“We’re reaching true ‘hockey stick growth’,” said Dan Kasper, CEO of Wishlist, an HR company that manages company reward programs.
That’s a sentence every CEO wants to be able to say one day. But success doesn’t happen overnight. To be recognized as an up-and-comer in the startup world, you need some key ingredients: a creative and disruptive business idea, notable funding or means via bootstrapping and a significant (and growing) customer base — not to mention a motivated team driving your mission forward.
We spoke to seven leaders about the inception of their rising tech companies, how they’ve grown and their plans for scaling.
Rising Colorado Companies You Should Know
- AMP Robotics
- Pie Insurance
What They Do: Yaguara’s platform lets teams use real-time data to set, measure and meet goals. By integrating third-party tools and funneling them into a single platform, team members can be on the same page when it comes to growth objectives. As well, the company provides predictive insights and recommendations to help teams meet those objectives faster.
How They Got Here: “Our mission is to help e-commerce and retail companies work better together by aggregating and leveraging their data to achieve high-level company goals,” said Jonathan Smalley, CEO and founder.
Smalley added that Yaguara has propelled forward with early support from powerful leaders across the e-commerce industry, including the founders of Warby Parker, Harry’s, Allbirds and former executives of Glossier.
“Yaguara is already serving 650+ e-commerce and retail companies, and the platform’s predictive and prescriptive recommendations are growing smarter through each new customer and each new tool integration,” he added.
The platform’s predictive and prescriptive recommendations are growing smarter through each new customer.”
How They’re Growing: “Over the next year, we’re excited to announce that we’re expanding our team, moving our headquarters to a larger space in downtown Denver and opening up a new office in New York,” Smalley said. “From there, we’ll continue to focus on driving product growth and sales to be able to add more integrations, serve more customers and improve the data models serving up actionable insights. I’m most excited for Yaguara to continue to be a single source of truth for individual companies and a system of record for the whole e-commerce industry.”
What They Do: AMP Robotics reduces waste by changing the process of recycling. Using AI and robotics, AMP automates the identification, sorting and processing of complex waste streams in order to make recycling more sustainable. They recently raised $16 million in Series A funding in November.
How They Got Here: “To start, we have been ushering in a record number of system installations across multiple countries, closing a healthy round of funding and achieving many technical milestones along the way,” said Mark Baybutt, director of engineering and research and development. “A large contributing factor to this success and growth is finding a balance between feature development and building a solid foundation in each of our tech stacks.”
He added that AMP Robotics has been investing heavily in software development spanning machine learning and robot development, as well as hardware development that could result in “new and different gripping mechanisms or novel electromechanical designs,” Baybutt said.
“We believe investing effort in the foundation layer will best provide the launchpad for the rapid growth and exciting additional system features we have planned for 2020,” Baybutt said.
The growth I am most excited about is transforming the data we collect.”
How They’re Growing: “We’re ramping quickly to meet demand and scaling our organization across a number of disciplines. We see opportunities to grow our feature velocity and continue to add novel capabilities improving the most compelling robotic solution within our industry,” Baybutt said. “We’re certainly continuing our use of deep learning techniques and creative electromechanical and control algorithms to increase our material pick rates and pick success.”
He added: “The growth I am most excited about is transforming the data we collect — the specific materials going through the recycling facility — into information the operators can use to operate their facilities more efficiently. This level of real-time operational insight has not been available previously; it is exciting to build entirely new capabilities to positively impact the recycling industry.”
What They Do: SumUp’s card readers allow businesses to process debit, credit and contactless card payments. By keeping operations simple and costs relatively low, their U.S. Managing Director Jann Hoffman said entrepreneurs in over 31 countries are growing their businesses using their product. And SumUp is continuing to grow, too — after nine rounds of funding, they have raised over $400 million.
How They Got Here: “In the last year, we reached over 2 million merchants in over 31 countries around the world, making us a fast-growing company in Europe. The foundation of our success is our relentless focus on empowering small merchants all over the world. Now, we’re excited to focus on supporting merchants across the U.S. and helping them grow their businesses,” Hoffman said.
The foundation of our success is our relentless focus on empowering small merchants all over the world.”
How They’re Growing: “We love the entrepreneurial spirit in the United States. As 99 percent of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses, this is the natural place for us to grow our reach and empower more merchants than ever before. We’re especially excited about gathering the best talent in the country in our downtown Boulder office to help us improve the lives of 21 million small business owners,” Hoffman added.
What They Do: Wishlist Rewards is an HR tech company that believes there is a better way to reward employees. They make managing company rewards programs simple by automating administrative tasks and providing insights into program performance. Employees enjoy redeeming their rewards from a marketplace that includes thousands of experiences, live events and hotels.
How They Got Here: “We’ve doubled our revenue and client base, each year, for the last three years and have landed at spot No. 917 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the United States. Our success is directly attributed to our outstanding team working in parallel with our clients,” said Dan Kasper, CEO.
We’ve doubled our revenue and client base, each year, for the last three years.”
How They’re Growing: “We are currently in the process of rebranding and completely overhauling our platform to pioneer the evolution of the rewards and recognition space. Furthermore, we have a new product launching in early 2020 that will make employee connection and appreciation an even bigger component of our software.”
“It’s incredibly rewarding for all of us to conceptualize how this growth and major platform changes are actively helping thousands of employees feel more connected and valued by their team each day,” Kasper said.
What They Do: Pie Insurance aims to disrupt the small business insurance model by making worker’s compensation less expensive, simpler and more transparent. According to their company website, over 80 percent of small businesses overpay worker’s compensation insurance by up to 30 percent and Pie Insurance wants to change that.
How They Got Here: “Pie launched in 2017, raised $61 million in funding, and has already expanded coverage to states all over the nation, while both CEO John Swigart and I stayed in Washington D.C. and Denver, respectively,” said President and Co-founder Dax Craig. “A team of about 15 employees operates from an office in vibrant downtown D.C., and a team of more than 100 works in Denver’s LoDo near Union Station.”
He added: “The decision to expand operations in Denver was easy to make. We raised a significant Series B in March, and as more people leave the busy Bay Area for the Mile High City, tech talent has filled the downtown ecosystem. Now, we need people to help drive our product automation and expansion.”
As more people leave the busy Bay Area for the Mile High City, tech talent has filled the downtown ecosystem.”
How They’re Growing: “In March of 2019, Pie Insurance raised its Series B funding round. At that time, Pie had generated more than $10 million in written premiums. Six months later, that number has jumped to more than $30 million. Likewise, our team has grown by 130 percent and we have an additional 20 open positions in our Denver and Washington, D.C. offices. Pie will continue to grow at a rapid pace into 2020 as we continue geographic expansion and to add new distribution partners,” Craig said.
What They Do: SonderMind is a healthtech company that connects patients seeking mental health care with therapists to support them. Their software offers an integrated provider network that is easy for consumers to navigate in order to find a therapist that takes their insurance.
How They Got Here: “SonderMind started with the mission of closing gaps in mental healthcare for people seeking care and the therapists looking to support them, said Co-Founder and CEO Mark Frank.“Three years later, we have become a network of over 400 therapists serving thousands of clients across Colorado, Texas and Arizona. In the next year, we’ll be building out our team to better support the growth of our therapist network and our expanding client base.”
Connecting people to the help they need and enabling them to use their insurance is the core mission.”
How They’re Growing: “SonderMind is preparing for an extremely exciting 2020,” Frank said. “Not only will we be expanding our presence in Texas and Arizona, but we’ll also be adding many new product features and services. Our goal is to further build out the SonderMind Solution to the amazing therapists in our network with expansions in telehealth, our therapist portal and other exciting products to continue enabling them to focus on serving their clients.”
He added: “More than half of Americans have sought mental health treatment for themselves or others in the past year. Eighty percent of them can’t afford therapy without using their insurance benefits. Connecting people to the help they need and enabling them to use their insurance is the core mission of SonderMind. Our continued growth allows us to pursue bigger initiatives that will allow for more people to get the care they need.”
What They Do: CyberGRX helps businesses assess the security risks of third-party vendors. Their assessment data and analytics helps enterprises secure their ecosystem, while helping both third parties and enterprises execute third-party risk assessments quickly and cost-effectively.
How They Got Here: “CyberGRX was formed out of a clear, unaddressed market need,” said CEO and Founder Fred Kneip. “A market that relied on constantly replicated one-to-one exchanges of cyber risk information, begging for a one-to-many exchange. But exchanges are extraordinarily difficult to build from scratch. That motivated our team and inspired the passion and commitment to build a market-changing solution over the past few years. Now, with the exchange established and thriving, pent- up demand is driving more companies to find us each day and growth has been dramatic.”
CyberGRX was formed out of a clear, unaddressed market need.”
How They’re Growing: “In 2019 we began to establish large enterprise relationships, including several Fortune 20 customers,” Kneip said. “ The one-to-many network effect is now driving other large enterprise organizations toward CyberGRX, and in 2020 we are staffing up to accommodate that demand. We are also being pulled internationally and establishing offices in Europe and Australia. It is especially exciting to see the growth in our exchange increasingly reflect the global interconnectedness of the economy.”