Denver Gazelles represent some of the fastest growing companies with proven success in raising money and creating jobs, and this year Cloud Elements made the shortlist. To be a Denver Gazelle means you stimulate the economy, demonstrate sustainability, accelerate innovation and inspire entrepreneurship. Over the past four years, the City of Denver has recognized a handful of Gazelles every #DENStartupWeek, such as Ibotta, Placeable and Wayin, making September 14th officially Denver Gazelle Day, as noted by Mayor Hancock.
Being a Denver tech company means staying involved in the connected communities of Colorado (especially in Denver). Our connected community has not only been accelerated by Denver Startup Week, but more importantly the connected community of tech companies is driven by the Denver Gazelles. “Our expectation for the six Gazelles announced this year is to continue the momentum,” shared Greenwood.
During Denver Startup Week 2016, Greg Greenwood, Executive Director of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network moderated the panel of the 2016 Class of Denver Gazelles: MindAptiv, Cloud Elements, Havenly, Blinkr, SendGrid and Parkify.
Ken Granville, Founder & CEO of Mindaptiv. MindAptiv is about to unveil a new generation of adaptive technology that will transform how we interact with software. Granville: “I have close to 30 years of experience in government work, from work with the US Air Force to Lockheed Martin. Now we have a chance to focus on cross domain solutions that can serve the post-9/11 era to keeping our nation safe. The MindAptiv team, which are 24 strong, just recently graduated from our accelerator program, taking the last 6 years to build some of the most revolutionary products in the industry. For example, MindAptiv is taking very large video files and making it extremely smaller, while not losing the HD quality.” Bringing it back to why Denver, Granville closed with: “I was really astonished by the energy in Denver, and 13 years later we’re working on the really hard stuff by taking on the moon shots, versus smaller iterations of innovation.” MindAptiv will help with education. Help with world problems. We will enable the world to create at the speed of thought.”
Mark Geene, Co-Founder and CEO of Cloud Elements. Geene: “Cloud Elements was founded about 4 years ago, and actually one of our coming out parties was at a Denver Startup Week. The energy and vibrance developed in this community, led by Sendgrid, Ping Identity and others, rivals what Silicon Valley is trying to do. More specifically to what we do at Cloud Elements, our platform helps developers connect applications together. We solve a major problem for businesses today around integration, by connecting the best-in-breed applications together. We create seamless interactions, that work together. Simple and easy to use. We are now at 50 people. Core to our team is to be passionate contributors to the community.”
Lee Mayer (recovering New Yorker), CEO of Havenly. Mayer: “ At Havenly, we match you with an interior designer online, and then you can of course purchase all of the household items we recommend to you. We are two years young, starting the company with my sister to now 40 employees and interior designers. What’s really interesting about Denver is, is how incredibly supportive this city is. Where I have these deep relationships with my friends and peers is unique to what Denver has to offer to help other tech companies grow.”
Rod Buscher, CEO of Blinkr. Blinkr is a phone number for your car, the Yelp for drivers, and gives automobiles a mobile identity. Buscher starts with: “ At Blinkr we are 46 strong, serving the largest underserved industry in America: Automotive.” [Buscher started his career by starting the John Elway Dealership]. “Our official launch for a company actually happened yesterday at Denver Startup Week. With the Blinkr mobile app, users can stand behind the any one of the 250Million cars in the country with their iPhone or Android, and learn what year, make, model, and approximately how many miles the car has. Furthermore, drivers can build their profile to help sell and buy cars. We helps car sellers create social display advertisements that can be published to personal social networks. As a buyer, you can buy your car for a monthly payment. The seller will still receive the full amount -- and Blinkr does the financing, creating a win-win for both parties. Furthermore you can e-sign with your finger and virtually complete all car sales transactions on mobile. A very exciting industry to be in, considering over $100B of cars in America are sold privately.”
Dan Mitzner, Senior Director of Marketing at Sendgrid. Mitzner: “Sendgrid we have roughly 40,000 paying customers that every day send millions of transactional emails to grow and nurture their businesses. Those of you that just received your email receipt from Uber, or booked a room in Airbnb and received a confirmation email, or purchased an account on Spotify and received an email receipt. You received a transactional email powered by Sendgrid. We send 2x the number of emails and the # of Tweets that Twitter sends. In terms of growth for Sendgrid, we expanded our talent pool from Boulder to Denver. In October 2016, all three offices will be consolidated to one office at 1801 California (CenturyLink Office) shared with Ibotta. Right now Sendgrid has about 300 Employees, 240 of which are in Denver, and we have plans to hire up to 900 ‘gridders’ by 2020 … One cultural issue we will address is the commute from Boulder to Denver with two wifi enabled shuttle buses.”
Ryan Sullivan, CEO of ParkiFi -- “I started ParkiFi around the same time as Havenly, and we are now 37 strong. Previously I worked at Sendgrid (along with my other co-founder) and as Sendgrid moves new offices, we will be moving into the old Sendgrid Larimer Square office. ParkiFi enables you to have real time information on exactly when and where open spots are available in Denver. Frustrated drivers can hit “Just Park” to find the most convenient spot near them to park. The ParkiFi app is currently in beta format, and will be publicly launching soon! One unique aspect to what we’re doing at ParkiFi is hardware is diving into the Colorado manufacturing community. We work with Premier Manufacture out of Frederick, CO enabling us to make our hardware locally in Colorado.
How do you find additional co- founders as you get closer to launch?
Lee Mayer, Havenly: “I started Havenly with my sister out of Galvanize. I quickly found out that having 2 of me did not serve us well. We found a 3 founder, Jessie Dixon, who is now our COO. My advice: make your to-do list every week, and be on the look out for the 5 (maybe 50) to-do’s that consistently don’t get done. Those are a telling sign. Find someone else that has just the opposite to-do’s that fall off their backlog. They will likely be a good balance for you as an additional co-founder.”
Mark Geene, Cloud Elements: “To start wehad 4 co-founders, 3 of which had the engineering background and didn’t really like to go out and sell our idea. When we found our 4th co-founder by mutually mentoring at the Founder’s Network, I was most attracted to him for his extreme passion for networking. He was the right missing ingredient for our team to balance our needs.”
How are you monetizing your business? And how long until you get into the positive?
Ryan Sullivan, ParkiFi: “Our monetization plan has changed over the years, as we got further into it and learned more. For ParkiFi, we want the consumers to find parking for free. We have a referral model with paid parking companies (e.g. garages, paid lots, etc), where we can help optimize their parking revenue in return.”
Rod Buscher, Blinkr: “As underwriters for car financing, the banks are our customers. Down the road we plan to sell insurance, and can help with parts ordering such as new windshields to install.”
Ken Granville, MindAptiv: “MindAptiv has quite a few paths to go down. Our plan is to get our products out there and evaluate the major contracts that large corporations are offering us. Entities like Netflix and others will come along, but our first priority is to determine what our user community needs. Netflix and YouTube, for example, account for 60% of internet bandwidth during peak times, we believe we can help solve that problem.”
Dan Mitzner, Sendgrid: “We charge for email volume and contact storage. How we make it profitable? By innovating on our product and growing our customer base, this month will actually be the first time we will be profitable. In a pennies per email business, the reality to understand that we need to evolve and find our core to provide value to our customers. Adding more and more revenue streams was the key to get to a profitable state.”
Gazelles are Denver’s premier tech companies, that are on a path of growth and a remarkable exit strategy. It’s a major honor to be a part of the Denver Gazelles, so with that, thank you City of Denver Economic division for the recognition.