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Emerging enterprises bolster state's business-friendly brand

50 Colorado Companies to Watch


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Keep your eyes on these guys: The visionaries at Bye Aerospace, whose concept of an electric aircraft no longer elicits that “How long is your extension cord?” joke. The outdoor adventure gurus at Bonsai Design, who are all about giving people the ride of their lives in the wildest ways imaginable. Or the merry pranksters at Catalyst Solutions, who balance the serious side of their work with any reason they can think of to put on a costume.

Every one of this year’s 50 Colorado Companies to Watch winners, culled from 650 nominations, are part of a group as eclectic as they are accomplished, second-stagers with enormous impact in their cities and across the state — from Tailwind Nutrition in Durango to LoCo Food Distribution in Fort Collins to BombBomb in Colorado Springs.

“Colorado Companies to Watch winners represent the best of the best of second-stage companies in our state,” says Colorado Companies to Watch Board Chair Rick Ninneman, manager of strategic partnerships at AmCheck. “The statistics bear out that these companies are truly driving the economic and employment growth in Colorado.”

That economic impact totaled more than $500 million in 2016 and is expected to nudge close to $1 billion this year. The companies employ about 1,600 people, and that’s forecast to become more than 2,100 by year’s end. The winners represent 40 industries, from apparel to engineering to professional services and everything in between. And they’re based in all corners of Colorado; fully 30 percent come from outside the Denver metro area.

The selection committee uses a sophisticated grading metric to skim off the Colorado Companies to Watch cream, Ninneman says. “Having gone through that scrutiny about not only the fiscal success of their business but also whether they are good stewards of their employees, the community and the environment — that’s what makes them worthy of this award.”

There are plenty of perks for the winners, but top of the list might be the chance to rub elbows with other up-and-comers.

“Being a part of the Colorado Companies to Watch alumni means being connected with the movers and shakers in small business, government and investment bankers in Colorado,” says Jason Barrow, president of Colorado Companies to Watch alum Luna Gourmet Coffee & Tea Co. “As a 2013 Colorado Companies to Watch winner, Luna Gourmet Coffee has made countless new relationships and matured new business opportunities with other winners.”

But these companies aren’t just helping other companies —

They’re building Colorado’s business brand and attracting more entrepreneurial talent to the state." 

“These companies are helping the reputation of Colorado as being a good place to move or start a business, raise a family, enjoy the Colorado lifestyle — which is good for all of us.”


Colorado Companies to Watch is an awards program honoring second-stage companies headquartered in Colorado. The 450 companies that have been honored since the program’s inception demonstrate high performance in the marketplace or exhibit innovative products or processes. The program is designed to seek businesses from a wide range of industries throughout the state, not just the major metropolitan areas. The 50 companies selected each year make an astounding impact on Colorado's economy by collectively providing thousands of jobs and contributing millions of dollars in revenue. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) launched the program in 2009 in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation and valuable community partners from across Colorado. 
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Lisa Ryckman

Lisa Ryckman is ColoradoBiz's managing editor. Contact her at lryckman@cobizmag.com.

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