Maternity-wear rental firm lauded at summit
Rockies Venture Club sponsored the event. The nonprofit group oversees separate investor network groups in Boulder and Denver.
Each attendee at the angel event received 10 $10,000 "Venture Bucks" — play money — to give to the entrepreneurial companies they thought would most deserve funding in the real world, said Peter Adams, who heads the club and who helped organize the event.
"Venture Bucks" winners received real-world prizes, including email hosting help from SendGrid Inc. in Boulder, McAfee Anti-Virus software help and marketing/blogging help from Boulder-based BlogMutt.
Fashion Forward Maternity, started by Erin Lewis in Erie, received $980,000 in "Venture Bucks" of the $11 million that conference attendees handed out to the 20 presenting companies, Adams said.
Fashion Forward is growing quickly and had $20,000 in revenue in 2011, according to Lewis.
Start-up companies spend a lot of time and money recruiting investors, Adams said. The "Venture Bucks" play money was another way to show company founders how well they're getting their messages across to outsiders, he said.
"This was all about who appealed to the investing companies, and their validity," Adams said.
Of the 20 companies which presented at the conference, 12 were from the Boulder region. In addition to the maternity company, they included:
Blogmutt in Boulder, a company that hires writers for blogs.
Distinctive Brands Inc. in Boulder, a company that makes beef jerky.
HOMER Energy in Boulder, a renewable-energy software company.
JetJaw in Boulder, a customer-relations software company.
Referzo in Boulder, a social-network monetization software company.
Rockit Media LLC in Boulder, a merchant-rewards system software company.
Siva Therapeutics Inc. in Boulder, a cancer-therapy company.
Sundolier Inc. in Boulder, a company that makes a solar product.
TeraBAT Inc. in Longmont, a diagnostic-test company.
Tunomi Unlimited Inc. in Superior, a company that makes dating/relationship software.
Vim Funding in Gunbarrel, a crowd-funding company.
Rockies Venture Club also made every company that participated in the summit sign up for a program to submit their company data for the next four years, Adams said. He and others in the club want to know how many of them actually get the funding they need to grow, how much money they raise, from where they get it, and how many jobs they create, Adams said.
While start-up companies disclose more information, angel investors continue to fly under the radar screen – with virtually all of them locally keeping low profiles.
Maybe one reason why: Angel investing recently was compared with gambling in Las Vegas by prominent angel investor Jeff Clavier. Palo Alto, California-based Clavier has favored start-up companies in his career which were later bought out by the likes of Yahoo! and Twitter.
Clavier was the guest speaker at the Mile High Tech Entrepreneurship Conference hosted by the University of Colorado's Silicon Flatiron Center in Boulder on March 22.
Frank Shorter mural
If the angel investment community is about gambling, the traditional banking world often is a keeper of a community's history, even in sometimes untraditional Boulder.
Now that FirstBank of Colorado has had a branch open at Spruce Street and Broadway for a couple of months, I thought I'd get a few details about the painted mural on the brick wall next to the parking lot on the northeast side of the street.
The colorful runners' mural was painted in 1997 to pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of running maestro Frank Shorter's 1972 Olympic gold medal — an event credited with starting the decades-long running boom in the United States.
That year, Bolder Boulder organizers held a Frank Shorter celebration in Boulder. They got the mural painted and put up a statue of Shorter on the University of Colorado campus at the race's six-mile mark.
At the time, the building was a Bank of Boulder branch. Before being taken over by FirstBank, it was home to FirsTier Bank, which was based in Louisville. FirsTier was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Jan. 28, 2011.
FirstBank market president Brian Larson is really happy to have the location – it's FirstBank's first ever in downtown Boulder and one of the few downtown Boulder businesses with its own parking lo
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