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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. 

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.

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.
 

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. 

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.
 

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.

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.


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.
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