4 Colorado founders share what inspired them to launch their startups — and where they're headed next

by April Bohnert
May 31, 2019

Behind every fast-growing tech company is a story of its humble and hard-earned beginning. What starts as a dream — to change the world, to improve people’s lives and work, to create something that’s never been created before — is only brought to life by the tireless dedication and hard work of a small circle of people.

To better understand how those early days lay the foundation for a company’s long-term growth and success, we talked to four local tech founders about their own founding stories, how their businesses have evolved over the years — and where they hope to lead their teams next.  
 

Flowhub growth journey Colorado tech
Photo via Flowhub.

Flowhub develops user-driven business management and compliance software tailored specifically to the unique needs of the highly regulated cannabis industry. Founder and CEO Kyle Sherman shared how his advocacy for and experience in the legal cannabis industry gave him the insights he needed to launch the business — and how he’s grown the company since.

 

Tell us about your founding story. What’s one thing people outside (or even inside) your team might not know about how your company was founded?

I’ve always been an advocate for ending cannabis prohibition. In 2014 I spent time running compliance for a vertically integrated cannabis supply chain here in Colorado, which gave me both hands-on experience in the industry and the insight to understand the problems cannabis businesses faced day in and day out. Because of this experience, I understood that what the market needed was a cannabis-centric business software platform, and I and was able to guide our product development to fit the market need better than our competitors.

In the early days, it was a family roadshow, as my wife and I would travel to cities around the state introducing dispensaries to our technology. When those dispensaries were coming on to our platform we worked together, all hands on deck, to bring them on one by one.

 

In the early days, it was a family roadshow, as my wife and I would travel to cities around the state introducing dispensaries to our technology.”

How has the company evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?

Today we have a team of incredibly talented product support, customer success and deployment folks who help drive success for our customers. We’ve grown exponentially, and I’m excited to see cannabis legalization swiftly taking off in the U.S. I see our company growing even faster in the future to keep up with the momentum. I believe Flowhub will one day be one of the largest cannabis infrastructure companies in the world.

 

Gloo growth journey Colorado tech
Photo via Gloo.

Gloo’s unique predictive analytics platform helps organizations better understand, support and connect with their audiences, with the goal of driving personal growth and improving the lives of those they serve. CEO and Co-Founder Scott Beck shared how the company has evolved since it was founded in 2013, and what he’s most excited for in this next phase of growth.

 

Tell us briefly about your founding story. What’s one thing people outside (or even inside) your team might not know about how your company was founded?

We didn’t set out to start a tech company; our goal was to find the best way to serve Champions — people who help others grow. Then, through years of research and experiments, we found that what they needed most were tech solutions, but designed with all the complexities of personal growth in mind. It’s been a journey unlike any other.

 

One of our biggest evolutions as a company has been moving from research to content to platform development to networks — it’s a constant evolution.”

How has the Gloo evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?

We’ve grown from a small team of researchers to a passionate, multi-talented team of 160 here in Boulder. One of our biggest evolutions as a company has been moving from research to content to platform development to networks — it’s a constant evolution. The more we learn, the more we grow and the more we can serve others.

The scope of how tech capabilities can serve personal growth is just exploding. We see a strong need to create solutions that can solve for all of these complex network challenges, and with the market responding the way that it is, it gives us a lot of confidence that we’re all on the right track.

 

PlayerLync growth journey Colorado tech
Photo via PlayerLync.

PlayerLync cut its teeth helping championship sports teams digitize their playbooks before expanding its software to provide operational performance and mobile learning software for the modern workforce. CEO and Co-Founder Bob Paulsen talked to us about the conversation that inspired it all, and how the company has since grown to over a million daily users in a range of industries.

 

Tell us about your founding story. What’s the one thing people outside (or even inside) your team might not know about how your company was founded?

It all started at a barbecue where the Denver Broncos SVP of Operations shared his frustration around signing another big copier contract for continuously printing changing playbooks, and how players were showing up to work with personal iPads asking to load game film and practice video. Given our history building cloud communications companies and the challenges expressed by the Broncos, we presented PlayerLync — a zero-effort, tablet-based software for coaches to control content and for players to review playbooks and game film, and communicate securely, anywhere, anytime, online or offline.

 

As the gig economy grows and the global workforce becomes more mobile every day, we are well positioned to deliver high-value solutions to a massive total addressable market.”

How has the company evolved since those early days — and where do you see the company going next?

PlayerLync has evolved into the leading mobile-first learning and operations platform for the deskless workforce. Over a million people are using PlayerLync on mobile devices every day to access and share current information, videos, checklists and eLearning content to understand what’s expected of them that day and how to do their jobs. Our customer base has expanded to include leading Fortune 500 companies like Chipotle, Starbucks, Abercrombie and Southern Company Gas. As the gig economy grows and the global workforce becomes more mobile every day, we are well positioned to deliver high-value solutions to a massive total addressable market.

 

Wunder Capital growth journey Colorado tech
Photo via Wunder Capital.

Leveraging proprietary technology, a nationwide network of partners and investors, and an online investment portal, Wunder Capital helps develop, manage and fund solar energy projects quickly, efficiently and at scale. Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Sam Beaudin got candid about his desire to build a mission-driven tech company that could change the world and how he and his co-founders turned that motivation into a thriving social impact startup.

 

Tell us about your founding story. What’s one thing people might not know about how your company was founded?  

Many startups today claim that they’re “changing the world,” and like many people in tech, Bryan, Dave and myself have spent the bulk of our careers working with such organizations to build SaaS offerings, apps and widgets. Of course, the three of us eventually came to the unfortunate realization that few of these companies were actually trying to make a meaningful dent, and even fewer can claim that they’re saving the world.

Armed with that simple and unavoidable truth, we became fervent believers that our time is much too valuable to be spent working on anything other than the many important and challenging problems that plague our world. Before we ever had a product or even a problem space, we had three people and a very broad purpose — to start a mission-oriented and technology-enabled organization. When we got to work figuring out what kind of business we wanted to build, we only considered meaningful problems like healthcare, agriculture and education, eventually settling on energy with the perspective that, if you solve our current energy crisis, you actually help solve many of those other problems too.

From there, it was just a matter of finding an opportunity for an early-stage scrappy software team to insert itself and make an outsized impact.

Fun fact: When we started putting together the building blocks of Wunder, we did so remotely via videochat from different cities across the country. Eventually, we came together in Boulder, where we’ve been co-located for the past five years.

 

We became fervent believers that our time is much too valuable to be spent working on anything other than the many important and challenging problems that plague our world.” 

How has the company evolved since those early days, and where do you see the company going next?

While Wunder has now gone through a few evolutions, we’ve actually never experienced a major pivot like so many early-stage companies do. The vision we set off with is remarkably similar to the business that we’re building today. What has changed are our tactics, counter-parties, coworkers and scale.

For much of our history, Wunder has been likened to a crowd-investment platform for solar energy projects, and while this is true, we’re now at a scale where we also work with international investment banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions to deploy hundreds of millions of dollars. When we look back on our history and think about what comes next, there is always a focus on scale. This is because Wunder is a unique social enterprise that can behave like a greedy capitalistic corporation, and as a result, actually maximize the positive impact that we have on the world by deploying gigawatts of clean, green, renewable energy.

A more simple response to your initial question would be that we’ve gone from three people sitting around a dining table to 35 people, a baker’s dozen of dogs, and an 8,000-square-foot building right off Pearl Street.  

 

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