50 Colorado Companies to Watch in 2018
The statewide program has been fueling the economic fire for a decade
They’ve got game, gumption and a get-it-done attitude that pushed them to the top of a mountain of great businesses. This year’s field of Colorado Companies to Watch (CCTW) represents 37 industries from tech to plumbing to shoe-making and everything in between. They are expected to have more than $618 million in economic impact this year, up 126 percent over the year before. Their employee rosters of 1,658 people in 2017 is expected to grow by about 30 percent in 2018 in the Denver metro area and across the state.
They stand out for their excellence on every level, be it revenue growth, employee satisfaction or commitment to giving back. And they have other distinctions: Three of the 50 winners (keep reading to find out which ones) pitched to the big fish on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” One walked away without an offer, one rejected an offer and one took the offer — but in keeping with the best tradition of CCTW, they all used the opportunity to improve and grow.
This year also marks CCTW’s 10th anniversary, and the decade’s numbers are impressive: The 500 companies honored during that time have generated more than 19,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in revenue.
“What we set out to create over 10 years ago, a year-long program to recognize and elevate second-stage companies that fuel our economic fire, has become a movement,” says Stephanie Veck, director of the Colorado Workforce Development Council and founding program director of CCTW. “It is now 500 winners strong, a nonprofit organization with a committed working board of directors, hundreds of volunteers, partners and sponsors that have made it a community that empowers second-stage companies to continue to thrive and brings awareness to the great impact they bring to our economy.”
In 2009, in the midst of a global economic recession, CCTW recognized companies with the potential to both survive and thrive, with an inaugural class that included such industry standouts as Justin’s Nut Butter, Oskar Blues Brewery and OtterBox.
“These second-stage companies consistently represented a modest percentage of businesses in the state yet were responsible for nearly a majority of jobs in the state,” says Joy Kitamoriz, partner relationship manager at the Edward Lowe Foundation and CCTW Legacy Board Director. “It wasn’t enough to count jobs or sales as a measure of business success. This program put philanthropy, innovation and workplace culture on par with job creation and revenue generation — recognizing the full impact of a small business on the citizenry and communities of Colorado.”
This year’s class of 50 was selected from more than 1,100 nominees, founded as early as 1976 and as recently as last year. Some, like GitPrime Inc., started with a meeting of minds; others, like Xero Shoes, grew out of an idea that at least one of the founders thought would never work. But regardless of age or origin, all of the 2018 CCTW winners are great businesses with great stories.
Read on for an inside look at the Colorado companies you should be watching.
2018 LIST OF FINALISTS
ABOUT COLORADO COMPANIES TO WATCH
Colorado Companies to Watch is an awards program honoring second-stage companies headquartered in Colorado. The 500 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 community partners from across Colorado.