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5 Denver Startups That Emerged This Century

Author: Matthew Smith

Young entrepreneurs flock to Denver for a variety of reasons. Despite common perceptions of cold and snow, the city offers over 300 sunny days per year. Outdoor recreation, a huge draw for adventurous young people, is abundant in Denver. The city features nearly 100 miles of bike trails, lavish greenery for hiking and mountain biking, and clear, placid lakes for fishing, boating and kayaking. World-class skiing sits a short drive away at Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Vail and Arapahoe Basin.

Denver ranks in the top 10 highly educated metropolitan areas in the United States. Nearly 40% of its residents hold a bachelor's degree or higher. For entrepreneurs looking for somewhere to launch a startup, access to educated and talented workers is invariably a top consideration. Denver offers entrepreneurs an additional rich of talent: large, established tech companies. The city is home to Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, the commercial space division of Lockheed Martin, and dozens of aviation, biotech, information technology and energy corporations. Startups frequently lure employees from these big companies with promises of flexibility, greater autonomy and ownership stakes.

For these reasons, in 2015 Forbes magazine ranked Denver as the top city in the U.S. for businesses and careers. The city's startup scene, while still coming into its own, already rivals that of Austin, Raleigh, Las Vegas and even the Bay Area.

BWBacon

BWBacon is an executive placement firm that specializes in the Internet sphere, recruiting for positions in Web development, graphic design, digital marketing and creative services. The company is more than a run-of-the-mill staffing operation. Its staff is 100% Agile certified, meaning it embraces the most modern methodology in software development. Rather than using cursory job descriptions to scan the job boards for workers, recruiters at BWBacon speak the language of their clients and use their combined experience to locate the perfect candidate.

The company has not taken long to carve out a name for itself in the region. Out of more than 1,100 nominees, BWBacon was selected as a top 50 Colorado Company to Watch in 2015. The company website features a blog that shows its executives have their fingers on the pulse of Denver. Its blog posts include write-ups of the best breweries in town and insider tips on where to find the best live bands on a given night.

3D Lacrosse

Jamie Munro, a former lacrosse coach who, in his 11-year career, took unranked and unheralded University of Denver from obscurity into the ranks of Division I athletics, founded 3D Lacrosse following his retirement in 2009. The company operates in various cities across the country. It puts together lacrosse leagues, offers coaching and training programs for aspiring athletes, and prepares players for the next level.

Additionally, 3D Lacrosse holds clinics for college coaches to learn the recruiting game inside and out. The company teaches how to scout top talent, and Munro draws from his own career to instruct on how to build a winning program.

The concept caught on fast. The growth rate for 3D Lacrosse between 2011 and 2014 was almost 500% – enough to place it on the Inc. 5000 list at number 909. As of 2015, 3D Lacrosse is the seventh-fastest growing company in the Denver metro area.

Altitude Digital

Launched with $500 in 2009, Altitude Digital has become one of the fastest-growing digital advertising companies in the world. Also a member of the Inc. 5000 list, coming in at number 829 in 2014, Altitude Digital grew explosively between 2011 and 2014. The company created nearly 50 new jobs in Denver and turned in a growth rate of 549%.

Altitude Digital aims to provide its customers with powerful digital marketing that increases brand awareness and actively engages prospective customers with the advertiser's message. The company's clients regularly report returns on equity (ROIs) that exceed expectations. Part of Altitude Digital's focused marketing plan includes built-in protection from fraudulent clicks and engagements, such as competitors clicking on ads and engaging with videos in an attempt to drain a company's marketing budget.

The company's website is simple yet high-tech, giving prospective customers a preview of what they can expect if they let Altitude Digital drive their marketing efforts.

Swiftpage

Swiftpage is a fast-growing marketing company with a multifaceted approach to the business. The company, like most marketing firms, constructs plans for its clients to acquire new business. The crux of Swiftpage's operations is helping its customers engage and maintain relationships with its current customers.

The range of solutions that Swiftpage offers includes email marketing, social media marketing, and customer relationship management services and software. As a small business, the company positions itself as a leader in customer support and response times. Swiftpage assigns an account specialist to each client; the account specialist's entire job is devoted to implementing marketing plans for his clients and ensuring they are successful.

Denver has taken notice of Swiftpage's customer-first business model. The company is growing at the third-fastest rate in the entire metro area. It reached number 440 on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014. It experienced an explosive growth rate of over 1,000% between 2011 and 2014.

Stoneside Blinds & Shades

Stoneside Blinds & Shades, as of 2015, is the fastest-growing company in Denver. The company's growth rate between 2011 and 2014 was an almost unheard-of 2,040%.

Stoneside manufactures and installs custom blinds and shades. The company manufactures every product it installs locally at its Denver facility. What sets Stoneside apart from other companies that offer custom-made window solutions is that it harnesses the power of the Internet to expand its reach, build its customer base and reduce costs.

Before Stoneside, companies selling window coverings typically fell under one of two headings. They custom-made products for local customers after an extensive in-home demo or face-to-face consultation, or they sold less personalized, more one-size-fits-all solutions to a broad customer base over the Internet.

Stoneside took the best features from each business model and amalgamated them into one. Customers navigate through an expansive demo that leads to a tailor-made solution, but it is completely online. This is more convenient to the customer, and it cuts down on overhead – savings the company passes to the customer – since Stoneside does not have to pay commissioned sales representatives in every city of operation to make extensive house calls.

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