Whether you're a flustered fashionista, an outdoorsy type with a conscience, or simply someone who craves a nice sweaty glass of homebrew, there's a Colorado startup working to make your life more pleasurable. Here are three local contenders who have toughed out their early growing pains and are ready to spread their products and influence.
“The concept for Crafted Here came out of a Hackathon about a year ago,” said Chase Doelling, the CEO of local startup Craft Boom. After winning Best Tourism App and Crowd Favorite, Doelling and his pre-assembled team saw a niche and dove into creating digital apps to serve the Denver area's booming craft-merchant sector.
"We're at an interesting nexus,” Doelling said, “with both the legalization of cannabis as well as the influence of craft beer." That has brought a teeming influx of tourism excited to sample the area's coffee, wine, and other artisan products.
"There are so many factors in it that we feel that, if we can make it powerful here, it will be easier to replicate in other markets."
The biggest challenge for Crafted Here, he said, is “combining all these industries, looking for the attributes that we can put on the same playing field."
Rather than using a Yelp-like rating scale, Crafted Here users can reward local businesses with 'badges,' highlighting what makes them unique.
The startup aims to increase not only user adoption, but also its partnership base, figuring out how large cannabis buyers and tiny distilleries can best work together to make Colorado living a more exciting treasure hunt.
In the summer of 2013, Ryan Daley was researching “driver refueling behavior” when he stumbled upon something interesting. He learned of “companies applying some simple behavior change techniques to reduce residential electricity consumption. A company called Opower provided a lot of inspiration, and it eventually dawned on me. Why isn’t there something like this for our cars?”
A veteran of the renewable energy sector, Daley teamed up with his old developer pal Matthew Helm and brainstormed solutions for getting more good times out of less gas. By October 2013, he had organized Petrolr, and by February, its free app launched in beta.
[ibimage==29625==Medium==none==self==ibimage_align-right]A bluetooth-enabled device connected to a vehicle's on-board diagnostics port sends a wealth of information to the user's phone, which can help in setting goals and sticking to resolutions for saving money and the environment. Thus, Petrolr promotes more mindful driving for the 'quantified driver.' Daley's pitch deck describes it as “Mint... for your car!”
Daley credits the welcoming nature of the Colorado startup landscape for introducing him to the collaborators, investors, and friends that keep him focused. “We are very thankful for these opportunities, and to the hard-working folks that foster that open community. We are Colorado guys through and through and appreciate how attractive the Colorado lifestyle is to so many," said Daley. "However, the Front Range presents the perfect dichotomy for Petrolr: an active, healthy, and environmentally conscious community that jumps into our vehicles every weekend headed out to enjoy our state. We believe that this culture will be supportive of our mantra: 'Drive Less. Do More.' We want to help Coloradoans and drivers everywhere else find ways to move through the world more efficiently and effectively.”
After he finished college, Shaz Sedighzadeh worked as a booker and web admin for a fashion agency, fueling his lifelong enthusiasm for snappy dressing. Later, he started his own recruiting consultancy, and his competitive search for resumes immersed him in SEO, reverse SEO, and other master-level Google-Fu. “That's when I became really geeky on search,” he said.
But when he tried to combine his passions, he became frustrated. “Have you ever tried to find a large set of high-quality images showing men wearing blue jeans, black shirt, eyeglasses, and brown boots? Well, good luck trying.”
He was thus inspired to create Looklist, a layered search engine for fashion. He signed on Ken Goldfarb, his former colleague at Crispin Porter, as CTO, and Aimee Zawacki as the resident "fashion guru,” trendspotter, and community manager. Their 'street style inspiration engine' works around the sprawl of the web to help users hit fewer dead ends matching their ideal outfits.
[ibimage==29626==Large==none==self==ibimage_align-right]"A lot of people in the Pinterest world are getting frustrated with fashion on Pinterest,” Sedighzadeh said. “It's not curated and it's not searchable." Looklist aims for the sort of well-versed power-users and specificity that you might not be able to track down using '#awesome #want.'
By Labor Day 2015, he plans to establish “a strong community and user base” and to make brands more aware of what Looklist's “curation and searchability” are capable of.
Sedighzadeh's advertising career has taken him to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but he keeps finding himself back in the Denver area.
“A lot of people” around Denver, he said, “have really good ideas. A lot of people, if someone doesn't know where to turn to to find some extra cues… people tend to fall off.” He shouts out to Galvanize, Built In Colorado, and the area's myriad startup-related Meetup groups for getting these folks revved up and collaborating. “People like sharing their knowledge. Surround yourself with people who are building products and forging ahead on startup-y things."