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Commons on Champa helped create 47 companies

The Commons on Champa supported 63 entrepreneurs founding 47 companies in its new nine-week business development accelerator program, resulting in ore than 60 new jobs in downtown Denver, according to a report from the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The Commons on Champa is a nationally recognized public entrepreneurship center led by the Downtown Denver Partnership. Its business development accelerator program is called CO.Starters at The Commons.

The 2017-2018 “Commons Impact Report: Another Year at the Intersection of Risk & Reward” features many entrepreneurs who leveraged The Commons programs to develop their businesses in 2017-1018, including Sarah Tuneberg, co-founder and CEO of distaster recovery technology company Geospiza. Tuneberg says the connections she made at The Commons led to her team’s successful application to Techstars, a global accelerator for technology startups where Geospiza attracted the clients and investors she needed to scale the company.

“The CO.Starters at The Commons program took our product from so-so to incredible,” Tuneberg says.

The report also revealed that more than 400 volunteers provided 4,900 volunteers with 2,250 hours of training, counsel, advice and mentorship in the last year at The Commons on Champa, according to the report.

Nearly 30 million Americans are running businesses today, and reports indicate our metropolitan area consistently ranks among the top 10 regions for startup activity, said Jacqui Dietrich, manager of The Commons program.

“Organizations and individuals are increasingly interested in achieving economic and community impact through entrepreneurship,” Dietrich said. “With young companies driving job and wealth creation and economic growth in our region, the Commons serves as a central point of access to the personal, business, financial and community support that entrepreneurs need. We are working to improve the local environment for entrepreneurs to achieve higher rates of startup success and make Denver No. 1 in entrepreneurship.”

 

Worrell Inc. joins mix at Catalyst HTI

A global healthcare design, strategy and innovation firm is the latest to announce it will open up shop in Catalyst HTI, a new Denver healthcare innovation hub opening in River North in June.

New to Denver, Minneapolis-based Worrell Inc. is taking advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with other health-tech industry leaders in developing creative solutions that will enable companies to thrive and transform their businesses.

“Worrell is uniquely positioned to engage with the blossoming healthcare community in Colorado,” says Derek Mathers, the company’s director of advanced development. “We are excited to join this growing list of leading health and technology companies and for the potential to share our research, design, engineering and human factors with local startups and collaborate with other experts on the shared goal of improving healthcare.”

Worrell is joining companies like Kaiser Permanente, Medical Group Management Association, Delta Dental, Prime Health and University of Colorado, as well as dozens of health-tech startups.

Catalyst HTI is designed to bring together stakeholders from across the healthcare market to foster collaboration and accelerate innovation.

As one of the fastest-growing technology markets, Denver is becoming a favored location for many digital health and medical device startups from across the country. Worrell’s goal is to tap into the innovation culture and add to the growing tech economy in the Mile High City.

“With the addition of Worrell and its vast experience designing some of the most impactful medical technologies in the world, we are connecting dots that have previously been disconnected,” says Mike Biselli, president of Catalyst HTI.
 

Home Builders Association to host Innovation Summit

The Home Builders Association of Metro Denver will host its first HBA Innovation Summit in February.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature speakers focused on driving change and innovation in Colorado’s home building industry to better serve the needs of future new homebuyers and consumers looking to remodel their homes. The summit is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Seawell Ballroom.

“As we start the new year, the HBA Innovations Summit will enable both the industry and the customers we serve to think about home building in new ways,” says Jeff Whiton, CEO and executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver. “Many of our member organizations have already achieved national recognition for their creative approaches to design and marketing, and we hope to continue to lead the industry with events like the Innovation Summit.”

the theme for the event, “Leadership Through Change,” will offer a timely, relevant and expansive view of how builders developers, remodelers, architects, mortgage lenders, title companies, subcontractors, suppliers and service providers can embrace change in their own organizations to meet the evolving needs of home buyers. Speakers for the event will be announced this month.

Tickets to the HBA Innovations Summit are $95 for HBA members and $150 for non-members. To register, visit www.hbadenver.com and click on Home Builder Events. Non-members may register by clicking the “login/register” button and following the instructions for non-members.

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.”
 

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.

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.”
 

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Grad student maps Denver startup density

University of Pennsylvania graduate student Allie Morgan wanted to map the Denver startup scene for a GIS project.

Using data from Confluence's Companies database, Morgan, who will graduate with a master's in public administration in spring 2014, mapped the density of companies in the city, with the focus on startups founded since 2008.

Morgan shared various GIS maps (pictured above) that depict startup density in and around downtown Denver.

"It's not surprising it's concentrated in the downtown area," she says.

But her final project ultimately moved in a different direction. After looking at startup concentration in Denver, Morgan opted to cover the best location for a new microbrewery in Denver.

Her top potential brewery location, 2243 Curtis St., topped three others: 3440 Walnut St., 245 Santa Fe Dr. and 752 Kalamath St.

"A lot of people who work at startups are the same people who are starting breweries," or else are brewery customers, says Morgan. "There's a lot of crossover."

She sees room for growth in Denver's brewing scene. "It doesn't seem to be slowing down, and I don't think there will be a saturation point if people keep moving there."

Morgan will do her part: After graduating, the Fort Collins native is planning to move west herself. "I'm hoping to be in Denver by summer," she says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

After 15-year birthday party, SpireMedia hiring mobile developers

RiNo's SpireMedia celebrated 15 years in the digital development business with a party on Aug. 23.

"Our party was unbelievable," says CEO and Founder Mike Gellman.  "We had more than 400 people." Highlights included a set by Denver's A. Tom Collins and a "who's who" of local tech luminaries in attendance.

Since relocating from LoDo to a former bottling plant RiNo in 2012, the company has hired about 10 employees. Gellman says he expects to hire about 10 more iOS, Android, and PHP/.NET developers and product strategists by mid-2014, bringing the company's total staff close to 50.

"It's been a good time for us right now," he says. "The market's enjoying what we're doing. For years, we've been doing digital product development and that's been our differentiator. We determine the 'why?' before we determine the 'how?' or the 'what?'"
The strategy delivers better results to clients. Gellman also touts SpireMedia's implementation of Agile and Lean software development.

Recent projects include work on Dutch navigation company TomTom's "smart watch" and development for startups Payfone, Alt10 and Novelry.

The company's five-year partnership with AT&T has led to projects with the states of Colorado and Kansas as well as companies like Rent-A-Center.

Wearable computing is also a focal point for SpireMedia, Gellman adds. ""We're experimenting quite a bit with Google Glass," he says.  

Gellman says SpireMedia is just now hitting its stride. "Fifteen years is a long time," says Gellman. "Now we're planning for the next 15."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

JumpStart Biz Plan competition launches

Entries are now being accepted for the Denver Office of Economic Development's 2013 JumpStart Biz Plan Awards competition.
 
"Small businesses are critical to the success of our local economy, and never has the entrepreneurial spirit been more alive and well in Denver," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. "The business plan competition is just one way the city is helping the small business community thrive. Through this unique citywide contest, we look forward to providing a boost to promising small businesses in Denver."
 
The grand prize includes $50,000, a year of office space at Galvanize, legal counsel from Polsinelli and marketing support from Dovetail Solutions and mentoring from TiE Rockies. Ten businesses will be recognized with awards.
 
The program is open to companies with a maximum of 25 employees that have been in business five years or less. The companies must be based in Denver, or have plans to relocate to Denver. 
 
Judges include employees of the Office of Economic Development (OED), Galvanize and Dovetail Solutions.
 
"We received an incredible response to last year’s business plan competition," ssaysaid Paul Washington, OED Executive Director. "We're proud to continue this award program as an important measure to recognize and celebrate our city's strong culture of innovation that resonates among our small businesses."
 
Entries will be accepted until Aug. 2 or after 150 applications are received.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

DDP honors Galvanize, Denver Startup Week and others in 2013 awards

The Downtown Denver Partnership honored local coworking standout and tech startup hub Galvanize and Denver Startup Week among its six winners at the 52nd annual Downtown Denver Awards Dinner on May 29. Other winners include the Boettcher Foundation, the Denver Police Department's Denver Crime Laboratory, Metropolitan State University of Denver Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and the University of Colorado Business School.
 
"These six award winners are setting an incredible example of city building," says Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. "They have all taken the initiative to move their ideas forward and bring them to fruition, and in turn, they make out center city thrive."
 
A jury selected the winners for the awards to recognize the people, businesses, projects and initiatives that have had the biggest impact on downtown Denver in the last year. This year's class of winners share an innovation-oriented bent.
 
Denver Startup Week was commended as "the most successful inaugural startup event in the nation, connecting and engaging more than 3,500 startup members at more than 70-community driven events." Galvanize was singled out for "transforming a historic building into a collaborative workspace utilizing capital, community and curriculum."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Prescient growing with software-based construction system

Now 20 employees, Prescient is on track to grow to 60 by the end of 2013, says CEO and Co-Founder John Vanker. "We're hiring four or five more immediately, and then we'll go from there," he says.
 
Before launching Prescient in 2012, Vanker had more than 20 years of experience developing and building urban infill projects in Denver and Chicago.  "My partner [Michael Lastowski] and I started to play around with the idea of standardization -- standardization of assembly and standardization of design," he says.
 
The resulting system allows architects to use Prescient's software to design a virtual version of the structure before any real-world work moves forward. Prescient then manufactures the steel framing components necessary to build the structure at its 60,000-square-foot factory near the Denver-Commerce City border with  the help of cutting-edge welding robots.
 
As lumber has doubled in price in the last year, steel framing is an increasingly attractive method of construction. "We know exactly what parts and pieces we need to manufacture, and very early in the design process," says Vanker. "That's not possible with wood." The virtual design saves "a lot of time and money downstream by avoiding conflicts in the field," he adds.
 
On the first two projects -- both apartment complexes in Denver -- Prescient is acting as the engineer, but future projects will be turnkey, says Vanker.
 
Primary targets include apartments, dormitories and hotels. The company was funded in a private-equity deal in September 2012 and looks to roll the product out to the broader market at the American Institute of Architects National Convention in Denver June 20-22. "The software is designed to facilitate architects," says Vanker.
 
The Prescient plan calls for "cloning" the Denver plant in four more cities by 2016.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Convercent booming with next-generation compliance software

Convercent has grown from 34 employees to 60 in 2013, with plans to make at least 10 more hires by year's end.
 
CEO Patrick Quinlan, Chief Product Officer Philip Winterburn and COO Barclay Friesen left Rivet Software in late 2011. Explains Quinlan: "We wanted to build an explosive, successful company -- but we wanted to do it a second time."
 
They didn't start completely from scratch, acquiring Business Controls, a 14-employee compliance technology firm based in the Denver Tech Center, in spring 2012. "It had gotten to about $3 million in revenue, but never gotten to its J curve," says Quinlan of Business Controls. About 20 employees immediately came over from Rivet to boost the staff to more than 30. 
 
While maintaining existing clients, Quinlan and company went to work developing the next-generation platform for compliance. "We got to build the company behind the curtain for nine months," he says. In January, they rebranded the company as Convercent, closed on a Series A round of $10.2 million and moved to Denver proper.
 
The resulting product integrates policy risk software, online learning, compliance software intake and "values management," says Quinlan. Clients include Level 3 and Owens & Minor, and the current push is to migrate the company's 380 Business Controls-era clients over from Business Controls' legacy product to the Convercent platform.
 
"The biggest challenge with the compliance industry is it's about problems that have already happened," he says. "What everybody wants is a tool that gets in front of problems. You can start to get predictive."
 
The company's Golden Triangle offices are in the midst of a major renovation: The former car dealership from the 1930s that sat vacant for six years is being reinvented as a cutting-edge workspace. The project is slated to be complete in July.
 
"The technology space in Colorado is on the front end of an awesome, awesome run," adds Quinlan. "We're ready for a comeback."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

Jake Jabs giving $10 million to CU Denver

American Furniture Warehouse CEO Jake Jabs has pledged $10 million to CU Denver.
 
With the gift, the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Denver's Business School will be renamed the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship and expand its lauded Business Plan Competition to universities throughout Colorado and the West.
 
Jabs credits CU Denver's Madhavan Parasarthy, Director of the Center and a marketing professor. "I've been speaking to M.P.'s entrepreneurship class for seven years," he says. "He's really pushing this thing."
 
The main impetus for the gift is to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs with his "real-world experience," says Jabs.
 
"The spirit of entrepreneurship is big right now," he explains, "but all of the red tape makes it so much tougher to start a business. Just hiring people you can make a mistake and end up with a lawsuit."
 
Jabs highlights honesty and good credit as keys to his business success, and he sees the latter as often neglected by today's undergrads. "So many young people ruin their credit at an early age," he says, making it hard for them to realize any of their entrepreneurial dreams.
 
One of the most recognizable businesspeople in Colorado, Jabs comes from humble beginnings, raised in rural Lodge Grass, Montana, before buying the then-failing American Furniture Warehouse and 1975 and building it into his Front Range empire with 12 stores in about $350 million in annual sales.
 
With 3,000 total students, the Business School at CU Denver is the largest business school in the Rocky Mountain region.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

BOULD preps for green building "hackathons"

CEO Shane Gring, CTO Shane Baldauf and COO/CFO Stephen Lepke started BOULD in Boulder in 2011 and relocated to Denver a year later.
 
"We were having a hard time getting into the green building industry," says Lepke of the company's genesis. "The concept: Let's partner up with Habitat for Humanity and upgrade their houses so they are LEED-certified and then use them for education."
 
Since 2011, the company has had a hand in building 27 LEED-certified houses with Habitat for Humanity. This gives construction professionals a real building to learn and practice green-building skills. "We trained over 200 professionals in the last two years," says Lepke.
 
Now based at the Laundry on Lawrence in Five Points, the company offers green-building classes for contractors and others in Denver as well as Charlotte and Chicago. Tuition for professionals is $900.
 
Now five employees strong, BOULD is embarking on a series of hackathons slated for cities across the country this summer. "We're trying to condense a ton of material into one day," says Lepke. The goal is to "give the professional continuing education in green building."
 
If the concept gets traction, Lepke expects the company will hire several new employees by the end of 2013. The BOULD goal is to train more than 1,500 additional professionals in green building techniques by 2015.
 
"We're classified as a social enterprise -- where the nonprofit and for-profit worlds intersect, "says Lepke. "Lowering barriers to entry is what we're all about."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Eric Peterson with tips and leads for future stories at eric@confluence-denver.com.

The Public Works hires two, adds more national clients

The Public Works has a broader skill set than most businesses. Branding and advertising? Check. Multimedia? Check. Trade show booths? Check. Sustainable library shelving? Check. Biofuel fabrication technology? Check.
 
Co-pilot Mike Arzt has deftly flown the company with the like-titled Frank Phillips since 2006.
 
In 2010, the duo relocated from Evergreen to the Art District on Santa Fe's Battery621 building, which they renovated from an abandoned lighting shop to an award-winning co-working space. Since opening, the building has been “booked solid” with tenants ranging from one-desk operations to Boulder outerwear maker Spyder, says Arzt.
 
Now with 10 full-time freelancers, The Public Works added Airstream, Grand Marnier and Ferrari to its impressive client roster. The Public Works still does plenty of work for top winter-sports brands, where it earned a sterling reputation, and looks to make a big splash at the 2013 SIA Snow Show.
 
At the Snow Show, The Public Works will utilize an Airstream as a mobile studio to record interviews with a who's who of the snow-sports industry for “The Business of Fun,” a career outreach program focused on “keeping kids out of cubicles.”
 
And business is definitely fun at The Public Works. Artz spotlights upcoming Ferrari photo shoots in Aspen and Steamboat Springs.
 
“We call it brand stimulation,” says Arzt. “We're helping brands tell their stories, whether it's through trade show booths or multimedia.”
 
The Public Works is also in the midst of an installation at a Pueblo library with the Supple Collection, the company's line of sustainable bookshelves, magazine racks and other library furniture.
 
After the success of Battery621, Arzt and Phillips may also invest in more Denver real estate.

“There are so many awesome spots that are just getting better and better,” Arzt says.

Capitol Hill's Urban Interactive Studio helps urban planners with outreach, adding developers

Chris Haller founded Urban Interactive Studio in 2009 after working in urban planning and IT in his native Germany and Denver. Early in his career in Berlin, he saw the power of online public engagement, ultimately leading to the company's launch.
 
“How can we make our cities a better place to live by engaging people?” asks Haller. 
 
His answer: Apps and websites that distribute information and change the conversation “from a shouting match into a constructive discussion.”
 
Now four employees strong and hiring a Drupal developer in the near term, Urban Interactive Studio sells a pair of off-the-shelf products to municipalities and urban planners. The company also takes on custom work. 
 
Projects include Imagine Central Arkansas, an interactive website designed to involve the public in planning for transportation and other issues, and Delivering Denver's Future
 
Of the latter, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock “asked citizens to chime in on how to fix the budget gap,” Haller says.

Launched in March 2012, Delivering Denver's Future garnered about 1,000 responses, casting a much wider net than public meetings on the subject. The calculator-like interactive website also informed the public about the tradeoffs that were necessary in the budgeting process.
 
Infographics and games “turn something that's dull and not read very often into something that's fun and engaging,” Haller says. “We like to think people are engaged in politics, but people are busy with their everyday life. Boiling down complex issues -- the idea is to provide something that's easy to access, grasp, digest and fun to read.”
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