Category: Natural Products

Boulder-based Ignyte launches $5M investment fund

BOULDER — Ignyte Lab LLC — a Boulder company that aims to help revenue-generating companies scale their operations — is raising funds for a new $5 million investment fund that it will use to invest in technology and natural and organic foods startups.

Ignyte founder Ryan Ferrero said in an interview that the Ignytion fund will make seed-stage investments averaging $250,000.

Ferrero will manage the fund along with a pair of veteran entrepreneurs who have joined Ignyte as partners, Bernee Strom, who recently moved to Boulder from Seattle, and Tom Miller of Peak Asset Management in Louisville.

Tom Miller

Tom Miller

Bernee Strom

Bernee Strom

Ryan Ferrero

Ryan Ferrero

The new fund will allow investors not only to invest in promising young companies. But the hope is that it will also expand the clientele for Ignyte, which often takes on operational roles with the young companies with which it works.

“What we’re doing is hitting the gas and accepting business submissions to scale ourselves,” Ferrero said.

Run for the past four years out of ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s offices in Gunbarrel, Ignyte recently moved into office space at the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex on the University of Colorado Boulder’s East Campus at the corner of Foothills Parkway and Colorado Avenue.

In addition to Strom and Miller, venture capitalist Trapp Lewis — who is based in Singapore and whose resume includes stints with companies such as Alibaba and Yahoo — has also become an investor in Ignyte.

United Arab Emirates entrepreneur Wissam Otaky, meanwhile, is working with Ignyte as an advisor as his company, Hatcher, helps Ignyte deploy a software platform through which the company will better be able to manage its portfolio and portfolio companies’ operations, including everything from tasks to email to finances to file storage. The platform will also allow investors in the Ignytion fund, no matter their location, easier access to greater detail on portfolio companies and facilitate communications.

“When you’re managing a portfolio, there’s so many moving pieces on a given day,” Ferrero said. “You need to be able to coordinate and get tasks done efficiently.”

Strom, whose background includes helping launch priceline.com, as well as several other companies, moved to Boulder last fall and connected with Ferrero in the spring. She said that with all of the startup accelerators already in place in Boulder, she found Ignyte’s model a good fit for her to help companies that are already post-product and post-revenue to grow.

“I decided my niche would be better to help companies scale,” Strom said.

Beau Burris, CEO of Denver-based Mame’s Crafted Gourmet LLC, which makes Mame’s Burritos, said Ignyte’s participation in his company has been invaluable in recent months as it starts to scale. Ignyte took a minority equity stake in Mame’s in December. Burris said the company grew over the past couple of years to more than $1 million in revenue, but needed help raising money and taking the next step.

“To go from a million-a-year business to 10 million-a-year, it takes some guidance I think,” Burris said. “I want the direct route there. I don’t want to be climbing all these side mountains on the way there.”

While Ignyte has worked with local companies to this point, Ferrero said the Ignytion fund would seek out deals all over the map.

“We would imagine the lion’s share of submissions will happen from here, but we are sourcing deals from everywhere,” Ferrero said.

New Hope Network, Sovrn Holdings to move into renovated east Boulder space

BOULDER — Construction is underway on a 60,000-square-foot renovation of and addition to an old warehouse building in Flatiron Park in east Boulder that when completed will house employees of Penton’s New Hope Network and Sovrn Holdings, two companies already in Boulder.

The building at 5541 Central, owned by Goff Capital Partners LP, will be called The Loading Dock. Designer OZ Architecture is reusing the former warehouse and a loading dock that will serve as an elevated boardwalk that connects to the indoor office. OZ Architecture has offices in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.  Boulder-based Quinlan Construction Inc. is the general contractor for the project.

 

New Hope Network, which provides services to businesses in the healthy lifestyle products industry, will move from its downtown headquarters at 1401 Pearl St. and occupy 30,000 square feet. Tech firm Sovrn Holdings, which helps publishers grow their businesses on the Web, will move from its offices at 1750 29th St. and will occupy 30,000 square feet.

An architectural rendering shows a portion of the interior of The Loading Dock. (Courtesy OZ Architecture)

An architectural rendering shows a portion of the interior of The Loading Dock. (Courtesy OZ Architecture)

Both companies will be leasing space.

The renovation is incorporating cross-laminated timber, which is made from engineered wood panels laminated together in alternating directions and has the look of heavy, old-growth lumber. Using cross-laminated timber offers waste reduction and environmental benefits because it is sourced using sustainable forestry practices and the boards are precisely pre-cut, which creates less material waste. The pieces arrive organized and numbered, allowing the building to be assembled on site. The primary structure of The Loading Dock will be erected in approximately one day later this month, according to spokeswoman Cori Keeton Pope.

The project also is incorporating photovoltaic roof panels, and energy-saving mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Editor’s note: Due to inaccurate information initially provided to BizWest, the size of the project and the amount of space New Hope Network and Sovrn Holdings will occupy was corrected June 14.

 

 

BizWest 500 highlights largest, fastest-growing companies

Purchase this new publication by clicking BizWest 500. For a preview of the content, here’s the first page.

Welcome to the BizWest 500, an ambitious undertaking that highlights the largest or fastest-growing companies throughout the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado (and the highest-paid executives).

This special edition of BizWest aggregates content that previously had been published over a span of many months, but it also represents a dramatic increase in the data that we publish on the region’s largest private- and public-sector employers.

In these pages, you’ll find:

• The Mercury 100 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the Boulder Valley, along with five profiles of interesting companies on the list.

• The Mercury 100 list of the fastest-growing private companies in Northern Colorado, along with five profiles of interesting companies on the list.

• A list of the Top 25 highest-paid executives of public companies.

• A list of the 50 largest public-sector employers, including municipalities, counties, universities, federal laboratories, etc.

• A vastly expanded list of the region’s largest employers — 200 companies listed, compared with 50 published last year.

• A list of the largest publicly traded companies based in our region. (We’ve stretched this a bit, opting to include a handful of companies that have shifted their headquarters to the Denver area or other nearby cities, but which retain a significant presence in our region.)

All told, these lists represent the largest number of ranked lists we’ve ever published in one issue, outside of our annual Book of Lists publication.

Most companies cited in these lists responded to our surveys. Others are included based on BizWest estimates, reports by economic-development agencies, news accounts or other sources. Data for the public companies and highest-paid executives lists came entirely from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This endeavor represents many months of work by our staff, especially our chief researcher, Chad Collins. As with any undertaking of this magnitude, errors and omissions are likely. In particular, our lists of the largest private-sector and public-sector employers will continue to be refined and expanded. If you’d like to see your company included — or if you spot a mistake or other omission — please contact Chad at ccollins@bizwestmedia.com.

It should be noted that we’ve opted to include aggregated numbers for some employers, such as major health systems, as well as numbers for some of their constituent institutions, i.e., a hospital within the system.

If you have a suggestion for the BizWest 500 next year, please feel free to contact me at the number below.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942, 970-232-3133 or cwood@bizwestmedia.com.

Boomtown Accelerator, Whole Foods form alliance

BOULDER — The Boomtown Accelerator announced this week that it has struck a deal with Whole Foods Market that could lead to collaboration between startups going through the accelerator and innovative employees within the natural-foods grocer.

At its start, the new relationship hinges primarily on Whole Foods providing sponsorship of Boomtown whereby the accelerator will be able to stock its kitchen with food from the store, with the idea of fueling Boomtown startup founders with healthy food options to get them through their entrepreneurial grind.

But Boomtown executive director Toby Krout said Friday that the relationship could end up going much deeper. While nothing has been formalized around the notion yet, one aspect that could sprout from the deal is that Whole Foods stores could serve as a testing ground for different innovations being developed by entrepreneurs as they go through the 12-week Boomtown program.

“That’s definitely in line with the spirit of this partnership,” Krout said.

He added that it could be a two-way street, with employees of Whole Foods who have ideas about how to improve various functions or processes at the store potentially being able to push those through the accelerator.

One major common focus between Whole Foods and Boomtown, Krout said, would be to develop scalable technologies that remedy pain points in the area of health and wellness.

“It’s hard to speak specifically about what those things are yet,” Krout said.

HiveTech takes top prize at CU New Venture Challenge

BOULDER — Two University of Colorado students and a pair of instructors in the school’s environmental design program wooed judges on Thursday night to win the CU New Venture Challenge with their business idea to help prevent the decline of bee populations.

Dubbed HiveTech Solutions, the group took home the top prize of $10,000, plus a package of in-kind services from SoftLayer valued at $120,000.

The CU New Venture Challenge is an eight-year-old cross-campus business pitch competition that has yielded companies such as Revolar and Mallinda that have gone on to participate in Techstars and raise significant funding for their ideas.

HiveTech is developing a “smart hive” that can help beekeepers track the health of their hives and respond more quickly to the needs of their bees. The team consists of students Peggy Tautz and Chelsea Cook and instructors Kimberly Drennan and Justin Bellucci. They edged out Grownetics, which took home $5,000 in second place for its crop-sensing and automation platform that helps growers increase efficiency and maintain quality.

The Space Research Co. won third place at $3,000 for its platform for providing commercial service for space-based research in a less expensive and more timely fashion than is currently available.

Finalists Outloud! and Sing It Forward, meanwhile, each took home $1,000.

Hemp industry to get down to business at weekend expo

LOVELAND – Boosting the business side of hemp – while reinforcing the message about what it is and what it isn’t – is the focus of this weekend’s 2016 NoCo Hemp Expo at The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland.

Movers and shakers in the hemp industry will drive home the versatility of the plant, make pitches to investors and display a multitude of wares to consumers – all while pounding home the mantra that hemp isn’t pot, it won’t get you high, but it could pump billions of dollars into the economy.

“Our emphasis is on the non-psychoactive parts of the cannabis plant,” said event organizer Morris Beegle, owner of Loveland-based Colorado Hemp Co. “This is nothing to do with recreational marijuana. It’s all about industrial and nutritional values of hemp. We want to show how it can be used in building materials, bioplastics, paper, foods, body-care products, nanoparticles, batteries, clothing and so much more. The hemp plant can be utilized in thousands of applications.”

In its third year, the expo started with a gathering at a 300-seat bar in Windsor in 2014. It moved to a 13,000-square-foot venue at The Ranch with 74 vendors last year. This year’s version, at the Ranch’s First National Bank Building, will occupy 36,000 square feet and include 130 vendors, including such local firms as Loveland-based Elite Botanicals and Loveland Molecular Labs.

“We really want to organize as an industry and move this thing forward globally,” Beegle said.

The expo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Friday’s session will be an “industry day,” Beegle said, with a focus on law, banking, processing, seed certification, branding, marketing, science and genetics. Networking for growers, manufacturers and investors will be included.

Saturday’s session will be geared to the general public, he said, with spotlights on farming, health, wellness, nutrition, varied consumer goods and even cooking with hemp.

“We want to familiarize the general public with hemp and grow beyond the choir that has built up over the last several decades,” Beegle said. “Marijuana has been big news in Colorado, but we want to separate out the message and say, ‘Hey, there’s a difference here, and this crop should never have been illegal because it’s been a component for 10,000 years.’ But since Amendment 64 passed, we’ve got a head start on the rest of the country in Colorado.

“We’ll be at the forefront of technology and innovation,” he said, “and a lot of those technological innovations along the Front Range will transfer over to our industry.”

Speakers and panels will advocate for legislation in Congress to clear up what Beegle described as a situation that’s “very murky at the federal level as to whether it is or isn’t legal.” The 2014 Farm Bill allowed states that wanted to put hemp regulations in place to start doing test plots, he said, but further congressional action has gotten snagged in election-year politics despite bipartisan support.

Admission to the event is $20 for Saturday – or $25 at the door. Admission for both days is $60, or $70 at the door. A $100 ticket for Saturday includes a bag full of hemp-based products.

More information, ticketing and live streaming of the event are online at www.nocohempexpo.com.

GMO debate to highlight Food and Ag Summit

LOVELAND — An afternoon debate over genetically modified organisms, their safety and labeling will be among the features of BizWest’s inaugural Food and Ag Summit, to be held March 30 in Loveland.

The all-day event will bring together representatives of Colorado’s agriculture and natural-foods organizations and companies to offer the latest insights affecting the future of the food and agriculture sectors. The summit, to be held at The Ranch’s First National Bank building, 5280 Arena Circle, will offer information on new technologies and trends, networking with producers and providers, and discussion on such topics as the Food Safety Modernization Act, finding the right people at the right price, financing, global trade, regenerative agriculture and immigration issues.

Debating the hot-button issue of GMOs will be CSU professor Patrick Byrne, Colorado Corn Growers Association board president Dave Eckhart, Compass Natural Marketing owner Steve Hoffman and Rebekah Lyle, director of marketing for White Wave’s Silk plant-based foods and beverages.

Registration for $49 can be made online. Admission will cost $59 at the door.

Contact Sandy Powell at 970-232-3144 or spowell@bizwestmedia.com for information about sponsorship, vendor booths and corporate tables.

Companies to watch in 2016

Some are planning major expansions or restructuring. Some are poised for explosive growth. Others are facing some daunting challenges. But we expect all of them to be making news next year. Here are our picks for companies to watch in 2016 in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado.

AEROSPACE

PlanetiQ

Sometime late this year, India will launch two weather satellites developed by Boulder-based startup PlanetiQ, as the result of a 2015 deal with Antrix Corp. Ltd., the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization. Ten more of the satellites are slated for launch for 2017.

PlanetiQ’s 10-kilogram microsatellites will fly the company’s Pyxis-RO sensor that uses radio occultation to measure global temperature, pressure and water vapor in the atmosphere, and electron density in the ionosphere. PlanetiQ plans to sell the data gathered by the satellites to customers in the meteorology, aviation, shipping, defense, intelligence and agriculture industries. PlanetiQ has 12 employees in Boulder and six in Bethesda, Md. In August, when the company announced its move to Boulder, officials said the firm could add one or two dozen employees over the coming months.

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems Division in Louisville will be busy this year after landing a piece of $14 billion in NASA contracts to carry supplies and experiments to the International Space Station aboard a versatile, cargo-only version of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, which has folding wings and an added cargo module attached to the back. It had lost out in 2014 on a NASA contract to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS aboard the original, crewed version of Dream Chaser. The division  also has extended deals with international space agencies including the German Aerospace Center to develop Dream Chaser’s crewed and uncrewed capabilities. It also has supplied satellites for ORBCOMM’s global machine-to-machine communications network. Thanks to a $23.2 million incentive package from the state, the Sparks, Nev.-based company is developing an $88 million campus in Colorado Springs to house its new Sierra Completions Division that will create jet interiors and overhaul aircraft.

AGRIBUSINESS

Agrium Inc.

Canada-based Agrium Inc. in 2015 announced two major investments in Northern Colorado that will play out in 2016.

The producer and distributor of crop nutrients, crop-protection products and seeds will add employees in Loveland at one of its subsidiaries, Crop Production Services Inc., and will open an 18,000-square-foot facility in Greeley for researching and testing new fertilizer products.

A company spokesman said Agrium will bring jobs to Loveland, possibly growing to 700 workers from its current headcount of 400 in the Rangeview Office Campus. The additional workers will be housed in a new office building being built by McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc. that Agrium will lease.

The facility in Greeley will employ about a dozen workers, mostly scientists, who will conduct research to develop substances used for pest control or for soil-fertility management, and on how to ramp up the volume of production of ag products it sells primarily in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia.

Agribotix LLC

Boulder-based Agribotix LLC likely will continue to grow at a rapid clip as it enters agreements with organizations in low-tech cultures to provide them with high-tech data to improve crop yields.

Agribotix, founded in 2013 by Tom McKinnon, designs and manufactures drones that carry a camera and the company’s software system, which collects data to help farmers become more successful. The key selling point is the company’s software that analyzes the data and then provides recommendations on crop management.

It spent much of 2015 securing contracts and entering joint ventures with organizations in Latin America, United Kingdom, East Asia and Australia to provide it services, and it hired Lou Faust to run the company. Faust has more than 30 years of management experience and 10 years on Wall Street as managing director with Salomon Brothers (Citigroup). His expertise is in creating growth strategies, raising capital and leading startups to successful exits.

<b>Natural/Organic: U Baron Group:</b>The company is made up of Izzio’s Artisan Bakery, Etai’s Catering, six Etai’s Bakery Cafes and two full-service restaurants.

Natural/Organic: U Baron Group. The company is made up of Izzio’s Artisan Bakery, Etai’s Catering, six Etai’s Bakery Cafes and two full-service restaurants.
Courtesy U Baron Group

BANKING

Bank of America

Bankers in Boulder and the surrounding area will be waiting to see what impact the second-largest bank in the United States will have on market share when it opens a full-service bank at 1965 28th St. in Boulder later this year.

Announced in 2014, this will be Bank of America’s first full-service bank in Boulder and third in Colorado. It recently opened a full-service bank in Denver and is working on one in Highlands Ranch.

The new bank in Boulder, under construction at the site of a former Wendy’s restaurant, will be approximately 2,850 square feet, with tellers, small-business bankers and mortgage officers and a one-lane, ATM-only drive-through.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America Corp. is the second-largest bank in the United States with assets of $2.15 trillion and deposits of $1.16 trillion, according to Bankrate.com.

New Resource Bank

San Francisco-based New Resource Bank will open a loan-production office in Boulder, where it wants to provide loans to businesses and nonprofits that benefit the community and preserve the planet. Bill Peterson, executive vice president and chief credit officer, said he believes Boulder fits that niche market.

Colorado Division of Banking documents show that New Resource (OTC Pink: NWBN) has applied to open an office at 1877 Broadway, Suite 100, in the Randolph Center, but Peterson said the bank still is working through internal and regulatory issues and isn’t ready to make a “official announcement.”

The bank makes loans to companies and organizations “that benefit our communities and preserve our planet.” Peterson said the bank works with nonprofits, health and wellness companies, and organizations that work to preserve the environment.

Led by president and chief executive Vincent Siciliano, the bank, as of July, had loans totaling $179.6 million – a 2.8 percent increase compared with the same time in 2014.

BIOSCIENCE

Array Biopharma Inc.

Signs are pointing toward a big 2016 for Boulder-based Array (Nasdaq: ARRY) assuming a trio of Phase 3 trials for the company’s cancer drugs binimetinib and encorafenib can return positive results. Array officials are aiming to submit a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for binimetinib in the treatment of NRAS-mutant melanoma in the first half of this year. A regulatory submission for the combination of binimetinib and encorafenib in the treatment of BRAF melanoma also is expected to occur this year.

In December, Array closed a deal with French firm Pierre Fabre to commercialize the two drugs in Europe, Latin America and much of Asia – a pact that gave Array a $30 million payment up front and up to $425 million in milestone payments and royalties.

Clovis Oncology Inc.

Boulder-based Clovis (Nasdaq: CLVS) is likewise pushing toward commercialization this year, albeit amid plenty of turbulence.

The company is aiming to submit a New Drug Application for rucaparib for the treatment of ovarian cancer this year. Clovis also is hoping to receive a decision from the FDA by June on its New Drug Application submitted last summer for rociletinib in the treatment of lung cancer. However, a delay in the rociletinib decision announced in November caused the company’s share price to plunge 70 percent and has spurred lawsuits from shareholders who allege Clovis made false and misleading statements about itself and clinical data regarding one of its cancer drugs.

Heska Corp.

Loveland-based Heska (Nasdaq: HSKA), which sells veterinary diagnostic and specialty products, is coming off of a glowing 2015 that saw the company’s share price more than double.

In November, the company acquired Cuattro Veterinary LLC, giving Heska, which employs about 140 people in Loveland, access to the international market for its blood diagnostic platforms. Profits rose in each of the first three quarters of 2015, including a jump to 20 cents per share in the third quarter of 2015 from 8 cents per share in the same period a year earlier.

Wall Street analysts seem to remain bullish on Heska stock, expecting it to approach $40 per share in the coming year.

ENERGY

Gravity Renewables Inc.

Increased emphasis on renewable-energy projects could send Gravity Renewables Inc. soaring.

The Boulder-based owner and operator of small hydroelectric power plants last year acquired several hydroelectric plants in the Northeast, and signed deals to provide clean hydropower to organizations including St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.; Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; and others.

As of October, Gravity had more than 34 megawatts of hydroelectric projects operating and under development around the country. The company raised $7 million from private backers, according to a February filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S

The winds of change continue to blow for Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the Danish wind-turbine manufacturer that operates plants in Windsor, Brighton and Pueblo.

Vestas in March announced plans to add 400 production workers to its Windsor facility, including 300 employees and 100 temporary employees. The company followed that up with an August announcement that it would add 350 workers at its Windsor and Brighton plants.

Energy: Vestas In March the company announced plans to add 400 production workers to its Windsor facility, including 300 employees and 100 temporary employees.

Energy: Vestas
In March the company announced plans to add
400 production workers to its Windsor facility, including 300 employees and 100 temporary employees.
Joel Blocker/For BizWest

Fueling the growth have been strong orders from companies such as EDF Renewable Energy, which have prompted the company to add another 100,000 square feet at the Windsor site.

The Broe Group

The first half of 2016 will be telling for a $900 million deal between Encana Corp. and Crestone Peak Resources, a company 95 percent owned by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and 5 percent by The Broe Group of Denver.

The deal, whereby Encana would sell its Colorado assets to Crestone, originally was expected to close at the end of 2015 but was delayed for up to six months at year-end. Encana’s holdings in the Denver-Julesburg Basin include 51,000 net acres and more than 1,600 wells.

The new venture would operate as a stand-alone business, with Broe assembling a management team for the firm.

<b>Technology: Aleph Objects Inc. </b>The company tripled in revenue in 2015 to $15 million and grew to 100 employees.

Technology: Aleph Objects Inc. The company tripled in revenue in 2015 to $15 million and grew to 100 employees. Courtesy Aleph Objects Inc.

HEALTH CARE

University of Colorado Health

UCHealth was one of the most aggressive health systems in the state in 2015, and that pattern doesn’t look to let up in 2016.

Construction is ongoing at two new UCHealth hospitals in the region: Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont and UCHealth Broomfield Hospital in Broomfield. Those projects followed on the heels of the group’s acquisition of Longmont Clinic at the beginning of 2015.

UCHealth has expanded rapidly since its formation in 2012, through creation of a joint venture4 between Poudre Valley Health System and University of Colorado Hospital. Expansion is under way at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, and a new stand-alone emergency room opened in Fort Collins in October.

Boulder Community Health

More expansion is under way for Boulder Community Health, which relocated its major hospital operations to its expanded campus at Foothills Parkway and Arapahoe Avenue in 2014.

Late last year, BCH sold its Broadway campus to the city of Boulder, with additional operations expected to move to the Foothills area over the coming months. BCH plans to build a 75,000-square-foot, three- to four-story building in the Riverbend business park east of the Foothills campus, along with a parking garage.

Boulder Community represents one of the last remaining independent hospitals in the state and has expressed an intent to remain so, even in the face of increasing competition all around it.

NATURAL/ORGANIC

U Baron Group

With the 2012 sale of the Udi’s brand and the gluten-free part of the company to Boulder Brands, the bread makers and business people of the company, newly named U Baron Group, are back to square one: baking handmade breads made with old-world techniques – gluten included.

The unique mission for Izzio’s Artisan Bakery, U Baron’s 25,000-square-foot facility in Louisville named for master baker Maurizio Negrini, is to produce farmer’s market-style bread and sell it nationally, three ways: a bread that’s 90 percent baked and then frozen and finished by grocers and then bagged using Izzio bags, a take-and-bake variety and sliced sandwich bread.

U Baron is a lot bigger than it was when Etai Baron first set up shop in 1994. There is Etai’s Catering, six Etai’s Bakery Cafes and two full-service restaurants. Two additional European-style bread stands are scheduled to open late next summer – in Aurora and Denver.

Meyer’s Natural Foods

Growth in the demand for natural beef products has propelled Loveland-based Meyer Natural Foods to acquire 4.35 acres of vacant land in the Centerra area from University of Colorado Health and begin construction of a 33,000-square-foot corporate headquarters. The buildings will accommodate the company’s growing natural and organic beef business in the United States, as well as its expanding beef export business.

Meyer’s product lines include Laura’s Lean Beef, Dakota Beef and Meyer Natural Angus. Its variety of steak cuts, including filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip and top sirloin, and ground beef are made from cattle raised on a vegetarian diet free of hormones and antibiotics.

OUTDOORS

My Trail Co.

Can Demetri “Coup” Coupounas rebound from the 2015 demise of GoLite, the Boulder-based outdoor retailer he founded with wife Kim? He’ll try by resurrecting the old product line under the new brand My Trail Co. He’s been looking for investors to help the new company sell products online, with an eye on opening its first retail stores along the Front Range this year.

Coupounas said the new model will be to focus on the core products with which the company did well, such as tents, backpacks and rain gear. and eliminate nonessentials such as casual wear.

My Trail’s plan also will be to open stores in the 1,200-square-foot range rather than the 4,000- and 5,000-square-foot stores that ultimately failed under the GoLite flag. Coupounas has so far raised $292,000 through a direct public offering to try to get the new venture off the ground.

Xero Shoes

Feel the World Inc., which does business as Xero Shoes, is hoping to tap into some of the magic that propelled Niwot-based shoemaker Crocs to international fame. Broomfield-based Xero brought in former Crocs chief executive John McCarvel as chairman of the board and lead investor. McCarvel led Crocs’ growth from $645 billion in revenue in 2009 to $1.2 billion in sales in 2013 before retiring in April 2014. With the move, McCarvel reconnected with Xero chief product officer Dennis Driscoll, whom McCarvel originally brought to Colorado as Crocs’ head of global design.

Xero makes a line of minimalist footwear it dubs “lightweight performance recreation sandals.” It moved from Boulder to Broomfield last year as the company experienced rapid growth.

REAL ESTATE

Brinkman Partners

Wrapping up its 10th year in business, Fort Collins-based Brinkman Partners has established itself as a company to watch in the real estate industry as it expands its services and reach in Northern Colorado, the Boulder Valley and metropolitan Denver.

Founded by brothers Paul and Kevin Brinkman, along with others, the company has grown to more than 100 people working to integrate their expertise across a variety of services including commercial brokerage, construction, development, real estate management and capital markets.

Brinkman’s projects run the gamut of office, multifamily, commercial and retail, breweries, health care and tenant finish.

Element Properties

Scott Holton and Chris Jacobs, co-founders of Element Properties, a real estate development company based in Boulder, are incorporating their respect for the environment and the community in their projects, which range from infill and affordable housing to luxury townhomes and mixed-use places.

This coming year, Element will team with Allison Management and the Michaels Organization in a $63 million project, converting 238 apartment units to Boulder’s affordable-housing stock. Element recently added financial partners to its $100 million S’Park mixed-use project in Boulder at the site of the former Sutherland lumber yard.

Last year, Holton and Jacobs sold Element’s property-management division to Heartwood Properties Inc. to focus on development projects. Heartwood Properties Inc., a property-management and brokerage firm, and Heartwood Capital LLC, an affiliate real estate investment firm, share the same address with Element Properties.

TECHNOLOGY

Aleph Objects Inc.

Loveland-based Aleph, founded in 2011, has quickly entrenched itself as a significant player in Northern Colorado’s tech scene.

The company, which manufactures desktop 3-D printers based on open-source hardware specs and software, tripled in revenue in 2015 to $15 million and grew to 100 employees. Company officials say their plan is to keep scaling up, with multiple hardware and software upgrades on tap for this year.

Early this year, the company announced, it will open a fulfillment center in Australia to help grow the company’s international footprint.

Avago Technologies

Fort Collins’ third-largest primary employer is aiming to grow, thanks in large part to an under-construction $57 million expansion of its Harmony Road facility that will add more than 120,000 square feet of space to the 1.2 million-square-foot building.

Avago Technologies (Nasdaq: AVGO), a maker of semiconductors for the cellular and other industries, is co-headquartered in Singapore and San Jose, Calif., but its largest employment presence is in Fort Collins, where it has an estimated 1,300 employees already.

Avago stock has nearly doubled over the past 18 months, fueled in part by the $37 billion acquisition of competitor Broadcom, a deal that is expected to close in February and make Avago a roughly $14 billion-per-year company.

SolidFire Inc.

Hard-charging enterprise storage provider SolidFire figures to keep surging in 2016, although under which flag? California-based NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP) announced in December plans to acquire Boulder-based SolidFire for $870 million, and it remains to be seen whether SolidFire will maintain its branding or be rolled into the NetApp line.

SolidFire officials have said the plan is still for the company to move into ritzy new downtown Boulder redevelopment PearlWest, where the company leased 62,000 square feet of space last year. But that move now could bring along with it some employees from NetApp, which has an office in east Boulder.

While SolidFire officials, before the acquisition announcement, had said they expected to grow to more than 500 employees in Boulder in coming years, the pace of that growth now depends largely on NetApp’s plans.

Christopher Wood, Dallas Heltzell, Joshua Lindenstein and Doug Storum contributed to this report.

Fort Collins Startup Week plows ahead with new date

FORT COLLINS — It was already November when the new organizers of Fort Collins Startup Week decided to move the event from its late May slot to early February. So it made sense that there was discussion of skipping the festivities for 2016 to provide ample time to plan a first-class event for 2017.

But it wasn’t long before the entrepreneurial mindset around the table set in: Get it done.

Thus, the third edition of Fort Collins Startup Week — a movement by cities worldwide to show off their entrepreneurial scenes and provide useful programming for entrepreneurs — is a go for Feb. 1-5.

“We didn’t want to lose the momentum (of the first two years) and felt it was worth going forward even if the planning was going to be strained,” Charisse Bowen, campus director for Galvanize Fort Collins, said in a recent interview. “We all agreed that it needed to happen. In true startup fashion, it’s fast and furious.”

Bowen and Christine Hudson — a Fort Collins resident who works at CA Technologies in Boulder — are spearheading the organizing efforts this year.

Fort Collins Startup Week was started in 2014 by entrepreneur Chris Snook, and drew futurist Gerd Leonhard and Inc. magazine editor Eric Schurenberg as keynote speakers the first two years. But Snook moved to Arizona last fall to work for fast-growing digital marketing startup Ethology.

“We greatly enjoyed giving birth to Fort Collins Startup Week the first two years with the intention to tell the story of the NoCo ecosystem’s brand of innovation and entrepreneurs to the local, national and international audience,” Snook said in an email. “We love the community and hope the future efforts continue in that spirit to advance the efforts of NoCo’s amazing entrepreneurial spirit.”


A year of Startup Weeks

Dates of various Startup Weeks along the Front Range this year include:

 Fort Collins, Feb. 1-5

 Boulder, May 16-20

 Longmont, June 6-12

 Denver, Sept. 28-Oct. 2

 Colorado Springs, Oct. 5-9


FCSW’s new organizers, which Bowen said include a broad group of local stakeholders,  felt the date change was necessary to spread Fort Collins Startup Week out from Boulder Startup Week. FCSW has followed just after Boulder Startup Week the last two years, and last year was sandwiched between startup weeks in Boulder and Longmont.

Bowen said organizers felt that coming right after Boulder might have limited the number of people from the Boulder and Denver startup ecosystems willing to take a day off of work to attend the Fort Collins events.

“Coming right on the heels of Boulder Startup Week was challenging,” Bowen said. “All of the local stakeholders came together and decided collectively that moving it to winter was worth a try.”

Bowen said she’s expecting a scaled-down version of FCSW this year, given the tight timeline. She said she’d be happy with about 50 events this year, about half of last year’s schedule. Attendance in 2014 totaled about 3,200 for the week, a figure Snook said climbed to just shy of 3,500 last year. Registration for this year’s events, all of which are free and open to the public, opened Jan. 11 at http://fortcollins.startupweek.co/.

While Snook had largely run FCSW independently of the Techstars-owned Startup Week umbrella of which the Boulder and Denver startup weeks are a part, the new FCSW organizers have aligned with the broader Techstars organization. Doing so doesn’t come with financial support, but it does come with in-kind support in getting organized, using Startup Week’s Web platform, and leveraging its network to market the events.

Galvanize will serve as base camp for FCSW, and tech incubator Innosphere also will host much of the programming and is playing a key role in putting on the event this year.

The lineup of individual events is still being hashed out. But Bowen said one highlight event this year will occur the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 3. FCSW organizers will stream the kickoff event for the GoCode Colorado app challenge that will take place that evening in Denver to help rally Fort Collins entrepreneurs who might want to take part in the contest that has seen Fort Collins teams win each of the last two years.

Longmont Startup Week adds 2 days

Coming on the heels of their inaugural startup week last year, Startup Longmont, the organizers of Longmont Startup Week, have extended their June 6-12 event to encompass a full week rather than just a Monday-through-Friday slate.

LSW executive director Jennifer Ferguson said the shift was made to add in more networking events and provide opportunities for people to take part who might not be able to get away from their jobs during the week. Like Fort Collins, LSW also is aligning with the Techstars Startup Week organization to help spread the word.

Ferguson said she anticipates the number of events for LSW growing this year from 45 to 70, including expanding programming for high-school kids as well as working with the Latino Chamber of Commerce to grow a track geared toward Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs.

Joshua Lindenstein can be reached at 303-630-1943, 970-416-7343 or jlindenstein@bizwestmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joshlindenstein

Datavail’s $47.3 million tops Colorado’s 4Q venture-capital deals list

Broomfield-based Datavail Corp., a provider of remote database administration services, received $47.3 million in venture capital during the fourth quarter, the largest deal in Colorado for the period.

Datavail’s seventh round of funding was backed by Catalyst Investors LLC, Boulder Ventures Ltd., Montis Capital LLC, Meritage Funds and an undisclosed firm, according to the quarterly MoneyTree Report released Friday.

Seven companies in Boulder, and one each in Louisville, Longmont and Fort Collins accounted for 10 of the state’s 26 venture-capital deals in the quarter.

Nine of the 10 deals totaled approximately $127 million, or 47 percent of the $271.7 million raised statewide in 23 of 26 deals. Amounts for three deals were not disclosed in the report, including one for Xyleme Inc., a software company in Boulder.

Area companies also receiving venture capital during the fourth quarter were:

MiRagen Therapeutics Inc., Boulder, biopharmaceutical company discovering and developing microRNA —  $41 million from MP Healthcare Venture Management Inc., Brace Pharmaceuticals Inc., Jafco Co Ltd., Remeditex Ventures LLC, Atlas Venture, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund LLC, Boulder Ventures Ltd. and Amgen Inc.

Occipital LLC, Boulder, develops software for digital photos — $15 million from DFJ Frontier and an undisclosed firm.

VictorOps Inc., Boulder, makes a software platform that helps software-as-a-service companies manage and remediate software system alerts and outages in real time — $10.6 million from Foundry Group LLC and Costanoa Venture Capital LP.

Kapteyn-Murnane Laboratories Inc., Boulder, manufactures laser systems — $5.5 million from Intel Capital Corp. and Vestar Capital Partners Inc.

Door to Door Organics Inc., Louisville, provides online grocery shopping services — $4.1 million from Arlon Group LLC.

Two Moms in the Raw Inc., Longmont, makes gluten-free raw snacks — $2.9 million from NGEN Partners LLC.

nVoq Inc., Boulder, software firm that provides cloud-based speech-recognition products — $500,000 from an undisclosed firm.

Prieto Battery Inc., Fort Collins, develops lithium ion battery technology — $120,000 from Intel Capital Corp.

Xlyleme Inc., Boulder, software firm providing XML data-processing services — undisclosed amount from Wavemaker Partners.

Statewide, venture capitalists invested $782.6 million on 87 deals in 2015, down from $817.4 million on 74 deals in 2014.

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $11.3 billion in 962 deals during the fourth quarter, down from $16.6 billion in 1,149 deals in the third quarter. The fourth quarter marks the eighth-consecutive quarter of more than $10 billion of venture capital invested in a single quarter, but also represents the smallest amount invested since the third quarter of 2014.

The venture-capital ecosystem deployed $58.8 billion across the United States in 2015, the second-highest yearly total in the last 20 years.

The report is compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.