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The Educators: Where Learning Should be Going

Colorado companies to Watch: The Colorado companies tackling literacy, preparedness and enlightenment


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The future is now – at least if you ask the following Colorado companies tackling literacy, preparedness and enlightenment.

Questions surrounding the challenges and potential of education are prolific and not without a variety of opportunities and proposed solutions. New models and innovative tools can best instruct future generations, while skills will not be assessed on paper but on performance. 

Here are the Colorado companies passing the test, learning the lessons and making a difference in the lives of children, the curious and more.

Bitsbox

Boulder | Since 2014 | Proprietary learning system

In February 2017, Bitsbox co-founders Scott Lininger and Aidan Chopra appeared on “Shark Tank.” They left the tank without a deal, but in the ensuing month, revenue jumped from $70,000 to more than $200,000. “When 6 million people see you on TV, good things happen,” Chopra says.

Bitsbox gets kids interested in coding and keeps them engaged by creating a monthly experience that encourages them to learn through experimentation, creativity and play. The co-founders are both 40-something dads, but the Bitsbox staff is 60 percent female, with half of management roles women-held, and the company is committed to creating an environment where staff can feel secure about their careers while also having a family.

Pricing on the Bitsbox monthly coding kits is heavily discounted for schools and other educational institutions — by as much as 80 percent, in some cases — and the company regularly visits local schools to do coding workshops for students and teachers. This last holiday season, Bitsbox ran a BOGO — buy one, give one — campaign in support of Children's Hospital Colorado through all of December, making arrangements to deliver as many as 200 coding kits to kids at the hospital with training and support. The company hopes to expand its giving to pediatric hospitals nationwide.

PlayerLync LLC

Englewood | Since 2011 | Software development & sales

If you can dream it, PlayerLync wants to create it. PlayerLync’s modern software solution integrates mobile learning, digital forms, mobile content management and daily operational performance management into one universal solution. Through an underlying mobile content management platform, PlayerLync moves massive amounts of files on and off mobile devices efficiently, without impacting network bandwidth. Workers can access content offline, anywhere they need it.

PlayerLync is dedicated to disrupting traditional high-cost, high-complexity learning models that consumers have struggled with for years. By enabling rich content on mobile devices without taxing expensive and fragile networks, the company brings learning out of the classroom or the back office and into the operational performance environment for customers such as professional sports franchises, top restaurant concepts, field services organizations, health care and global retail companies. The learning industry refers to this as “performance support,” but PlayerLync characterizes it as simply “modern learning.”

Techtonic Group Inc.

Boulder | Since 2006 | Software development & training

Yes, Techtonic Group is a software services company that develops and upgrades new applications and maintains software. But it’s also disrupting who becomes a software developer, and how they do it. The company specifically targets young people who might not be able to afford college and teaches them how to be great software developers.

Qualified candidates who complete a rigorous training move into a software development apprenticeship program that gives them progressively more complicated tasks. After about six months, successful Techtonic Group Apprentices graduate to the status of Junior Developer. During the apprenticeship program, candidates receive a livable wage and work with seasoned developers.

Techtonic Group’s innovative apprenticeship program, certified by the Department of Labor, is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Graduates are now working not just at Techtonic, but at global brands such as Lockheed Martin, Accenture and IBM as well as numerous startups.

"Our apprenticeship program has created a culture of inclusion and mentorship within our company,” CEO Heather Terenzio says. “Our loyalty is off the charts. People show up to work to write code and change the course of people’s lives. What could be better than that?”

SecureSet

Denver | Since 2014 | Education

SecureSet works with industry partners to understand the competencies for entry-level cybersecurity talent, then creates curriculum and labs that will educate individuals accordingly. As a company, SecureSet strives to create a culture of collaboration, learning and "doing good by doing well."

The company has established learning communities inside its organization to help individuals with similar roles improve their performance, enabling the optimization of every employee while allowing the sharing of expertise.

SecureSet provides free security education to individuals looking to learn more, and it works with individuals and companies that want to provide scholarships for students looking to obtain cybersecurity education.

YouSeeU

Loveland | Since 2009 | Assessment & skill development platform

YouSeeU defines innovation as any idea or product feature that supports its goal of helping learners. The company has enhanced its processes over the last 18 months to cement the competitive advantage it has always had through its proprietary technology for the video assessment and soft skill development industry.

One of its structured video workflows, “Question & Answer,” puts learners on the spot to answer questions asynchronously and limits the response time. This elicits off-the-cuff responses that replicate the nature of a real-time conversation, a hot-seat kind of experience that YouSeeU says is unique in the industry.

When it comes to giving back, YouSeeU has participated in a local event called “Slammin' Famine” where employees and their families package thousands of meals for distribution to those in need around the world.

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Lisa Ryckman

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

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