healthcare is all about empowering consumers to take better care of themselves, and apps like nOCD are a perfect fit for enabling people when they feel an OCD episode coming on. They actually take charge and take control to better manage their own health," Tullman contends.

The app currently costs 99 cents in the Apple Store and offers two free months of use. After that users can pay $14.99 a month or $99 a year for its services. It's currently available for iOS devices, but the development team already is working on a port for Android devices.

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


Turing School launches intensive front-end engineering program

Denver's Turing School of Software & Design is launching its second intensive training program in front-end engineering. The intensive month-long class is designed to prepare students for careers in website design -- from learning the basics of HTML and CSS to client-side development and web-based applications for both desktop and mobile devices.

"While we pride ourselves on opening the technology industry to a diverse array of backgrounds and talents, we evaluate all applicants for aptitude, growth mindset, engagement, agency, empathy and grit," school officials explain in a statement. "Across our programs we've evaluated over a thousand candidates, selecting fewer than 35 percent."

Modules typically include somewhere between 30 and 40 students, says spokesperson Eric Wetmore. This year's programs are scheduled to begin May 9, June 27, August 15, October 3 and November 28.

"Turing School is harder than any other development school. It promises and consistently delivers mid-level developers who know how to code, communicate about code, understand how to share responsibilities as a team, and respect different cultural backgrounds in the workplace," contends Instructor Romeeka Gayhart.

The school says that 96 percent of its graduates are full-time software developers within 4 month of graduation and that its graduates start at an average salary of $75,0000.

It's the second program offering for the nonprofit school, which is helmed by Galvanize Co-Founder Jeff Casimir. The first was its web application development program. Both programs are split into a series of modules or cohorts to allow enrollees to immerse themselves in the training. 

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


Commons on Champa will host Get Hired! job fair

The event is aimed at hiring for the startup community and is being sponsored by BWBacon and  The Commons on Champa, which is hosting it. The events will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 14 and will be followed by a party at Battery621.

Get Hired! is open to the public, kicking off with a coding school session for alumni and current students of Colorado's technical training schools. The coding session begins at 4 p.m. and will feature a resume workshop, a panel and question and answer session with three accomplished local hiring managers and early access to the job fair.

The event will feature resume screeners, concierge services and interactive workshops. Through March 29, The Commons on Champa also is accepting applications for companies to participate in the fair. Interested companies can apply here.

After the fair is over at 7:30 p.m., Battery621 will host a rooftop party and Lyft will provide attendees with free rides. The party will have food and drink as well as games, raffles and live music. Learn more about the event here.

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

Industrial design confab coming to Denver

Metropolitan State University of Denver is hosting the Industrial Designers Society of America's (IDSA's) West District Design Conference (WDDC) on April 1-2. This year's event, with a focus on Empathy Driven Solutions, will kick off, fittingly enough, with the Design Swarm honoring those slain in the terrorist attacks in Paris. Keynotes at the conference will include Michael Paterson, senior industrial designer with GoPro and Mike Neustedter, executive director of Paradox Sports. The conference helps designers and students learn about the latest trends in industrial design.

The Design Swarm will be kicked off by Jeff Smith, IDSA, of Autodesk, and Amber Goelst, of Wacom, who will share how to sketch a visual language and showing the importance of capturing rapid ideas on a screen. It will specifically honor U.S. industrial design student Nohemi Gonzalez who was slain in the Paris attack. "We should use this time to invest in each other; break down any barriers that impede on our ability to succeed; and be a part of something bigger then ourselves so we can give back," says WDDC Chair Jason Belaire.

The conference will focus on design, empathy and giving back. In terms of design it will focus on the need for design under pressure while connecting with people that others haven't met. Empathy will focus on using empathy as a research tool for industrial design planning. Giving back will focus on how design inspiration can come from unexpected sources.

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


Denver to host Solar Decathlon in 2017

Denver and the Department of Energy officials have announced that the city will host the international Solar Decathlon competition in 2017. The event will award a total of $2 million to the teams that compete in its 10 challenges to make a livable, affordable, compact solar-powered home -- essentially what each team believes will be the home of tomorrow.

Denver becomes the third U.S. city to host the biennial event, which began in Washington, D.C., and has since taken place in Irvine, California. It brings roughly 60,000 visitors on average. "As one of the top 10 metro areas for solar installations and sunny days, Denver is a great choice to host the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon,"says DOE Under Secretary Franklin Orr.

The decathlon challenges 16 teams of college students from the U.S. and around the world to design and build energy efficient, solar-powered homes that they have to transport from their location to the event location at Denver's Pena Station development. In 2017 for the first time ever, teams will receive $100,000 to defray construction and transportation costs and the teams that do the best in the gauntlet of events will receive extra awards. The team that takes first place will receive $300,000, second place gets $225,000 and third place takes $150,000.

"Denver is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring this fun and engaging academic competition to our city," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "This opportunity not only highlights the Denver metro area's leadership in energy efficiency but allows us to spotlight our burgeoning solar energy industry."

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


March shapes up as Denver's other big beer month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ADvocate, a community for ad tech professionals, launches in Denver

Denver's Epiphany Ai has partnered with Innovation Pavilion and The Trade Desk to launch ADvocate, a new collaborative community focused on advertising technology and entrepreneurs. The new venture is aimed at cementing Colorado at the forefront of ad tech and addressing industry challenges today and tomorrow.

To help kick off the new venture Epiphany Ai is hosting a party at its headquarters in Denver on March 16. "We call out to other ad tech companies to join us on our quest of making Colorado the best ad tech [state] in the world," says Epiphany Ai CEO Joe Salvador. "We have the talent and the tech at our fingertips -- now it's time to work together to make it happen."

"We started ADvocate with Innovation Pavilion not only to focus on the current success and growth of the ad tech industry, but to help Colorado secure a position as an international leader in ad tech," Brian Allen, Epiphany Ai's chief technology officer asserts. "It's imperative that we educate the younger generation about this industry and what is required to be a successful ad tech professional. We believe the knowledge required for this emerging industry can only be passed on through an apprentice relationship -- learning alongside the industry professionals."

Already ADvocate is spawning new programs. ADprentice is aimed at helping to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in the ad tech space and is focused on students. In addition, The Trade Desk is launching the ADventure accelerator in collaboration with ADvocate. Touted as the first ad tech accelerator in the country, ADventure will help advance second-stage ad tech companies around the world.

"We are thrilled with the opportunity to share our experiences with Colorado ad tech community," said Mike Davis, VP of Innovation at The Trade Desk. Davis is a founding board member of ADvocate. "Collaboration and innovation are two major keys to The Trade Desk's success, and it's a privilege to be able to pay that forward to the next generation of ad tech leaders."

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


SkillStore launches skills training app with free forever access for early users

Denver's SkillStore has launched its mobile app, which uses social-learning and interactive learning to help people learn and practice new skills. The app and site are focused on leadership, communications, and management skills, aimed at reducing the use of ineffective corporate training. To celebrate its launch SkillStore is offering popular free-forever modules for those who register for the service by March 31.

The company has worked with Western Union, SAP and Comcast of the past nine months to build its services and has now deployed it in more than 40 countries. "What separates SkillStore is that, unlike other online learning solutions that focus on providing content, SkillStore enables live video practice with peer feedback,” says Joshua Craver, vice president of Talent Management at Western Union. "People don't just watch videos and take quizzes -- they practice with each other through the app. Apart from being a more effective way to build critical skills, this helps Western Union managers in countries around the world feel more connected with each other -- as they learn together.”

Skillstore's learning methods are aimed at reducing wasted spending on corporate training for soft and leadership skills. The company refers to studies showing that roughly 80 percent of such training is currently wasted.

"Today's training methods -- both in-person and online -- have severe shortcomings," asserts Srikant Vasan, SkillStore cofounder and CEO. "SkillStore offers a better way -- built on solid learning science principles to enable active learning -- with live video practice and peer feedback."

The company's services are designed to be easy to use and to access. The app is accessible over the internet and on mobile devices.

SkillStore enables active, experiential learning through interactive video-based practice with peers to build leadership, communications, and management skills that is both effective and scalable. Users in over 40 countries access SkillStore from their laptops, smartphones, or tablets for a variety of soft skills training.

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


At 40, Colorado Enterprise Fund shows no signs of slowing down

The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this March and will commemorate the milestone with events throughout the year. The nonprofit organization, dedicated to supporting small businesses and startups, loaned more than $7.1 million to small businesses in 2015 alone.

"This organization brought much-needed economic development initially to Denver, and then to the rest of Colorado. It was an opportunity to help Colorado communities find and develop their economic strength," says CEO Ceyl Prinster. "Small business is big business in Colorado, and Colorado Enterprise Fund has been part of making small business growth possible."

The organization isn't stagnating. Already in 2016, it was selected as a finalist in Colorado Impact Days, Prinster will serve as a panelist at the Denver Business Journal's Small Business Awards conference and luncheon in April and it will be recognized at ColoradoBiz Magazine's Top 100 Women-Owned Companies Reception in June.

The organization offers loans of up to $500,000 to entrepreneurs and small companies that can't access other financing. "We lend more than just money," Prinster says. "We provide our borrowers with one-on-one business training and coaching to help them succeed. And when our borrowers succeed, our local communities grow and thrive."

To showcase what it's been up to, CEF launched its "40 Success Stories in 40 Weeks," a social media campaign, which will run through October. The campaign will post stories to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media outlets about companies that it's helped out in the past.

In October, CEF will host a 40th Anniversary Gala to celebrate its legacy, which includes providing 1,800 loans totaling over $49 million for to support small business growth and startups. It's also been recognized as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Community/Rural Lender of the year in 2015, among other awards.

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


Go Code Colorado Challenge 2016 launches

The third annual Go Code Colorado events kicked off last week. The challenge tasks entrepreneurs, businesses and developers to use public data to solve business problems. Three finalists will be selected in May and each will receive $25,000.

The statewide event is housed in Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams' office, and billed as the first and only statewide effort of its kind. "Go Code Colorado continues to successfully bring together a community around data, technology and entrepreneurship," Williams says. "We want to make government data accessible to all Colorado citizens, and Go Code Colorado is the vehicle to move that vision forward."

This year the challenge is to "create an app and business concept that helps businesses build a competitive strategy." In previous years, the actual challenge wasn't announced until the challenge weekend.

They also changed the rules of the challenge this year to allow the participating teams to start working on their apps right after the initial kickoff. The organizers also announced that people interested in participating but without a team can check out CollabFinder to share information about their expertise and how they want to contribute. Over the next two months, Go Code Colorado will hold five events, four across the state and another in Denver before the final competition in May.

"When Colorado residents look back at what Go Code Colorado did for open data, it will carry the reputation as being  one of the most important government initiatives to the advancement of innovation through open data," says Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association.

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


So Let's Roll app launches to help you find the local haps

It can be hard to know what's going on in a busy city like Denver that's where the new So Let's Roll app comes in. It's a Denver and Boulder-focused event aggregator app for iPads and iPhones that focuses on local and community-centric events.

The app shows unique events like an in-home culinary demo, an impromptu music performance, or a pop-up woodworking class, but the company says it won't cover arena-sized events or pro sporting events. Event hosts can publish their events on the app and through its site for free and people looking for something to do and check out local events on the go. They can create an account or log in through Facebook.

The app, developed by Paul Tamburello is more curated than most, keeping the quirky and distinctive in mind. "Our hope is that we can build an active community around the new and spontaneous," explains Tamburello. "So Let's Roll will collect the best happenings in the city so users can access those one-of-a-kind experiences."

"A city is so much more than just large corporate sponsored events, it's all the fine grain happenings that create a rich city culture. Denver is a great 'sports town' but we're so much more," Tamburello says. "Our goal is to amplify the diverse culture of our city through real-time access to the plethora of amazing happenings that create the heart of any city."

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


General Assembly opening new tech training campus in RiNo

General Assembly is opening its 15th location in Denver. The institution will host a launch party on March 3 at its newest campus at Industry, located at 3001 Brighton Blvd. in RiNo.

General Assembly was founded in 2011 in New York City with a mission of empowering people to do what they love. It offers immersive programs, long-form courses, and classes and workshops. The programs focus on IT, web development and business fundamentals.

The company also offers ongoing training to develop talent internally. "With Denver and Boulder area startups flush with population and economic growth, larger companies are also investing in talent to remain competitive," a statement from General Assembly explains.

Since launching in the Big Apple, it's opened locations across the country and as far away as Australia.

To celebrate its newest location in Denver the institute is hosting an evening of drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and networking with the GA team and our amazing guests. “We'll also host an exciting panel discussion about today's fastest growing, most in-demand careers and how to break into them,” reads a statement on the company's website.

The panel will include Kelly Brough, CEO of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; Brady Welsh, director of Leasing & Development of Industry and Scott Kirkpatrick, president of General Assembly. According to General Assembly the panel will discuss how today's most in-demand skills and job opportunities will affect Denver's growth.

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


Name.com partners with Galvanize to offer free coding lessons

Galvanize and domain registrar Name.com are partnering to host free Learn to Code meetups across the country. The group will host its next coding study session at Denver's Central Library on Feb. 29 at 6:15 p.m.

"By partnering with large organizations like Name.com to host meetups, we're bringing industry experts and the Galvanize community of learners together under one roof to share valuable insights with each other," says Jim Deters, Galvanize CEO and co-founder. "We're excited to see more people from the coding community on Galvanize campuses in 2016 and beyond."

The Learn to Code events will include instruction on HTML/CSS, PostgreSQL, Javascript, Angular JS, and more. "We're excited to dive into local communities and teach others about website resources and new domains like .NINJA, .SOCIAL, and .NEWS," says Ashley Forker, marketing director at Name.com. "Domain names are powerful -- but underutilized -- tools. Now is the time to demonstrate that great domain names help drive the discovery of products, content, and brands across all platforms."

Beyond Denver, Galvanize's Learn to Code meetups are taking place in Boulder, Fort Collins, San Francisco and Seattle. They'll also launch in Austin in the spring.

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


Denver OED helped create and retain more than 7,000 jobs in 2015

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) released its annual report showing it hand a hand in creating 4,164 new jobs and retaining 3,076 jobs in 2015.

"Denver's hardworking employers, employees and entrepreneurs enjoyed a year of recording-breaking progress on many economic fronts," says Mayor Michael Hancock. "Their tenacity, coupled with the city's efforts to sustain and grow a next-generation economy built on Denver's traditional strengths, has simultaneously attracted new ventures, new industries, and thousands of new residents." 

The jobs, as well as 628 affordable housing units, are proof of the effectiveness of the $304 million in strategic investments made last year. Those came in the form of incentives, tax credits, loans, and training assistance programs to help 89 firms expand in Denver in 2015.

Among the highlights were two incentive packages offered to major companies. One helped United Airlines consolidate its national flight training program to Stapleton. That will bring an additional 250 jobs to Denver while retaining roughly 400 positions. The other aided Costco's decision to open a business-services store in Denver. It will bring more than 100 sustaining wage jobs to the Athmar Park neighborhood.

Other major companies will continue to add jobs in Denver, according to the report. Just a handful will add thousands of jobs, they include FiveStars, KPMG, Comcast, Sunrun, Gusto, Transamerica, DaVita and Optiv.

"We've had an exciting run of new jobs from both startups and corporate locations, and at the same time posted major gains in the Mayor's ambitious 3x5 plan for affordable housing," asserts OED Executive Director Paul Washington. "It's critical that we continue to excel across a spectrum of public-investment strategies and tactics, so that the astounding growth momentum Denver has enjoyed can continue."

Denver's OED also took additional steps to help make the city more attractive for companies. Such steps include launching the Denver Manufacturing Map Tool and using OppSites to promote opportunities for companies. The manufacturing map details all manufacturing operations and support systems in Denver. OppSites also uses mapping and promotional data to showcase sites to developers, businesses and retailers across the U.S.

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


Aten Design Group sponsoring free events on Drupal, information architecture

Denver's Aten Design Group knows the importance of information architecture and understanding content management systems (CMSs). As such the company is hosting one of the World Information Architecture (IA) Day meetings on Feb. 20 and sponsoring a free Drupal 8 workshop on March 11.

The first event, the World IA seminar is being held at Aten's offices at 3507 Ringsby Ct., unit #111, in Denver. The Drupal 8 event is being hosted at Galvanize LoDo at 1644 Platte St. in Denver.

It's the first time Denver's hosted a World IA event and is one of more than 50 events taking place across the world on Feb. 20. The event is focused on the practice and education of information architecture. This year's focus is 'Information Everywhere, Architects Everywhere.' During the seminar, being held between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., industry experts will discuss the shape and future of IA and how people all over the world are using it.

Following that on March 11, the company is sponsoring a free micro-conference 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Galvanize to help Drupal users learn more about the latest Drupal, Drupal 8. The widely used, highly customizable CMS system. The morning sessions will focus on major differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 and the afternoon sessions will practice putting some of the new tools into use..

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


Commons on Champa to host CO Active meeting on international trade opportunities

Colorado is one of the most active if not the most active states in the U.S. With its sunny skies, mountains and rivers, it's no surprise that outdoor companies are located here, but getting those goods and wares into international markets can be difficult. To help address that, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) and CO Active are hosting a seminar about international trade opportunities in the active lifestyle industry.

The one-hour seminar will be hosted at The Commons on Champa on Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. and will feature insights from Abdul Sesay, an international business development representative with OED. At OED, Sesay led the pilot of Denver's Export Promotion Program. Through his efforts he helped Denver Beer Company begin exporting to Japan.

The seminar will help companies and entrepreneurs identify exporting opportunities. It will help them understand what types of resources for exporting their products are available. It also will discuss trade missions and trade shows.

CO Active was launched with OED funding and support. It's one of Colorado's newest business associations and was launched to focus on networking, supply-chain support and to help expand market exposure for companies manufacturing in Colorado for the outdoor industry and active lifestyles that Coloradans enjoys.

Those interested in attending should RSVP Carrie Singer at carrie.singer@denvergov.org.

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

DISH to hire 100 IT positions in LoDo

The Englewood-based company is expanding its entrance into the on-demand streaming world and tech solutions to meet consumers' needs. To support this work the company will hire up to 100 IT-focused employees at the Grand Central Building near Union Station. The new positions will support Sling TV and its Hopper DVR offering.

"DISH and Sling TV are driving a consumer market that is changing in real-time, and we're developing innovative ways to deliver video and connected services to millions of customers," explains Rob Dravenstott, DISH senior vice president and chief information officer. "From the heart of the thriving Denver tech community, this office will utilize collaborative software development models to expand our world-class IT group and play an integral role in creating next generation services."

"DISH has continued to invest in Colorado since its founding in 1980, employing more than 4,000 employees across the state today," says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "This step not only helps expand their presence, it gives another meaningful boost to Colorado's thriving tech community as we welcome a new neighbor in downtown Denver."

The company will renovate 20,000 square feet of the Grand Central Building at 1615 17th St. The building will be redesigned as an open work environment. It also will include a private technology demonstration space.

"It's very encouraging to see one of our area's key employers choosing to expand right within the heart of LoDo and our regional transit hub," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "We're proud to welcome them to Downtown Denver for their next stage of innovation and growth."

DISH already is recruiting for the facility. It anticipates that the office will be fully operational by June 2016. "DISH's selection of Downtown Denver as the location to expand its technology products and services perpetuates the brand of our strong culture of innovation and signals the economic vitality of the center city," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The hiring process is underway and interested applicants can learn more at DISHGrandCentral.com.

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


Elevation Digital Media points Arrow the way to the future with Super Bowl spot

The Broncos aren't the only Denver team in the Super Bowl this weekend. Arrow Electronics and Elevation Digital Media are airing a national commercial during the third quarter in the Super Bowl touting the company's "Five Years Out" campaign for aerospace and defense.

The Super Bowl isn't just the most highly watched game in the U.S. -- it's also the Super Bowl for advertising the world over. After all, ads during the event are the most costly in the world. In August 2015, Fortune reported that a national 30-second spot during the event will cost as much as $5 million. But the cost of getting a company's message to consumers or other businesses during the event can be well worth it.

Arrow Electronics is a Colorado-headquartered multi-national company that specializes in distributing electronic components. It provides services and products to everything from defense and aerospace to enterprise-level computing services and electronics recycling.


The innovative ad features a features a 3D folder -- not printer -- made out of Legos that folds a piece of paper into a paper plane and launches it, like the campaign for the company.

"This is a team of five guys who work out of their small studio in the Taxi Building in RiNo -- not a multi-million-dollar ad agency -- producing a spot for a Fortune 100 company," says Edward Macsalka, a Denver-based communications manager with Comcast.

"Just five years ago, Elevation Digital Media was focused on sports recruiting videos for high school athletes," he adds. "Over the past few years, that has evolved into corporate communication videos/commercials for the likes of Comcast, Arrow and Western Union, as well as many other national brands. . . . This is a huge achievement for any large firm, but even more special for a company that can barely call their studio a studio."

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


Colorado Impact Fund supports Galvanize with its fifth investment

Locally focused venture capital firm Colorado Impact Fund has made its fifth investment since launching in July 2014 in Galvanize, the tech education and workspace startup that's establishing a major presence in tech scenes in Denver and elsewhere.

"This investment represents a perfect synergy of our two organizations with complementary missions coming together for the greater good," explains Jim Kelley, managing partner of the Colorado Impact Fund. "Galvanize is filling a much-needed gap between the demand and supply for technical talent, while also attracting industry partners to create a strong hiring pipeline for its graduates."

The company, which launched in 2012, has established eight campuses in some of the country's most tech-oriented cities: San Francisco, Austin, Seattle and Phoenix. The other four campuses are in Colorado -- two in Denver, one in Boulder and one in Fort Collins.

Galvanize offers immersive, 12- to 24-week courses for people interested in working in data science, engineering, development and other IT positions. The company boasts a 95 percent placement rate for its graduates.

"Preparing our workforce and students to compete in an increasingly tech-oriented economy is very much on strategy for CIF," Kelley says.

Beyond education, the company also has workspaces for startups and entrepreneurs. Such community workspaces and offices can help cross-pollinate ideas and help companies find ways to work together.

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


Dizzion expands in Denver and beyond as its cloud grows

Denver's Dizzion tripled its employees and doubled its revenues in 2015. In anticipation of continued growth,  the cloud services company is moving its headquarters to downtown Denver and opening an office in San Antonio, Texas.

"We're seeing a rapid increase in demand for our virtual desktop solution," says CEO Steve Prather. "Dizzion's big focus in 2016 will continue to be building and growing our team and supporting our customers at the highest level of which we are capable. Our office moves in Denver and San Antonio will deliver the space and business tools to allow our team to thrive." He says the company made some key hires in 2015, including Carol Wood as its chief financial officer, Brady Ranum as its VP of product and strategy and Margie Sims as its VP of sales.

As the company grows in 2016 it anticipates launching new products. It hasn't announced what they will be but the company has focused on using cloud computing to allow clients' employees access to applications and data from any device, anytime, anywhere.

Dizzion will move its Denver headquarters to the 26th floor of Dominion Towers at 600 17th St. in downtown Denver in February. The new space will be three times as large as its former headquarters in Denver. It also plans on moving into a larger space in San Antonio in the first quarter of 2016.

The company already is hiring in Denver and San Antonio in sales and operations positions. Ultimately the company expects to double its staff in both offices this year.

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


The Local Coffeehouse launches indie coffeeshop app and digital directory

Ever been stuck in a new city or neighborhood and need to find an espresso rapido? That's where The Local Coffeehouse, the Denver-founded national directory of coffeehouses, comes in. It's launching a new version of its site and mobile app.

The guide has more than 16,000 coffeeshops, cafes and coffee roasters across the U.S. Users can search for local coffeeshops via The Local Coffeehouse site or they can download it to their smart devices. With the app, users can input a city or town and state into their smart device and quickly find the closest place to get a cup of joe, latte or croissant.

You won't find Starbucks, Peet's, Seattle's Best or other national chains on The Local Coffeehouse: Although it will list businesses with up to 10 locations, it only covers locally owned independent businesses in the U.S. In addition, the shops must offer espresso drinks a primary beverage or they must be a small-batch roaster.

The Local Coffeehouse points to Specialty Coffee Association of America figures that show there are nearly 30,000 independent coffee retailers in the U.S. Many of them are involved in local events, providing a venue for community gatherings and are always conscious of how they can and do give back. Still, it's hard for small companies to compete with the coffee juggernauts. By focusing on the local companies, the resource gives them a chance to better compete with the chains.

The company gives coffeeshops and cafes free listings on its site and app. With that they get a map marker that geo-locates the shop on the map, a listing displaying information about the address, a brief description or story of their location and a link to their site.

"We highly encourage our retailers to share their personal story in order to really connect with people even before they walk through the door. This feature truly separates us from the rest," says Lisa McIntyre, the company's founder.

"In early 2016, we will be offering three levels of paid membership," McIntyre says. The company will also offer its tools to its a la carte members. Beyond the free features the company offers cafes and coffeehouses it offers push notes to users showing them what kind of foods or other offerings they have.

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


Now is the time to nominate Colorado Companies to Watch

Colorado is fostering startup companies in a number of sectors from craft brewing to IT to marijuana. After wading in the startup pool, many of these companies go on to reach second-stage growth or further. That's where the Colorado Companies to Watch (CCTW) awards come in, recognizing these companies that are maturing and growing. In the past seven years, CCTW, which is presented by UMB Bank, has recognized 350 companies that have had $2 billion in economic impact in Colorado.

"Second-stage companies hold a unique place in our economy. Through their leadership, innovation, and growth, they ignite our communities with potential beyond measure," says Sean Nohavec, CCTW chairman and senior VP of UMB Bank. "They truly are fueling the economic fire in Colorado."

For the 2016 awards, people can nominate companies for the awards through Jan. 31 and companies can directly apply for consideration through Feb. 19. The awards will be presented in June. After winners are announced, they get a year of benefits, including facilitated local celebrations with key community members, an exclusive professional leadership retreat and networking opportunities with companies that were awarded.

"The Colorado Companies to Watch Awards not only recognize business innovation and entrepreneurial success, but also help these businesses to attract the attention of the investment community, potential partners, and qualified talent," explains CapitalValue Advisors' David Tolson, CCTW managing director.

Some of the previous award recipients include The Grateful Bread Company (2015), Dry Dock Brewing (2014), Boulder Electric Vehicle, Inc. (2013), Coolerado (2010), Justin's Nut Butter (2009) and OtterBox (2009). Organizers say that in 2015 it received more than 1,000 nominations and chose 50 winners.

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


Pivotal picks up Slice of Lime to enhance UX

Pivotal, a company focusing on cloud software and innovations with offices in Denver recently acquired local user-experience (UX) company Slice of Lime. The purchase will help Pivotal expand its UX services and software offerings to its clients and their users.

Slice of Lime has been recognized many times as a leading UX company. In 2014, UX Magazine awarded it with the Effective Agency Award in the Design for Experience Awards. It was also  recognized by Outside as one of the best places to work in 2015.

"Combining Pivotal's multidisciplinary UX and user interface (UI) design methodologies with Slice of Lime's talent will help us meet a rapidly growing client demand," explains Drew McManus, a vice president at Pivotal Labs. "We're excited to continue to deliver solutions that can transform the future of engaging digital experiences."

"We've partnered with Pivotal on several projects for over five years," says Slice of Lime CEO Kevin Menzie. "We share an iterative approach, a focus on collaboration, and we require empathy for users -- all things that embody the way we think about designing products and working with clients."

"The exciting thing about what Pivotal is doing is that no company, no industry, no person in the world is left untouched by this digital revolution," Menzie says. He says the company's technologies are helping build autonomous vehicles, helping doctors create more effective, DNA-targeted therapy and helping financial companies detect fraud faster, among other things. "The sheer variety of ways our team can help employ our extensive UX design experience in areas such as the Internet of Things, enterprise big data, consumer web and mobile applications is exciting. Joining Pivotal exposes us to so many more clients doing fascinating work as they transform into technology and innovation-driven organizations."

After the acquisition is complete, Slice of Lime will be integrated into Pivotal's Denver and Boulder offices; Slice of Lime already has offices in both cities.  

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


Prime Health gamifies healthcare with new app

Denver's Prime Health is tapping into the enjoyment people get out of gaming to do something more meaningful, use it to make healthcare more effective.

The app, Plan-it Med, will be piloted through a partnership with HCA/HealthONE, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and Uptown Primary Care at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center. The app was developed by Play-it Health. Under the partnership patients at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Presbyterian/St. Luke's and Uptown Primary Care will have access to the app.

"We are excited that HCA/HealthONE and Play-it Health met during this year's Challenge. It validates the hard work of the Play-it Health team, the mentors and judges in Prime Health's Challenge qualification and mentoring process," says Jeffrey Nathanson, CEO of Prime Health. "We have been working hard to provide a competitive advantage for companies though our Value Integrator Model, qualifying, vetting and testing digital health companies. This partnership shows we are on the right track."

The app will monitor and incentivize users to engage in personalized education, attend appointments, take medications on time and use other prescribed health monitoring devices. For engaging in the activities patients will receive rewards that may include coupons, badges, games and even reduced insurance premiums. 

"There have been many technological advancements in recent years that allow us to better understand and reach users," says Kimberly Gandy, founder and CEO of Play-it Health and a former pediatric heart and transplant surgeon. "It is time to bring that knowledge to practice in the healthcare setting. Understanding when and why patients follow their health regimens in real time has the potential to revolutionize the way we practice medicine."

The project is supported by $18,750 in seed funding from the Colorado Health Foundation and came out of Prime Health's 2015 Digital Health Challenge.

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


Couragion wins NSF innovation grant

Denver's Couragion has won a $150,000 National Science Foundation Innovation Research Grant to improve awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. The woman-owned education technology is focused on STEM and how education can lead to fulfilling careers.

The company says its mission is to inspire kids to pursue skills, degrees, and careers in STEM. The company has developed an app that helps users understand what careers are possible with STEM-based education. Data shows 84 percent of users are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. 

The company, which launched in 2014 is quickly expanding. The app is already being used at numerous schools in Denver and the app is available for iOS devices. Now it's working on a new project, which will be supported by the grant.

The grant aims to help improve awareness and perception of careers that require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competencies. People who may be in the best position to influence children might expose children to certain bias when discussing potential career pathways. "If kids understood the opportunities, they could pursue academic pathways to amass skills that better prepare them to enter the workforce," the award states.

Couragion's project will use big data, perceived capacity building, continuous STEM programming and self-reflection to create a commercialized STEM career and self-discovery application and companion data visualization tool. "Career exploration and readiness focused on helping individuals select rewarding and suitable degrees, training, and careers will increase the likelihood that individuals stay in those careers, exhibit greater creativity, and decrease the number of people who invest in education they never use," the company says in a statement.

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


Recycle a computer, create a job through Hope Tank

Recycle 16 computers in one day and create job. That's the latest project from Hope Tank, launched Jan. 4, to recycle 16 computers every day in January. That's enough work to create a job at local organizations Blue Star Recyclers and PCs for People. Both nonprofits create jobs for people with disabilities and provide refurbished computers to low-income people.

It's an ideal time, the season of giving might be over, but people can still be beneficial, by recycling their old computers to others who can get great benefit for them. "Many of us, especially after the holidays, have computers that have become outdated and we just hold onto them because we don't know what to do with them and we're nervous about the data that is on them being protected," says Hope Tank Owner and Founder Erika Righter.

Blue Star Recyclers has already ethically recycled over 8 million pounds of e-waste, diverted more than 230,000 pounds of hazardous materials from landfills while providing above minimum-wage employment for 26 adults with autism and other disabilities. It's also creating $800,000 in taxpayer savings by reducing Social Security payments to those with disabilities.

"These guys will wipe all the data, and give the computer either an environmentally respectful 'end of life,' or they will give it a whole new life, provide employment for people with barriers, and help those who most need computers in our community," Righter says.

Hope Tank is a local retail store that's dedicated to positive change. A portion of the price for each item purchased in the store benefits a non-profit and many goods in the store are made by local artists or nonprofits. These nonprofits range from veteran's groups like the Art of War, to the Wild Animal Sanctuary to Colorado AIDS Project and a wide variety of other groups.

Righter says that the partners in the project are indicative of partnerships she wants to create going forward. "Blue Star Recyclers is one of our designated charities. Our customers have asked for opportunities to have deeper impact. This is a fun way to do that." Such partnerships can raise awareness of the issue and give the public more ways to become more beneficial to society at large. In this case helping those with disabilities see gainful employment and a living wage.

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


Denver's 3D Printing Store partners with TurboRoo to print Pawsthetics for animals

The use of 3D printing is revolutionizing prosthetics. The variety of solutions that 3D printing can create is almost as endless as the variety of injuries or deformities that exist.

So why not take that technology and offer the same to animals that are disabled or at risk? That's what The 3D Printing Store is doing through a partnership with TurboRoo. They have launched a Pawsthetics Indiegogo campaign to support more work in creating prosthetics for animals.

It began with TurboRoo last year when The 3D Printing Store designed and printed a new cart for Turbo, a chihuahua born without front legs. Since then, the company and organization have designed and printed prosthetics for other animals in need like Cleopatra, a tortoise whose shell was damaged. "The cover enables Cleopatra to socialize with her tortoise friends again, as well as prevent bacteria from getting inside her shell," The 3D Printing Store explains in a release.

Boris, another tortoise, lost an eye and half of his face in a battle with a larger tortoise. A team of volunteers, including Dr. Bill Guerrerato of Broomfield Veterinary Clinic and Can Van Le at Art of Gold Jewelry, created a working silver jaw that enabled Boris, to eat again on his own. Silver has antibacterial properties that make it an ideal long-term replacement for the tortoise's beak.

"We continue to receive requests to help other animals living in discomfort due to mobility issues," says The 3D Printing Store. "It is heartbreaking to turn down these requests due to funding issues. Our dream is to create the Pawsthetics charity to enable many more amazing animals lead happier, more independent lives through 3D Printed prosthetics."

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


Santasexual -- or is it Hipster Claus? -- comes to RiNo

Yup, the hipsters took over the North Pole and gave everybody's favorite big ol' stocking stuffer a makeover with a trim waist, hipsterific scarf and lumbersexual beard and boots. Now he's coming to RiNo's The Source on Sat. Dec. 19 to take selfies with you and your loved ones, just in time for those last-second, ironic holiday cards.

The pics will be clicked by Jennifer Olson Photography at The Source, where, "A young attractive man you can call Chris . . . or Nick . . . will visit the artisan market hall to take photos with those who know that Santa is actually a well-groomed bearded man who rides a bike, drinks sour beer, grinds his own coffee beans, and grills only local grass-fed beef," the studio says. "He keeps his Arctic Circle address, but lives just down the street in RiNo, in a loft, of course, moonlighting as an engineer at a neighboring tech company. On Saturday, he will sport his favorite sharp non-trad tapered pants and tailored coat, a V neck, a scarf and his Red Wings boots, plus a selection of trendy red-accented hats."

'Tis the season of giving and you know RiNo's Hipster Santa believes in good causes. So in a millennial way visitors can help him give back. For every selfie taken with and posted to social media with the hashtag #RiNoHipsterSanta, The Source will donate $1 to Slow Food Denver, an in-house nonprofit that advocates for local food and farming policy.

So don ye now your gay apparel or favorite bad Christmas sweater and come down to The Source on Saturday between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to get photos with RiNo Hipster Santa. Brunch date with mistletoe mimosas, anyone?

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

Invest Local launches to offer crowdfunding to Coloradans

Crowdfunding has been a buzzword since Kickstarter launched a few years ago, but now its becoming a more common way for people to invest in not just goods, but companies and ideas. Earlier in 2015, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the Colorado Crowdfunding Act to help companies source investments from the crowd.

Newly launched Invest Local will help coordinate and manage those small investments. It's already hosting events to help people learn more about investing through crowdfunding.

"The potential of investment crowdfunding in providing capital needed by Colorado small businesses is tremendous," says Invest Local President Karl Dakin. "There are an estimated 4.3 million non-accredited individuals and over 700,000 businesses that may now invest through crowdfunding. If each of these individuals and businesses were to invest only $1, they could fund five businesses up to the $1 million limit (unaudited financials) under the Colorado Crowdfunding Act. That's $5 million new dollars invested in Colorado. If each of these same investors invest $100 each year -- $1 each in 100 different Colorado businesses, that's half a billion new dollars invested in Colorado -- each year. The positive impact upon Colorado's economy is immeasurable."

It's the type of thing that Invest Local specializes in connecting investors with opportunities. Under the new law, organizations are required to use a registered intermediary such as Invest Local to manage small dollar investors. To help accomplish that Invest Local is serving as a FundPaaS value-added reseller. "We searched out a crowdfunding platform that is adaptable to different types of crowdfunding, compliant with federal and state laws and regulations and which can keep the costs of crowdfunding affordable to the small business. FundPaas met all of these criteria. We look forward to working together with FundPaas in supporting thousands of Colorado businesses, social enterprises and community projects in raising the money they need," Dakin explains.

To help people understand the opportunity, Dakin is hosting events like the Main Street Investing Workshop at Colorado Lending Source on Dec. 17. The $100, half-day course will provide attendees with a scorecard to help them better evaluate crowdfunding investment opportunities and help them compare it to other opportunities using both objective and subjective information.

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


CO Impact Initiative launches a call for social impact investments in Colorado

CO Impact Days has launched a Call for Deals, an effort to raise $100 million in investment capital to support social impact efforts over the next three years. The organizers are creating a statewide marketplace for impact investment that they say is the first such marketplace in the U.S.

The Call for Deals is open to for-profit, nonprofits, funds and projects from Dec. 7 to Jan. 10, 2016. The Curtis Hotel and The Ellie Caulkins Opera House will host live events on March 3 and 4 in 2016 to discuss identify impact investing in Colorado as well as opportunities.

CO Impact Days is part of the larger CO Impact Initiative, which is aimed at making Colorado a "better place to live, work, and play," the initiative said in a statement. The initiative was founded by the University of Denver's Impact Finance Center in 2014.

Organizers anticipate that 200 impact investors will be at the event in March. "Social ventures responding to this call could be among the top 50 selected to participate in the first statewide marketplace for impact investing in the United States," CO Impact Days said in a statement.

During the live event, participants will interact in peer discussions and workshops led by industry experts and thought leaders, according to CO Impact Days.

Social ventures and organizations can apply for consideration here in one of six categories: Health, Wellness and Food; Arts, Culture and Creative Enterprise; Energy; Environment, Water, Transportation & Agriculture; Early Childhood and Education; and Economic Development Social and Justice.

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


More than 11,000 entrepreneurs use Commons on Champa in its first six months

The Commons on Champa launched just six months ago to support entrepreneurship and innovators in Denver. Already it's provided services, 85 percent of which were free, to 11,569 people. They've benefited from more than 150 programs offered on the campus.

The Downtown Denver Partnership, Colorado Technology Association, and the City and County and Denver launched the Commons on Champa this year with fully 39 organizations. The organizations involved varied from local nonprofits to the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. In all the supports contributed time and financial resources of $2.5 million to restore the building and create the space.

"The Commons on Champa opened as a first-of-its-kind resource that is now a go-to resource for anyone looking to start or grow a business in Denver," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. "With more than 620 center city startups employing more than 4,350 people, turning successful startups into thriving small businesses is central to ensuring an economically healthy and vital Downtown."

In addition to serving as a center for entrepreneurs, the Commons on Champa served as hub during Denver Startup Week and hosted the local championship of the 1776 Challenge Cup. It's been a meeting center to foster discussions about the community and hosts an extension office for Denver's Office of Economic Development. It also released the Denver Entrepreneurial Resource Navigator. The navigator was designed link entrepreneurs to resources and partners to help businesses grow. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and U.S. SourceLink partners to help produce the navigator.

"The Commons supports startups across all industries by emphasizing inclusivity and implementing programming to support diversity in entrepreneurship," says Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. "The entrepreneurial ecosystem in our center city continues to strengthen thanks to initiatives like The Commons, and we are committed to providing the programming, resources and connections to help business builders in our center city succeed."

To continue to help grow the startup community, the Commons on Champa will host a mentor "speed dating" event on Dec. 15 aimed at aligning U.S. military veterans with Denver's growing startup community. It also will launch the "InCommons" Mentorship Program, in December. That program will connect entrepreneurs with some of the community's most successful business leaders, innovators and investors.

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


RAFT focuses on unique learning experiences with Broncos, new pilot

RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching) Colorado is gaining traction. It recently partnered with the Denver Broncos to create interesting STEM challenges for children, moved to Steele St. and is piloting new programs aimed at creating maker spaces.

"The Tackle STEM program is a partnership between the Denver Broncos and Arrow Electronics with a goal of promoting STEM learning for kids," explains RAFT Colorado Executive Director Stephanie Welsh. The partnership with the Denver Broncos and Arrow engages students with a popular team in Colorado as well as through experiential learning rather than learning via book or lecture.

"They have sponsored three activity kits for us:  the Broncos Blaster, Flick a Field Goal, and Broncos Biomechanics," Welsh says. "We launched these activities at Share Fair Nation held at University of Denver in September, where hundreds of kids had the opportunity to create and play and learn from them, and we now are stocking the kits in our resource center."

The organization also is launching a Mobile Make pilot program in the Spring. Though details on the program are being refined, Welsh says it will take RAFT's resources to students and teachers around Colorado. "The content will focus on making -- we will help libraries and schools learn how easy and inexpensive it can be to set up and run maker spaces and how to maximize the learning that happens within them, by setting up temporary maker spaces for community members to enjoy and then by providing training for teachers and librarians," she explains.

It's an expansion of RAFT Colorado's core, which makes use of donated materials to help advance education for kids. The materials can be purchased by schools or teachers for their own in-class projects. "These donations are the most helpful for us because, in addition to the higher volume, we receive large quantities of the same item, which is helpful for teachers who need enough materials for all of their students, and for us when we are assembling hundreds of money- and time-saving educational activity kits," Welsh explains.

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


Craftsman & Apprentice crowdfunding workshop expansion

Craftsman & Apprentice, a maker workshop that launched in 2014, is seeking to expand into a new space via Kickstarter.

The new space would allow it to create a retail co-op for crafts and wares made by its makers and workshop leaders and separate production and workshop space. It would allow the startup to purchase more tools, create a production space and host different types of events, like live music.

The space began as a place where husband and wife Jonathan Fessler and Delanie Holton-Fessler could work and host the occasional wooden-bow workshop and market. Now it hosts workshops where adults can learn about everything from making a better pie crust to carving a wooden spoon, hosting drop-in workshops and Saturday kid workshops, where kids can get supervised, hands-on experience learning and tinkering with wood, scraps, cardboard and tools like hammers and drills.

Now the owners are looking to expand the concept to have dedicated maker spaces as well as a dedicated retail space with gallery and learning spaces. To achieve that they’re looking to Kickstarter to expand into a storefront two doors down their current space, where workshops can be louder. The expansion also would support purchasing a kiln and more tools, as well as a scholarship program to help more kids learn about making.

Some of the rewards for investing are pretty unique, including getting your sidewalk shoveled by Jon -- in the neighborhood -- for $20. Others include workshops for kids (like tinker time and bow-and-arrow carving) and adults (including fermentation classes, woodworking with reclaimed wood and pie crust mastery).

The Kickstarter campaign runs through Dec. 7.

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


Canopy Advisory Group connects 'highlancers' with jobs

A report in October from The Freelancers Union and Upwork showed that 54 million people in the U.S. are freelancing, and 60 percent of them are doing so by choice. That's nearly a third of the 157 million people working in the U.S.

Denver's Canopy Advisory Group is focused on the higher end of freelancers and helps connect 'highlancers' -- professionals who still want challenging work but might be single mothers or Baby Boomers who still want to work but not full-time.

Canopy's highlancers are professionals who have had 10 or more years at big firms. They are professionals that made careers in marketing, non-profits, strategy, law and finance. "Many of them feel that their experience in the corporate world has left them disillusioned and dissatisfied," says Brooke Borgen, who founded the company with Griffen O'Shaughnessy in 2009. " Acting as independent consultants, highlancers have ownership over their careers. This particular aspect is appealing to high-achievers who crave challenging assignments and meaningful work, as well as flexibility and freedom to balance family life and personal interests."

"Canopy has about 40 highlancing consultants in its current portfolio and continues to selectively bring on new talent as opportunities arise," Borgen says. "We have specifically chosen to be a boutique firm that thoroughly vets new members and knows each consultant personally, rather than becoming a giant database of names and skills." The company has expanded out of Denver and into Seattle and plans to have an active group of 15 to 20 consultants there by the end of next year.

The company creates access to these freelancers as consultants and serves as an advocate for them. "Our consultants earn a higher hourly take-home rate through Canopy than they did through their previous full-time jobs because of Canopy's low overhead," Borgen says. She adds that their pay rate is between $75 and $175 an hour based on the project and client.

Borgen and O'Shaughnessy say they spend a lot of time in coffee shops with business and nonprofit leaders to understand their needs and see how Canopy's consultants can meet them. The company also encourages its consultants to do engage in business development and they receive a bonus for bringing new clients into its portfolio, which is helping it grow its network of clients and consultants.

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


Golden's HomeAdvisor to open Denver office amid new purchases, partnerships

HomeAdvisor, an online home services marketplace formerly known as ServiceMagic, is getting ready for its next big moves. That includes opening up a sales and training office at 15th and Wazee streets in January and relocating its headquarters and 300 or more of its more than 900 positions from Golden to Denver.


The new sales and training office in Denver is designed as a training and leadership program to help develop small business leaders and entrepreneurs, according to spokesperson Brooke Gabbert. "It's to build and capitalize on what Denver is seeing right now. Developing the entrepreneurial spirit and growing them as leaders," she says. "We plan on having 60 to 70 employees in that office." She says the company plans to open that office on Jan. 4.

That program, Gabbert explains, calls for a two-year commitment and will develop develop small business leaders as well as prepare participants for sales and leadership jobs within HomeAdvisor. As such, she says it's a program that's similar in some aspects to those available through Galvanize or the Commons on Champa.

Also, the company hasn't finalized its plans yet but Gabbert confirmed that it plans to move its headquarters from Golden to Denver. "Being closer to downtown is better for recruiting," HomeAdvisor CEO Chris Terrill told The Denver Post. "It will be a place we can grow. We're actually growing so quickly that when we started the process of looking downtown, we're already larger than we thought we'd be."

The company is making other moves. It recently announced a partnership with Google allowing homeowners to book appointments with home service providers Google's search results via a "Book Now" option. "No other player in our category is able to power instant scheduling at such massive scale," Terrill said in a release. "It will also drive more qualified customers to the small businesses in our marketplace -- a marketplace that will drive an estimated $25-$30 billion of gross marketplace transactions this year alone."

In addition HomeAdvisor's parent company, IAC/InterActiveCorp, made a bid to acquire HomeAdvisor's rival Angie's List for roughly $512 million. "The combination of the Angie's List brand, highly trafficked website and its network of paying service professionals with our HomeAdvisor business, the category leader which has seen eight consecutive quarters of accelerating growth in its core U.S. business, would cement our position as the premier home services platform," said Joey Levin, CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp. 

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


Commons on Champa will host local 1776 Challenge Cup for startups

On Nov. 24, the Commons on Champa will host the local event for the international startup event, 1776 Challenge Cup. The event precedes the regional competition in New York and the global competition in Washington, D.C., where winners will compete for more than $1 million in prizes.

This year Denver is one of 45 cities around the world hosting a local competition. Local judges will choose three winners that will be flown to the Challenge Cup Regional competition in New York.

The Challenge Cup is produced by 1776, which bills itself as a global incubator and venture fund. The cup is a worldwide tournament, according to the organization. "Together, with our Startup Federation partners, Revolution, the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and over 50 incubator hosts around the world, we’ll discover the most promising, highly scalable startups that are poised to solve the major challenges of our time," 1776 officials explained in a statement.

The local competitions around the world will select a total of 135 winners who will then compete for the regional and international prizes. Happy hour and opening remarks begin at 5:30 p.m. and winners will be announced starting at 8 p.m.

Registration to compete in the Denver event is closed, but people can register to attend the free event here. Information about the selected competitors should be announced by Fri. Nov. 13.

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


Stellar Jay launches leather tie line that could only come from Denver

Certain things make sense coming from the Mile High City, like Stellar Jay's new ties. The ties celebrate the spirit of the West with one of its classic fabrics, leather, harnessed in a unique way in neckwear.

Stellar Jay is the creation of Zach Blaine in RiNo. "All of my products are cut from full leather hides in small batches. From there, I work with a small network of seamstress locally to perform the stitch work," he explains. 

While the ties are, well, tied, leather, obviously, isn’t as pliable as silk or cotton or other materials commonly used for neckties. "The leather neckties . . . are all made from suede leather, which is more pliable than other leathers," Blaine says.

"This material folds easily in your hand and the narrow cut allows for an easy fold. That being said, the best knot for this kind of tie is a four-in-hand," Blaine says. "A full Windsor knot could be a challenge. The neckties are approximately 1/16-inch in thickness. The bow ties fasten with an adjustable leather strap."

The leather ties are relatively simple, basically a single color and with stitching on the edge, which Blaine says offers structure and durability to the tie. "The stitching also adds a nice contrast to the color of the tie and helps draw the eye to the necktie.  As long as the tie is properly cared for it should have exceptional longevity -- untying the tie after use and hanging the tie on a hanger to avoid wrinkles." 

Both Zach and his brother are building businesses out of their RiNo Apartment. His brother is designing furniture from repurposed materials in Cambodia, which is currently only for sale in Cambodia but has plans to expand to the U.S. Meanwhile Stellar Jay is currently available online, but Blaine is looking to get into physical locations.

"I am targeting primarily small boutiques, which already capture the aesthetic we are looking for," Blaine says. The ties are available at Decade, Fancy Tiger, Steadbrook and Berkeley Supply and other stores in Denver.

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


goingto.do launches 2.0 integrating Uber transportation, beacon tech

So you're stuck in a city on a Tuesday night and don't know what's happening. That's where goingto.do comes in. It's an entertainment app built in Denver that connects users with local events from around the country by harnessing big data.

The free app designed for mobile devices has just launched its second version, bringing a new user interface, as well as a host of other information and features that take advantage of a smartphone's capabilities. The new features include Uber integration, iBeacon functionality, weather information, push notification capability and Canadian events.


"We are excited to announce the release of goingto.do version 2. We have worked quickly and strategically to offer our growing user base the most efficient and informative services yet," says co-founder Bryan Basset. The company launched in 2104, showing the speed of moving to the second version and its new important functionalities. "The Beacon capability will drive business and spontaneity among our users."

By taking advantage of a device's GPS capabilities the app begins to narrow interests down to a location. Adding a users' preferences further narrows that information down to their interests and location. It also offers directions on who to get to the event as well as coordinating Uber transportation.

The free app also allows beacon capability for businesses. This allows local businesses to provide location-based events, deals and promotions through the app's push notifications -- things like a flash sale at a retailer or a happy hour at a watering hole. The company says it's the only one to offer such a service for businesses.

Business owners can submit ideas for events on the app's event management screen, and leave it to goingto.do to help with the promoting and managing. The app is available for Android and iOS-equipped devices, including smartphones and tablets.


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


Relevant ReUse turns old skis into new jewelry

Relevant ReUse is finding ways to make your old castaway skis, wood scrap and other things into handsome, interesting and functional furniture and is creating one-of-a-kind wallets out of recycled leather and bike tubes and skis into unique jewelry -- just in time for ski season. More importantly, though, the company is giving disadvantaged women a second chance.

"Relevant ReUse is a local, woman-owned, jewelry and furniture business, which supports our mission by contracting our employees to make handmade jewelry out of old, upcycled skis," explains Mile High WorkShop Director of Operations and Production Jeremy Katz.

Relevant ReUse owner and designer Heather Mullins partnered with organization to give women recovering from addiction, homelessness, or former incarceration a chance to start over crafting the jewelry and the company's other recycled goods. Mullins contracts and trains Mile High WorkShop employees to handcraft the earrings and prep them for sale and each sale helps support the job training and employment program at the Mile High WorkShop in Englewood.

Considering that ski and holiday seasons are about to get underway it's an ideal time to launch a unique line of jewelry. By design all of the jewelry is unique. "The beauty of this jewelry is that no two pieces are identical. The skis have been cut to ensure that every necklace or pair of earrings is completely unique," Mullins says.

Currently Relevant ReUse's products are available at a number of spots in Denver, including Re-For Your Home, I Heart Denver and Icelantic Skis.

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


Uber's AMBER Alert program, piloted in Denver, goes nationwide

Uber announced that its AMBER Alert program was launched nationwide after successfully being piloted in Denver. The company began testing the implementation of the alert system, which is designed to alert people in a geographic area by any means necessary about an abducted child in the region, in July 2015.

The Colorado-based branch of the ride service developed the idea and brought it to fruition. Explains Will McCollum, general manager of Uber of Colorado, "These are real people on the road at that time, they're the eyes and ears, and if they can help out local authorities our drivers want to do so."

As of August 2015 the AMBER Alert Program has been vital to recovering 772 children across the U.S. It's a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies and the wireless industry and pushes out all available information about serious child abductions. They're broadcast through radio, television, road signs and all available technology, including cell phones. Uber harnessed its power as a network of drivers and riders to incorporate the service.

"The AMBER Alert program's success is built on the ability to reach the right people at the right time with these potentially life-saving messages," says Robert Hoever, director of special programs, Missing Children Division, National Center For Missing & Exploited Children. "Uber's presence in communities all across the country will be an incredible asset and we are proud to team up with Uber to increase the reach of the AMBER Alert program and help bring more missing children home safely."

Uber's drivers in more than 180 cities across the U.S. will now receive time-sensitive and critical AMBER Alerts specific to their region through their app. The company explains that its "driver-partners" now receive geographically targeted information that may help to locate and recover a missing child as soon as a bulletin goes out.

"As a data-driven company, we understand the power of information for communities," Uber says of the service. "Since day one, our mission has been to connect people with reliable rides through the use of data and technology. As our footprint has grown throughout the years, so has our ability to use the Uber network in different ways."

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


The Whole Works takes The Wright award for 2015

On Oct. 20, SPACE Gallery hosted the annual Wright awards from Something Independent celebrating the intersection of lifestyle and leadership. The Whole Works won the 2015 Wright and the $5,000 award that came with it.

The annual event, organized by Denver's Something Independent, focuses on identifying companies that are exhibiting leadership at the intersection of lifestyle and commerce. The Whole Works, a new clothing production facility in Rifle, won the award this year. The company works with customers, including Colorado's Voormi, to produce products as needed.

"As one of the first public benefit corporations in the state, we are focused on making a social impact by partnering with a job preparation program that teaches production sewing to women who are transitioning from federal assistance," the company said in a statement.

Thanks to its operating model, the company said it is able to promise shorter turnaround times on projects and produce smaller volumes of orders. It's a selling point as more companies are looking to re-shore manufacturing in the U.S.

This year's other finalists for The Wright were ReActive Adaptations, which makes off-road handcycles and downhill machines and The Public Works, a Denver-based design, fabrication and multimedia marketing firm.

The event had fully 125 applicants in 2015. Judges winnowed the number down to 10, then three and finally chose the winner.

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


Faction introduces FAST hybrid cloud customizations for customers

Denver's Faction is upping the ante on cloud technologies by launching Faction Advanced Solutions Team (FAST). The team is dedicated to developing cloud services for clients that are customized to their needs.

"Faction prides itself on delivering truly customized cloud platforms, unlike other cloud providers who typically only offer one-size-fits-all options," contends Faction CEO Luke Norris. "Through our Faction Advanced Solutions Team, our customers have access to some of the most talented and innovative cloud design experts in the industry."

While the cloud is out there many options don't allow for a lot of customization. Faction's software-as-a-service platform allows for more customization and its FAST services will allow for even more customization. The company says its services can be structured as a private cloud, public cloud or a hybrid system.

For instance, earlier in 2015 its services helped Altitude Tickets sell 140,000 tickets for Garth Brooks at the Pepsi Center in under three hours. By offering the company an opportunity to use increased CPU, RAM and storage during the initial crush of requests, it was able to keep the site from crashing.

While most of this can be handled with its services online, the company realizes that some customers will need more advanced solutions or ones that might not have been developed yet. "When deeper engineering expertise is required, for requests such as bare metal installations, calibrating applications for the cloud, or even hybrid cloud architecture development, FAST will execute these complex tasks to completion," the company explains.

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


DAM seeks input from local creatives for 2016 programming

On Nov. 20, the the Denver Art Museum (DAM) will host Meet Here: An Evening of Idea Brewing and Creative Criss-Cross." The meeting is intended to bring together creatives from various disciplines to help develop ideas for DAM's programs in 2016. The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The museum is welcoming all sorts of people in the creative community from chefs to dancers, crafters, musicians and artists.

The brainstorming session will help the museum plan out its Untitled Final Fridays, a series of events that the museum offers on the final Friday of every month except November and December. "This program offers a unique museum experience with unconventional art encounters, new insight into the DAM collections, artmaking activities and more," DAM explained in a release. "At each Untitled event, the museum highlights a specific theme with exhibition-related activities and community collaborations."

In addition to the Untitled series, attendees will also be able to give input and insight into museum residencies and outdoor installations. This year, museum officials are particularly focused on dance and it wants to have outdoor dance programs in summer 2016.

While the Nov. 20 session is designed to help the museum create relevant events tailored to its community, it already has some broad themes planned for each date. ere's a list of the date and proposed themes for each event:

  • Jan. 29: Family Matters  
  • Feb. 26: Homegrown
  • March 25: Risky Business
  • April 29: Show Down
  • May 27: Rising Sun
  • June 24: Power House
  • July 29: In-Sync
  • Aug. 26: Center Stage
  • Sep. 30: Stop Motion
  • Oct. 28: Glory Days

RSVP here.

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


Denver 8 launches new brand, shows

The municipal TV station, Denver 8, recently launched a new brand identity and advertising campaign, "It's All About Denver," aimed at meeting the changing needs of the city. The new campaign is designed to showcase the station's award-winning and new, exclusive programming.

The new campaign includes a new logo, website, outdoor billboards and television as well as newspaper ads. To launch the new campaign Mayor Michael Hancock, local musicians and Executive Chef Troy Guard are appearing in the campaign touting the slogan: "Denver 8, It's All About Denver."

"Denver 8 is leading the way in dynamic and cutting edge municipal TV programming," asserts Denver Media Services Director Julie Martinez. "We want the community to know about our Emmy Award-winning programming and the special coverage we provide for everything from new local music, to the visual arts." This year, the station's lifestyle show, Dtown, won a Heartland Emmy Award, for instance.

The campaign focuses on programming like Dtown as well as its local music shows including Denver Loft Sessions and Red Rocks Premieres, both of which premiered over the past year. It's also focussing on the station's upcoming shows, including ArtScene and a new collaboration with Mile High Sports Magazine to introduce a sports talk show.

The station is attempting to gain new viewers with the campaign and educate them about the information and shows that Denver 8 offers to residents. The station is available on Comcast and Century Link on channel 8 and in HD on channel 880.

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

Alchemy Strategy Group uses visual mapping to spur organizational success

Alchemy Strategy Group has launched in Denver to help companies up their game with visual mapping and other tools. The consulting firm likens its services to success insurance.

"Healthcare, government, nonprofit and private-sectors deal with complex problems and challenges every day, and it's harder and harder for them to prioritize -- especially as they are asked to do more with less," says CEO Lois Todd. She explains using stories and maps to communicate a business plan can make it easier to explain the strategy than normal business plans. "People need maps to understand where they are going, so why not 'strategic maps' for businesses?"

The visual mapping service offers companies a different way to encapsulate their growth plans and strategies internally and to clients and investors. "We find that organizations are searching for more meaningful and creative way to articulate their vision and strategies, and we never lose sight of the importance of aligning and connecting people," explains Todd. "Visuals, as well as the metaphors we use to assist in telling a company's story, cause an emotional connection to a company's reason for being -- and that translates into higher employee engagement and productivity, because people are psyched to work at a place that knows where they are going and has a plan to get there."

Clients include the State of Colorado, the City and County of Denver, Children's Hospital, Galvanize and Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

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

Pettag+ launches Kickstarter to develop connected pet tracker

Denver's Pettag+ recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to introduce a connected pet tag. Essentially the tag connects with an app, already available for iOS devices and soon available on Android devices, to track dogs and cats and lets their owners monitor their activities and basic health.

"We have applied the same on-the-go connectedness that humans enjoy today with the pet world," says Shahir Ahmed, founder and CEO of Pet Tag Plus. "We want to focus on ease of use and affordability for pet owners to make their lives easier. Pettag+ brings the power of the cloud to the pet world, for the first time."

The device fits on a pet collar and has a Bluetooth chip with a 150-foot range allowing owners to track a pet nearby. It also uses crowdsourced GPS to track a pet's location in case they get lost. If they do get lost the fob has a QR code that allows a person who finds a lost dog or cat with the tag to scan it and notify the owner and can contact the 24/7 800 number to notify the PetHub network behind the connected device. Since the device can connect to up to seven people it can be useful even if the owner is away and the pet is being watched by a friend or pet-sitter.

For night walks and to confirm which buttons were pressed the device also features LED lights, is waterproof to 20 feet and designed for what dogs can dish out. It operates on a watch battery that typically lasts for a year.

Pettag+ comes with basic access to the PetHub network and users can upgrade to a premium version of the network if they choose to do so. Owners can create a profile for the pet, which includes information about its health and goals. Its accelerometer, allows pet owners to track their pet's activities and how much exercise it's getting.

The device is priced affordably. "It has become very apparent that the average consumer doesn't want to spend the $100 to $200 price of other connected pet products, so we have developed our unique solution to the connected pet with a simple lost and found feature that actually is proven to work," Ahmed said. The device is $65 and people can purchase it for $25 via Kickstarter.

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


Entrepreneurs assemble: Denver Startup Week passes 10,000 attendees

Denver Startup Week surpassed more than 10,000 registered attendees this week. That’s roughly triple the amount of people who registered for the first startup week in 2012. It also makes it the largest free entrepreneurial event in the country.

The event has proven more popular every year, drawing not only more attendees but also more sessions and bigger names. This year the entrepreneur’s festival had more than 230 separate events. That's up from 70 in its first year.

But if you’re worried the action stops with the end of Denver Startup Week today, don’t. On Oct. 9 next week the the Colorado chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization is hosting the Rocky Mountain Entrepreneurial Summit at the Hyatt Regency by the Convention Center. This event, however, isn't free. Tickets are $395 a pop, which includes four tickets to The Motet and Flobots at a private show at Red Rocks.

This summit features Lance Armstrong, Aron Ralston, Amy Van Dyken, John Jacobs, Brad Feld and other local and national business leaders. It's a long day of sessions, too, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. at Red Rocks.

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

Guerrilla Gravity wins $30K JumpStart BizPlan award

Denver-based mountain bike fabricator Guerrilla Gravity took home the top JumpStart BizPlan Award from the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED). The company won $30,000 and consulting services aimed at helping the company grow

"Denver has become a mecca for innovation, where the next generation of startups are growing and reaching new heights here each and every day," says Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. "We're proud to celebrate the best and brightest business ideas emerging out of Denver, and to shine a spotlight on the importance of our small business community."

Guerrilla Gravity, which manufactures at its retail bike shop, offers customized mountain bikes in a direct to consumer business model. The OED says that a wide variety of companies applied to the JumpStart competition, Among them were companies involved in healthcare, manufacturing, technology and consumer electronics, apparel, as well as retailers and restaurants.

Guerrilla Gravity competed with finalists Arthroventions and Übergrippen Indoor Climbing Crag for the award and additional services as part of Denver Startup Week events. Each of the three businesses presented their business plans and answered questions before a panel of business experts. The event was presented by Deloitte and U.S. Bank. In addition to the cash prize Guerrilla Gravity will receive legal counsel from Polsinelli, strategic marketing services from dovetail solutions, and entrepreneurship mentoring from TiE Rockies and Rockies Venture Club.

In addition to the JumpStart awards, OED and its partners also hosted a junior entrepreneurs. Sport Cabanas, a startup created by Chris Cordova and Janeth Mancha, won the TeenBiz Plan Award. The company offers tent rentals and setups for youth sporting events. The co-owners won a $5,000 cash prize.

"Today's event is proof positive that there is no shortage of great entrepreneurial ideas sprouting from Denver's youth," asserts OED Executive Director Paul Washington. "The future of our small business market is sure to remain strong thanks to the  healthy pipeline of ideas and innovations sparking across generations."

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


High-growth Denver Gazelles honored by city

On Sept. 28, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) named its Denver Gazelles,  successful, high-growth companies with the potential for more growth. All of the honorees, Altitude Digital, Four Winds Interactive, ProtectWise and Wayin, are tech companies. It's both the fourth year for Denver Startup Week and Denver Gazelles.

 
"We want the venture capital community to recognize that something special is happening in Denver," explains Paul Washington, OED executive director. "We're proud to celebrate entrepreneurism through the Denver Gazelles. These firms are widely recognized as companies on a path of growth and each will have a remarkable exit strategy."

The oldest of the awardees, Four Winds Interactive, is  10 years old. That company, which offers digital interactive communications services and software, has 325 employees in Denver and more than 5,000 clients across the world ranging from hospitals to stadiums.

The youngest of the companies honored this year, ProtectWise, was founded in April 2013. That company is a network security firm offering the Cloud Network DVR, a tool that records network information with what it calls a virtual camera. it allows its users see threats in real time and go review the traffic to discover any previously unknown threats. The company has raised more than $17 million is led by former employees of McAfee, IBM, Mandiant and Proofpoint. It's been named to Network World's list of "10 Security Start-Ups to Watch" and a 2015 Gartner Cool Vendor in Cloud Security Services.

Altitude Digital, a digital media company, is a bootstrapping success story. Founder Jeremy Ostermiller started the company in 2009 with just $500. Now it has 90 employees and is recognized as one of the fastest growing video advertising technology companies in the world. For the past four years it's been one of Inc.'s 500|5000 Top Private Companies in America and received other awards.

The fourth company recognized as a Denver Gazelle this year is Wayin, another digital marketing company that's focused on integrating social media with marketing. The Denver-based company was founded in 2010 and has 61 employees.

The office will celebrate the 2015 awardees and host a panel discussion with them and former awardees at Denver Startup Week's Basecamp on Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. It also produced a video featuring interviews with the current and past honorees.

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

 


Multiple events at Denver Startup Week drawing more than 500 attendees

If anything shows the popularity of entrepreneurship and innovation in Denver it’s Denver Startup Week, which will draw thousands of people to events Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. A full 10 of the more than 230 events are set to draw more more than 500 people -- and not just the parties!

What’s likely to be the most attended session is the Startup Job Fair being held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday Sept. 29. Nearly 800 people have registered to attend the event. The job fair will feature local startups in hiring mode seeking the best candidates. It’s a job-seeker's paradise.

The kick-off breakfast in the Seawall Ballroom on Sept. 28 from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. is expected to draw more than 750 people as well, according to Brea Olson, a spokesperson for event co-coordinator Denver Downtown Partnership. The breakfast is a free (but ticketed) event and will feature Senior Vice President of Oracle Data Cloud Eric Roza as its keynote speaker. He led the transformation of Datalogix into the big data company that Oracle purchased earlier this year.

Other speakers at the breakfast will include: Galvanize Founder and CEO Jim Deters, Revolar CEO and Founder Jacqueline Ros and Artifact Uprising co-founders Jenna Walker and Katie Thurmes.

The Women Who Startup Summit, hosted by more than 1,000-strong group Women Who Startup, also is expected draw more than 750 attendees. The summit will occur Sept. 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Galvanize in the Golden Triangle. That event will include many angel investors and CEOs of women-led companies. Among them are Silvia Travesani, co-founder of Be Visible and Alicia Robb, a senior fellow with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Other events expected to draw big crowds, according to Olson. They include:

  • TechCrunch Denver Meetup + Pitch Off on Oct. 1 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Galvanize LoDo.
  • Bootstrapping a company from $0 to $1 Million/yr in Revenue being held Sept. 29 at the  Jake Jabs Center at CU Denver from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • SEO, PPC, and Social Media: The trifecta of digital strategy, take 2 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 at The Commons on Champa.
  • Becoming an Influencer being held at Galvanize LoDo from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 30.
  • Women Who Launch on Sept. 28 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Galvanize LoDo.
  • How to Write Killer Copy and Connect with Customers at Galvanize LoDo on Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Structuring Equity Compensation for Founders and Employees at Otten Johnson from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28.

Those are just the top 10 events -- there are more than 220 others.

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


Basecamp: Hub of Denver Startup Week

Like any good journey you need a base to start from. Denver Startup Week has that in its Basecamp. It's one of the more central elements of the week and is at 1515 Arapahoe St. at Ashford University's Denver Online Center.

Basecamp is drawing some big names in 2015. For instance, Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and host of CNBC's The Profit will deliver a keynote on the opening day of startup week focusing on people, process and products.

The hub will host more than 20 events during the week. But some of the more notable events are: "Entrepreneurial Veterans," a "Startup Farmers Market" and "This Way For The Exit (Or IPO)." The first, held on Sept. 29 from noon to 1 p.m. brings The Veterans Administration's Center for Innovation, Patriot Bootcamp and Skill Distillery together to discuss how they are helping veterans become better entrepreneurs by using the skills they have and preparing them with tools they need to launch successful businesses.

"This Way For The Exit (Or IPO)" will help young companies get a better grasp on what comes next -- particularly for an entrepreneur that wants to move on to the next project. The event on Oct. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. will focus on how leaders have helped transition their companies to a new leadership team or moved forward to an IPO.

The Startup Farmers Market on Oct. 2 will feature local craft food makers. It serve as kind of a closing taste of Denver Startup Week, reminding attendees that startups aren't just in IT, but also in foods. After all, a number of national fast casual restaurants got their start in Colorado.

 In addition to the large presentations and events, it also offers one-on-one mentor sessions with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and developers. This year more than 60 mentors will be available to attendees.

Basecamp is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the week. Attendees can see which mentors are available on which day by clicking here. After having a mentor session attendees might want to stick around for a daily happy hour.

All of these events -- and more -- are at the Basecamp, which again sponsored by Chase Bank.

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

Larimer Square hosting "Investing in Main Street" panel

Denver's iconic skyline might be full of tall buildings like Wells Fargo's "Cash Register," but its most famous block is likely its oldest: Larimer Square.

This year, during Denver Startup Week, businesses in the picturesque block are coming together to discuss how the square was preserved 50 years ago -- becoming Denver's first historic district -- as skyscrapers threatened to scrape the historic face off of Denver's downtown in a panel called "Investing in Main Street."
 

On Sept. 30 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at MSU Denver, a restaurateur-heavy panel of speakers, moderated by CBS4 Morning Anchor Britt Moreno, will discuss how entrepreneurs have launched businesses on Main Streets throughout the U.S. and how Larimer Square is a model of success for such entrepreneurialism. The event, aside from being part of Denver Startup Week, also is the final panel of Larimer Square's five-part speaker series called "Stories from the Square."

The panelists will include:

  • Jeff Hermanson: CEO and President, Larimer Associates
  • Troy Guard: Chef/Owner, TAG Restaurant Group
  • Chad McWhinney: CEO & Co-Founder, McWhinney
  • Beth Gruitch: General Manager/Proprietor, Crafted Concepts
  • Jennifer Jasinski, Executive Chef/Owner, Crafted Concepts
  • Jackson Lamb, MSU, Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events

Beyond restaurateurs, who operate many of the businesses on Larimer Square's ground floor, developers will also discuss their role in investing in Main Street, USA. "Today, through the vision and commitment from civic-minded investors, locally-spawned retailers, chefs and restaurateurs, Main Street is emerging and is stronger than ever from a generational pattern of boom and bust," the organizers say.

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


Denver Startup Week to announce $150K in awards for digital health innovations

During Denver Startup Week later this month, the Prime Health Digital Health Challenge will announce winners of the three-month program which will allow the winners to obtain a portion of the up to $150,000 in award monies to pilot their projects. It's the second year for the challenge.

Health care and digital health care, particularly, is one of the greatest opportunities for entrepreneurs today. With the influx of smart devices and a more connected health care system, opportunities are rampant to serve all communities with new innovations, from developing apps to developing better ways to deliver care. Colorado already has more than 125 digital health startups, according to Prime Health.

The competition will help some of the most advanced test their projects or move them to the next stage in business development. The winners will have a focus on improving patient experience and population health while lower costs of health care.

Last year four finalists, Caring in Place, Cirrus MD, RxRevu and Telespine shared $100,000 in funding. Two other companies received funding through the program. Additionally Telespine and Rx Assurance each received $500,000 investments from The Colorado Health Foundation.

This year, out of the 21 applications 11 were selected as finalists. That number is whittled down to eight. Just before Denver Startup Week (Sept. 24) the finalists will have an opportunity to 'speed date' with health care institutions.

The challenge will culminate During Denver Startup Week on Sept. 30, at the Denver Art Museum, when the eight finalists will pitch live to an institution panel. The winners will receive a portion of $150,000 to pilot their product or projects.

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


The Commons on Champa to dive into Denver Startup Week with extended services, events

In coordination with Denver Startup Week from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, The Commons on Champa is extending its free advisory services and other resources for startups and entrepreneurs. The Commons also will host four different events in downtown Denver during the week.

The Commons on Champa, a public-private collaboration between the City of Denver, the Colorado Technology Association and the Downtown Denver Partnership, launched earlier this year to make more public resources available to the startup community. It's sort of a startup university where the community can learn and share ideas.

During Startup Week OED will offer free business and entrepreneur consultations at its extension office, OED@Commons on the second floor of the building. The consultations will be available both by appointment and on a walk-in basis. The Commons says that representatives from the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, KivaZip, the Denver Public Library and now, Innosphere will be available to offer advisory services.

Perhaps most exciting for entrepreneurs will be the 2015 JumpStart BizPlan Finals. The competition is being held on Sept. 28 helping to kick off Startup Week with a $30,000 pot for the winner. Three finalists will compete for the award. The event also will include an award offered by Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc., the Teen BizPlan Award.

The Commons also will host a number of off-campus events, including the Denver Business Expo on Sept. 29 at the Wellington Webb Building atrium on 201 W. Colfax. The expo will host city agencies, local business support groups, nonprofits and banks. Based on Colorado and Denver's active lifestyle, The Commons is hosting the Building the Active Lifestyle Industry segment of Startup Week on Sept. 29 at Ink Monstr's office at 2721 W. Holden Pl. The event will feature Mike Maloney (KOTA Longboards), Will Montague (Guerilla Gravity) and others.

On Oct. 1, The Commons will host Get Engaged! Civic Involvement for Small Companies as the Wellington Web building. The event will focus on how startups can engage in community-building while building their brand locally.

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


MSU Denver, Colorado Heights University partner to create multi-campus university

Under a new partnership between Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) and Colorado Heights University (CHU), MSU will acquire significant portions of the historical Loretto Heights campus in southwest Denver from Colorado Heights University. The partnership will help position MSU Denver for challenges in the future and renew its focus on international education and serving underrepresented students.

"This was a values-based decision for CHU," explains MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan. "Our two institutions have a mutual respect for each other's role and mission. CHU was especially supportive of our 2012 decision to offer a special tuition rate for undocumented students. We are extremely grateful and honored to have been selected by CHU for this remarkable opportunity and collaboration."

Under the partnership CHU will continue to offer its programs and expand them to help bring more international students into MSU Denver. CHU also will become an exclusive ESL provider for MSU Denver to help attract more international students.

The universities will strive to fulfill CHU's and Loretto Heights' missions to educate a globally diverse student population and local residents. As such they will explore options for developing 18 acres of the campus as an international business park that would be an experiential learning site for students. They also plan develop an alliance of international universities.

"It is only fitting that in the University's 50th year, and a few months after the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act, that we begin taking steps to chart our future," Jordan says. "This partnership with CHU is a significant way for MSU Denver to firmly plant one foot in our heritage and the other in our future."

The transaction is expected to close with MSU Denver taking ownership of the property by July 1, 2016. It anticipates offering some MSU classes there as early as fall 2016.


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


fishpond becomes B Corp

Denver's fishpond recently became a B Corporation. The company designs fly fishing, outdoor adventure packs, vests, gear bags, luggage and other accessories. Among other innovations, the company has created Cyclepond, a fabric made from recycling commercial fishing nets.

As a B Corp, fishpond is required to meet certain social and environmental standards. This includes considering the impacts of the company's decisions on employees, suppliers, communities, consumers and the environment. While becoming a B Corp or Beneficial Corporation is a voluntary act for a for-profit company, it ensures that the company meets these standards by including the requirements in its bylaws.

"As a small fly fishing focused brand, it is very important to communicate to our employees, consumers and industry that our business is dedicated to making sustainable decisions affecting everyone involved," explains co-owner Ben Kurtz. "Joining Patagonia in the fly fishing industry as the only other manufacturer with this certification means a great deal to us and will undoubtedly mean more to our loyal consumers."

Among the factors cited in allowing fishpond to become a B Corp, the certifying organization noted Cyclepond, the company's advocacy in Washington, D.C., to protect water and sustainable fishing practices and its donations to non-profits through partnerships and product sales.

"Since fishpond's inception, we have strived to be leaders in sustainable practices and creating a workplace in which our employees can thrive," says John Le Coq, fishpond founder and lead designer. "Becoming a certified B Corp tells our industry and our consumers that they are aiding a company that deeply cares about the environment and social responsibility on a large scale."

In becoming a B Corp it joins more than 50 other companies in Colorado that have become B Corps. The certification, according to the company, will also allow it access to a like-minded community of business owners to continually drive positive progress.

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


Denver sticker giant Ink Monstr to host Sticky Situation Denver 2015

On Sat. Aug. 29, the stickerheads behind Ink Monstr, which can print multi-story-tall stickers, are hosting the Sticky Situation contest on Sat. Aug. 29 at Stoney's Bar & Grill. The event will showcase artists who work with the company by taking one of their pieces of art and transforming it into a giant sticker that will be applied on Stoney’s walls for one night only. In addition, the artists will compete for a $1,000 grand prize.

Ink Monstr says that attendees of the event will have until 10:30 p.m. to vote on their favorite pieces at the show. Artists participating will include Binx, Sandi Calistro, Michael Coriano, Delton Demarest, GAMMA, Mike Graves, Naomi Haverland, Andrew Hoffman, Nick Hughes, Scot LeFavor, Joseph Martinez, Jaime Molina, Claw Money, Angel Once and Kal Urso.

Mike Graves, GAMMA and Binx will paint at the event and DJs Low Key and Gyp DaHip will perform sets during the party. Drinks will be provided by Breckenridge Brewery, Deep Eddy Vodka, Red Bull, Blue Chair Bay Rum and Dulce Vida Tequila.

The event is being held at Stoney's Bar & Grill at 1111 Lincoln St.

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


MSU Denver taps into craft brewing craze with Tivoli Brewing Co. curriculum launch

Sat. Aug. 22 was the grand opening -- or actually grand reopening -- for Tivoli Brewing Co., a craft brewery that doubles as a functional, educational facility on campus for Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Once home to the largest brewery in Denver, the historic Tivoli building on the Auraria campus is now the Tivoli Student Union building, and will remain so, but it has also regained its function as a brewery. The facility now offers MSU Denver students a unique hands-on opportunity in the country as the only full-production brewery on a campus in the U.S.

More than 40 years after the original Tivoli shut its doors, Tivoli Brewing began resurrecting its recipes in 2012. "When we considered pursuing this endeavor, we saw the educational opportunities it would create for students, current employees and craft brewers as a whole and we knew it was a win-win for all those involved," says Corey Marshall, founder and CEO of Tivoli Brewing. "Educational opportunities for students will go beyond just brewing to all aspects of the operation from restaurant management, distribution, sales, marketing, packaging, quality control and business operations."

MSU Denver has launched four new beer courses for fall 2015 including Brewery Operations, Fermentation Science, Beverage Sales and Marketing, and Cooking with Beer. The university named Scott Kerkmans, one of five Certified Cicerones, as the coordinator of its Beer Industry Program within the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events.

"Our faculty's rapid response to industry need, including the Tivoli Brewing Company, in creating new curriculum demonstrates MSU Denver's impact on Colorado's workforce," said MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan. Indeed, Colorado's breweries already add $10.3 billion in economic value to the state and employ more than 24,000 people, according to a recent report by the Beer Institute.

The Tivoli Brewing facilities build on MSU Denver's 14-year old Hospitality, Tourism and Events program. It previously used facilities off-campus, including those at the Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field to give students real-world brewing experiences. Now the university will work with Tivoli as well as with Rising Sun Distillery and Strange Craft Beer Company. The latter two are within walking distance from campus.

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


Denver Startup Week registration, schedule now online

Denver Startup Week, the annual Lollapalooza for entrepreneurs and small businesses, begins on Sept. 28. Now people can check out what events are occurring and register to attend events. It's free to register for sessions and free to attend.

Some keynote speakers at this year's events will include Ryan Martens of Rally Software and Pledge 1% and Brad Feld of Techstars and The Foundry Group.

Events are categorized into six different tracks. They include founder, developer, product, growth, designer and maker tracks. The event will include headline events like the Women Who Startup summit at Galvanize on Sept. 29 or the Built In Brews at Galvanize on Sept. 30. It will also include social events, including happy hours, that aren't categorized by track.

The event, which is sponsored by the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Colorado Technology Association, Chase, Comcast and Ping Identity, among a host of others, continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of entrepreneurs in the Rocky Mountain region.

While the schedule is up and more than 90 events are listed, organizers say additional information about the event and show will be available soon. That includes information about the kickoff breakfast and Basecamp, which will again be at Arapahoe Street and the 16th Street Mall.

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

Imbibe to host Makers Convergence

On Mon. Aug. 24, Imbibe will host the Makers Convergence, an event at the McNichols Building (144 W Colfax Ave. in Denver in Civic Center Park), designed to help Colorado’s craftspeople and makers collaborate and network. The conference is themed "Keeping the Spirit" and will focus on strategies to help launch and grow businesses.
 

"Creativity is alive in Denver right now," says Katie Schulze, co-organizer of the event. "After producing Denver Flea, we were inspired by the small businesses in our city and wanted to create a conference where these businesses could connect in new ways." The conference is presented by Imbibe, Denver Flea, the Denver Office of Economic Development, Denver Handmade Homemade and Warm Cookies of the Revolution. 

The conference is aimed at fostering discussions for local artisans, makers and producers. It's targeted towards small business, value-added food producers, hobbyists, business service providers and entrepreneurs.

The conference will have a number of sessions and will feature round tables on business development and sales strategy, marketing and social media and accounting, legal issues and planning. The conference will kick off with a conversation about how local businesses launched and how they keep the founding spirit in their companies.

"Our hope is that our businesses will leave inspired and with tools for next steps in kicking ass at your business," says Sarah Wells, the event's co-organizer. 

Sessions at the event will be round table discussions allowing event goers to choose which session will best suit their interests. The event will conclude with an ice-cream social.

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


Art Gym prints it out with new workspace

Montclair's Art Gym, a place for Denver's artists to flex their artistic muscles by working with and around fellow artists, has introduced a printmaking workspace. The workspace will allow the Art Gym's members to make prints and other pieces of artwork that use what can be very expensive -- albeit infrequently used -- tools.

Art Gym has now opened 3,000 square feet dedicated to printmaking. Members, who pay $100 a month to access the facility for a variety of art forms, can use the tools available in the print shop to silk screen, makes prints and more.

The Art Gym is holding a gallery show, Print & Process, Possibilities in Print, to celebrate its new focus area and showcase how several generations of regional artists have used printmaking tools to make pieces art. The show will include traditional prints, printed sculpture, book art and installation pieces.

The Art Gym has purchased printmaking tools, including presses, from artists including Clinton Cline, Barb Hale and the late E.C. Cunningham. Other artists exhibiting at the show include Theresa Haberkorn, Alicia Bailey, Jennifer Ghormley and Justin Maes.

The show, which opened Aug. 6, will run through Sept. 12., will feature works of art from the artists whose tools were purchased. In addition, the communal artist space will hold an artist demo on Aug. 15 with Mark Lunning and an artist discussion with Johanna Mueller.

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


Kapow opens Denver office to coordinate corporate events

Kapow Events, a corporate events marketplace, opened a Denver office to help coordinate marketing and events for Fortune 500 companies. The new office will help facilitate events with local establishments like restaurants, sport and music venues and more.

"Our platform makes the process of planning corporate events easier and more efficient so companies such as HP, Microsoft and Southwest Airlines can take their client entertainment to the next level," said Marc Halpin, CEO of Kapow Events. “We're excited to bring our platform to Denver and partner with some of the hottest restaurants and entertainment venues in the country.” 

The company says its services cost no more than booking directly with the locations. It allows companies to enter their planned budget, number of people attending and then let's them choose from a number of events and experiences. Kapow says events can range from sushi rolling to more traditional dinners to scavenger hunts, indoor skydiving or concerts.

On the other side of the platform its partners like restaurants and venues can use Kapow to schedule, manage and accept events -- even if they didn't book the events via Kapow's tools. As such the company's platform helps provide venues with additional marketing tools and can help fill unused private event space.

The company has been expanding and now has 170 employees across 17 U.S. cities and already has started hiring in Denver.

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


Strongwater Spirits and Botanicals launches line of 'shrubs'

Strongwater Spirits and Botanicals has launched Colorado's first line of shrubs. Shrubs are sipping vinegars intended for use as a health tonic and ingredient in craft cocktails. The new shrub line adds to Strongwaters' line of botanical bitters and is the first company in Colorado to launch a line of sipping vinegars in an apple-cider vinegar base.

Strongwater, which was founded in 2015, already is distributed in Colorado, Oregon and Washington and is being used at a number of local bars and restaurants including The Kitchen, Z Cuisine, Gozo and more. According to Strongwater, the shrubs are used as a daily digestive tonic as well as in cocktails like classics like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and Moscow Mules. They're also available at retail stores including Black Eye Coffee, Amendment XXI, Sugarpill and Artemisia & Rue. An 8.5-ounce shrub bottle retails for $25.

"We founded Strongwater after seeing the trend for small batch botanical cocktail mixers on the West Coast and wanted to put our own spin on it, in order to bring the trend to Denver and Colorado," explains Kelsey Riley a co-founder of Strongwater. Riley, an herbalist, founded Strongwater with Nick Andresen.

"Shrubs and bitters have a long history of accentuating instead of masking flavor: I watch mixologists using high-end booze and then add a ton of sugary mixers to drinks, which masks the essence of the spirit. Our products offer a clean and sugar-free botanical component instead, giving way to a refined flavor and a more natural craft cocktail," Riley says. Shrubs and bitters have roots as far back as the 1600s in England.

The new line of shrubs come in a number of flavors: ginger & pear, cherry & thyme, blueberry & mint, peach & rose, and persimmon & lavender.

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

PaintCare launches statewide paint recycling program

Too many people have leftover paint after repainting their home or apartment. This stuff usually sits around until it can't be used anymore or ends up in the dump -- which is not good since paints can leach toxic materials into the ground. But last year Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation into law requiring paint recycling. Now, through the free paint recycling program, PaintCare, Coloradans are able to recycle the paint hiding behind the stairs, in the basement or in the garage -- for free!

PaintCare was set up by paint manufacturers as a way to mitigate paint waste. The organization says that more than half of the materials handled by household hazardous waste facilities is paint.


There are already nearly 50 paint drop-off locations in the Denver area, and the organization already has more than 100 locations throughout Colorado. Many of these are at hardware and paint stores

"We are thrilled to see the excitement and energy from Colorado retailers to become paint drop-off sites," says Paul Fresina, PaintCare's director of communications. "Before the program was implemented, many people didn't have any easy way to get rid of their unwanted paint, but now Coloradans have the option to simply drop off paint at a PaintCare retail partner near them for recycling."

The legislation signed by Hickenlooper doesn't require a fee for recycling. However, Coloradans are already paying to recycle paint when they purchase it. That's because the legislation imposed a small fee on the purchase of paint. For instance, a five-gallon bucket of paint carries a $1.60 fee to handle recycling.

Once the paint is collected PaintCare processes it into a number of things. Some is remixed into recycled-content paint, used as fuel or made into other products or. In some case, when paint is unrecyclable, PaintCare dries it out and disposes of it. Visit www.paintcare.org to learn more.

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


New Belgium 'sours' on Denver with upcoming pilot brewery

Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing, Colorado's largest craft brewery, is launching a new, 10-barrel pilot brewery in RiNo's upcoming The Source Hotel. The pilot brewery will specialize in sour beers and barrel-aging beers. The hotel, which is set to open in early 2017, is being developed by Zeppelin Development.

"After 25 years in Fort Collins, we're really excited to get more deeply involved in Colorado's cultural and political capital," said Jenn Vervier, director of strategy and sustainability at New Belgium. "We've long considered creating a Denver location to bring the New Belgium experience to more of our Colorado fans and to the millions of travelers who visit Denver. . . . This small batch brewery will allow us to collaborate with The Woods' chef and mixologists to create innovative beers, drinks, and pairings you can't get anywhere else."

The new pilot system will be a 2,000-square-foot facility on The Source Hotel's ground floor. New Belgium will have 50 oak barrels onsite allowing the brewery to age beer at the hotel and expand its line of sour beers. The brewer also will sell beer brewed at the facility at Source Hotel establishments.

Currently New Belgium's cellar in Fort Collins -- the "foeder forest" -- has 64 French Oak big barrels known as foeders.

In addition to the sour brewing facility on the ground floor, New Belgium also will have The Woods, a rooftop lounge at the hotel. The Woods will feature New Belgium beers paired with small plates. It will also have sit-down dining and a beer garden. That's in addition to the rooftop pool and views of downtown and the mountains.

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


CU Peru wins Posner Poverty Hack and $5K for healthcare technology along Amazon

Last week as part of the Biennial of the Americas the Posner Center for International Development hosted the Posner Poverty Hack, a three-day hackathon aimed at solving international development issues in developing nations. CU Peru won, partnering with Quick Left. and Chromedia to develop tools to help educate health care providers in Peru.


The hackathon, from July 15 to 17, challenged 11 hackathon teams to create solutions to challenges faced by three of the Posner Center's tenants. The tenants: CU Peru, Grassroots Global Development Foundation (GGDF) and International Development Enterprises (iDE), were competing for the $5,000 award -- along with additional prizes from Quick Left and Chromedia -- to help them develop and implement a technology-based solution to one of their core issues.

CU Peru wanted to use mobile technology to increase communication between health care providers and patients. GGDF wanted to find ways technology can aid in post-disaster recovery in Los Cabos, B.C.S., Mexico and iDE wanted to find ways to finance a solar water pump it designed. The center created 100 spots for organizations to participate on one of 15 hackathon teams. The competition was juried by representatives from Colorado's Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT), Galvanize, aWhere, iTriage, The Denver Post, the Northeast Denver Housing Center and CauseLabs.

"CauseLabs is excited to spark solutions to these specific poverty challenges by maximizing the hackathon model," said T.J. Cook, CEO of the Denver-based company that builds tools to impact people. "We've wanted to collaborate on an event like this for a long time." Quick Left and Chromedia will help CU Peru develop ways to facilitate telecommunication between health facilities and community health agents to connect the Upper Napo health system.

The hackathon was sponsored by the Biennial of the Americas, CauseLabs, iTriage, Peak Creative, the Global Accelerator Network, MillerCoors, Wedgies.com, KIND Snacks, Lyft, Denver B-Cycle, King Soopers, Justin's, 34 Degrees, Marley Coffee, Coyote Gold Margaritas, and Pekoe Sip House.

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


First Descents benefitting from Old Wood Soul's furniture makers

Local furniture maker Old Wood Soul has teamed up with First Descents, a Denver-based organization that helps young adults fighting cancer experience outdoor adventure. Old Wood Soul's beneficial campaign, TenTables, will donate 10 percent of the sale of a series of tables made from 130-year-old Cypress planks from an old horse barn to First Descents. Through an earlier TenTables campaign they donated $5,000 to local and national charities.

The founders of Old Wood Soul, wife and husband, Lauren and Keith Whittier, launched TenTables in December 2014. For the campaign they created farm-style tables made of reclaimed snow fencing from the Western plains.

"Our first experience with the community that First Descents built was, well, overwhelming," says Lauren. "We had never seen such a passionate group of people come together for such a targeted cause." The organization has helped more than 3,000 individuals participate in outdoor activities like rock climbing and rafting to help them regain the confidence lost to cancer.

The new set of handcrafted tables in the TenTables series are made from reclaimed Cypress planks from an old horse barn and a steel railroad truss base. "The beauty of this style," says Keith, is that "it's equally as comfortable in an urban loft as it is in classic Colorado bungalow, ranch or rustic mountain home."

Old Wood Soul also partnered with Mile High Workshop, a nearby organization that helps individuals who have recovered from addiction, incarceration and homelessness, find work to help them transition from one stage of their lives to the next.

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

Garth Brooks crushes Pepsi Center sales record, thanks partly to Denver's Faction

When Garth Brooks announced his final tour, it was guaranteed that tickets would sell pretty well, and they did: His nine shows in Denver sold 140,000 tickets in under three hours. That's partly thanks to success of Faction's infrastructure-as-a-service system, which helped facilitate the online sales traffic for Altitude Tickets.

Denver-based Faction says the service was successful enough that now Altitude parent company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment will expand their use of the cloud-based services provided by Faction as well as ePlexity. The latter migrated Pepsi Center's ticket sales to Faction's platform. Previously Altitude tickets had purchased and managed their own equipment in a third-party data center. However the system required more capital expenditures to deal with usage spikes and new hardware.


"Faction and ePlexity have helped us to create a hosting environment which better meets our needs in terms of both performance and cost efficiencies," says Rick Schoenhals, VP of Information Technology at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. "We've also gained the flexibility to respond to business challenges more quickly with effective solutions that can directly target our business needs."

The Faction and ePlexity services allow the Pepsi Center to raise or lower their usage of the services without changing the amount they spent on the services. Faction says it was able to reduce costs while increasing revenue for the venue compared to its previous ticketing system.

"With the broad customization available on Faction's Cloud we were able to provide Altitude Tickets greater control, functionality and on-demand capacity," says Luke Norris, Faction founder and CEO.

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


Need booze delivered? There's an app for that

A new app, Liquor Limo recently debuted in Denver. The app, for Android and iOS devices, allows users to either have their liquor, beer and wine selections ready for pickup or to schedule an order for delivery. For delivery orders over $50, there’s no delivery charge either.

The app is ideal for someone holding a party that doesn’t have time to go to the store to pick up the liquor beforehand. Liquor Limo partners with liquor stores that have more than three years of delivery service. The company includes members of the team that founded Baroness Wines in 2001, which became the largest independent wine, beer and spirits distribution company in Colorado. The company was sold to a division of Berkshire Hathaway in 2014.

The app-based delivery service has 15 retail partners in Colorado that can service customers in Avon, Boulder, Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Frisco, Greeley, Montrose, Pueblo, Stapleton, Thornton and Vail. The company already is expanding to additional markets and states.

"Through the app, customers in Denver and across Colorado, can receive scheduled and professional liquor delivery, while still supporting their local neighborhood retailers," explains Kevin Byrne, Liquor Limo COO.

If users can’t find what they’re looking for at a store, the company offers a Replica Recommendation Engine based on what it calls "Copy Cat DNA Matches" -- which it says is testing done to find the best substitutes when a particular spirit or brew isn’t available. “Our proprietary Replica Recommendation Engine enables users to explore vast retailer inventories, and discover new beverages based on the chemical fingerprint of their current likes and dislikes,” Byrne explains. 

The recommendation engine has evaluated more than 15,000 beverages and spirits. It can either match for unavailable spirits and beverages or make recommendations for similar but less expensive alternatives.

The app requires users to have a valid photo ID showing that they are 21 years old or older. They can then search store inventories for similar tasting beverages, often at a fraction of the price.

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


Voting for Denver Startup Week panels closes on July 10

This year Denver Startup Week is reaching out Denver's entrepreneurial community and allowing it to vote on exactly what sessions to hold, but your chance to influence the sessions ends on July 10 when the organizers end voting.

Already organizers have solicited more than 15,600 votes on a broad range of session possibilities, ranging from "Get Reporters to Feature your Company -- Get FREE National Publicity Easily" to "Founder F#ck Ups" or "Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys: Successes & Strategies for Anxiety Tolerance in Entrepreneurship."

On July 6, the topic that's far and away is stealing the most votes (182) fittingly has a pirate theme: "'Aarrr' You Working As A Team? How Successful Product And Marketing Managers Work Together To Leverage Pirate Metrics." The one that's garnered the least votes is "How To Do Home Energy Reports At Scale," with just one vote. So if you think there's a topic that startup week needs to address, let them know -- now!

The organizers will reveal the seven to 10 keynote speakers and sessions that were selected by popular vote in August. This year Denver Startup Week begins Sept. 28 and ends Oct. 2.

Vote for sessions here.

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


New media buying conference comes to Denver

Ads are ubiquitous. But with all the opportunities for gaining consumers' attention, this ever-more-crowded space continues to get more complicated. That's the focus of a new mini-conference in Denver, Programmatic NOW, that's being held at Industry Denver on July 23.

"This is significant because programmatic is the future of digital media buying and it affects or will affect how nearly all media is purchased," said Ryan Wilson of FiveFifty, the event's title sponsor. "Events of this level are usually held in cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or other 'major' markets. This conference is important to the Denver community because it gives local people that aren't all in on programmatic yet an easy opportunity to join the discussion."

Programmatic media automates media buying and placement, targeting customers across a variety of platforms, but it's not as known as traditional media yet. However, it is growing. It's expected that spending in programmatic media could reach $15 billion in the U.S. in 2015. In 2016, it could reach $20 billion.

"No longer can marketing and advertising professionals ignore programmatic," said Erin Cole of Accordant Media, a New York City-based media firm. "If you're in the advertising and marketing space and not working with programmatic at a high level you will be at a disadvantage."

Forest Whaling of Altitude Digital Partners says that the $89 ticket price is much lower for media conferences out of Denver. The conference will feature local programmatic leaders in afternoon sessions designed to explain and show the promise of programmatic marketing. The conference is supported through a partnership of the Denver Ad Club, Business Marketing Association, and AdTech Meetup.

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


Rose Community Foundation announces Innovate for Good winners

Earlier in 2015, Rose Community Foundation announced its first Innovate for Good challenge, a competition to fund projects with grants aimed at making Denver better. On June 18 at the organization's 20th anniversary celebration, the foundation announced nine winners in the competition.

Applicants responded to the question: "What new and innovative idea would you bring to life to make the Greater Denver community a better place to live?" The response was strong with the competition receiving nearly 400 proposals. A team of 130 community members evaluated applications based on their innovation, creativity, feasibility and the entrants' ability to make a measurable difference within a year.

Sheila Bugdanowitz, president and CEO of Rose Community Foundation, introduced the winners. "We are delighted to announce the winners of our Innovate for Good project tonight at our 20th Anniversary celebration. Every person in the room will have a chance to learn about this innovative work."

The foundation gave out $250,000 in all, including an additional $20,000 to Workshop on Wheels, which won a live audience choice award at the gala. Workshop on Wheels was submitted by Be the Gift. The Workshop on Wheels won a grant to create a mobile workshop outfitted with tools and materials that will use volunteers to complete home repair projects for single-mom families.

The other awards were granted to:

  • Bright by Text, a text-messaging system that sends parents evidence-based tips to support young childhood development submitted by Bright by Three.
  • The Clean River Design Challenge from The Greenway Foundation, which challenges Metro State University of Denver design students to remove trash from the South Platte River.
  • The Arts Street Creative Youth Take Flight – La Alma Connection project to produce a master art plan that will help educate youth about urban design, creative placemaking and economic development to encourage pedestrian use of the light rail and 10th Avenue in the La Alma neighborhood.
  • The Fresh Food Connect app submitted by Groundwork Denver to allow home gardeners to donate extra produce for distribution at food banks and through affordable sale. The app will connect gardeners with youth who will be employed to pick up and deliver donated produce.
  • The Race, Policing and Community Justice Advocates program submitted by the Shorter Community AME Church to partner with other community stakeholders. The program will help high school students become peer presenters focusing on racial equality, community awareness based policing and justice advocacy.
  • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, a project from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to provide performances to high school students in school parking lots. The performances will be followed by actor-led workshops.
  • The Stompin' Ground Games from the Warm Cookies of the Revolution organization which fosters a year-long Olympics-style competition between Denver neighborhoods focusing on arts, culture and history.
  • Veterans in Food Deserts, a project by the Denver Botanic Gardens to help military veterans grow and sell fresh produce at farm stands in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy foods, and share knowledge about gardening and healthy nutrition.
Since Rose Community Foundation's inception in 1995, it has donated more than $277 million aimed at improving Denver.

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

OrderUp is Uber for your burrito

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Denver expands employment opportunities for low-income youth

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

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

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

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

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

Skill Distillery IT bootcamp is first to accept VA funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Law firm uses Apple Watch to engage with clients

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Galvanize hosts Internet of Things startup weekend

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Colorado Lending Source wins innovation award

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

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

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

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

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

Techweek expands to Denver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Denver celebrated in new Rockmount collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denver Startup Week 2015 open for submissions

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about the tracks and make submissions at www.denverstartupweek.org.

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

Loyalty-tech provider FiveStars adding 100 jobs in Denver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSTILL grows with craft distillery movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonix brings fresh flavor to an old staple

If you've ever tasted store-bought tonic water, you've probably used the quinine-laced stuff to make a gin and tonic. But you've probably never enjoyed drinking tonic water on its own. Denver's Tonix is changing that.

The syrup is made in Denver with cinchona bark from South America, as were the original tonic waters that were developed to help combat malaria in the 1840s. The bark gives the concentrate its distinctive ruddy color.

Since it's a concentrate, imbibers can tweak the flavor by adding more or less to a drink, whether they're using soda water or not, explains Tonix founder Travis Gilbert. Also it's shelf stable, so it won't go bad after it's opened.

"I love gin and I love gin and tonics," Gilbert says. His late father-in-law introduced him to gin and tonics. "The first thing he asked me was if I wanted one."

"I was disappointed with the tonics on the market," Gilbert says. "And I thought: 'If there's not anything on the market, why not make it on my own.'" He explains that there are a few craft tonics available and a few craft tonic concentrates available as well. But he developed Tonix to be a bit more versatile.

The company recently had a launch party where it introduced the syrup to potential buyers: restaurants, liquor stores and bars. Already some local companies like Nooch Vegan Market, Bear Creek Distillery, Hugo's Colorado Beer & Spirits and Grandma's House Brewery are carrying and using the copper-colored concentrate.

Tonix is currently only selling the concentrate. However, Gilbert anticipates making a ready-to-drink tonic water for sale.

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

Duby cannabis app gains more than 1,000 downloads first week

There's no doubt that cannabis is becoming more popular everyday. This means entrepreneurs are reaching out to engage this community of enthusiasts in new ways. Case in point: Duby, a new app that launched on Apple's App Store this week.

How popular is pot? Well, the app has already seen more than 1,000 downloads this week despite no advertising.

"Cannabis is one of the top themes on social media, yet most social media outlets restrict marijuana-related posts. Duby is a viral social network that allows the cannabis community to discover the latest marijuana trends and conversations," says Duby co-founder Alec Rochford.

The app, made by Art District on Santa Fe-based developers, is designed to allow users to post messages, pictures and videos anonymously but also allows them to track how far their post goes. To use the company's parlance, users can pass a Duby on or put it out.

The app also is location-based, which does two things, ensures the app is only used in places where medical or recreational marijuana is legal and let users see where their Dubys are lighting up, so to speak. "The concept is not to collect friends, but to increase your influence by posting content that is passed around among users," the company touts.

The creators also said that privacy is paramount to the app. "Users are ensured complete anonymity through the use of location obfuscation, input sanitation, explicit protection of personally identifiable information and the inability to privately message other users," the company says.

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

Bear Creek Distillery wins awards with unique take on noble spirits

Just off Broadway in the Overland neighborhood, Bear Creek Distillery is a new operation -- its whiskeys haven't even had a full year to age yet -- but its spirits are already winning awards.

In March, Bear Creek Distillery won three awards at the Denver International Spirits Competition, an event that attracted companies as big as Beam Suntory (makers of Jim Beam and its family of products). But Bear Creek took home the gold in the Vodka Potato category with its 100 percent Wheat Vodka, and two silvers in the Vodka Rye and Rum White categories.

"Our vodkas are sort of unique because we make grain-specific vodka," explains co-founder Jay Johnson. "Typically a vodka off the shelf you'll find are mixed grain or potato. Potato vodkas are relatively common. It is relatively uncommon to find a vodka that is 100 percent wheat or 100 percent rye," he says of the award-winning spirits.

The Silver Rum, which isn't aged, also won an award at the show. "Rum is easy to make. It's ingredients are easy to clean up, you can get it bottled within a month," Johnson says. In fact, vodka is harder to make because it has to be distilled to such a high proof. "It has a to be 190 proof," he says.

These spirits are just the start for the nascent distillery. "We hope to release our Silver Rum that has been aged in used Wild Turkey barrels, and then we also do a house-infused spiced rum," Johnson explains. "We mirror our vodka with a rye whiskey that we hope to have available by the holidays or in the beginning of the year for our tasting room. That goes the same for our wheat whiskey. Our bourbon probably won't ready until 2017."

That's because of the nature of spirits like whiskey. They don't have a set completion date and need to mature at their own pace. While some distillers are importing spirits from other states to age or blend here in Colorado, that's not the case with Bear Creek.

"We do everything grain to glass right here in our facility off Broadway," Johnson says. "I understand the lure of it doing it the other way . . . but we do things as genuinely as possible, so we're going to bite the bullet and battle father time until the bourbon is ready and the whiskey is as well. In my opinion, that's the right way to do things."

Since it's so new, the distillery doesn't yet have extensive retail distribution, but the tasting room is just the place for quaffs and cocktails. "For all intents and purposes, it's a bar, but we can only serve liquor with things that we've made," Johnson says. That means no store-bought bitters, cordials or vermouth. "We have to get really creative with fresh juices and herbs and things like that. We've gotten really good at recreating cocktails with things that we're allowed to use."

The tasting room is open from Thursday to Saturday. During the rest of the week, Johnson and the crew are busy making more spirits and tending to those that are aging.

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

Spex unveils property inspection software

Galvanize-based Spex has launched a software-as-service tool that allows home inspectors to use a mobile app on their iOS devices and coordinate results via a web-based tool on their desktop.

The tools -- the field app, a dashboard system and a report generating system -- help reduce the amount of time home and property inspectors spend on paperwork

"Spex simplifies and streamlines the inspection process so everyone wins -- the policy holder, insurance carrier and contractor," explains Brett Goldberg, Spex's CEO. "Our enterprise platform is plug and play and can be easily scaled."

The mobile device app allows users to take photos, do field sketches, use aerial photos and add notations to video and audio. The tool coordinates the information with the dashboard in real time. The Spex Report is accessible via the dashboard and as an exportable document. It's is produced based on inspection notes.

The tools are gaining interest from both insurers and repair services. "We are always looking for efficient, innovative products to better serve policyholders," says Rod Warner, general manager at Family Mutual Insurance Company. "Spex presents the most comprehensive package of features we have found in the marketplace."

"With the Spex Enterprise platform, we're able to replace analog property inspection tools and improve the claim documentation process from the point of inspection and beyond," says Will Scarborough, project coordinator and lead estimator at Disaster Services. "In addition to accelerating inspections, estimate writing and the overall claims process, the platform allows our organization to enhance the customer experience, create transparency and resolve claims in a more efficient manner." 

Spex is currently offering a 30-day free trial of the tools. After the trial, it will cost $49 per month per user.

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

Colorado Aquaponics offering farming/fishery classes

For those looking to take their gardening skills to a whole new level there's aquaponics, a method of farming using aquaculture and hydroponics to grow both fish and food.

Sound confusing? It's a little more complicated than throwing seeds in the ground and watering them, but the mixed farming method significantly reduces water use and produces much more food in a small space. That's why Colorado Aquaponics is offering classes this spring to help people understand the benefits and opportunities such systems offer.

Basically, the fish waste in the system provide nutrients for the plants in the system., and the plants absorb the nutrients in the water and filter it for the fish.

The company is offering classes to help people understand and learn how to launch their own system in Denver from April 23-26 and again this fall from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1. The Denver-based company, which operates Flourish Farms at The GrowHaus, will also offer classes in California and Florida this year though partner Green Acre Aquaponics, says Flourish Farm Manager, Aquaponics Guru and Training Master Tawnya Sawyer.

"Colorado Aquaponics has offered workshops for home and hobby aquaponic enthusiasts since 2010," Sawyer says. "We have taught the Aquaponic Farming Course in Denver, Florida and California with our business partner, Green Acre Aquaponics, since 2012."

The four-day course costs $1,295, however it falls to $1,195 per person if multiple people from the same group join. In addition to the classes, students receive a detailed course workbook, design plans, and variety of online spreadsheets, log files and related resources, Sawyer adds. "Colorado Aquaponics offers support through consulting services, feasibility studies, site planning, business planning, crop rotations, vendor relationships and the like to help future farmers get up and running successfully," she says. 

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

FullContact raises $10M to continue connecting people

Denver-based startup FullContact just updated its address book-coordinating apps for iOS and Gmail. The progress helped it raise a new $10 million round of funding led by Baird Capital and Foundry Group with support from participation from Blue Note Ventures and 500 Startups. In all, the contact management software company has now raised nearly $20 million.

The FullContact address books apps are designed to coordinate users' contacts across their email accounts, social media platforms as well as their devices. "The genesis of the FullContact address book was on the web, and the web version is still the central hub for working with your FullContact account," says Brad McCarty. "However, FullContact for iOS brings the power of the address book to your iPhone or iPad via a native application."

"We absolutely plan to be on more platforms, and Windows-based systems make sense as an eventual area of expansion for us," McCarty says. Already the company is developing applications for Mac and for Android-based systems.

FullContact launched in 2010, and the current suite of apps launched out of private beta in 201. The company's APIs has been available to developers since 2012.

The company appears to be on the right track with the new products. "Eighteen months ago, FullContact employed 22 people," McCarty says. "Currently there are 53 employees however that number is likely to reach 75 employees in the next 12 months."

The new round of financing will help the company each those goals. As part of the funding Baird's Benedict Rocchio will join FullContact's board. "We're very excited to add Benedict and Baird Capital to the FullContact board and receive the long-term support from a great financial institution," says Bart Lorang, FullContact CEO.

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

State of Downtown Denver 2015 has plenty to praise

Last year, downtown Denver saw $1 billion in investments through completed projects. In 2015, that figure is expected to nearly double to $1.9 billion. That's just one key takeaway from the State of Downtown Denver 2015 event, hosted by the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) on March 24.

There was a host of data showing the recent successes of Denver and how the city is poised to keep growing -- for instance, residential population has grown 165 percent since 2010. "In order to ensure future success we need to understand what we did right to get us where we are today," explained DDP CEO Tami Door at the event.

"Last year, we welcomed 16 new companies in downtown. These companies, many of them having significant national and international brands, further endorse downtown Denver as a key business hubs," said Door, noting that many companies attributed their choices to Denver's premiere workforce, its mobility options for employees and the overall cool factor of the city center.

Door added that Denver is attracting significant amounts of Millennials, which is important to the city's future. "As we go forward two Baby Boomers will retire for each new employee entering the workforce," she explained. "This is not just a battle to get companies to move to our cities. this a battle to get the right type of workers here."

"We are quickly becoming recognized as a premier entrepreneurial hub," Door said. "Right now, we have 370 tech startups located in the core of downtown. These companies employ 3,000 individuals. That number is growing and is growing very fast."

Craftsy was one of those startups. Founder and CEO John Levisay explained that the company started in 2010 with four founders. "We're now over 260 employees and have 50 open jobs," he said. "It's been a great ride. When we were starting the company our primary investors told us we'd have to move the company to California, there wasn't enough talent here. We disagreed. We wanted to make this a Colorado company and we were committed to that and we still are."

In his comments Levisay attributed much of Denver's success in launching such companies to Denver's evolution into a commuter-friendly, city with ample access to travel options, among other things. For instance, 60 percent of Craftsy's employees take public transport, bike or walk to work, he said.

"Downtown Denver has done everything right in terms of urban planning, urban infill and residential for young employees," Levisay added. "Cost of commercial real estate and access to it is very reasonable. The engineering talent here is very strong."

Levisay also credited the success to Denver's unique "collective zeitgeist" that encompasses established companies in the region talking with startups. "Ten years from now, we'll be amazed as we get some startups that evolve into escape velocity and really achieve iconic stature."

Read the annual State of Downtown Denver report here.

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

Smart Cookie's food trikes for dogs hit streets in Denver

Food carts are going to the dogs with Denver's Smart Cookie. The company is bringing its treats to Colorado's dogs with two trikes.

With the approach of spring, farmers' markets and all the fun events that spring brings, Smart Cookie is planning on making sure your best buddy gets the same treatment you do by being at the same events. The company's trikes will be at breweries, parks and events throughout Colorado. Smart Cookie also gives dog owners a chance to customize and order their snacks and delivered to their door.

Smart Cookie's menu of healthy, human-grade ingredients allows it to create a box of treats for every dog. Customers can select a protein, carbohydrate, and fruit and veggie combination for their dog's treats, according to Smart Cookie. "We hand-make everything ourselves," says Smart Cookie Owner Bri Bradley. "We just built a commercial kitchen." She explains that the company even uses some local ingredients in its treats like spent grains from local breweries.

The company also makes Rabbit Jerky, which the company says is a completely hypoallergenic option. It also offers Barking Blends called The Survivor, The Sports Dog and The Prima Dogna.

Smart Cookie launched in 2012, according to Bradley. "We started the cart in April 2013 as a sort of food truck for dogs." Now the company uses the trikes for community events as far south as Parker and as far north as Boulder and Steamboat Springs. You can check out where they'll be on their calendar, but Bradley says you can also find them at parks and other places throughout the spring and into the fall. "It kind of depends on the calendar. We'll also go to a park and set up shop."

In the meantime, Smart Cookie products are also available in boutique pet stores and will also be at markets in Cherry Creek, Golden, Parker, Stapleton, Greenwood Village and City Park, Bradley says.

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

The Urban Farm Co. introduces "The Garden Club"

The Urban Farm Co. has been helping Denverites and people along the Front Range  build gardens since 2011. Now the company is offering a new gardening program called The Garden Club to help people learn how to grow in Colorado.

"The idea is the more we can help people, the more they will tell their friends about what we're doing, whether or not they want to garden," says Urban Farm CEO Bryant Mason. "We're trying to reach out to people with a couple of simple gardening tips."

The company informally launched the new set of tools to its existing customers first, according to Mason. "We have about 150 people signed up already."

Those former customers are among the more than 400 people that Urban Farm has built gardens for since launching in 2011. Those gardens start at $350 for a four-foot square boxed garden, their proprietary soil mix, drip systems and other features. The company gets most of its organic plants and transplants from Gulley Greenhouse & Garden Center in Fort Collins, Mason adds.

The company has had a high rate of retention since launching, according to Mason. "Probably 40 percent to 50 percent come back to us to do planting or something like that," he says. "For the majority, the initial the purchase is the main thing, then 40 percent to 50 percent come back for year two. They might want a cold frame or something else for the garden."

Such businesses often expand their customer base on referrals, which Mason says has worked for his company. The resources offered by the new garden club, could help increase referral business. "The biggest intention is developing sort of a long-term resource for front range gardeners. It's a very indirect approach but the more value and valuable information we can put out the more likely people will find us via referrals."

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

Inversoft introduces Gather forum software

Inversoft recently launched its Gather forum software as an early access program (EAP), allowing users to get a taste of the software and give Inversoft feedback before it launches officially this summer.

Gather is designed as a modern community software solution that offers traditional bulletin boards and goes beyond that with question and answer tools, access through API framework and integration with Inversoft's CleanSpeak software.

The API is like those offered by Twitter and Facebook. "They can use it to match all of their contacts across their entire enterprise or they can use our shrink-wrapped solution, which looks like a traditional bulletin board system," says Inversoft CEO Brian Pontarelli. "But we have a lot of other cool features where you can make it look like Core or Stack Overflow, and you can do polls, and really define the front end and make it look however you want it to look," he explains.

"Old-school forum solutions like VBulletin and Lithium, they don't have a good moderation system," Pontarelli contends. He adds that the profanity filters used are generally just word blockers, while Gather's integrated CleanSpeak is what he calls a "language-aware system."

When it introduces the finalized version of the software Inversoft plans on making the software a subscription-type solution based factors on like total user volume or active monthly users. That's despite whether Inversoft is hosting the software in the cloud or if the companies using the package use it on their servers. While more companies than ever are using remote services, some of Inversoft's bigger clients like Disney want to use the software behind their firewalls, Pontarelli explains.

With the release of Gather, the company of eight employees is set for more growth. Pontarelli anticipates the company could hire up to three people now and up to another three people when Gather goes live. The positions will be in engineering and sales.

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

Utivity hosts the first Colorado Indie Business Forum at Green Spaces

On March 11, Utivity hosts the first Colorado Indie Business Forum at Denver's Green Spaces. The event is focused on helping startups grow into a successful business and will feature executive speakers from Love Grown Foods, Icelantic Skis and Utivity.

Utivity is a new startup that Founder Matthew Shifrin likens to Airbnb for professional services. "Our desktop and mobile platform are designed to provide users with the ability to search and filter on a wide array of criteria," Shifrin says.

Users will be ability to price, shop, read reviews and compare products and services via its portals. "For the business, freelancer or individual we give them a simple and intuitive tool that manages every aspect of their business, from store front, rich media, reviews, billing, credit card processing, customer interactions, legal, rewards, referrals and advertising at no upfront cost."

He says the platform connects people looking for services with those that can provide them. The site can connect individuals or professionals with all sorts of things, ranging from someone wanting private guitar lessons to individuals and small businesses providing the services they want. Shifrin formerly worked with the Jarden Corp. where, among other things, he introduced the Billy Boy condom brand to the U.S.

Shifrin will join Maddy D'Amato, CLO (chief love officer) of Love Grown Foods, and Annelise Loevlie, CEO of Icelantic Skis, to give roughly 10-min speeches. "Speakers will spend 10 minutes providing a little background on their companies, how they got started, and provide a couple of anecdotes on what worked and what didn't," he says. Attendees also will be able to ask the executives questions about their experiences in launching companies.

The event will also include beverages from Great Divide Brewing Co. and food from Amerigo. Shifrin anticipates that up to 175 people may attend the event, including several state representatives as well as members of Colorado's economic development team.

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

Street Fight returns to Denver for second Local Data Summit

Big data and hyperlocal might sound oxymoronic together but they encompass a powerful set of targeted marketing opportunities for companies across pretty much every industry these days. That's why it's the focus of the Local Data Summit that Street Fight is hosting at the EXDO Event Center on March 5.

The event is expected to draw nearly 200 attendees. It will feature speakers from leading national companies and subsidiaries that are harnessing the power of big data services to focus on consumer experience. Among the companies attending and presenting are Bing, MasterCard, Datalogix, Location3 Media, Esri, Factual, YP and First Data.

"This is the second Local Data Summit happening in Denver," says Lupe Hirt. "The Local Data Summit in Denver offers insights into what's happening today and how this ever-changing marketplace will impact businesses and influence marketers in the coming years." 

"Data is everywhere, but not every piece of data is useful. Our goal with Local Data Summit is to help businesses harness the most relevant information to improve how they communicate and interact with their consumers," says Laura Rich, CEO of Street Fight. "We are excited to bring the greatest minds in local marketing to Denver to share the latest trends, research and products."

Featured speakers at the event include Chris Dancy, "The Most Connected Human on Earth," who is constantly being monitored by a plethora of sensors, devices and applications; Amber Case, Director of Esri's R&D Lab, an entrepreneur and user experience designer who will discuss "calm technology."

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

Denver-made Bambool base layers fuse bamboo and wool

Outdoor sports enthusiasts know a great base layer can make or break a day in the outdoors. It can also make or break your day après adventure -- especially if your base layer reeks from all of your sweat. That's why a good base layer must conduct sweat, retain warmth, and hopefully not trap odors. Bambool is a startup manufacturing hybrid base layers in Denver designed to be more comfortable and last longer.

Craig and Jessica Wood, a husband and wife team in Vail, started Bambool in 2013. They successfully funded the company a Kickstarter campaign in fall of 2014 to launch their first products, a 3/4-length pant and a long-sleeve top, this year. They're already thinking about expanding with new pieces including developing pieces for the summer, according to spokesperson Amy Regnier.

The base layers are a patent-pending hybrid of merino wool and bamboo. "First and foremost they are sourced from renewable fibers," Regnier says. "It's important to us to have a sustainable product and bamboo is a self-sustaining, fast-growing plant."

"Bamboo is anti-bacterial. It helps keep you odor-free," Regnier explains. "Synthetics and cotton can be a little smelly."

It's true: Try wearing a cotton shirt for a week -- even after washing it, the odor may never come out. "Bamboo fabric in general also is extremely soft and your getting the warmth from the wool and the softness from the bamboo," Regnier says. "They are moisture wicking and keep you dryer than a wool blend."

The initial clothes target skiers and snowboarders. The 3/4-length pants were designed so that they won't add bulk under ski boots and socks. The zippers on the shirts have a zipper cage so they don't irritate the skin or pull on chest hair.

Bambool is a Vail-based company, but it partnered with Denver's SansUSA to manufacture their designs. SansUSA has already produced the first run of Bambool's base layers and also produces clothes for other Denver-based companies like Icelantic.

At this point the easiest place to find Bambool's clothes, which currently start at $79.99 is online via their website. They're also available through Garage Grown Gear, at the Amazon store and some other places, according to Regnier. At this point, they're only available in one brick-and-mortar store, the Vitality Center at Vail.

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

Famous Beard Oil Co. makes beards shine

Over the past few years, there's been a palpable explosion of facial hair across the world, going so far as to inspire the report, "Negative Frequency Dependent Variation in Male Facial Hair." That report, which appeared in the journal, Biology Letters, in April 2014, was produced by researcher at Australia's University of New South Wales. It looked at whether we've reached "peak beard" the moment when beards become less attractive because of their ubiquity in society.

Eric Lough, founder of Famous Beard Co., doesn't think that's happened. Recently he launched a line of boutique, handcrafted beard oils to help condition beards to make them easier to manage and look and feel healthier. The catalog includes eight scents as well as Silky Leg Oil for women.

"Beard oil has been around for many years, but many more men are adding this wonderful grooming tool to their daily use," Lough says. "I believe that the demand for beard oil is higher now than it was a few years ago. Beards have become very popular among the men of Denver as well as other cities."

"Famous Beard Oils are meant to hydrate and soften the beard, mustache or goatee by bringing back the natural oils that are depleted after washing the face," Lough says. The oils are primarily intended as a beard conditioner, he adds, but "they can be used for pre-shaves or aftershaves as well or just an all-around skin moisturizer. They also absorb into the skin quickly without feeling greasy. I've had male and female customers buy my beard oils for many uses, not just for facial hair."

The beard oil is currently available at LoHi's Sol Shine and online. "I've only been up and running for about four months and things are moving very quickly," Lough says. He's moving into the U.K. market and looking at a number of other retail accounts. Lough plans to table at farmer's markets in Denver starting with the Horseshoe Market on May 9.

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

IndiCard launches app for service employee discounts

Bartenders, waiters, hairstylists and others in the service industry can sometimes get service industry discounts, but knowing which ones offer discounts to their fellow service workers can be difficult. IndiCard is working to make it easier.

The company, which launched with plastic cards showing service employees' eligibility, has now launched as an app for iOS and Android devices. The company launched the app after talking with users about how to make it easier to use the card, says IndiCard co-founder Braden Holt. "Now you don't have to worry about remembering a card when you're out."

The app also has other benefits. It can geolocate which businesses are nearby that offer service employee discounts, Holt says. With 120 companies in Denver and 160 in Chicago that participate, it can be hard to remember what's close by for good deal. In those two markets -- currently its only two -- the app already has 4,500 users, according to Holt.

Right now IndiCard is free for users employed in service industry positions and at partner locations. But Holt says a monthly membership fee is likely coming. He anticipates it will be a few dollars a month and will roll out by spring 2015.

To participate in the program people must be able to prove they work in the service industry -- particularly because the discounts can sometimes be high. This can be a pay stub from a company or a call to an employer or manager to prove the person does work there, Holt says.

People who work in food, drinks, gym, salon, health, retail and transportation are eligible to apply for the card.

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

Cabal opens innovative 3D art show

A charcoal-hued gun looms overhead, popping off the paper as its lower corners flutter on a slight breeze. It's surrounded by plethora of other 3D posters evoking R. Crumb, psychedelia and more menacing imagery on the walls of South Broadway's Cabal Enterprises.

The posters debuted Friday the 13th when Cabal unveiled Mutiny 3D featuring 36 artists from around the world. The unique and trippy show was curated by Denver-artist Adam Stone who solicited works from internationally renowned artists as far away as Japan, Lithuania and Bulgaria.

Stone took the mono-dimensional works of art from the artists and painstakingly rendered them into red-cyan three-dimensional artworks using a computer. "I actually cut each individual piece in the artwork out, move it then paint the depth onto each piece, then render it in red and cyan," he says. It's a painstaking process and one drawing could consist of as many as 5,000 layers of tiny clippings rearranged to create the three-dimensional effect by the time he finished it.

Of all the artists in the exhibition only one, David 2000, actually rendered his contributions in three dimensions. "He has a beautiful 3D book," Stone says.

A few of the other artists had worked in 3D before, according to Stone. They made it easier for him by providing images with layers so he didn't have to do that particular work. But he estimates that converting one of the most intricate drawings to 3D probably took him five to six days.

The show at the Cabal gallery at 1875 S. Broadway is worth a peek and will be up through the end of the month. Stone and Cabal are also publishing 100 copies of a limited-edition book with all of the drawings in it. The book comes with 3D glasses.

Stone's staying busy beyond the gallery. Two of the artists from France, Sam Rictus and Nils Bertho, are working with Stone and volunteers on a giant mural project at Buntport Theater called Chainmail. They'll kick off that event on Sat. Feb. 21.

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

High There! Weed-friendly Tinder launches

Based on a Tinder-like interface, High There! is designed to connect marijuana enthusiasts with each other. The new app, which launched on both IOS and Android devices, was developed to help cannabis consumers share their experiences with marijuana.

It's proving popular. In a little more than a week, the app already had more than 10,000 downloads, and that number is growing by about 2,000 new users a day.

"Connecting with other cannabis consumers in the 23 states where it is legal is not as simple as it sounds," says Todd Mitchem, CEO of High There!

Mitchem, a former executive with O.penVAPE, contends that in many places people aren’t comfortable asking others if they smoke, eat or otherwise partake in using cannabis. "High There! allows people to meet, socialize, or even just share their stories and history with like-minded individuals who share a common interest in marijuana."

Users of the app add in information about how and why they use cannabis -- for instance, whether they vape or smoke it and if they use it for medicinal or other purposes. They can choose to chat with other users through the app or decide if they’d like to meet and hang out with fellow users.

"We want this to be a safe, fun and cool community," Mitchem says. "We did not design it to show off the weed you grow in your house, or the neat devices you use when consuming. We designed High There! as a tool to help all cannabis consumers in places where it is legal, make more thoughtful, meaningful and authentic connections with people like them."

The app can help people meet, whether to date, meet new friends to hang out with or share experiences about marijuana and usage. Just like Tinder and some other social apps, users can check out profiles of nearby users and decide whether or not to connect with fellow app users.  

"We want this to be a safe, fun, and cool community," Mitchem says. "We did not design it to show off the weed you grow in your house, or the neat devices you use when consuming. We designed High There! as a tool to help all cannabis consumers in places where it is legal, make more thoughtful, meaningful and authentic connections with people like them."

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

Black Project Spontaneous Ales debuts two wild ales

There are open fermentation beers, then there are wild beers, that's what Black Project Spontaneous Ales is into, letting its beers be inoculated purely by the wild yeasts and microbes that travel in the air, creating beers that are wholly unique in flavor. As of Feb. 15 from Former Future Brewing Company, the Black Project's wild beers are available in bottles for the first time.

"We expose our wort while still boiling, to the outside air to cool overnight on our roof," says James Howat, co-founder of Former Future and Black Project. "The next morning we put this wort into a barrel or other closed-top vessel and wait for fermentation to start." It can sometimes take four to 10 days for the very small amount of microbes from the air to multiply to a point where the wort is actually being fermented at an appreciable level, he adds, "so our beers are made via open, spontaneous inoculation but closed fermentation."

While these types of beer are produced in Belgium and the U.K. and have been for centuries, there aren't many breweries in the U.S. making them. "To my knowledge, we are the only brewery in Colorado to release a beer made using a coolship and completely spontaneous fermentation," Howat says. The coolship is the open vessel designed to allow the wort to cool and be inoculated by the air at a certain rate.

"Finding out what a small population of wild-caught microbes are going to do with a wort I design is truly my favorite part of brewing and is essentially why Black Project exists," Howat says. "Beers that we intend to eventually sell year-round we can blend and do a variety of things to make sure that the beers are always pretty similar, but even then there will be difference."

The company, a side project of Former Future, has already made a buzz. It debuted Flyby, its coolship spontaneous sour ale, at the Great American Beer Festival in October 2014 and won a bronze medal in the wild ale category. On Sun. Feb. 15, the young company is selling that as well as Jumpseat, a dry-hopped wild ale, at 2 p.m. at Former Future (1290 S. Broadway).

Only 48 750-milliliter bottles of Flyby are available at $35 a bottle, and 120 bottles of Jumpseat are available at $22 a bottle. "These beers are taking an average of 6 months to be ready," Howat says. "So we can't just make more right away just because the demand is so insane," he explains.

The nascent company, which started brewing in February 2014, is already preparing to expand. Howat says there will be as many as five releases between March and September, two with about 2,500 bottles and the others will be in the triple-digit range.

Given the experimental nature of coolship brewing -- 20 percent of the barrels could fail -- and the lengthy time it takes to brew the beer, Howat says he's thinking five years ahead to keep up with future demand.

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

10.10.10 tackles healthcare issues -- entrepreneur-style

On Feb. 16 a new 10-day event called 10.10.10 launches. The event will take 10 former CEOs from around the country, introduce them to 10 problems in the U.S. healthcare industry and plant the seeds to create companies that will come up with solutions for the issues.

"These are significant problems with market opportunity," says 10.10.10 founder and Tom Higley, a Denver-based entrepreneurial guru and angel investor. "They're not big problems to us, they're wicked problems."

While the committee is selecting the CEOs for the program, anyone can submit their ideas for the 10 healthcare problems. It's as simple as clicking here and filling out the simple form.

"On the very first day, we have 10 problem advocates each of whom pitches a wicked problem," Higley explains. "They show where it hurts, who hurts and how badly it hurts as well as the size and scope of the problem." The advocates will also tell the prospective CEOs about what resources are available to solve the problem. This could be fiscal incentives, access to talent or intellectual property.

Higley says the program is designed to help CEOs reinvent themselves. "CEOs who founded companies will often set out to do something that doesn't seem well informed," he says. "These CEOs have to deal with an existential crisis. They have to switch and change. They have to reinvent themselves. The program is designed to facilitate that."

To help them move forward the program also offers what Higley calls "validators," companies or nonprofits involved in the program and the issues, that are working to solve health care problems. Some of the validators include the Colorado Health Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, for example.

The 10.10.10 program has largely come about through volunteer effort, Higley adds. "There are 100 plus volunteers that have helped put this together," he says. "These folks have worked incredible hours. It's been a big deal."

Though this is the inaugural program Higley anticipates holding more of the programs in the near future. He's already looking forward to hosting 10.10.10 events in San Francisco and Boston.

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

thoughtbot launches Cultivate Colorado competition to create an app for good

Denver's branch of thoughtbot launched its Cultivate Colorado challenge this week. The challenge will help a Colorado organization design, build and launch an app that's aimed at helping solve a social or environmental issue. The IT firm estimates that the services for designing and developing the app for the winner will have a value of up to $150,000.

"Our goal is to collaborate with a Colorado-based organization and utilize human-centered design practices to solve a difficult problem facing the community or world," says Andrew Cohen, the designer who spearheaded the challenge.

The competition is open to a variety of organizations, explains Rachel Cope, a thoughtbot product designer, that helped develop the initiative. "We didn't want to put a super-strict parameter on that," she says. As such, the initiative is open to nonprofits, companies with a social mission and B Corps.

"It's the first time we've launched this competition," Cope says. "A group of us here in the office were thinking about how we could do something for the community and thought this would be a good opportunity. A lot of us had worked at nonprofits in the past and we wanted to do something to benefit our state."

The competition is open though March 15 and organizations can register their ideas via a simple sign-up sheet here. The contest organizers at thoughtbot will evaluate each proposal, narrow it to three, reach out to the finalists and make their choice from there, Cope explains.

While this is the first time thoughtbot has launched the competition, Cope says the Boston-based company could replicate Cultivate Colorado at its other locations, which include New York, San Francisco and Stockholm.

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

Ice-O-Matic debuts ice makers that make bigger cubes for craft cocktails

Denver's Ice-O-Matic is getting into the craft cocktail industry with its Grande Cube ice vending machines for restaurants and bars. The new machines create larger ice cubes to meet the desires of customers at venues that want higher-quality cocktails.

Ice-O-Matic will debut the new line of ice cube makers at The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in California from Feb. 19 through Feb. 21.

"The Grande is our first venture into the large cube market. We are hoping for high demand," says Ice-O-Matic's Director of Marketing Scott DeShetler. "Our research tells us it is the preferable format in South America and Europe and is quickly gaining in popularity in North America with fine dining, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs."

The new machines produce ice cubes that are 1 1/4" wide, 1 1/8" deep and 7/8" tall. The machines can produce up to 875 pounds of ice a day. The U.S. version is Energy Star rated. Both versions are 30 inches wide.

While the company is making larger format ice cubes with the new machines, they're not intended to replace the handcrafted ice that is in use at some speakeasy-type bars and lounges now. "Our cube is very clear which is a function of the evaporator and the quality of water being frozen. It is not artisanal ice however, but rather a large cube for the masses," DeShetler says.

"When compared on a cost-per-pound of ice produced basis this machine is in line with the rest of the Ice-O-Matic line," DeShelter explains. "It is less costly than some of our competitors, Energy Star rated for efficient operation, and far more reliable and cost effective to run."

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

Colorado Capital Congress helps startups access funding

There's a plethora of startups in Colorado and they're all in various stages of growth. With that growth comes the need for capital to hire more employees, increase marketing, boost sales, launch new initiatives, etc. Denver's Colorado Capital Congress PCB (Public Benefit Corporation) is trying to address those needs. It will host a workshop, Crowdfunding Colorado Style, Jan. 31 in Louisville to help entrepreneurs and investors understand more of their options for raising funds.

"In an industry where it is considered acceptable for over 95 percent of capital presentations to be turned down, any improvement will have tremendous positive impact on our economy," says Karl Dakin, Colorado Capital Congress co-founder and president. "Higher quality capital transactions will make our State more attractive to both entrepreneurs and investors."

The organization is working to foster local capital communities helping businesses find appropriate capital sources. The stated goal: "Where no source exists, the Colorado Capital Congress will work to establish new funds or financing programs."

Sometimes that's just a matter of awareness. "One of the ways to improve the capital ecosystem is to make everyone aware of different approaches to obtaining and funding capital," Dakin explains.

"One approach is the little known Limited Registration Offering," Dakin says, which allows companies to raise funds in a way that is exempt from SEC regulations because it is an in-state sale of securities that can only be conducted between Colorado residents or entities. The law requires that the offering can't be publicized and can only be promoted to people and entities that the offering party knows. In addition, only 35 non-accredited investors can participate.

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

Rapidly growing Choozle closes $4.1M funding round

Denver startup Choozle announced that it closed a $4.1 million Series A round of financing with Great Oaks Venture Capital and other investors. The financing will allow the company to continue to support its growth streak.

Since launching out of beta last March with about 20 test users, including Dick's Sporting Goods and Merriam-Webster, the company has attracted more than 100 clients. Today it counts among its clients Cricket Wireless, Gaiam, SendGrid, Willow Tree and more.

The company's programmatic advertising platform and tools have resonated with businesses, according to Choozle co-founder and CEO Andrew Fischer. In all, 95 percent of Choozle's customers have retained its services, which start at $199 a month.

Fischer credits his team with building the highly retained services. "Combining data with real time advertising has really helped us in the marketplace," he says. The team also is working to integrate all the social media platforms into its services.

"Part of our market position is about simplicity. As the ad tech industry has grown, it's grown in complexity," Fischer says. Some of Choozle's clients are just entering into the programmatic ad space, however, and don't need overly complex services.

The downtown Denver-based company doubled its staff over the past year to 16 people, Fischer says. "We'll probably double again by the end of the year based on our trajectory," he asserts.

The majority of new hires will be in Denver, which is forcing the young company to move to new a spot downtown, but the company already has employees in New York and San Francisco, with plans to expand internationally.

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

TEDx coming to RiNo with reIMAGINE in April

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks are among the most popular ways to get innovative ideas out to the public spectrum. So it’s no surprise that TEDx, which supports local versions of the national events, is coming to RiNo -- one of Denver’s up and coming innovation centers, through the first TEDxRiNo event on Apr. 13.

The first event, reIMAGINE, is intended to cover topics relevant to the RiNo community and to spark meaningful conversation and collaboration to benefit the community, explains, Kimothy Pikor TEDxRiNo’s chief dreamer.

"We'd like to try and source as many speakers who have a vested interest in the RiNo community. However, we are welcoming speaker nominations from the greater Denver and Colorado community, as well," she says. "It's a venue to share the art district's creativity, innovation, and smart urban growth on the global TED platform -- to connect with other communities internationally via unbiased ideation."

TEDxRiNo isn’t the first TEDx group in Colorado, Pikor explains. "The largest organization is TEDxMileHigh, which hosts several events annually for several hundred attendees." She adds that that organization has been extremely supportive of TEDxRiNo, but says TEDx agreed that the River North Art District is different in tone, growth, residents/businesses and appearance compared to the rest of Denver, allowing RiNo to create its own chapter. "Our events will be reflective of this in the way that they are smaller (100 attendees max), highly attended by the arts community, and more intimate."

The deadline for speaker submissions and/or nominations is Jan. 23, 2015. Following the submission deadline, a panel will select six to eight speakers to present "the talk of their lives." Each will have up to 18 minutes to present.

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

Parametrix 3D-prints Denver skyline

Parametrix is a Denver startup making printed 3D products like pots and practical items like replacement lids for Nalgene bottles.

Josh and Haley Goldstein, husband and wife and architect and graphic designer, respectively, own the company. Josh makes the designs using algorithmic scripts and his wife designs the packaging and is doing the marketing.

Parametrix's 3D-printed lifestyle products are the first of their kind to make it into I Heart Denver. Parametrix also offers the design files for sale as well, allowing others to print their own items based on Josh's scripts with the appropriate software and a 3D printer.

"We were not the first ones to approach them with 3D-printed products," Josh says. "We managed to impress them . . . . Our products have resonated and we can't keep up with demand."

"The I Heart Denver store has really broadened our reach, and we're proud to partner with them to get our products out there," Josh says. While the company also offers digital files of the scripts, it hasn't taken off yet. "More people need to buy 3D printers first," he says.

Currently they have a modest line of products for sale, but there are more on the way. "We actually have over 30 products designed that we use in our Denver condo, but since it's just my wife and I working on this stuff, finding the time to photograph and market them has been tough," Goldstein says. "We will be releasing some products for the kitchen, as well as some new Denver-themed products. We also dedicate some time to updating existing designs -- adding buildings and refining the Denver Cityscape product, as well as redesigning and improving other products like the planter."

While the couple are building their company, they also still have day jobs. Haley works with a telecommunications firm and Josh an architecture firm. He's used their printer to produce some pieces for his firm, but most of the work he's enjoyed doing has been in industrial design. "I am trying to build enough interest in 3D printing to convince the firm to get a machine of their own that I can help run."

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

Colorado launches #StateOfKind challenge with Denver-based Wayin

In Gov. John Hickenlooper's second inaugural address he set forth a challenge for all Coloradans: to collectively perform 10,000 acts of kindness by the Biennial of the Americas in on July 14. Participation is simple, thanks to Denver's Wayin, which aggregates social media content.

Participants will perform an act of goodwill then use the hashtag #StateOfKind. Wayin collects the information and posts it to www.stateofkind.co which has a counter showing how many acts of kindness its recorded.

These don't have to be huge acts of kindness. For instance, one user posted: "Had a very kind gentleman offer me his seat on the bus ride home today." And another, from a native Tongan said: "I wrote a letter to my mom saying how much I appreciate and love her." The author goes on to say they don't express love much there.

"The social platforms included in the State Of Kind experience are Twitter, Vine, Facebook and Instagram," explains Wayin VP of Client Engineering and Operation Nate Frick. "Additionally, the team at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is compiling random acts of kindness sent to them via email and including those in their own tweets, which are counted in the campaign." 

Wayin's customers include The Weather Channel, MLB and other outlets -- customers that want access to real-time information, so it's used to the aggregating content quickly. "Wayin can display social content in real time, regardless of the device or screen," Frick says. "We make it easy for our clients to discover their desired conversation pieces quickly, select the most compelling contributions, and provide a way to moderate for any sensitive media or strong language."

Currently the project is only collecting the stories and quotes, according to Frick. "Our focus today is on providing a destination site for this incredible initiative, helping to drive as many social contributions as possible, and seeing other states accept Colorado's challenge," he says.

The project is part of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, a Denver-based foundation dedicated to encourage benevolence. Wayin will provide services for the campaign throughout the U.S. Future campaigns will launch to coincide with Random Acts of Kindness Week Feb. 9-15, Frick says. 

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

Funnybone Toys marches forward with two new games for 2015

Building on the success of its current line of games and interactive toys, Funnybone Toys is getting ready to introduce toy new games for 2015, Juxtabo and Spectracube. The new toys will start hitting stores in February following Toy Fair New York.

Both games are are intended for people as young as 6 and offer challenges for people much older. With Juxtabo, the board is actually made out of the puzzle pieces, two-sided discs with different colors on each side. "Juxtabo is for people who like chess, checkers and other games," Funnybone Toys founder Julien Sharp. "You get these pieces and build the board out of them."

Players must match the color and pattern presented on cards and the player who collects the most cards wins. As board grows it can resemble a mountain range or other 3D structures.

Spectracube has 30 dice-like cubes, half with primary colors, the other half with secondary colors. "There are six games in one," Sharp says. However, users, particularly children, are encouraged to use the cubes to create their own games with the cubes, she adds.

The company is building on its previous success. Its other games, Funnybones, Disruptus, Arrazzles and others have all won multiple awards. Most of the company's games are intended for a family audience, but not Disruptus. "That particular game is really for the corporate world," Sharp says. "The others are more for family fun, getting kids to think." She's spoken at numerous business conferences about using Disruptus in the corporate world.

The next step for Funnybone Toys is more submissions. "Our games consistently win," Sharp says. "I'll be submitting them to MENSA. We might have a nice chance there and with Dr. Toy."

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

Luxury box broker SuiteHop hiring in 2015 with $1M in new funding

SuiteHop recently secured another $1 million in equity funding that will allow the Denver-based luxury suite broker to make new hires and expand marketing and operations. The company has also added more than $5 million of inventory in terms of booking luxury suites and boxes at sports and entertainment venues across the U.S.

The company now has inventory from more than 550 events, ranging from the Denver Broncos' playoff game on Jan. 11 (tickets start at $1,800) to Linkin Park and Rise Against at NYC's Barclays Center on Jan. 25 (tickets start at $225). The company works with event centers and suite owners to sell tickets in luxury suites that may not go used for whatever reason, seats that most people don't have easy access to.

"SuiteHop is changing the market for suite tickets by providing a way for companies and individuals to purchase luxury suite tickets without having to go through a broker," says SuiteHop CEO Todd Lindenbaum. "Our investors can see the value in a service that provides a benefit to lease owners, potential suite buyers, arena owners and the teams themselves. We expect in the coming months to see even more additions to our large inventory." 

The company is attracting investments from entrepreneurs as well as from the technology and service sectors. "SuiteHop has a great business model that just makes sense. It is perfect for small to mid-sized businesses that want access to suites but can't afford leasing an entire suite for a year," explains investor Jeff Kurtzman, co-founder of Better World Books and Operation Incubation.

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

Want to make Denver even better? Rose Community Foundation aims to help with new grants

Denver's getting bigger and better in many ways, but Rose Community Foundation is betting that people have ideas that can help make it even better. That's why it's launching the Innovate for Good grant program, which will award up to 10 grants totaling $250,000.

The grants will be awarded to fund projects that answer the question: "What new and innovative idea would you bring to life to make the greater Denver community a better place to live?" The program is open to artists, engineers, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, teenagers, retirees -- you name it. Proposals must make a positive, measurable difference within one year and focus on new, creative programs, products or services and/or new approaches to addressing a need in the greater Denver community.

"This is a new kind of project for Rose Community Foundation and we are very excited at the energy and enthusiasm it is already fueling," said Sheila Bugdanowitz, the foundation's president and CEO. "We think it is important to hear from and connect to people and organizations we might not reach through our typical grantmaking process. We can't wait to see what ideas come in from all over the greater Denver community!"

The foundation began accepting proposals for the grants on Jan. 6 and will accept them through Feb. 2. The proposals will be reviewed by a diverse committee of community members and the foundation. The organization plans select semi-finalists in late February. Finalists will present a live pitch at Rose Community Foundation's 20th Anniversary celebration in June 2015, at which point grant winners will be announced.

Rose Community Foundation is accepting ideas via its website. The foundation will respond to questions about the Innovate for Good grant program at innovateforgood@rcfdenver.org.

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

BiggerPockets helps real estate investors grow

Just like Denver's real estate market, BiggerPockets is booming. The company's podcasts are currently the most popular real estate podcasts on iTunes, with 40,000 downloads per show. It also adds around 300 members a day to its online community, which has more than 1 million forum posts.

The company, founded by Joshua Dorkin, is aimed at helping people understand what it takes to invest in real estate as well as find others to work with on investments and learn from others' experiences.

"BiggerPockets members help one another to be successful by selflessly sharing their learned knowledge and the community spirit breeds success for those who give back," Dorkin explains. "Our active members attribute countless millions in profits to their participation on our platform and we only anticipate that growing over time."

"BiggerPockets is primarily focused on real estate in the U.S., but our users are found throughout the globe," Dorkin adds. "The U.S. real estate market is admired around the world and our platform helps investors, both foreign and domestic, to learn, to network, and to do business with one another."

The company is continuing to grow, according to Dorkin. He says it hired four employees in 2014 and plans to hire more positions in 2015 including positions in web development, user interface designers, and online marketing and sales.

Although Dorkin notes that the company could be located just about anywhere, being in Denver has some advantages beyond its weather and lifestyle. "As a growing tech hub, Denver does give us access to a larger pool of technical talent and a network of other startups to connect with," he says. He adds that its central location in the U.S. also makes it easier to travel to other markets.

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

Puzzah! brings the room escape concept off the screen and into reality

Downtown Denver's got a new private eye, you! If you've ever wandered into one of those 'room escape' games on the Internet, you'll get the basic idea behind the "Tick Tock" room at Puzzah!, except for one big twist -- you're in the puzzle and it's not online. It's the first interactive puzzle for the recently launched startup and an interesting way to experience a game.

The puzzle in this case is trying to dismantle a bomb set by a composer driven insane by rejections from the Denver Performing Arts Center. Players work together as a team, to solve puzzles that engage them mentally and physically, primarily through audible clues. They have 60 minutes to stop the bomb, before ker-plooyee! or before they make a mistake that ends in ker-plooyee! (Confluence Denver's crack team of detectives ker-plooyeed, by the way.) 

While the whole experience is unique, what's just as interesting is the technology behind it. Designed by the Puzzah! team, the software actually adjusts the game room -- don't worry, it's not an Orwellian mechano-nightmare of a room -- to the players' abilities, offering more or fewer clues based on their ability to solve the puzzles.

Puzzah! is aiming the interactive puzzles as fun way to work together with friends, family and coworkers to develop problem solving skills and engage in team building exercises. The puzzles are designed to hold up to five adults. Currently the company only has one game room, but its second room, "The Steal," already is under construction. What exactly it's about is still a mystery.

Puzzah! also has a small gift shop and waiting room in the front where people can check out and purchase other puzzles. They include classics like Rubik's Cubes and nail puzzles.

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

Green Machine, an automated grow room system, funded through Kickstarter

Grow rooms, even personal grow rooms, for growing marijuana and other crops hydroponically indoors are expensive and can require a lot of attention.

A recently fully-funded Kickstarter project "How to Grow the Greenest Green" is a 14-week educational program that uses videos to show people how to build a grow room for about $600.

Similarly sized home grow kits -- about the size of a closet -- run for more than $2,000 and don’t include an educational component that guides users through the process of not only building the device, but using it to grow marijuana and other plants

Lucas Powell and Ryan Woltz say they developed the system and guides after finding scant information about developing home-based grow rooms for marijuana, even though it’s now legal in Colorado and other some other states. Best thing is the video-guided  courses and PDFs only cost $30 and it shows DIYers how to construct and build a fully automated system that interacts with smartphones.

"The technology aspect of our project is that we're teaching people how to turn a traditional cannabis home grow into an 'Internet of Things' connected device," Powell says.

The automated device is controlled by an Arduino computer and various sensors help monitor the plants growing in the closet-sized box. "Not only has a course like this never been offered before but this is actually the first marijuana cultivation course that has ever been put on Kickstarter," he adds.

Though the project already is fully funded already, people can participate in the Kickstarter before Jan. 6, 2015. In addition to the basic instructions, people can also get the Master Grower instructions, which includes more information about more advanced growing and automation techniques.

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

Booming OneReach melds calls and texts for customer service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jiberish gets technical with Grand Cru outerwear line

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

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

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

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

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

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

gSchool offers $500 for student referrals

The need for software engineers and programmers is so great in Denver that Galvanize's gSchool is offering a $500 finding fee to those that refer a friend or colleague to its advanced, immersive Golang Microservices (Go) class that's set to start Jan. 26, 2015. The 12-week program isn't cheap -- it's $15,000 -- but gSchool claims the program boasts a post-graduation hiring rate of 99 percent.

Referring someone alone isn't enough to reap the rewards. The referrals must be accepted into the course for the referrer to receive the $500. To qualify for the program applicants must have an advanced knowledge of coding.

"Unlike other gSchool immersive courses where we teach our students how to code, the Golang Microservices course expects students to arrive already knowing how to code, allowing for a more compact 12-week course," the organization explains on its website.

The course is designed to teach developers and engineers how to write software with a microservice architecture used by companies like Google, Docker, SendGrid, Pivotal and more. gSchool explains that Go is a newer, general purpose programming language that takes advantage of multi-core computing, which is making it a coding language of choice for many companies.

The school is offering 3 Colorado classes that start in January 2015. In addition to the Golang class in Denver it's offering 24-week full stack development classes in Denver and Boulder at Galvanize locations. The school is offering one full merit-based scholarship worth up to $20,000. It will also offer several partial scholarships for minorities, veterans and women worth up to $5,000.

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

Denver's COjacks offer alternative currency for gifts

COjacks, the Denver-based, Colorado-centric currency that launched late this summer, will be accepted along with U.S currency at the Community Connect Trade Association and Main Street Chamber of West Denver's Holiday Trade Show and Event at SPACE Gallery at 400 Santa Fe Dr. on Thurs. Nov. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m.

"The event is about 50 percent trade and 50 percent cash," explains Jaime Cangemi, chief marketing officer for the Main Street Chamber in Denver. Cangemi says she expects about 50 vendors and 500 buyers.

Instead of being confined to cash, however, the event allows people to barter or trade for locally made goods. It's also an ideal opportunity for an alternative currency like COjacks. "Their hope is for us to roll it out to the Community Connect Trade members there," Cangemi says.

Consumers can get COjacks at an introductory rate of five for $4. The retailers that accept COjacks, among them Backstage Coffee and The GrowHaus accept them at a rate equivalent to a dollar.

"It's all about the independent businesses," Cangemi explains. "The concept is if you were a retail shop and I bought something with COjacks and you then have COjacks in possession you cannot come back to the COjacks office to trade it for cash so you'll go out and find a member of COjacks you can spend it with. That's where the dollar going further makes sense."

Pro-level businesses that accept COjacks for 30 percent or more of a customer's purchase can receive three COjacks for every $1 they choose to exchange for COjacks. Businesses that accept 10 percent of a sale in COjacks can exchange $1 for two COjacks. Since they can't trade them back for U.S. dollars, the accepting retailers must spend them with other participating retailers.

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

Comcast VIPER set to grow in Denver as video goes mobile

There's somebody making sure cable TV is watchable on tablets and smartphone, and that person might just be in downtown Denver working at Comcast VIPER (Video Internet Protocol Engineering & Research), a company within the company that's making the digital world more seamless.

"We make sure that video is ready to play on anything outside a set-top box," explains Elizabeth Perlmuter, VIPER recruiter. 

The Comcast unit, which Perlmuter says operates like a startup within Comcast, also provides alternate content and big data services as well. "Our office looks very different than any other Comcast office out there," she says. "Denver is a great community for this type of atmosphere."

That's just one of the reasons the division is located in Denver. Another is location. "We're optimally placed in the United States to handle a lot of video," explains software engineer Neill Kipp."If you're on the East Coast you have a satellite overhead that reaches to Denver and if you're on the West Coast there's a satellite overhead that reaches to Denver. So we're able to uplink and downlink from both East and West Coast satellites." He also points to Denver's proximity CableLabs, an nonprofit R&D consortium for the cable industry in Louisville.

Perlmuter says the company now has 60 to 70 full time employees in Denver and up to 40 contractors across the country. She adds that the company anticipates hiring on 41 more employees in 2015, primarily software engineers. She's currently posting some positions at the Colorado Technology Association's jobs board but also has a Stack Overflow page here.

The company works with Java, C++ and Golang, Perlmuter says. "We're building the new technologies that Comcast is going to use in the IP video world."

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

Gaijin 24886 brewing sake in Denver

Gaijin 24886 is brewing up its first batch of sake in Denver. The alcoholic rice beverage has made inroads into the U.S. through sushi restaurants, and Texas and Oregon operations have brought sake brewing stateside, but the company is the only one currently commercially brewing the Japanese beverage in Colorado. The company's first batch should be ready by about mid-December.

Co-owner and Master Brewer Marc Hughes used his employee identification number in Osaka, Japan, gaijin 24886, as the name for the brewery. He explains that 'gaijin' means foreigner.

"It started off as a hobby and I wanted to do something different," Hughes says. "Everybody else was making beer and all of the distilled spirits are explosive." He used snow from Leadville and other places, as well as ingredients like peach and cherry blossoms in his home brews. His friends and family enjoyed his homebrewed sake enough that he and co-owner Keith Kemp chose to take it to the next level and began brewing at Grandma's House Brewery on South Broadway earlier this year.

Though sake is a brewed beverage as opposed to a distilled spirit, Hughes likens the process to lagering rather than the traditional fermenting used for most beers, which means it takes longer to ferment because it's done at lower temperatures. For sake, that means more than a month of fermenting and conditioning. The process also allows for a higher alcohol content. "The alcohol content is anywhere in between 14 and 20 percent," he says.

Still the company is facing some initial hurdles. Sake is currently classified more like a wine although it's brewed like a beer. That means that it can't be sold alongside beers at Grandma's House, according to Hughes. "I don't know why it's that way. It just is," he says. However, Hughes and Kemp are exploring their options and talking with local retails and restaurants about stocking its beverages.

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

CLIMB helps Ivy League students intern with Denver companies

CLIMB (Colorado Leaders, Interns and Mentors in Business), a program developed and run on a volunteer basis by alumni of Ivy League schools, is celebrating its 10th year this fall. The internship program helps students from Yale, Middlebury, MIT, Stanford, Brown and Harvard get internships in Denver.

"We thought students should have more options than just California in terms of careers," says CLIMB President Micah Gurard-Levin, a volunteer for the program who works at Liberty Global. He was also an intern in the program in 2008. "We thought that bringing students to Denver would be a great way to showcase what Denver had to offer in terms of lifestyles and companies that are here."

"In 10 years, we've had about 15 students move here full time," Gurard-Levin says. He explains that some of the students in the program are first year student and not set on their career path, others may change their careers as they go forward in school.

"College students benefit from all sorts of career development opportunities to explore things they like or may end up not liking," adds Gurard-Levin, contending it's important for the students. "The second piece is helping companies in Colorado attract new talent to their companies and helping them expand beyond the relationships they already have with the some of the great schools that are here in Denver and in Colorado."

The program, which is now seeking companies to place interns with for summer 2015, according to Gurard-Levin. It has expanded with new companies and has even worked with startups operating out of Galvanize. "We realize the growth in the startup industry here in Denver and its a great fit. Grads and college students are really excited about entrepreneurialism and they want to be joining companies that have a great culture and are doing exciting things. We also work with large companies and nonprofits and medical and science research as well."

Interns in the CLIMB program stay in a dorm together. The $3,000 internships, including housing, are paid for by the sponsoring companies, according to Gurard-Levin. During their stay from May to August, they have a chance to be mentored, learn from guest speakers and go out and enjoy Colorado's outdoor activities like hiking and rafting.

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

Denver encourages software industry growth with updated tax guide

Denver's tech sector is hot, with virtually no unemployment. So it's no wonder that Denver is encouraging more tech companies and tech job seekers to move to Denver in any way it can.

On Nov. 5 Denver issued an updated tax guide that specifically addresses the city's sales and use tax on data processing programs in many areas, including software. The updated tax code was designed with the input of the Colorado Technology Association and other stakeholders to help encourage more IT companies to locate in Denver.

"We did a lot of active listening and quickly discovered a lack of clarity in terms of tax issues related to software," says Mayor Michael Hancock said. Much of the issues were related to the rapidly changing software industry, which now includes cloud computing and app development.

"Our culture of ingenuity provides people the opportunity to turn concepts into reality," Hancock explains. "This new guide gives a clearer picture for our software firms and business community, enabling them to continue their successful growth here in Denver."

"While the updated tax guide does not change the city's tax policy, it does provide a deeper understanding of the imposition of the city's sales and use tax on the purchase price or charge for data processing programs," says Cary Kennedy, Denver CFO. "The guide clarifies when a taxable event occurs, and it contains several new hypothetical software development examples."

To explain and discuss the changes CTA and the city are hosting a town hall meeting Nov. 17 at 1:15 p.m. at INDUSTRY, 3000 Brighton Blvd.

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

MapQuest growing in Denver with Commute app

Denver-based MapQuest is forging a new path with a highly-ranked mobile app, Commute, and is on the road to create new jobs.

Released in September, the Commute app for iOS, Android and Windows devices from the first Internet mapping company was born out of a 24-hour hackathon. It uses real-time traffic data and push messages to help people better plan their travel routes -- even during rush hour.

"We had come up with this idea of how we could get more activity with our navigation app," explains MapQuest General Manager Brian McMahon. "It gives proactive notifications for your daily commute."

Commute also lets users know when they'll arrive at their destination based on their commuting patterns and traffic information along with road and weather conditions. In the newest iOS 8 version, it also offers users alternate routes when traffic is bad.

MapQuest has also made a strong push into content creation in recent years. It recently developed a Major League Baseball stadium guide and integrated with Yelp in 2010.

Those moves are help setting the company up for future growth in Denver. Since 2012, the company has brought on 30 new employees bringing its total to more than 110 employees, about 65 of them in Denver.

"We're having great luck [hiring in Denver]," McMahon says. "The level of talent we're getting here is phenomenal."

The company will hire 20 more employees in Denver in the near future, he adds. McMahon says MapQuest will continue to invest in its free navigation apps, and also recently launched an enhanced voice guide and alternate route features in its navigation apps.

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

Denver to hold IT jobs fair Oct. 30

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) is holding "Denver's Tech Talent: Meeting Tomorrow's Needs," a free industry forum and job fair, on Thurs. Oct. 30 to help match talent with talent seekers. OED is holding the event at the ICOSA Media offices at 4100 Jackson St. Registration and networking begin at 8 a.m.

More than 20 IT companies will be at the job fair looking for new potential hires, says Derek Woodbury, OED spokesperson. Employers participating in the job fair will include NIMBL, RTL Networks, iTriage, NexusTek, Time Warner Cable, Live Consulting, Skybridge Infotech and Raymond James Financial.

"Denver's IT workforce of more than 17,000 is expected to expand to nearly 20,000 within the next two years, and even the most conservative estimates place average earnings per job at $114,000," said OED Workforce Development Director Denise Bryant. "Along with healthcare and advanced manufacturing, technology is a critical industry of focus for us. Our goal is to identify the rapidly evolving skills that jobseekers need, improve our workforce training to match marketplace demands, and continue to attract the top talent to Denver."

The morning will kick off at 9 a.m. with a panel discussion about what IT companies are looking for in potential hires. "We'll have three Gazelles on an awesome panel to start out in the morning," Woodbury says. The Gazelles are companies the OED has identified during Denver Startup Week as some of the fastest-growing startups in Denver. The panel will include executives from NIMBL and RTL Networks.

Job-seekers can register for the free event here. Industry employers interested in participating in the job fair should contact richard.marr@denvergov.org.

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

WÜF aims to unleash smart dog collar

With the introduction of the Apple Watch and a host of other smart watches that are already on the shelves, the idea of smart, wearable technology is heating up, and not just for humans. Now dogs are getting wearable tech, too.

Technologically advanced dog collars already exist and allow owners to communicate or track their pups with GPS. WÜF is aiming introduce a new smart collar that includes a variety of different sensors to help train dogs -- and their owners -- to be better pals. The company, split between Denver and Boulder's Galvanize locations, is testing its third-generation prototype and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in November to move toward introducing the new Colorado-made smart collar.

"We want to help all dog owners to be better dog owners," says WÜF CEO Sean Kelly. "That's training the human and training the dog." He explains that WÜF takes a different approach to training dogs.

The collar offers two-way communications as well as vibration to help train dogs, but instead of being like a normal training class WÜF has adopted a gamified approach based on Duolingo-style training. "With the voice commands it starts off with you, the phone and dog." As well as with basic commands like sit and stay. But users can up the training or purchase additional training packages.

"The beauty comes in when your dog knows the command and then when you're at work that command comes out automatically from the collar because the collar detected that he's jumping inside the house and you don't want him to do that," Kelly says. "Automatically, 'No, down' comes out of the collar and you're training the dog -- even when you're not with the dog, which is something we're really excited about."

The collar will also allow the owner to track the dog. "We're looking at some new technologies," Kelly says, including an alternative to GPS that allows for communication in a roughly 50-mile radius. "It would remove the need for Wi-Fi and GSM and allow it to connect, with the owner," he says. It also means that users don't have to subscribe to a service to keep the device communicating.

Though the company got its start at Galvanize in Boulder, it has added Denver as a second location. "We like the opportunities that both cities present, so ideally we'll look to maintain a presence in both cities," Kelly says.

Boulder will likely remain the company's production facility, explains Lizelle van Vuuren, WÜF's chief marketing officer. "Denver will be its sales and marketing, as well as business development office."

Right now, the company is focused on building interest in the devices. "We're planning to launch the Kickstarter at the end of November. The big push right now is to get people to stay tuned and subscribe."

The device will retail for about $129 but Kickstarter participants will likely be able to get theirs for about $99.

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

Layer3 TV hiring in Denver, remains secretive

Layer3 TV opened its new headquarters in LoDo on Sept. 15. It already has about 50 employees, but the company remains in stealth mode.

The company's website touts it as a "next generation cable provider spearheading a new era of home media, combining the best of television, social, and digital life," but details about its technology and business model remain scant.

Layer3 TV CEO Jeff Binder says the main decision behind locating in Colorado was the state's workforce. "Denver has a long history, especially in the cable industry, of having some of the best and brightest talent in the industry," he says. "Modern pay TV has it roots in Denver, and it is here where we hope to continue to evolve and innovate the industry."

The company plans to hire more than 300 people in Denver, with an average wage topping $90,000. It is already hiring positions with a heavy focus on IT positions, from software engineers to Web developers. As of early October, Layer3 was advertising 13 open positions on its website.

The company, which was previously based in Boston, raised $21 million in its Series A financing. The series was led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Evolution Media Growth Partners (a joint venture between private equity firm TPG Growth and Evolution Media Capital). That round of financing also helped the company become one of the Denver Gazelles in conjunction with Denver Startup Week.

The fundraising and potential jobs growth netted the startup $2.9 million in state job growth incentive fund tax credits. In addition, Denver is providing Layer3 TV with business personal property tax credits, as well as workforce development and technical assistance to support the relocation.

"The commitment at both the state and local level to bring startups and entrepreneurs to the Mile High City speaks to the general overall climate for business in Colorado," Binder says. "We are looking forward to playing meaningful a role in this emerging center of innovation."

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

Notion prepares to put more sense in remote sensors with runaway Kickstarter campaign

Denver-based Notion's funding campaign for its first product, a small, self-adhesive sensor that can detect eight different things, has been a runaway success -- and it's not even out of Kickstarter yet. The project has raised more than $200,000, quadruple its original goal of $50,000. (The campaign ends in mid-October.)

"We're thrilled with the results to say the least," says Longmont native and co-founder Brett Jurgens. "It's always very exciting as an entrepreneur, putting something out there and getting the reaction and having people pay money for something you created."

The sensors itself can be placed all over the home. It communicates with users' Wi-Fi networks and can send smartphones message via an app. Featuring seven versatile sensors, the device will be compatible with existing home automation and security systems at launch.

"It's a little counterintuitive that there are eight capabilities with only seven sensors, but we have one specialized unique sensor that's capable of a couple of things," says Jurgens. Each sensor can detect acceleration, water leaks, sounds temperature, light, orientation, natural frequency and proximity.

Jurgens explains that a lot of the early success the device is seeing is likely because of the company's efforts to meet the needs of potential customers and its work with Techstars Boulder. "We spent a lot of time with customers interviewing them about home security and automation, do-it-yourself," Jurgens says. "All of the learning and discussions out of that helped us tailor our messaging. More importantly it helped us focus the development of the product. We thought we had a pretty good understanding of what people wanted."

The company plans to start shipping to Kickstarter supporters in April 2015 and to have a broader launch in July 2015. While the funds could help the company launch the product more quickly, Jurgens says they don't want to rush it. "We would rather be meeting our deadlines . . . with a product we know is ingrained with everyone's feedback and is fully tested. We're doing beta testing already."

At present, the company is manufacturing the devices in Colorado. "Our plan is for the initial Kickstarter orders at the very least is to continue to manufacture here," Jurgens says.

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

New TidBitts platform gives fans access to exclusive content from their favorites

TidBitts is a new, nationwide platform developed in Denver that connects people with exclusive content from their favorites, whether they are authors, athletes and thought leaders. No matter the content, whether it's video, words or something else, the vignettes are exclusive to the platform and fans can get access to the content for a monthly fee of 99 cents per subscription.

"We were thinking it would be fun to get daily dinner-table conversation topics sent to you," explains Brad Greenwald, TidBitts founder and CEO.

An adjunct professor at DU's Daniels School of Business and a former Time Warner executive, Greenwald says the bite-sized vignettes on the platform are supposed to be short -- like 60-second videos -- that might provide topics of conversation around the dinner table. The content is pushed out through emails and notifications via Android and iOS apps. 

For content creators, the platform makes it easier to connect with readers and viewers and offers a potential new revenue stream. "We know there’s a push for the top-quality content creators to generate revenue from their content," Greenwald says. "The newspaper industry shows that you can’t live on adverting alone." He likens the service to streaming services, noting, "There used to be free radio, but Pandora and similar offerings like that show that people will pay for quality content."

TidBitts is proving popular with content providers already. It launched just a few short weeks ago, but within the second week the number of authors, celebrities and experts registered to publish on the platform surged to 180. Among those already registered on the platform are former Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Jeff Blake. Greenwald says the TidBitts content producers also include college admissions advisors who worked at Princeton and Stanford, and are offering advice through the service that could cost parents thousands of dollars.

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

Self Lender launches new way to build credit: loan to yourself

Self Lender, a unique platform allowing individuals to build their credit through essentially a loan to themselves, launched in early September. Under the Denver-based company's offerings, people with low or underscored credit can build credit through their payment history with the company.

"Almost 70 million people in the U.S. may have subprime credit because there isn't any payment data on them," contends Self Lender CEO James Garvey. "About 100 million people have subprime credit for other reasons, but really there's a huge opportunity to help people that have low scores or are underscored. The problem with building credit is it requires that you have existing credit. It's a catch-22."

"At Self Lender we allow anybody to start building their credit history with a small loan," Garvey says. "The idea is I'm going to create a $50 per month obligation for six months. After paying for the entire 6 months, we return your money." During that period of time Self Lender reports that payment history to the credit bureaus.

"It comes up as an installment payment that looks like an auto loan or a mortgage," Garvey says. "What we've seen from other nonprofits is that if you are unscored, after six months of using a credit builder loan like this you will have a credit score in the 600s. If you have a credit score already, it's going to vary, but usually you'll see a bump."

Self Lender charges an administrative fee of $3 a month, no matter the size of the individual's commitment. So a 12-month commitment would cost a customer $36 and a three-month commitment would cost them $9. At the end of the repayment period, the funds, which were set aside in a escrow account, are returned to the customer or Garvey says Self Lender is working with some car lenders to allow customers to use the fulfilled agreement to serve as a down payment.

Self Lender is already generating interest. The launched at TechCrunch Disrupt on Sept. 9. "We were one of the 26 companies to present," Garvey says. "We were runner-up for Accenture's Innovation Enterprise Disruptor Award."

At this point, the company is working to finalize an agreement with a bank. Garvey explains that the bank is doing its due diligence for the agreement but thinks it will be finalized soon.

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

Skookum Digital Works opens Denver office

Skookum Digital Works, a tech consulting firm focused on Fortune 500 companies, recently opened its first satellite office in Denver. The company, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., specializes in making things work -- even if they weren't supposed to.

"We specialize in custom technology, hardware hacking the Internet of things, skunkworks type of stuff and big data integrations," says Chief Strategy Officer Josh Oakhurst. The company brought out seven people from Charlotte, he says,  and will grow to around 25 employees in the LoDo office.

For instance, Skookum hacked hardware on some expensive suspension systems for race cars, according to Oakhurst. Using a low-energy Bluetooth chip, the company created a mobile app that acted as a remote control. "We made an app for the system and now you can control the dampening and rebound with an iPhone."

One of the reasons the company located its second office in Denver was because of the workforce. "We know that Denver has a great talent base of both technology consultants and developers and designers and and project managers. We came here to add to our growing pool of really talented individuals," Oakhurst explains.

The company also sees potential clients in oil and gas as well as the mining industries. "We make sure the money that companies spend on technology actually matches the business plan and, more often than not, it’s not the case," Oakhurst says. Having an office in Colorado, close to potential new clients will also allow the company to have a more personal approach with clients in the region, which is sometimes necessary when bringing two disparate things together.

As for hiring, the company is looking for software and hardware engineers, full-stack developers and technology leads, or as Oakhurst puts it: "People who can lead consulting on different projects, people who can marry different systems together and business consultants who can help people decide when to make good investments."

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

Tech job fair comes to Denver from Boulder

Cardinal Peak and Daniels College of Business at University of Denver are hosting their third Tech Job Fair on Sept. 25. Companies at the fair will be looking to fill everything from entry-level to senior positions. The fair is being held at the Marcus Commons in the Daniels College of Business at 2101 S. University Blvd. from 4 to 7 p.m.

The 14 tech companies at the event have more than 200 positions to fill, says Bri Rios, spokesperson for Cardinal Peak. "Cardinal Peak sponsors the events. It used to sponsor it with the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, but we wanted to move it to Denver."

The events have been popular, particularly given the demand for tech jobs in the region. Entrepreneur, has listed five Colorado cities -- Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction -- in its top tech startup cities.

Cardinal Peak says that the unemployment rate for software engineers in Colorado is only 0.20 percent, and the number of jobs is growing at a 10 percent annual rate. As such, it's even more important to connect employers and potential employees.

Previous events were highly attended, according to Rios. "It's been really successful. The last job fair we had over 300 job applicants come through the doors and the majority of companies were able to fill positions with with some of those applicants," she says.

By moving the event to Denver, it could potentially reach an audience across the Denver metro area and more of the Front Range. For more information, visit www.BoulderDenverTechJobs.biz.

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

Placeable among Denver startups moving forward

Denver's startups are quickly moving from infancy to later stages of business.

For instance, Placeable was named a "Denver Gazelle" by the city's Office of Economic Development in 2013 for its success and growth potential.

At that point, the location-based advertising company had about 40 employees, and it's since continued to grow, attracting clients like Bank of America, Western Union and American Express, among others.

During Denver Startup Week, it's important to remember that the startup phase is just a stage of many. For companies to continue and thrive, they must grow beyond the startup stage.

Second-stage companies are those that have survived the startup trenches and have reached $1 million in revenues. Some of the initial pressures are gone, but new ones take their place.

"Whenever you're going through this type of change it is difficult because you're looking around and saying, 'What do we need to do differently?'" says Placeable VP of Marketing Melissa Risteff.

Risteff joined the company in January after stints at Sun Microsystems and GE. "I joined the organization when they were looking for a leadership team and trying to make sure they were staffed to grow and take the company to the next level," she says.

To keep the company on a positive growth path, management has enacted policies to help keep its 50-plus employees happy. All of the employees have an ownership stake in the company.

Risteff says making sure leadership cohesion is important, as is a high degree of accountability. That includes "making sure individuals are treated as mature adults, and can make decisions and take pride in their work," she contends. "We're very committed to the people in the company." That includes a personal development "bullet" programs, which allows employees to explore things of interest to them even if it's not related to the company.

Placeable also benefits from its location in Denver, and its market sector is attracting both customers and capital. Says Risteff: "The Denver tech scene is exploding, and I think there are a lot of companies and a lot strategic investment partners interested in our space."

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

If at first you don't succeed, learn from it!

Nobody likes to fail and most people don't like to discuss their failures. But in entrepreneurialism, failure can be an important step in moving forward.

"The reality of it is the likelihood of failure is really high for startups," says Brian Parks, General Manager for Galvanize in Colorado and Co-Founder and former CEO of Brandfolder.

Parks moderated the Founders Talking Failure panel of Denver Startup Week on Tues. Sept. 16 at Galvanize. Parks was joined by Mike Biselli, Co-Founder of MedPassage; Tom Higley, Founder of FortNET, NETdelivery, Service Metrics and Latis Networks/StillSecure; and Jess Lybeck, who co-founded Dabble.

"We're talking about failure and how to handle that and if you do experience failure personally and professional and how to view that as a catalyst for growth," Parks explains. "Failing for failure's sake is not that awesome, but you can learn from it and grow, and that is awesome."

Parks served as Brandfolder's CEO for about 18 months, from the "back of the napkin stage to generating revenue," he says. While the company still exists, he's no longer with it. He says he considered launching a new startup right away, but instead started reflecting on it, which has allowed him to better understand the value in the experience.

"I think investors view failure in a certain way as well," Parks says. They want to know how the person who was in charge of a company can relate that experience, what they've learned about it and what they will do differently in future situations."

He says it's important that fresh entrepreneurs "don't act like there's not a potential for failure. I don't know how you grow or take a big swing without risking that you'll fail."

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

Denver Startup Week, an aspen grove of entrepreneurialism

Like an aspen grove, Denver Startup Week (Sept. 15-20) is the largest event of its kind, and like an aspen grove in fall, it's pure gold for entrepreneurs in the region. Also like an aspen grove, it's taken root and growing quickly.

The free event to help spur innovation and growth in startups launched in 2012. In 2013, it launched Basecamp, the metaphorical root cluster of the event, and the event grew to a total of 125 events across Denver. In 2014, Basecamp is back (it's at Ashford University's Denver Online Center at 1515 Arapahoe St.) and the conference includes more than 175 separate events at venues across Denver from the Seawall Ballroom to Gensler's offices to Breckenridge Brewing Company.

Denver Startup Week is a massive event and, unlike a traditional conference, it's not hosted at any one particular place. It's all over the place, in fact more than 60 locations across Denver are hosting events ranging from law offices to taco shops, reflecting the nature of Denver's entrepreneurial spirit. Expect a full day of events, too. During the week events start as early as 7:30 a.m. and some go on until 2 am (like the karaoke event at Beauty Bar). Once you register for the event, you can start choosing your schedule so you can keep track of when and where you need to be.

Currently the schedule lists at least one event each of the following places (not including the spaces mentioned above): Modworks, Infinite Monthly Theorem, Sendgrid, Mapquest, ReadyTalk, PaySimple, CU Denver's Jake Jabs Center, Galvanize, Industry, BPR Denver, Forest Room 5, Crooked Stave at The Source, Denver Union Station, MCA Denver, Connect People + Space, CSU - Denver, Epic Brewing Co., Novo Coffee, TAXI - Drive 2, Black Shirt Brewing Co., Code, Grace Skis, Talklaunch, Sendgrid, SpireMedia, Vonmod + Von Design & The Maker Lab, Luca, Code, Elevated Third, Converge, The Alliance Center, Beauty Bar, Signpost, Officescapes, iTriage, Ping Identity, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Faegre Baker Daniels, Cirro, Rally Software - LoDo, DADA Art Bar, Knotty Tie Co., Ellie Caukins Loft, McNichols Building, EffectiveUI, Elements, DU Margery Reed Hall, David Graham & Stubbs LLP, Rocky Mountain Patent, StackExchange, Wynkoop Brewing, Photobucket, Convercent, Turing School, Geotech Environmental Equipment, Inc., HOSTING, Denver Community CU, City Hall Amphitheater, Fairfield & Woods, PC, Cowboy Lounge and locations to be announced.

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

Roximity launches Model X Beacon

Denver startup Roximity recently introduced its Model X Beacon to help drive location-based interactive experiences through smart devices.

The beacons work with iPhones and Android devices using Apple's iBeacon technology and can be placed throughout stores, malls and other locations. Using Bluetooth Low Energy technology they communicate with devices alerting users to things nearby, like sales items in stores, interesting items in museums and more.

Roximity is a leader in developing and deploying iBeacon devices and already has deployed thousands of the Model X -- and selling out of its first batch of beacons, according to Co-Founder Danny Newman. “We are in some sort of either pilot or production stage with every big brand or retailer that you can imagine," he says. “It's a very cool space to be in and everyone realizes what the possibilities and different use cases are."

The company, which launched in 2012, previously made Wi-Fi and NFC-type devices. "Initially we were doing very low volume, very specific things for specific customers at the end of 2012 and early 2013," Newman says. "This time last year is when the iBeacon aspect of what we're doing really started to take off. We started doing thousands of beacons a week."

"Model X is the next generation," he adds. "Everything we learned over the last year has gone into the new hardware." The new devices have a battery that could last five years and security features to protect users and deployers.

Roximity currently manufactures its devices in Colorado. "We've been able to keep it cost competitive," Newman says. "We want to make sure we're nimble enough and quick enough to make any kind of changes or advances and keep iterating much faster. We feel that offsets any kind of savings from overseas."

As the company grows, it's also hiring. "We're currently hiring engineers on the server side and platform component side," Newman says. "We'll need enclosure engineers as well as iOS and Android engineers."

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

Bold Betties Outfitters starts up to rent outdoor gear to women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got an idea for a business? Register for Denver Startup Week

Denver Startup Week, which begins Sept. 15 and runs through Sept. 20, celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of Denver and Colorado by bringing together the public, private and nonprofits in the region to cross-pollinate ideas and teach people about starting a business. In its third year, the event is the largest free entrepreneurial event in the country, jam-packed with sessions, presentations by successful entrepreneurs, workshops, happy hours and more.

"We believe there should be no barrier to entry if you want to learn about starting a company," says Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership and an organizing chair of the event. "That is why that core of no admission charges is at the core of this week -- everyone's invited."

Denver Startup Week launched in 2012. In 2013, it attracted more than 5,500 attendees, and 650 companies, showing the desire for such an event to connect the startup community and making it the largest such event in the nation. "Many of the segments of our community were operating in individual silos in more micro-communities. Our goal was to unite those communities and bring them all together," Door explains. To this end, the event has four tracks: business, design, tech and manufacturing.

"In Denver we have an amazing reputation for working extremely well across communities and across a wide array of stakeholders," Door adds. "We believe in the value of public-private partnerships and Denver startup week was founded on the premise that the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit sector -- when they come together -- they're an extremely powerful platform."

There are over 125 events planned across downtown for the 2014 Denver Startup week. That's in addition to Basecamp at 1515 Arapahoe St., featuring keynote speakers and panelists. It will also include one-on-one mentoring sessions with local and national CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs and developers.

Entrepreneurs can register for the free event by clicking here.

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

MSU Denver, partners offer aviation students easier path to first officer certification

Recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) changes make it more difficult to attain certification to serve as a first officer in a commercial airplane. But Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) and Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) are making it a little easier for people to get their first officer certification -- an important step toward getting full certification to fly commercially.

The schools are allowing students pursuing an associate's or bachelor's of science degree in aviation to gain flight training at a reduced cost. Under the new FAA requirements first officers on U.S. passenger and cargo airlines must now have an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, which means they must have 1,500 hours of flight experience.

Still, "Most airlines wouldn't hire at that low of an experience level," says Kevin R. Kuhlmann, who teaches Aerospace Science at MSU Denver. He explains that most pilots gain flying hours by teaching flight school and then at between 500 to 1,000 hours of experience they could get hired on as a first officer. "It was almost like an apprenticeship."

Pilots previously only needed a commercial certificate, which only requires 250 hours of flight experience. "Under the old system you were really only talking about 12 months on average until obtaining an ATP," Kuhlmann explains. The new system will add roughly a year or two to the training process.

The arrangement at the two schools will also allow students to obtain a restricted ATP with only 1,250 hours of flight under which they can fly as a co-pilot until they obtain the ATP certification. The restricted ATP could reduce the time to getting an ATP by about 6 months, according to Kuhlmann.

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

Colorado Medical Price Compare offers clearer view of medical costs

Will you pay $25,000 or $58,000 for a total knee joint replacement? Thi is just the type of question the recently launched Colorado Medical Price Compare website was designed to answer.

Developed by Denver-based Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC), the site allows users to compare and estimate costs for certain medical procedures at hospitals across the state, what insurers and consumers paid for those services, as well as the quality of service patients received. 

Such pricing information allows the insured and uninsured to understand how much the services will cost for the patients. It also allows hospitals a chance to look at what their peers are charging and could help them find ways to reduce costs on certain procedures to keep competitive with other hospitals. 

"This is the first time price information based on actual payments made by health insurance plans and patients has been made available to Coloradans," explains acting CIVCH CEO Edie Sonn. "It is significant because it marks the first time Coloradans can see real pricing information along with quality data across all commercial payers and Medicaid." The site does not yet have information on self-insured plans.

At this time, the site has information only on four procedures: total knee joint replacement, total hip joint replacement, uncomplicated vaginal birth and cesarean birth. By the end of 2014 CIVHC anticipates adding information about nine more services and ambulatory surgery center prices. In 2015, it plans to more than 25 additional services at a variety of facility types.

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

Experience People, a tour against tech addiction, comes to Denver

You probably spend a little too much time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Buzzfeed, or you check your iPhone every few minutes. You might call even it an addiction.

This is the focus of Brian Hiss' Experience People. The 20-city tour comes Denver Aug. 17-19 in a very un-techy 1970s Volkswagen van.

"Every American spends 40 minutes on Facebook a day," Hiss claims. "The closest thing I can relate it to is working from home and someone's ringing your doorbell all day. Would you be able to get anything done and be productive?"

Hiss is a co-founder of Dooble, a social media site, which doesn't yet have information on Denver. But this tour is about disengaging from devices and experiencing people and places. "Every experience we're having now is through a device and not out there in the world where it used to be," Hiss contends. "We're not anti-technology -- it's just that technology is there to engage the experience, not be the experience."

The Denver schedule isn't finalized. Hiss says he's barely checking his phone while on the road -- but the tour, which is bing coordinated by Dooble Co-Founder Ryan Bearbower and includes Rob Loud, who's filming the tour for a documentary --already has a number of engagements. They include a live interview on KDVR's Good Day Colorado on Mon. Aug 18, a presentation and discussion at Denver Open Coffee Club and other events.

"What we really hope to get out of this is to really change the course of the entrepreneurial world, the business world and helping them to foster new best processes where we're not creating the habit-forming experiences and manipulating people," Hiss says.

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

Dinner Lab brings its dining experiment to Denver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find local breweries and more with CraftedHere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backyard farmers get support from Denver's new cottage foods code

Denver's residents can now sell produce and goods thanks to the city's recently passed cottage foods code.

"This change will work to increase healthy food options for families and add new opportunities for supplemental earnings that can make a real difference in the economic and physical health of lower income residents," says Mayor Michael Hancock. "I want to recognize the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council for recommending this policy change and I want to thank Councilmembers Robin Kniech, Susan Shepherd and Albus Brooks for leading the passage of this ordinance."

Under the text amendment, which went into effect July 18, residents in Denver can obtain a permit to sell their homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. They can also sell their chicken or duck eggs and unrefrigerated cottage foods like spices, teas, honey, jams, and certain baked goods. All products that they can sell are defined in the Colorado Cottage Food Act.

"The permit costs $20 and does not have to be renewed annually," says Andrea Burns of the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development. "It goes with the property so would only need to be replaced if the property changes ownership."

Under the new provision, residents will have to obtain a "home occupation" zoning permit, the city says. If a resident plans to sell cottage foods, they also have to complete a food safety course.   

"Denver has always been known as a city that appreciates farm-to-table and using fresh produce and locally sourced foods, but this new law creates a whole new level of urban farming that will allow the city to become one big farmer's market," says Visit Denver CEO Richard Scharf.

Scharf adds that many restaurants in and around Denver are already growing their own foods, like the Colorado Convention Center. The Blue Bear Farm is now growing 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices used in its kitchens.

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

Glassation blows up in Denver

Denver is the nation's capital for the glass-art community, says Mandy Davis, Founder of online glass-art community and market Glassation. The site offers all manner of glass art from fused and painted glass to blown glass and smoke ware. "Basically we're the Amazon of glass art," Davis says.

Davis launched the site around four years ago as a social network for the glass art community, she says. At the time she was studying at University of Tampa. She met Zen Glass Studio owner Josh Poll who mentored her. Afterward she moved to Colorado because of the glass-art scene here. "Our followers and our fans are mostly in Colorado so it made sense for us to relocate here," she says. "So right now we're just focusing on making with the local glass community in Colorado, particularly Denver."

Glassation offers artists' works and also works with equipment suppliers to provide for glass artists' needs, according to Davis. Since the site began as a social network for the glass art community about four years ago, it has morphed into what it is today, incorporating the marketplace for artists -- which launched this January -- and other features such as blogs, she says.

The artists offering pieces on the site are from across the U.S., the U.K. and Israel. "To be on the website, [artists] must apply with their artist's statement as well as four quality photos," she says.

Currently Glassation is an online-only endeavor, but Davis has considered opening up a retail location. "We have been playing around with that idea for a while...but right now it's completely online," she says. "We also have a catalog and our fall catalog will come out soon."

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

No items too large or small for Closetbox

A 1,000-square-foot apartment in Denver doesn't have enough space for two kayaks, skis, books, extra furniture, a mountain bike and road bike, skis, climbing gear and other outdoor goodies.

That's where Closetbox enters the picture. The company, which launched in early 2014, offers what it calls a concierge storage service that can accommodate people's needs -- no matter how large or small -- for storage.

"We are doing door-to-door delivery of storage," says Founder and CEO Markus J. Mollmann. "We are making storage convenient for busy folks living in an urban environment who live in smaller spaces."

Mollmann says they founded the company after he and wife had twins and started running out of space at home. He'd have to call friends to help move the items he couldn't handle himself. "There were two options before us: Hire a mover, which is $350 minimum for them to touch an item," he says. "We didn't want to go that route." The other option was self storage. "They'll give you a free truck and a free month which is fine but what we really needed was help moving so we incorporated both."

It follows that Closetbox offers storage based on customers' needs, according to Mollmann. That means a piece as small as a shoebox or a storage space like a 10-foot box. What's more, he says, the company makes storage as easy as printing up a label and ordering pick up and delivery of items at no extra charge.

Rates for the company's services start at as little as $15 a month and $2 per item. Or people can rent a storage space more like a conventional storage facility but still have the convenience of having the company pick up and drop off stored items within 24 hours.

In addition, rates are similar to those at self storage facilities in Denver, Mollmann says. The company's 100-square-foot units go for $143 a month. "Downtown, the most inexpensive storage facility in Denver is between $140 and $160 a month," he says. Such storage facilities also charge administration fees over $20 a month, push insurance and people have to secure their possessions with locks. Closetbox monitors the premises 24/7 and people can check on the status of their items anytime.

The service has grown quickly. "We're seeing two times growth month over month," says Mollman, adding that the company plans to expand.

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

WALKscope helps Denver address walkability weaknesses

WalkDenver introduced WALKscope, a new online app that allows people -- anywhere in Denver and some surrounding areas -- to quickly identify and add to a database of pedestrian issues. Already the organization is harnessing the app's power to create reports on pedestrian issues near schools, to make them safer who students who walk, bike or skate to school.

"It's an interactive map that anybody can use to crowd-source data about the pedestrian infrastructure in their own neighborhood," explains Jill Locantore, WalkDenver's Policy and Program Director. "They just add a pin to the map, add some information: Is there a sidewalk? How wide is it? Is it in good condition?"

Users can also upload information about intersections, crosswalks whether drivers are obeying stop signs and other safety concerns.

"It's so that we can start building up the evidence base of pedestrian infrastructure and where do we see the real needs and start focussing attention so the city can make better more informed decisions about how it chooses to spend its limited transportation dollars," Locantore says. "We're sharing the information with the principals of the schools, Denver Public Works, CDOT and other entities that are interested in using this information to make the case for some very targeted improvements."

WalkDenver partnered with Denver's PlaceMatters to create the app, according to Locantore. "It was kind of a perfect marriage," she says. "We got a grant from the organization Mile High Connects in 2013. WalkDenver and PlaceMatters together to develop the application."

The app launched in February at the Partners for Smart Growth conference and attendees were asked to, well, walk a mile in their shoes so to speak, identifying pedestrian issues and adding them to the map.

"Since then, we've been encouraging people to use it as a tool but also we're very focused on walk audits," Locantore says. The audits are more in-depth walkability reviews of neighborhoods and areas around schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods and those with high pedestrian accidents.

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

DPL celebrates launch of Denver patent office with Steve Jobs exhibit

The Denver branch of the U.S. Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officially opened June 30. To commemorate its opening, the Denver Public Library (DPL) is hosting an exhibit covering prolific inventor Steve Jobs. The exhibit, The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology that Changed the World, shows off 300 of the 317 patents issued to the late CEO of Apple.

It looks like a collection of iPhones fit for a blue whale with a yen for technology. "It's pretty big," explains Frank Wilmot, a senior librarian with DPL's Reference Services. "It's about eight feet tall and 20 yards long," he says. The display is housed in the DPL's Central Library's Schlessman Hall through Sept. 22.

Don't expect to make any jumbo-sized calls on them, all but one are static displays, Wilmot says. "The only thing that changes is the slideshow at one end of it." The slide show displays some of the trademarks Jobs patented.

The new patent office, housed in the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building, is the first federal patent office west of the Mississippi. It's anticipated to create 120 direct positions, generate $440 million in Colorado during its first five years in operation.

The Denver Public library is a designated Patent & Trademark Resource Center (PTRC), which provides inventors and patent lawyers, among others, a valuable resource for investigating patents including access to USPTO Web-based Search Systems and PubWEST database.

Wilmot says John Posthumus, a Denver-based patent attorney, worked with Rocky Mountain IP Collective, Invent Now, Inc. and the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to bring the exhibit to Denver.

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

LoHi Labs' Three Cents polling app a quick hit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colorado Enterprise Fund expands opportunities for healthy foods, small businesses

Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) recently introduced the Healthy Foods Fund to increase access to healthy foods across the state.

"We're the only Colorado entity or nonprofit involved in deploying those Healthy Foods Fund programs," explains CEF spokesperson Alisa Zimmerman. The fund offers loans of up to $250,000 to support retail grocers of all manner; packaging, processing and manufacturing food enterprises; food production companies; food distributors; urban agriculture projects and all segments of the food system in rural and urban areas of Colorado.

"There are a lot of areas, not just in urban parts of Colorado but throughout the state that are considered food deserts," Zimmerman says. "We're looking forward to helping small businesses that are involved in everything from farming to retail -- to any point along the food system to enhance their particular enterprises with funding from us."

She says the goal is "to reach more people so that everybody in Colorado has access to fresh foods within a mile of their home."

"It's a comprehensive kind of approach to the healthy food markets in Colorado," Zimmerman continues. "Which I think we're already ahead of being aware of it. But how do we do it?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BodeTree enhances small business with new partnerships, capital

Small businesses need all the help they can get to grow bigger. That's where BodeTree fits in. The company offers an online platform to help small businesses understand where they are and tools to help them grow as they see fit -- mostly for free.

The Denver-based company recently announced a $2 million round of financing that will help expand its client base from about 50,000 small businesses to 200,000 through unique partnerships with local small business associations in Arizona, Michigan and Ohio. "Really, what that enables us to do is to scale to 20,000 to 30,000 users at a time through [each] organization," says BodeTree CEO Chris Meyer.

Where other small business platforms and tools focus on visualizing data through dashboards, BodeTree offers a steering wheel and control pedals. "The thing we compete against most poignantly is inaction and kind of the status quo of business owners not recognizing that these sorts of insights are available to them," says Meyer. "We visualize data but we have more of a humanistic approach.…Data visualization is a means to an end as opposed to an end in itself. We're more focused on where they [i.e., the businesses] stand today relative to the competition. Relative to what could be and really where they want to go in the future."

To this end, BodeTree offers tools that include valuation, target setting and interactive comparative analysis using data from the Risk Management Association (RMA), which banks use to rate investment risks. Meyer says the majority of tools are free but the company offers a premium service for $49.95 a month or $495 a year. Those services include peer comparison, reporting and capital raising.

"We connect the user with specific solutions to help them take action," he adds. "Funding is a huge component. We have an automated funding solution in there and several partners and applications that can actually help them act on the insight that we provide."

That includes helping businesses get credit cards, loans and funding through regional and national banks as well as alternative funders like Kabbage. The platform can streamline the underwriting process from 90 days to about five or six days, Meyer says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Map provided by your local Extra Space Storage

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

Potreprenuers pause for thought at Colorado Cannabis Summit

Colorado's cannabis industry could bring in $2.3 billion in 2014 revenues now that recreational marijuana is legal. While the rollout of the state's marijuana rules and stores has arguably been better received than the rollout of national healthcare, the industries that are working to support it -- from lighting and cooling to warehousing and banking -- are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced growth. Those issues are at the center of the Colorado Cannabis Summit at Denver's Exdo Event Center on May 22.

The summit is being billed as the first business-to-business summit to support the budding marijuana industry. As such it's bringing innovation from around the country to Colorado, including companies like Surna, which is helmed by Zynga Co-Founder Tom Bollich. Surna, the key sponsor of the event, says its technology could increase climate control efficiency between 30 percent and 50 percent. "We have redeveloped how water chilling works, but the technology field is pretty wide open on what's going to come next," he says.

Meanwhile, warehouse lease rates have skyrocketed in Colorado. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, summit organizers observe that rates have gone from about $4.50 per square foot to $20 per square foot.

"That increase has brought a lot of in-state investors into the marketplace," says Phillip Walker, Director of Business Development of Foothills Commercial Builders. Those investors are individuals since banks are still not lending to most marijuana growers -- despite legislation this year that should enable banks to make such loans.

Organizers also created an app for the Colorado Cannabis Summit, which is available at the website.

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

PlaceWise Media moves consumers from the Internet to the mall

PlaceWise Media has grown to a national consumer sales powerhouse operating behind the veil of the Internet. The company develops and operates the websites for roughly 500 malls and other retail locations across the U.S., including grocery stores, touching some 25 million shoppers a month, without ever putting its name out there. 

"We deliver you just what you want right where you are," says PlaceWise CEO Mort Aaronson. "If you're the advertiser, we deliver the mirror-image opposite -- just who you want right when you're ready." 

The strategy puts the company at the nexus between the shopper, local retail location and advertiser from computers to mobile devices.

"We also sell to companies that do deals, coupons and specials and we also distribute access to our advertising easements through alignments with media companies," Aaronson explains.

The company provides website services for roughly 50 percent of the malls in the U.S. “What we do is very specific,” Aaronson contends. “We need to know what’s there and who goes there and we need to know something about the local community. We need to know all the retailers there.” He quips, “You don’t put a gap ad in a mall that doesn’t have a Gap and I can assure you that while it may seem like there’s a Gap in every mall there isn’t.”

The grocery (99 percent) and health, fashion and beauty (93 percent) of sales are made in person -- even if the consumers are looking up products online, Aaronson says. Today’s smartphones, mobile devices and computers can connect consumers with goods in local stores. "We have the ability to take that shopper from the ad, deliver them to the store, prove it out to the advertiser or the brand and that’s a pretty interesting value proposition right now," Aaronson says.

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

Gociety creates social network for outdoor activities

Gociety, which recently launched out of Denver, has a simple motto: "Meet People. Get Outside. Be Awesome."

"What we do is we create a platform for people to link up have access to resources with the overall goal of everyone just getting outside as much as they can," explains Jason Antin, Gociety's Director of Partnerships.

The website allows people to register for free and create a profile on the site, explaining what activities they're interested in as well as their skill level. Members can then create an event using dropdown menus to select the sport and required skill level.

Event creators or leaders can either ask other people to participate based on their profiles and skill level or leave the event open to everyone in the community. It's not meant to make an event exclusive -- when an event requires specialized skills like knowledge of avalanche safety for backcountry skiing, it can put everyones' lives at greater risk to have beginners along.

"We want to provide options to them to do anything from a causal two-mile run around Wash Park to a rim-to-rim-to-rim trip to the Grand Canyon -- from very beginner to anything you can wrap your head around," Antin says.

Gociety's site had its hard launch in January 2014. By the end of April it already had a quickly growing user base, according to Antin.

"2014 is a big year of building community," he says, noting that mobile apps are forthcoming but not yet available. The plan is to roll out the next phase in 2015 and "continue to build up this platform to be your outdoor portfolio," he explains.

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

Barreled app makes for more informed whiskey decisions

If you've ever pored over the vast collection of whiskeys, scotches, bourbons and whiskys at your favorite liquor store or bar or restaurant, you'd know there are hundreds of brands and thousands of choices out there.

It’s hard to tell which copper-hued whiskey is going to be a favorite by looks and price alone. That's where Barreled, a new website and app, comes in. Developer Casey O'Neill spent months creating a database of more than 3,000 whiskeys and reviews from professional tasters and amateur imbibers who all share the same passion -- whiskey.

O’Neill’s interest in the spirit grew after he joined the Denver Whiskey Club. "I'd be in the liquor store trying to figure out if I should buy this [or that whiskey]," he says. "You don't know if you can trust the shelf-talkers."

"I wanted to have an app where you come to this whiskey and then there are user reviews and you'll see your friends pop up to the top," O'Neill explains. "So if you know what they like you like you’ll have a better idea if you like this and we aggregate critics' reviews as well." Those reviews come from publications like Whiskey Advocate and Whiskey Cask. Users can touch or click on the review and be taken to the site.

O'Neill is continuing to add features to the app (available on iOS and Android) as well as the site, and on making it as social-media friendly as possible.

"Of any liquor, I feel that whiskey is probably the most popular, and has the biggest following," he says. "If this is successful, I could see doing other spirits."

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

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. 

Jake Norris' Operation Gargoyle unveiled as Laws Whiskey House

"You guys are the first people outside the distillery to drink the whiskey and the first outside the distillery to hear the name," says Jake Norris speaking during the DSTILL Whiskey Workshop at Ste. Ellie on the night of March 12.

Norris, first Head Distiller at Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, left Stranahan's in 2011. Since then he, investor and owner Alan Laws, and the team of Stephen Julander, Alex Alexander and Jason Mann have been operating under the guise of Operation Gargoyle as Norris says, "To ward off evil spirits."

"The name of the distillery is Laws Whiskey House," Norris says. He explains, "It's the last name of Al Laws, the extraordinarily passionate person that gave me the opportunity to make whiskey. The name of the whiskey is A.D. Laws Four-Grain Bourbon."

Four-grain bourbons, which contain a blend of corn, rye, barley and wheat, are particularly difficult to make, according to Norris. He only knows of one other distillery that is making it, Tuthilltown Spirits out of Gardiner, N.Y., makers of Hudson Whiskeys. Tuthilltown distiller and brand ambassador Gable Erenzo, was also at the event.

The new whiskey isn't ready for public release -- yet. "We're going to release the whiskey sometime late summer," Norris explains. "I'm expecting that rye note to get a certain tone. It's going to manifest itself in a very particular way at which point we will release the whiskey."

Still, it's already a lovely -- if young -- whiskey with a taste that lingers on the tongue. It reveals itself in complex notes tinged with toffee and already hints of the spicy rye notes that Norris anticipates will soon increase their presence in the liquor.

Norris has kept the project largely under wraps for a while now, but insists it was partly for the purity of the project. "It was about doing this right from the beginning. Zero compromise, zero cheating and lying, we had nothing to hide," he says. "Everything we do is completely honest, completely above board, no sourcing no NGS [i.e., neutral grain spirits], no buying other people's shit and labeling it."

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

Andrew Hudson's Career Bootcamps help job seekers and career changers

Looking for a job in Denver? Looking to change careers or returning to the workforce after a hiatus? Check out one of Andrew Hudson’s upcoming Career Bootcamps. Hudson, who runs the eponymous site, Andrew Hudson's Jobs List, and the career bootcamps, is holding four three-hour sessions throughout March, starting on March 18. Hudson is no stranger to the bootcamps or the career list. He's been running a jobs website in Denver (originally www.prjobslist.com) since 2005. Today the jobs list sends a newsletter and updated list of positions -- over 1,000 professional positions in Colorado a month -- to subscribers every Monday.

While Hudson isn’t a corporate headhunter or jobs placement agent, he's dedicated a lot of time to helping others find jobs, including holding between 40 and 50 career bootcamps annually. "I've done this for a seven years. I've had about 600 or 700 go through the bootcamps," he says.

The career bootcamps, which cost $175, are often attended by mid-or senior level professionals, according to Hudson. "They come for a variety of reasons, they may hate their boss, or are looking to reinvent themselves." He adds that some may be returning to the workforce after an absence as a stay-at-home parent or because of the recession.

"The common thread, no matter why people are looking for a job…is they haven’t had to do it for a while and the rules have changed dramatically," he contends. He attributes at least part of that the uprise of online job search giants like Monster.com.

Hudson limits the bootcamps to 10 people. "The reason I do it the small-group dynamic is easier to manage and more people are willing to engage more," he explains.

Attendees might be surprised to find that the sessions aren’t just resume building sessions. "To me it’s more about having a really good conversation with yourself about what you value in a job," Hudson says. "The strategy of successful job seekers is…they research what it is they want to do and know how their backgrounds talents and skills are aligned with what they want to do." As such the resume building part of the sessions are last.

Hudson is holding the bootcamps at Fluid Coffee Bar's Fluid Meeting Spaces March 18, 20, 22 and 26. He plans on hosting additional bootcamps in the summer.

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

CannaSearch, the first cannabis job fair, comes to O.penVAPE

On March 13 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., O.penVAPE is holding CannaSearch, perhaps the first legal cannabis-focussed job fair ever, and you might be surprised by some of the positions the 15 participating companies are interested in filling.

"There are really valuable opportunities available in this growing industry -- no pun intended," says Todd Mitchem, O.penVAPE's Chief Revenue Officer.

"There will be some people looking for obviously cashiers and trimmers," Mitchem admits. But he asserts, “People like us are looking for customer service people. We're looking for a bookkeeper, we need to hire an IT professional. Some of the companies need marketing professionals."

Mitchem explains that the marijuana job fair isn't limited to grow houses, dispensaries and pot shops. "It's everyone from dispensaries to tour companies," he says. "Then we’ll also have our own affiliates, which includes OrganaLabs, the lab that fills our cartridges. It's just a variety of companies across cannabis, not just your usual suspects."

Mitchem anticipates that the participating businesses will hire between 50 and 75 employees. "Some salary and some hourly," he says. "Really it's just a chance for us to connect the industry and connect the job seeker. There are a lot of people who are obviously incredibly interested in our world and want to be a part of it."

Expect similar job fairs every quarter. "The bottom line for us is it’s really time to step up as an industry," Mitchem says. "We're not only going to be generating over $180 million in tax revenue between now and 2015, but we're also creating a workforce and giving people opportunities."

O.penVAPE, which makes vaporizers, is hosting the event at its headquarters at 1058 Delaware St., on Thurs. Mar. 13. The company explains that all participants must be 21 or older. Refreshments will be provided. The company will also award O.penVAPE gear to the first 100 people who submit pictures of themselves at O.penVAPE’s Facebook page.

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

Zengo, Richard Sandoval Restaurants find a home in Denver

"From working with the restaurants in Denver, a lot of folks that I work with have related to me that they think the culinary scene has really grown up a lot and is growing exponentially compared to 10 or 15 years ago," says Noah Loudenback, Operations Director for Richard Sandoval Restaurants. "So I think it’s a market where there is a lot of interest -- not just in cuisines but also in jobs in the food industry."

Colorado is the eponymous Richard Sandoval's largest market, and Denver became the restaurateur's international headquarters in 2013. He now has a total of seven restaurants throughout the state, including Zengo in the Central Platte Valley.

According to Loudenback, Denver was Sandoval’s first market outside of New York. "Denver really grasped the Richard Sandoval concepts very well," he contends. "The first location of Zengo was in Denver." Today the company also has Zengo restaurants in Washington, D.C., New York and Santa Monica.

In Denver, he adds, "Zengo’s 10-year anniversary is coming up this week, March 5, which is going to be cooking." The restaurant is co-located with a new tequila bar, La Biblioteca.

Denver also is home to another Sandoval restaurant, Tamayo, which has been around for nine years, and the company also has La Sandia in North Stapleton and four other restaurants throughout Colorado in resort towns.

The concentration of eateries in Colorado is just one reason why the restaurateur chose to relocate his headquarters west from New York last year. "The proximity in terms of being a central location to the rest of the country was attractive when we chose to move to Denver," Loudenback says. Today the company employs 15 people at its offices in RiNo and many more at the seven restaurants in Colorado.

The restaurants continue to innovate as well. Though Zengo has four locations for instance, no two menus are the same.

"Most of the creative culinary side is going to be at the restaurants," Loudenback says. "We like to have a least a few dishes that are unique to each location. We don't like it to be entirely cookie-cutter...especially when we have these concepts where we have a full-time executive chef on site. We've always felt like it’s a big part of our strength to having somebody of that level of ability to have a little more creativity."

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

Lone Survivor focuses on legacy at Colorado entrepreneur summit

The fourth annual Rocky Mountain Entrepreneurial Summit will be held March 6-7 at the University of Denver, organized by the local chapter of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

This year’s theme, "Creating A Legacy -- What Do You Stand For?" focuses on three cores: business, family and personal. It’s epitomized by this year’s keynote speaker Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL and co-author of Lone Survivor, now the subject a movie of the same name.

 Entrepreneurs' Organization Colorado President Cam Mochan explains that the summit modeled largely after the New York Entrepreneurial Week. "New York Entrepreneurial Week has been crazy successful. They've been running two events for an entire week over the past five years," he says.

"They brought together the disparate pieces of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is the entrepreneur [along with] venture capital, private equity, angel investors, and then government, economic development folks, academia -- which is students as well as the faculty, and brings them all together in kind of learning opportunity to break down some of the walls that exist between those silos in the ecosystem," says Mochan.

"We took a little chink of that and we do a little two-day event. That's what helps to create some of those relationships between operators, capital and just the ecosystem is more vibrant and relationships are created," he says.

This year the summit will include, for the first time, a Shark Tank-style event. "As the event's kind of evolved, we do the R&D -- rip off and duplicate." Mochan explains. "Shark Tank obviously is super-successful and we've seen this kind of mini-entrepreneurial award or competition at some other events."

"When I see the younger entrepreneurs, the startup entrepreneurs kind of get in to the grind of entrepreneurship, their enthusiasm and optimism is pretty inspiring and sometimes they think about solving problems in an entirely different way," Mochan asserts.

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

SeedPaths teaching IT skills to disadvantaged adults

"Education is: 'Congratulations, You're done. Here's your diploma and plaque. Good luck.' We don't succeed unless our students get employed," contends SeedPaths CEO Jeff Macco.

SeedPaths is an innovative career-track boot camp designed for young, disadvantaged adults to train them for the IT and software industries. As an added bonus, students that complete the two month bootcamp receive a $1,000 bonus.

"The students we're working with now have a unique demographic, a unique background," Macco says. Most are between 18 and 21 years old, they're low-income and face barriers to employment. Coming from foster programs, being skill-deficient, high-school dropouts, prior offenders, and other factors are of the employment barriers SeedPaths students face, he explains. 

The startup launched in Denver last year and is now conducting the pilot of its 320-hour boot camp. Its second bootcamp will launch April 7. "Our goal most optimistically for our next class is 30 students," Macco says. "But our floor goal is at least 20."

The SeedPaths training program attacks training from multiple angles, focusing on both professional development and software skills. Macco says the skill sets the training tries to impart include professionalism, high energy, confidence, self-management and intellectual curiosity.

The program has a goal of 85 percent employment rates for its graduates, according to Macco. Those goals were defined by the Arapahoe Douglas County Workforce Development Center, which is SeedPath's funding partner, allowing access Workforce Investment Act funds to pay for all or part of the program’s $6,000 cost for disadvantaged adults.

"Our goal long-term is as we continue to scale is to work with more workforce centers because the funds are not geographically restricted," Macco says. "So if Arapahoe and Douglas County use up their budget, then we can send them to Jefferson County, or Broomfield, or Denver, or Adams." He explains that even longer term the company could expand the program beyond Colorado.

"We're really committed and focussed on employment,” he adds, observing that the average yearly salary -- of the students had any salary last year -- was about $2,600. 

The class is intended to prepare the students for entry-level positions in the IT industry. "Our goal is at least $16 an hour. But an unpaid internship might work great, depending on the circumstances," Macco says. 

The boot camp includes a mini-job fair. "We'll be bringing in employers and community leaders, and potentially even educational institutes," says Macco. SeedPaths and the students will present the program, field questions and talk with the experts. "Potentially even better would be job offers given on the spot, which would be really cool," he says.

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

Growing businesses with P2Binvestor

"This isn't just a personal loan where all that matters is your personal credit score," explains Krista Morgan, P2Binvestor's Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder. The Capitol Hill-based company recently began offering loans funded by a variety of accredited investors (kind of like a crowd-funding but from businesses rather than individuals -- P2B stands for peer-to-business) to help small to mid-sized companies grow their business while minding shop.

"We really look at your business. We underwrite the owner and then we underwrite the customers," Morgan says. As such, P2Binvestor can provide a kind of revolving line of credit to support smaller companies while waiting for larger companies to pay them for their services or products. "It's just a much more sophisticated product and we’re the first to do it -- the first and still the only platform in the U.S. who’s specializing in this."

Morgan, who has a background in alternative lending, and her father, Bruce Morgan, who has a background in receivables-based lending, co-founded the company to meet a critical need for growing companies -- access to lower-interest rate capital.

"It's really for companies who are in between series A and their bank funding," Morgan says. "They want to fund their growth, but they don't want to give up more equity and our investors are looking for those types of loans to invest in....It's debt-based funding rather than equity funding. We're just taking that Kickstarter model and applying it into lending."

The purpose of the offerings are to allow companies to be able to fund their growth, hire more people, make more product, get more product out to market, according to Morgan. "This type of financing is often very expensive and quite frankly can be a real hassle," she says. "We're using technology and crowd-funding to try to make things easier and a lot cheaper. You shouldn't have to pay out the nose for funding to help you grow."

P2Binvestor made its first loan this year to a Texas-based company, Morgan says. By the end of February, she anticipates they will have three more clients. "We're hoping by the fall to be up closer to be on-boarding six to 10 clients a month."

The company is looking to facilitate loans -- particularly for Colorado-based businesses -- with growing revenue. Candidates can be all sorts of businesses, from breweries to medical technology companies, to organic food distributors.

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

Hacking up something new at The Concoctory

"We wanted to do a hackerspace, because that's where I come from," says Mar Williams, cofounder of The Concoctory, a retail shop and nonprofit hackerspace -- think of it it as a postmodern crafts space, where yarn and needlepoint are replaced with soldering irons and 3D printers. It's a place where DIY (do it yourself) is an ethic. The space allows members 24/7 access and also hosts regular classes on lockpicking (only for fun), building a Raspberry Pi -- the $25 computer on a card -- and others as opportunities come up. 

The Concoctory recently hosted a class on soldering "TV-B-Gone" kits. The $20 hack kit allows users to turn off all sorts of TVs. The teacher "was sort of hanging out with another friend and hackerspace member and he said, 'Hey, I can teach a soldering class,'" Mar explains. "He joined up for the month." 

“We get a lot of people like that,” she adds. "We don’t have professors, but people who are like: 'What do I know?' and they teach that." Another person who's taught at the space calls himself a "mad physicist" and "taught an intro to capacitors and inductors class from a physics perspective, so it’s an interesting twist."

Williams and partner Fred Roybal opened The Concoctory in March 2013, and in September they opened up the hackerspace. "I'd been part of this hackerspace and I loved the way it worked," Williams explains. "I wanted to do it again and I wanted to figure out a different way to do it. And I think the existing model is great and I think tacking on sort of the gift shop to the hackerspace is good."

Since opening the hackerspace they've attracted about 10 members. Most members pay $50 a month but they also offer a "scholarship" membership for members who can't pay and would rather trade sweat equity to use the space. 

"I want people to make really amazing projects in the workspace," Williams says. The Concoctory and its members are currently building out hacker stations, which will include a 3D printing station (they have two 3D printers), a silkscreen station, a soldering electronics bench, a lathe station and potentially a laser-etching station, among other tools and gadgets.

"We haven't had anybody use the lathe yet, but they use the hell out of the 3D printer," observes Williams.

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

Google Glass goes to class at CU Denver

"Is Glass a useful tool for a teacher to learn more about teaching?" asks CU Denver School of Education & Human Development Assistant Professor Robert "Bud" Talbot. It’s a question at the heart of new in-class research underway in his classes "Introduction to Science Teaching and Learning" and "Inquiry Science Pedagogy and Practice" this semester. 

Google Glass is a new technology currently being evaluated for its usefulness. Talbot was invited to become a "Glass Explorer" last December and began using the device in his classrooms in January. "Since first day of class [I’ve made] sure I wear it everyday. I also ask everyone if they want to try it, too," he says. 

"When it first came out the thing interesting to me was the idea that…it would record video from the point of view of the teacher," Talbot says. "The other thing was the idea that you could somehow leverage the idea that that information could be revealed to you in real time."

This could allow for unprecedented access to information about students’ performance in the class. Using Google Glass Talbot can check students’ attendance or send them messages during class. "I could take a photo of problem a student is working on on paper and add that to a database. I could see all of the student’s work, keep a recording of calls. All those things we don’t normally save," he explains. He can assimilate all that data and share it with the students to see if it helps improve their performance in the class. 

The device is still new but Talbot’s already seen some differences in using Glass. "The Glass video is really different.…I notice how much I move my head and look around the classroom," he says. "It seems to be a rich video but I’m not sure what I’m going to find yet."

Talbot will evaluate the effectiveness of Glass throughout the semester, as well as investigate designing teaching specific apps for the device. He also plans to release preliminary findings as well as speak at conferences by this summer.

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

CommutePays offers mileage rewards program for everyone

"I always hated commuting," says CommutePays Founder and CEO Shahir Ahmed.

He figures there are plenty of people with a similar mindset among the country's 140 million commuters -- 10 million of whom commute an hour or more daily.

It follows that CommutePays uses location-based data to market businesses to commuters who pass them on a near-daily basis, and commuters earn rewards just like air travelers. "It's the everyone, everyday miles app," explains Ahmed.

As commuters travel from "point A to point B," whether they're in a car or a bus or on a bike or a train, CommutePays sends them push messages from partner businesses.

Commuters can earn bonus miles by engaging with these partner brands, and ultimately earn "location-based rewards" for their commute, says Ahmed. "You earn miles by doing something you do every day."

CommutePays is partnering with numerous companies to integrate its technology into other apps. "Our app will be a button within those apps," says Ahmed. The company completed a pilot in New York last year and is currently working to raise an undisclosed Series A funding round.

Ahmed says CommutePays is part of a larger trend. "The next generation of apps are utility apps that reward you," he says.

Ahmed started CommutePays in Denver in 2011 and left to work at San Francisco's RocketSpace in fall 2012. He subsequently raised a seed round and returned to Denver in August 2013. The company is now based in LoDo.

Despite his difficulty fundraising in Denver, Ahmed says that he came back for other reasons. "The quality of life here in Denver is so much better -- that's why I came back here."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Tack Mobile growing and hiring in RiNo

RiNo-based mobile-app developer Tack Mobile is looking to hire iOS and Android developers and an account manager.

The company grew from about 15 to 20 employees in 2013. "In the last year, we've added five or six people," says Tack President John Myers.

Tack customers include PearsonCartegraph, Tendril and the Colorado Rapids.

The company in 2013 also released several of its own speculative mobile apps, include Noted, a note-taking app, and a puzzle game called Adrift.

"It was an opportunity to do something new," Myers says of the latter. "We hadn't built a game before." He says it's been a good learning experience for Tack. "Games are extremely competitive. It's been a moderate success."

Tack's next release is a mobile app in the lighting space, built off of the API for Philips hue, the electronics company's new "wireless personal lighting" product. "We saw an opportunity to improve on what they've released," says Myers.

The company is firmly entrenched at TAXI in RiNo, and just signed a lease on a new 8,000-square-foot office in the campus' DRIVE 2, currently under construction. Myers says he expects the company to move into the new space by the end of the summer.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

PaySimple hiring 10 to 15 in 2014

LoDo-based PaySimple has 65 employees in Denver and will likely boost that number by 10 to 15 this year, says CEO Eric Remer.

Founded in 2006, the company provides a cloud-based payment platform for small businesses and currently has more than 10,000 customers.

The company's mission, says Remer, is "to manage payments in an easy-to-use fashion," spanning face-to-face, online and other payment methods and including several customer relationship management features. "You can track your customers and payments together."

"About 35 percent of small businesses still use paper-based billing," he adds. "It's easier than paper."

The company has grown by 50 percent most years, but Remer says the growth curve has started to flatten as the company matures.

"It's hard to maintain that kind of growth as the company gets larger," he says. "We continue to grow in really positive ways."

The company works with numerous resellers and partners, including ADP and Zions Bank Corp.

PaySimple shuttered a small Silicon Valley development office in 2013 to consolidate operations in Colorado. The move boosted the HQ staff by 10 employees.

"We're excited to be in Denver," says Remer. "We think the talent here is growing every day."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Idolum expanding staff at animation-oriented postproduction boutique

Founded in 2007 by Robin Schmachtenberger and Bob Maple, Idolum is growing in the Golden Triangle.

"We're up to five employees now and we'll probably add a couple more this year," says Schmachtenberger. "We've grown very methodically and very carefully." He anticipates adding another video editor and a sales/development person by the end of 2014.

The two Principals saw a sea change happening in postproduction when they started Idolum, with cheaper technology and a "wider cast of players" in terms of competition, says Schmachtenberger.

"Both of us came from a company in Lakewood called Crosspoint, a large postproduction company," he explains. "When you have a really large facility, you have to work to fill those rooms. At Idolum we wanted to be much more of a boutique and focus on the work we wanted to do."

That work usually entails 2D or 3D animation for clients like Curves, Dish Network and Waterpik. "We do 70 percent commercial and 30 percent corporate work," says Schmachtenberger. "Most everything we do has a heavy graphic component."



The work has migrated from a mix of analog digital to exclusively digital, says Schmachtenberger. "We used to send tapes by FedEx. Now everything is delivered electronically."

As much as things change, some things stay the same, he adds. "Companies change, companies absorb each other -- you always need to be making new contacts."



Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Pivotal Labs growing in Denver

Pivotal Labs is adding to its Denver staff in 2014.

The San Francisco-based company has about 35 employees in Denver, says Mike Barinek, Midwest Director.

"The Pivotal Tracker team has been on Platte Street since summer 2010," says Barinek. "Last year, we brought in Labs as well."

Pivotal Tracker has 15 local employees focused on the development tracking product. Working on custom software projects, Pivotal Labs' 10-person team in Denver is based in Galvanize in the Golden Triangle. The company also has about 10 local employees in its big-data, platform-as-a-service operation, Greenplum.

Barinek says he expects to add project managers, developers and designers in Denver in 2014, and consolidate operations in the city by the end of the year. "All three business units in Denver are all going to be under one roof in 2014," says Barinek.

Owned by General ElectricVMware and EMC Corporation, Pivotal also has 25 employees in Boulder and about 1,300 employees in all. Pivotal Labs, the Agile development services unit of Pivotal, is known for its expertise in Java, Ruby on Rails and pair programming and a focus on behavior- and test-driven development.

Pivotal Tracker has about 500,000 users worldwide, Barinek says, and Pivotal Labs' Denver-based clients include Portico, GoSpotCheck and Plink.

You will usually find a full house working at the Galvanize offices, he adds. "We encourage clients to come work with us," says Barinek. "You're going to write some software -- no distractions."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

gSchool holds App Demo Night at Galvanize

Six teams from gSchool presented demos at Galvanize in the Golden Triangle on the night of Jan. 23.

gSchool offers intensive, six-month coding classes. This is the second gSchool class offered in Denver, and the third will be offered at the soon-to-open Galvanize Boulder at 1035 Pearl St. starting in March.

"We try to make gSchool like the real world," says Galvanize Managing Partner Chris Onan of Demo Night. "That's what we try to get them ready for."

gSchool "is something our community needed," Onan adds. "We've got 150 tech companies here and they can't find developers. It's harder than finding capital."

Demos included: Mile High, a social marijuana finder; Appollo, a Fitbit-integrated fitness app; Triptionary, a social travel app; Social Smarts, a Twitter management tool; Runline, a virtual running group; and FooFoBerry, a project management app.

"We built an app that tracks progress on a development project," says FooFoBerry team member Kevin Powell, an Army veteran from New York. "Managers and non-technical people can have a good idea of what's going on with the project and the speed of the project."

Powell says the FooFoBerry name was a placeholder that grew on team members and the project was a learning experience that has potential. "We're going to pursue it as a business," he says.

Powell relocated from New York to attend gSchool in Sept. 2013 but isn't planning to head back east when he completes the six-month course in March.

"I love it," Powell says of Denver. "It's the best kept secret in the world. I'm going to stay here."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Fruition helps California city recover from Google snafu

Fruition President Brad Anderson says a client that is an unnamed "big city in Southern California" recently got overzealous with its security and unintentionally blocked Googlebots when they were just trying to block malicious bots.

"They dropped from Google, we diagnosed it and they recovered," says Anderson. "The root cause was human error."

Organic search traffic dropped by "99.9 percent," Anderson says. "It was effectively all of their traffic. They were freaking out."

Fruition staffers quickly identified and rectified the issue and traffic recovered to pre-Googlebot-block levels in 18 hours. The company published a case study detailing the episode on its website.

The 40-employee Fruition recently consolidated its eight employees in Boulder into its offices in Cherry Creek, and is currently hiring developers and SEO project managers.

"Just this year, we've hired three new people," says Anderson. "We're actively hiring three more right now. I'd be surprised if we weren't at 60 employees at the end of the year."

Fruition's clients include Bankrate.com, Icon LASIK and the City of Ontario in California.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Funnybone Toys launches new games and sister company

City Park-based Funnybone Toys has launched Funnybone Muse, a sister company, to market rolling stamps imported from Japan that have been branded as Rolli for the U.S. market.

"I went to Japan last summer," says Funnybone Founder Julien Sharp. "I saw these amazing stamps with all of these different patterns, and they roll. I said, 'I wonder if we could sell it here.'"

She worked with Denver design agency MATTER on branding and local band Champagne Charlie on a song for a promotional video (below) and began selling earlier Rolli this month. "It's like taking Japan to Denver," says Sharp, with "a Denver band, a Denver designer, and a Denver company."



Early signs are good for Rolli. "Our sales have been crazy," says Sharp. "Everybody wants them." 

Individual Rolli stamps sell for $11.99. The line will expand from 10 to 20 patterns by March and custom designs are available for corporate clients and restaurants.

Sharp's original company, Funnybone Toys, is on the cusp of launching its sixth game, Funnybones. "It's the most complex one so far," she says, "so we waited until the company was a bit more developed."

Funnybones updates an ancient jacks-like game for a modern audience. "It's our version of this 2,000-year-old game," says Sharp. "It was played with bones."

Challenges "vary from very easy to very difficult," she explains.

Shipping in Feb. 2014, Funnybones retails for $9.99 and is designed for ages six and up.

Sharp started Funnybone Toys in 2012 and today the company has over 50 sales reps and 700 retail accounts.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Drupal developer Elevated Third hiring developer and designer in early 2014

Elevated Third Founder and CEO Jeff Calderone says the 22-employee firm recently hired a data analyst and will bring on a designer and a developer in the near term.

"We've been interviewing pretty aggressively," says Calderone. The company will make a hire for the developer position "as soon as we find the right person," he adds. "We're pretty picky."

Calderone says 2013 was a good year for the company in terms of projects.

Highlights included work for Shanghai-based developer Longkai Group as well as local clients Denver Botanic Gardens, Core Power Yoga and Summit Materials.

"Sprint Relay is still a big client," says Calderone. Elevated Third has done several projects for Sprint's $100 million business unit that develops telephony products for the hearing impaired. "My parents are both deaf, so I got the introduction through them."

Elevated Third is very active in the Drupal community, he adds, as an enterprise partner of Acquia and a sponsor of DrupalCon.

"Drupal 8 is coming," says Calderone. "That's the next enterprise level. There's a lot of device-agnostic features that make it easy to do responsive sites."



Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

FullContact acquires Cobook

LoDo-based FullContact has acquired Cobook, a Latvian startup that makes address-book apps.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed; the transaction consisted of equal parts cash and stock.

FullContact Content Director Brad McCarty says it's a perfect match. "We've been watching the Cobook team for awhile," he says. "It just became obvious we were both trying to solve the same problem. We're just so well-aligned it just made sense to come together. It's one of those peanut-butter-and-jelly moments."

The product match is similarly apt. "They've been solely focused on the consumer side since their inception," says McCarty. "We were more focused on the API side for a long time."

Cobook's apps will be integrated with FullContact's APIs and cloud-based address books. "Now we don't have to spend six months or a year developing a native Mac app or a native iOS app," says McCarty.

FullContact's strategy follows a "hydra model," he adds. "It's one product with a bunch of different heads." The company currently supplies six contact-management APIs to the development community.

"The bigger product is the address book," notes McCarty. "You have all of these contacts, you bring them in from anywhere, and you do whatever you want with them."

The end goal? To free everyone's contacts from myriad corporate silos and centralize them in one comprehensive address book that automatically updates and enriches contact information, says CEO Bart Lorang, and then distributes that data to multiple devices.

The private beta for individual users went public in late 2013. "We've released our private beta to the public," says Lorang. "We now have 30,000 users, with 100,000 waiting in the wings."

An enterprise system is on the drawing board. "That's something we're definitely looking at," says McCarty of the latter.

The public beta was delayed by several months. "Software development's always a little slower than you plan," Lorang explains. "The real challenge is the contact management problem and the de-duplication problem. You might have a few Jim Smiths in your address book. They might be the same person and they might not."

FullContact now has 41 employees, including six Cobookers who are relocating to Denver. "We're building out our executive team," says Lorang. "We're always adding engineers." He anticipates hitting the 75 employee-mark by the end of 2014.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.


GetSkiTickets.com pursuing partner resorts

Brandon Quinn started GetSkiTickets.com with wife Heather Quinn and sister Erika Troyer in 2008 as a Travelocity affiliate.

After two years, the founders pivoted the business model. "We realized the company needed to go direct," says Brandon, a former sales agent for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.

The model now calls for GetSkiTickets.com to market its email list of 52,000 skiers and snowboarders to resorts around North America, and vice versa. Current deals at Colorado partner resorts include 42 percent off at Copper Mountain and 50 percent off at Ski Granby Ranch.

As of today, the company partners with 35 ski areas and is looking to grow. "We're hoping to get to 50 in 2014 and 100 in 2015," says Brandon. "It's all about relationships."

To get there, the path lies beyond the Rockies. "The West has a good footprint and Canada has a good footprint" on GetSkiTickets.com, says Brandon. He's looking to beef up partnerships with ski areas in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, and will likely hire a sales rep on the East Coast to spearhead the push in early 2014.

GetSkiTickets.com enjoyed substantial growth in 2013, upping t