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August 2014 Issue

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GenXYZ 2013

By Gigi Sukin

What they lack in experience, these 25 top young pros make up for in drive, determination and ingenuity. In a survey conducted in early 2013 by online job network Beyond.com, roughly 6,000 job seekers and human resource professionals nationwide revealed that while more than 80 percent of Millennials are optimistic about finding employment, hiring managers are unconvinced they’ve got what it takes. “Young professionals have energy, enthusiasm and ideas, but often lack the experience and respect to be heard,” said Dan Kobler, co-founder of Denver’s Mile High Young

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Articles

GenXYZ: Michael Davis, 35

Attorney, Law Office of Michael R. Davis (MRD Law)

By Nora Caley

Davis says he was defiant and opinionated as a kid, but that helped him become an attorney concentrating on making an impact with the little guys. Why did you start your own practice? I worked in politics for a long time, and I worked for big law firms for huge clients. When I was a kid and I dreamed of being a lawyer, I did not dream of the minutiae, of pushing papers. I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives. If a huge corporation loses $5 million, it’s just a bad day. If a small client loses $5 million, it’s game-over. What type of law do you practice? I help small clients navigate the legal world, the government and regulatory world ... and the crisis communications world. How? A lot of startups to midsize. . .

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GenXYZ: Dalton Sprouse, 33

Chief operating officer, The Center for American Values

By Maria Martin

Sprouse brings his passion for leadership to the Center, where he helps the organization raise funds and direct the charge to create character-development programs for youth. What are some of the values that you look for in an organization with “Values” in its name? Our core values aren’t new. We tie everything back to honor, integrity and patriotism. My boss is a Medal of Honor recipient. I couldn’t ask for more. What did you want to be when you were growing up? In elementary school, a teacher asked everyone in the class [that question]. I answered, ‘I don’t know what I want to be, but I know I want to be successful.’ She told me that wasn’t a good answer. To this day, I disagree. Was the road to. . .

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GenXYZ: Jeremy Atencio, 39

Attorney/partner, BakerHostetler

By Nora Caley

By day, Atencio represents corporations; by night, he advocates for the underdogs. How did you go into law? I worked in Gov. Roy Romer’s office and then I went to work for US West, which is now CenturyLink. My job was to lobby before the Federal Communications Commission and different state regulatory commissions. I worked with a team of businesspeople and lawyers to craft our positions. I enjoyed working with lawyers, and a lot of the work was similar to what lawyers do, so I said, why not go for it. For 3 1/2 years, I attended the University of Denver Sturm College of Law at night and worked at Qwest during the day. What kind of law do you practice? I advise business clients when they want to buy or sell their company or. . .

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GenXYZ: Saul Garlick, 29

Founder & CEO, ThinkImpact

By Nora Caley

A family trip turned into a life-changer for Garlick, who decided to start a nonprofit, then a for-profit. How did ThinkImpact come about? When I was a student at East High School [in Denver], we went on a family trip to South Africa because my parents are from there. We visited a rural village and I started thinking about my role in society, the apartheid legacy, and how South Africa is really well-known for its economic inequality. That was jarring for me. So for the next seven years I built a nonprofit that built development projects in Africa. Why did you change it to a for-profit? I learned a lot about the complexities of nonprofits, and about donors wanting to provide input. I think if you can generate revenue, you should try.. . .

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GenXYZ: Shane Gring, 26

CEO, BOULD LLC

By Nora Caley

Gring turned his frustration while trying to find a job in architecture into BOULD, which educates professionals about building green homes. What inspired you to start BOULD? After I graduated from Miami University in Ohio, I really struggled to find work in architecture. I was with AmeriCorps for a year, and I ended up in Colorado, where I went to work for Habitat for Humanity. I saw an opportunity not only to build better homes for families, but to educate people. I came up with this program that would teach professionals about green building while helping nonprofits. How do you combine education and building? We have community and professional programs so that builders can earn LEED credits. Our newest product is the Green Building Hackathon.. . .

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GenXYZ: Bart Lorang, 34

CEO and co-founder, FullContact Inc.

By Maria Martin

In 2010, Lorang co-founded FullContact, a 2011 Techstars company. What was the inspiration for FullContact? My address book was something I struggled with my entire career, and I knew a lot of people and businesses struggled, as well. That experience crystalized years back in grad school. The woman who is now my wife had this perfect address book with titles, addresses, contact info, pictures. It was immaculate, but she had 180 contacts. I said, ‘I want that, but I have 5,000 contacts …’ So basically, I founded the company out of laziness. So no more outdated numbers and incorrect addresses? Exactly. We bring all your contacts into one place and sync all your different services together. Then we can grab additional information. . .

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GenXYZ: April Lambatos, 31

Co-owner, Footers Catering

By Maria Martin

In the 3 1/2 years April Lambatos and her husband have owned Footers, it has grown revenue by 50 percent and won numerous awards. Footers is a second-generation family business started by Jimmy Lambatos. When you and your husband, Jimmy’s son Anthony, bought the business, did you worry that your work life would spill into personal time? I oversee the operations and my husband loves the financial side of the business. We make a great team. And it’s been our No. 1 priority since we decided to work together that our relationship will always come first. But we’ve been able to accomplish so much because we can talk about work at home. The catering business is known for long, grueling days. How does your company manage its reputation of. . .

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GenXYZ: David Levin, 36

President and CEO, Four Winds Interactive

By Maria Martin

Levin has been a key influencer and developer of the digital signage market since 2005. Why the sign business? I could see there would be a huge demand for digital signage, and we think we’re still at the early stage of the curve. We have hundreds of hotels using us, and look at all the schools, airports and other businesses that could benefit from our service. How do you go about being the industry leader? By having the best products and the best people. We’ve been here for eight years, and we’ve grown significantly every year. We have employees in 10 countries outside of the U.S., and we opened a satellite office in Miami. You started this business from the ground up. Did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur in. . .

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GenXYZ: Rob Carpenter, 28

CEO and co-founder, AppIt Ventures

By Nora Caley

Carpenter develops apps for small businesses with limited budgets. Were you always interested in technology? I wanted to build video games. I grew up in Dillingham, Alaska, which was very secluded. I went to Northern Michigan University because it had one of the top three video game graphics departments. How’d you make your way to Colorado? After college, I moved to Orlando, Fla., and I worked in commercial real estate, just as the market collapsed. I was good at sales, and I raised $100,000 from investors and I started doing property renovations. I got tired of flat swampy Florida, and I had a friend who lived in Colorado, so I moved here in 2010. And how’d you make your way to making apps? I worked as a consultant, helping. . .

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GenXYZ: Randy Watkins, 36

Partner, Denver-based Anton Collins Mitchell LLP (ACM).

By Maria Martin

In 2010, Watkins was admitted as ACM’s youngest partner. He continues to serve his industry as the president of the board of directors for the Northern Colorado Chapter of the Colorado Society of CPAs. Was being an accountant always the plan? I grew up wanting to be an engineer. My dad was a CPA but he never pushed me in that direction. In high school, however, I took an accounting class and did well. So my dad encouraged me to go to UNC (University of Northern Colorado), which was his alma mater. Have you ever regretted the decision? Not for a minute. I get to see the ins and outs of so many interesting businesses. How did you get your start after college? I could have gone and worked at my dad’s firm, but he was wise enough not. . .

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An MBA can help…

...but it's not for everyone

By Maria Martin

A career tending to the needs of animals gave Joanne Brownhill an edge when she started a new career in the human health care field. When she developed allergies to pets after 14 years as a veterinarian and changed careers, she realized how much she still had to learn. The director of knowledge development at Truven Health Analytics decided that earning an executive MBA degree from the University of Denver could fill in the gaps. “I knew a lot about the medical side, but I was lacking in knowledge about the business of business,” Brownhill says. Her company, which delivers information and analytic tools to the health care industry, provided some financial support, as well as flexibility in her schedule. When she went into the program, she hoped to learn more about budgeting and finance. “I learned about that quantitative side, but what really surprised me was. . .

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Colorado cool stuff: Hot Straw, Inka, Poplets & Winter Session

By Eric Peterson

HOT STRAW Dawn Miracle was working in Parkinson’s disease research last year and found that straws were perfect for patients with neurological disorders. Then she learned drinking hot coffee or tea with a straw had a serious downside. “Normal straws leach chemicals into hot liquids,” says Miracle. “Nothing existed, so I invented the Hot Straw. It’s free of harmful chemicals.” Soon she learned that the straws made it easier to drink coffee without staining teeth, and started selling the product in coffee shops and dental offices. Today it’s a full-time job for Miracle, who uses Colorado-based contract manufacturers and gives back 5 percent of sales to Parkinson’s research. And customers love it, she adds. “I get. . .

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GenXYZ: Alexandra “Andra” Pool, 32

Chief operating officer, Greenhouse Scholars

By Maria Martin

Pool develops innovative ways to grow the nonprofit organization, which supports high-performing, under-resourced scholars. What’s the mission of Greenhouse Scholars? We started in 2004 with the big vision to change education in this country. Only 11 percent of kids from low-income families go to college and we’re passionate about changing that. Is it a scholarship program? Yes, but it’s more than that. We have about 450 volunteers, speakers and mentors, and thousands of donors. Our approach to improving our individual scholar is long-term. I can see now how their lives are changing because of our work, and how they’re changing the communities they live in. Do you plan to expand? We started with Colorado students, though. . .

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Executive edge: Niki Frangos Tuttle

Denver lawyer’s work runs from pro sports to Oprah

By Lynn Bronikowski

On New Year’s Eve 2010, Denver lawyer Niki Frangos Tuttle worked into the night on an intriguing television deal before arriving late to a dinner party chock full of celebrities. It was the launch party for the Oprah Winfrey Network, and the partner in Hogan Levells’ Denver office had just cemented programming contracts for the network that would go live the next day. “Oprah got up out of her chair and said, ‘I know who you are,’ gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping her with her network,” Tuttle said. “She is a very gracious and genuine woman and it was a unique opportunity to work on something that was her vision – a network that embodied who she is and what she believed in. To be associated. . .

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GenXYZ: Shawn Hansson, 35

Founder and CEO, Logic Integration

By Mike Dano

Hansson turned his love of electronics and A/V equipment into a business that counts the likes of DISH Network, Sprint, Costco and others as customers. You have a minor in music. Was rock star your first career choice? No. Actually in 2000 I toured with a group all over the U.S. and met my wife; she was the singer and I was the drummer. We were helping youth who were abused and addicted to substances, and counseling them. So we’d do big rock concerts and then we’d hang out after and basically encourage kids, help them find help. We did that for a year. Then we got married, moved to Colorado, worked for a couple of other companies and started this company. On the Logic Integration website, you’re described as a “boy. . .

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GenXYZ: Brook Eddy, 39

Chief executive officer and founder, Bhakti Chai

By Nora Caley

Eddy knew her tea was a success when café owners in Boulder told her their customers were requesting Bhakti Chai. Why did you start Bhakti Chai? I started brewing and selling chai in 2006 because there was nothing else organic and spicy on the market. I made Bhakti Chai on my stove at home and it was getting attention, so I went door-to-door to the cafés in Boulder, trying to sell it. The first place I went, they took an order. What challenges did you have to overcome? I had done small business before. I was a writing coach, and I did massage, and I just put up fliers. This was definitely a new world. Mostly for the first year  I heard, ‘Oh we [already] have chai.’ So how could you competitively respond to that? I. . .

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GenXYZ: Madison Carter, 27

Financial Adviser, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Founder, On the Pulse LLC

By Nora Caley

Carter runs a consulting firm to help form strategic partnerships, all the while working as a financial adviser. What led you to your current career path? When I went to Boston College I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I tried to propose a major in entrepreneurship, and eventually I decided on an economics major. After junior year I got an internship with Smith Barney in Denver, and I was hired full-time after I graduated in 2008. Smith Barney merged with Morgan Stanley. What does entrepreneurship have to do with being a financial adviser? Your success is dependent on you. The resources of the firm can help, but like a business owner, if I work hard and continuously enhance my expertise and services, I will. . .

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Sports biz: We are what we watch

By Stewart Schley

In his introduction to the 2001 book, Fast Food Nation, The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, writer Eric Schlosser makes a gentle suggestion: Be an informed eater. “People should know what lies behind the shiny, happy surface of every fast food transaction,” Schlosser writes. “They should know what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns. As the old saying goes: You are what you eat.” For me, the National Football League’s recent concussion saga evokes a similar sentiment. What I’ve learned from the storyline is that there are two football games being played in the NFL every Thursday evening, Sunday afternoon or Monday night. There is the game I watch on TV – rich with pageantry and color, beautifully captured in dazzling slow-motion replays, scripted to segue gracefully into interludes for advertisements. And there is the game. . .

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GenXYZ: Amanda Mountain, 37

Regional director, Rocky Mountain PBS/ED Tim Gill Center for Public Media

By Maria Martin

Mountain has dramatically increased revenue in the three years she’s worked for Rocky Mountain PBS. What inspired you to start the Tim Gill Center? A big part of what we want to do is create a pipeline for citizens to tell stories that wouldn’t be told. We partner with libraries and universities, provide a public media lab, and offer access to equipment so people can be empowered. What would someone see if they walked into the Center? A lot of people use the space to collaborate and learn more about their community. We also have a partnership with our NPR affiliate, producing a show called “Off Topic.” Do you feel that traditional media is failing to share stories effectively. I don’t think people who watch TV,. . .

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GenXYZ: Deirdre Wildman, 38

Hospitalitarian and senior event designer, Four Five One Events/Catering By Design

By Maria Martin

As the top designer at Four Five One Events, Wildman produces more than 100 events annually throughout Colorado and the United States. When did the catering bug bite? I was a stay-at-home mom in my early 20s, and out of boredom, I found out how to sew, cook, and I loved to throw parties – you know all that Martha Stewart stuff. One day, someone said to me, ‘You know, you should be in the business of entertaining.’ After that, I was with Three Tomatoes Catering for seven years. And you’ve been in the biz ever since? I opened a restaurant for a few years, but I missed the creativity of catering, so I came back. My educational background was in journalism and marketing, but with opening and ultimately selling a restaurant, I. . .

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GenXYZ: Alexis Boian, 37

Director of Philanthropic Services, First Western Trust

By Nora Caley

Boian says it is unusual for a bank to hire someone who knows philanthropy, not banking. What do you do as director of philanthropic services? I help nonprofits with their banking needs and help clients with their philanthropic giving. Philanthropy is part of wealth planning typically. You think of retirement and estate planning, and philanthropy is part of that. What inspired you to do this work? After college I moved to New York and worked there for five years. I was there on Sept. 11, 2001 and I watched the towers come down. I started the September 11 Quilt Project. The quilt is an American flag made of panels of cloth from around the world. The flag toured the country and got a lot of attention, and it gave me a strong understanding of how I. . .

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Tech startup: TextUs.Biz

By Eric Peterson

INITIAL LIGHT BULB Before starting TextUs.Biz, Ted Guggenheim, Andrew Kimmell and Mike Hickman worked together at Rage Digital, the Boulder app-maker best known for its virtual cowbell used during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The trio witnessed the mobile app market becoming increasingly saturated and realized that text messaging had not been leveraged to its full potential by the business community. “The whole premise behind TextUs.Biz is we build text-powered apps for business,” explains Guggenheim. “The most ubiquitous form of communication is now text; there are more texts sent than emails.” Apps require some legwork on the part of users, he adds, but not texts. “Everybody text-messages,” says Guggenheim.. . .

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GenXYZ: Kristy Taddonio, 37

President, Mile Hi Specialty Foods, Mile Hi Foods and Mile Hi Bakery

By Maria Martin

Taddonio climbed the ranks of the McDonald’s distribution chain by demonstrating strength in sales and the ability to grow the company. Your family has a rich history in Denver. What are some of the companies Mile Hi businesses work for? In 1956, we were a produce distribution center when McDonald’s asked us to deliver potatoes. Soon, we became their sole distributor. McDonald’s and Starbucks are our biggest customers. Our businesses also partner with Wendy’s, Good Times, Red Robin, Noodles & Company, Quiznos, Chipotle and Einstein Bros. Was it a given that you’d join the business? I’m fourth generation, but no. It wasn’t a given at all. When I was growing up, I didn’t like the business. But. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Kishen Mangat, 39

Director of product management, Cisco Systems Inc.

By Maria Martin

When a giant came knocking, BroadHop happily opened the door. In January, Cisco Systems Inc. acquired the company, a provider of next-generation policy control and service management for carrier networks. Kishen Mangat, who co-founded BroadHop in 2003, says the time was right to make the move. “The market began to consolidate and policy server products were being packaged with adjacent network equipment offerings,” he said. “Cisco was looking for the best technology and a world-class team. BroadHop’s shareholders were looking to solidify our market position. We saw Cisco as the right partner.” Cisco has helped accelerate the business, according to Mangat, one of BroadHop’s three founders. The policy. . .

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The Economist: Ethics and economics

By Tucker Hart Adams

Economists normally don’t deal with issues of morality. We deal with facts and figures and measurable outcomes, leaving it to others to determine what’s right or wrong. But recent stories in the business press have me thinking about an ethical issue that has troubled me for a long time. First the recent stories:  1. The GlaxoSmithKline scandal in China. 2. Walmart’s problems in Mexico. 3. Hollywood studios paying to enter the Chinese film industry. We could go on and on. There are two schools of thought on the issue at hand, referred to as bribery by some and administrative fees or contributions to development or transactions costs by others. The first group argues that bribery equals corruption and only leads to more corruption. It is wrong plain and simple, and must be punished under all circumstances. The other school counters that these payments. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Mitchell Gonzales, 25

President, MGC Services Corp.

By Nora Caley

Mitchell Gonzales thought he wanted to get into the hotel and restaurant management business. He majored in hospitality management his first three years at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, but then he had a realization. “I love to travel, and I take ridiculous amounts of vacation every year, and I wanted to start a hotel,” he says. “Then I realized I wanted to stay in hotels, not work in hotels.” His father owns an electrical contracting business, and his uncles have construction-related businesses; but Gonzales didn’t think he wanted to follow them. Still, most of the work he had done over the years had been in construction, so his prior experience failed to help him earn work. . .

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Rundles wrap up: Freedom?

By Jeff Rundles

I am currently engaged, for the sixth time in my life, in that wonderful rite of passage known as the learner’s permit. I haven’t been this attentive as a passenger in a car since that night about five years ago when, just beginning the return trip after a dinner outing, I suggested to my late-80’s father that it would be a good time to let me have his car keys. Permanently. It wasn’t the first time I had made the suggestion, and I wasn’t the only one, but for some reason this time he said nothing, handed them over, and got in the passenger’s seat. My learning son only does that when it’s time to pull into the garage. That’s what my life has come to: I pull out of the garage, and I pull into the garage,. . .

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2013 Top 250 Private Companies

Energy leader seizes No. 1

By Gigi Sukin

In an interesting turn of events, the top four spots on the annual ColoradoBiz Top 250 Private Companies list were each knocked down a notch, as energy heavyweight DCP Midstream stole the top spot for 2013. “Our company has grown tremendously since the recession,” said Wouter van Kempen, board chairman, president and CEO of DCP Midstream LLC, and CEO of DCP Midstream Partners LP, the publicly traded counterpart of the organization. “Last year we saw the largest organic capital deployment in our history – more than $2.5 billion in growth.” Though DCP’s year-on-year revenue was down for 2012 by more than 20 percent, the Denver-based natural gas gatherer and processor’s roughly $10 billion revenues were. . .

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GenXYZ: Christopher Hemming, 35

President, C10 Exclusive Executive Network

By

Strategic connector, Hemming is the president of C10, a private network of C-level businesspeople and technology leaders that hosts exclusive events in cities across the U.S. You started as a marketing guy for a software company selling telecom solutions to the Department of Defense. How did you transition to networker extraordinaire? We did a lot of travel to different DoD sites. While I was sitting on an airplane one night I happened to be next to a guy who looked important, but I didn’t know who he was. I was going through the airline magazine and I saw a picture of the guy sitting next to me. I turned to him and asked, ‘Is this you?’ And he said, ‘Yup, good to meet you. Doug Parker, CEO of US Airways.’ I turned to. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Matthew Taylor, 38

CEO, Mercury Payment Systems

By Maria Martin

Listen to Matt Taylor talk about his business for a while and you realize his success largely resulted from taking some well-educated guesses. “The whole idea of Mercury was based on a couple of big bets,” says Taylor, whose company, Durango-based Mercury Payment Systems, is a leading provider of payment processing and revenue-generating solutions. “First: that retailers would choose bundled software systems for their countertops and leave behind stand-alone technologies, including their old cash registers and credit card terminals. Bet number two was this: If you believe a small business owner is not going to hire in-house operations, marketing or technology staff, then they will continue to rely on a third party as a trusted. . .

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Executive MBA program offerings promote corporate advancement

With Washington University’s Denver move, four Colorado schools offer accredited EMBAs

By Maria Martin

Not many would argue that a candidate with an MBA has a leg up on the job hunt. A master of business administration graduate has honed skills in areas including finance, human resources, information technology and economics. Put an “E” in front of the MBA and that degree becomes increasingly distinctive. When St. Louis-based Washington University moved into the Denver market this year, it brought the number of universities offering accredited executive MBA options up to four in Colorado. The University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the University of Denver have long-established programs in the state. And they’ve soldiered on even during the recession, when the number of companies that fully or partially supported their managers earning such degrees dropped off. One of the unique aspects of EMBA programs, say university leaders, is that companies often. . .

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Denver Biz Tech Expo aims to educate, connect

Not just for techies

By Eric Peterson

The Denver Biz Tech Expo, a co-production of Colorado Technology Partners, a local consortium of IT consulting firms, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, will be held at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver’s Lowry neighborhood Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Navigating the Cloud”. “Many companies are asking what is the ‘Cloud’, do I need it, and how can I use it”,” says David DeCamillis, president of the Denver Biz Tech Expo. “Our goal is to showcase what the ‘Cloud’ is and how companies can adopt the ‘Cloud” to grow and improve their business.” DeCamillis, whose day-job is heading up business development at Denver’s Platte River Networks, says exhibitors will include representatives from such government agencies as the Small Business. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Leah Pilcer, 26

Senior marketing and brand manager, Smashburger

By

It’s not uncommon for someone to make a little money waiting tables, flipping burgers or juggling employee schedules to help pay for college. It’s a little more unusual for that same person to fall in love with the business. “I started in restaurants early on to save money for college and it was an environment I loved,” said Pilcer, who graduated with a degree in business. “It was fast-paced and that was part of what drew me.” Pilcer noticed a niche market for “fast casual,” and started working with Panera Bread, before moving onto Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill. When the opportunity came to work with Smashburger, she gobbled it right up. “I knew the better burger business would take. . .

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