Forbes: Boulder is America's best place to start a new business in 2015

Author: Alex Burness

Source: Daily Camera 

Boulder can add another bullet to its diverse and ever-growing collection of mentions on "best of" lists.

Boulder is no stranger to these reports and in the last few years has been recognized for pretty much every possible trait. According to a slew of different organizations with varying degrees of credibility, it is at once the No. 1 American city for work/life balance, the city with the country's'unhappiest' workforce and the No. 4 most hippie-friendly community, among many other labels.

On Thursday, the city's resume grew, with a proclamation by Forbes that Boulder is the best place in the U.S. for starting a business in 2015.

"It's known as a mellow, artsy destination at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, boasting sweeping views, a thriving tech scene, and a vibrant artisan food culture, but Boulder, Colorado is also a great place to launch a business," the magazine writes.

According to data provided to Forbes by personal finance site NerdWallet, Boulder and its surrounding towns and cities beat out the country's 182 other metropolitan areas that qualify as having at least 15,000 businesses and a population greater than 250,000.

Each metro area was graded based on average annual revenue of local businesses ($721,489 in Boulder's case), number of businesses per 100 people (14.1) and percentage of businesses with paid employees (23.8 percent).

If that final figure seems low, the report notes that 82 percent of the country's small businesses do not have employees and are in fact run by one or two people and powered by contract workers.

Wilmington, N.C., came in second, with 15 businesses for every 100 residents — the most of any place on the list. The Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford area of Connecticut came in third, followed by Evansville, Ind. and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

4 Colorado cities make startup density top 10

Source: BuiltinColorado

Author:  Anthony Sodd

Cities along the Front Range boast some of the highest densities of tech startups in the country. Boulder, Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs all rank in the top 10 according to a new report.

Unsurprisingly, Boulder tops that list, followed by the Fort Collins-Loveland area. 

Denver comes in at number 6, just ahead of San Francisco and Washington D.C., while Colorado Springs takes the number 9 spot.

The new report from CBRE, a commercial real estate services company, looks at Colorado’s geography of high-tech startups. From a regional standpoint, Denver continues to act as a hub for mature high-tech companies. Recently the city has also seen a large increase in startup activity and VC funding. In addition to downtown Denver, many startups are moving into office spaces in the RiverNorth, Golden Triangle and Broadway South neighborhoods. The report cites Denver’s relatively low cost of living (as compared to the coasts), and its newly (nearly) complete mass transit system as reasons for growth.

Boulder, which has been the traditional tech startup hub of Colorado, continues to hold that position today. In fact, proximity to Boulder is so valuable that secondary tech bubbles are developing in places like Broomfield, Louisville and Westminster. This growth appears to be largely driven by companies who value proximity to Boulder, but need a larger office space than Boulder can offer at an affordable price.

To the north, Colorado State University is helping plant new and diverse software, biotech and energy startups in Fort Collins. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs continues to attract larger high-tech firms focusing on aerospace and defense.

Colorado is also an attractive place for out of state tech talent to relocate to. The top states for people to migrate from are California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

There is also a large pool of highly educated talent already on the ground, and the cost of living is low. So is the cost of office space. Denver’s office space is going for about 63 percent less per square foot than San Francisco’s.

Of course, Colorado’s advantage as a lower-cost, high-value destination might be stifled by its growth. Denver has been experiencing an explosion in real estate prices, with 2014 seeing a year-over-year increase of 8.1 percent. That was the largest increase in the United States outside of San Francisco and Miami. That said, real estate prices here have a long way to go before they reach the stratospheric levels of coastal startup hubs, and there’s a whole lot of Front Range left to develop.

All in all, the report offers a pretty rosy picture.  If you’d like to read it in its entirety, you can find it here.

Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Email us via

Foundry Funds Nix Hydra, Mobile Game Maker for Girls

Brad Feld (Foundry co-founder) loves women. He has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chairman of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. 

NCWIT is actually based right here in beautiful Boulder Colorado. They believe the people who build technology should represent the people who use it.

NCWIT says, "Although women today comprise half the world’s population and more than half of the U.S. professional workforce, they play only a small role in inventing the technology of tomorrow. The lack of girls and women in computing and technology represents a failure to capitalize on the benefits of diverse perspectives: in a world dependent on innovation, it can bring the best and broadest problem-solvers to the table; and at a time when technology drives economic growth, it can yield a larger and more competitive workforce."

Experiential play is how we learn and until now, most games and toys were set up to teach certain principles. Walk down any toy aisle in Target and you'll see pink, dolls and more pink.

That's why DisruptHER Productions, NCWIT, & Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media created the first annual DevelopHer Challenge to design toys and games that engage girls ages 3-12 in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Brad and Foundry Group know that women are the next big win.  And, now they've awarded $5 Mil in funding to two women who know how to create mobile games women (9 million of them so far!) will play. 

Nix Hydra Scores $5M to Make Mobile Games for Girls, Not ‘Tech Dudes’

Nix Hydra Co-founders Lina Chen and Naomi Ladizinsky

Nix Hydra Co-founders Lina Chen and Naomi Ladizinsky

By Lizette Chapman

Striking a rare win in the male-dominated gaming sector, female-focused mobile gaming startup Nix Hydra Inc. has raised $5 million from Foundry Group to expand its hit game “Egg Baby” and launch new ones.

Co-founded in 2012 by former Yale classmates and startup vets Naomi Ladizinsky and Lina Chen, the Los Angeles-based startup is unapologetically focused on creating games by women and for women.

“This [mobile gaming] market is new, but so far we’ve seen a lot of repeats with the same ideas iterated on over and over again,” said Ms. Ladizinsky, referring to so-called runner, quest, battle and other genres. “It’s a tech dude’s perspective.”

To that end, Nix Hydra will use the fresh funding to build new games based on strong characters with complexity and consequences for irresponsibility, similar to “Egg Baby.”
The game launched last year, inspired by a school experiment entrusting students with a raw egg to experience the responsibilities of parenthood. The initial version of the game was rough, but it quickly gained favor among teenage girls and women despite no marketing.

With just one other employee to help, Ms. Ladizinsky and Ms. Chen scrambled to add more content and continue improving the game or risk losing momentum. The two had experience at startups–Ms. Li previously negotiated international mobile deals for streaming music startup Grooveshark Inc. while Ms. Ladizinsky directed, produced and edited digital content for gaming channel Machinima Inc.–but scaling a mobile game was new.

“We didn’t think it was going to be that popular,” said Ms. Chen of the game that has now been downloaded nine million times.
In “Egg Baby,” players each get an egg, which hatches into a unique gift-giving creature based on how the game-players wash, feed, tickle, dress, and otherwise interact with the eggs. Players like to show off the results of their work, with most new users finding the game because a friend shared their creature. If players forget to put their egg to bed or feed it, it dies.

Roughly 85% of players are women and most are under the age of 25, Ms. Chen said.

Raising the round happened fast and came following an introduction by the startup’s angel investors to Foundry Group.

“It was two phone calls and one in person,” said Ms. Chen of the 10-day process. “Foundry Group really got us.”

Nix Hydra expects to hire another 20 people during the next year, and it will use the funding to build a franchise around “Egg Baby” and launch two still-unnamed games.

Foundry Group led the Series A round with participation from Buddy Media co-founder Mike Lazerow and other individuals, at a valuation around $20 million.

Individual investors including Gyft Inc. co-founder Vinny Lingham, Mry Inc. co-founder Matt Britton and Riot Games investor Brad Schwartz previously invested around $600,000.

Write to Lizette Chapman at Follow her on Twitter at@zettewil

Blackstone grants $4 million to create Colorado entrepreneurs network

By Andy Vuong

The Denver Post

POSTED:   04/20/2014 12:01:00 AM MDT2 COMMENTS

J.B. Holston, director of a new $4 million entrepreneurs network that will be based in Denver, says: "You create and keep much more wealth within the state" by keeping company headquarters in Colorado. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

While Colorado is recognized as a top hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, the state's startup ecosystem still struggles to keep potential large-scale successes from uprooting in search of capital, engineering talent or other resources.

The Blackstone Group, one of the nation's premier private-equity firms, will announce this week the launch of a $4 million program in Colorado to help address that shortcoming.

The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network will also aim to strengthen Colorado's startup community by encouraging greater collaboration among local businesses, which are generally siloed by geography and industry.

"This is really a different and new and additive effort to everything else that is going on in the state," said serial entrepreneur J.B. Holston, who will serve as the network's executive director.

The network will identify so-called gazelles — high-growth companies that may be on the cusp of Google-like success — and connect them with resources to reach the next level without defecting to another state.

"We've got a lot of great conditions for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation ... but we have too many companies that get to a certain stage, then either stall out or sell out rather than scaling up," said Holston, chairman and founder of Denver-based enterprise software maker NewsGator, now called Sitrion.

The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, or BEN, has attracted 20 advisers that include the likes of Foundry Group's Brad Feld, Zayo Group's Dan Caruso, Wild Oats Markets' co-founder Libby Cook and iTriage CEO Peter Hudson.

Advisers will help find gazelles and the support they may need, which will include identifying prospective mentors, or "master entrepreneurs."

BEN will focus on five industry segments: technology and broadband, biotech and health, aerospace, natural foods and energy.

Companies that fit certain criteria, which will vary by industry, can apply to join the network. For digital technology companies, the requirement will be $5 million in revenue, 50 employees and 25 percent top-line growth.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will fund the program with a three-year, $4 million grant to be overseen by the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"It's a program that's been designed to create a deep network of experienced entrepreneurs in a variety of industries to help mentor high-growth companies," said Jonathan Gray, global head of real estate for Blackstone.

Gray said the idea to create the program in the state started with conversations Blackstone officials had with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a little over a year ago. Blackstone has a similar network in North Carolina, but that initiative is primarily focused on identifying and supporting innovations from area universities.

Blackstone's presence in Colorado is set to surge with its pending $5.4 billion buyout of Denver's Gates Corp. The deal will take the number of employees who work for Blackstone-backed companies in Colorado to 4,000.

Bennet said the company's entrepreneurs network will help grow jobs in Colorado.

"What we've seen is there are companies that are founded in Colorado, but then they move, they go to California, or they go to Boston, or they go to Austin," Bennet said. "We want this to be a place where they stay, and where they can generate those jobs."

The benefits of keeping the headquarters of a highly successful startup would stretch beyond jobs.

"You get a lot more management experience," said Holston, who co-founded six Colorado enterprises over 16 years. "You create and keep much more wealth within the state. And typically you also then start to create a micro-ecosystem of companies around those really big successful companies."

Holston will be based at the Galvanize tech campus in Denver's Golden Triangle neighborhood. The network will also operate out of Galvanize's Boulder office.

Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said the goal of the foundation is to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. She said Colorado will serve as the steppingstone for the creation of similar networks in other states, helping Blackstone establish a "tool kit" for such programs.

The Blackstone foundation is issuing its largest grant to fund the Colorado network.

"This is an incredible inflection point for our entrepreneurial and growth-company community," said Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. "When you think about Blackstone, one of the largest real estate and private equity operations in the world, for them to personally invest in the state of Colorado at this level is a head nod to the activity, to the opportunity and the type of companies that are coming out of our region."

Andy Vuong : 303-954-1209, or

Read more: Blackstone grants $4 million to create Colorado entrepreneurs network - The Denver Post 
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