Colorado Companies to Watch 2015: Consumer Goods/Lifestyle Products
CONSUMER GOODS/LIFESTYLE PRODUCTS
Cloud 9 Living Inc.
Boulder – cloud9living.com – Founded: 2005
They say the gift of giving far overshadows receiving rewards from others. But Cloud 9 Living goes one step further and suggests the gift of an experience trumps that of physical belongings. The small company has partnered with more than 600 experience providers to craft memorable moments with more than 1,800 offerings, from becoming a Top Gun pilot for a day to ninja lessons to wine tasting and hot air balloon rides. In 2014, Cloud 9 was ranked No. 16 on Outside magazine’s annual “Best Places to Work” list. This year, the company predicts it will hit more than $7 million in revenues and grow its team 17 full-time employees.
Worth Watching: Cloud 9 will focus on mobile, attempting to address and support customers who are looking to book experiences in real time, and of course, add to its portfolio new experience options available nationwide.
Denver – flylowgear.com – Founded: 2007
Flylow was recognized by Snow Sports Industries of America (SIA) in 2015 as the fastest growing outerwear brand in the country.
Dan Abrams and Greg Steen, two longtime Colorado skiers, formed Flylow to design outerwear for skiing based on their experiences with gear that didn’t meet their needs in the backcountry. The team at Flylow constructs gear for “the new age of skiing,” with light, easy-to-transport, comfort-focused products that can hold up through demanding terrain. Flylow matches the quality and functionality of mountaineering gear with the burly requirements of hard-core skiers. Abrams says the team prides itself on the availability of powder in Colorado, as Flylow receives samples and engages in research and development all 12 months of the year and tests its gear on real snow.
“I think that what our customers are responding to is that our product is really user-driven; we’re a young company that actually creates gear that we use, as opposed to letting people in a boardroom try to generate revenue ... our gear has a little more function and is a little more connected with the real end-user,” Abrams says.
Though, like the weather, economic times ebb and flow, the U.S. ski industry has picked up speed, demonstrating resiliency during the 2008 recession. As such, sales are up an average 45 percent year-over-year the past four ski seasons.
WORTH WATCHING: At nine full-time employees and going strong, Flylow is looking to ramp up its business. In 2016, the outerwear brand plans to launch a spring/summer line to include apparel needed for warmer seasons in the mountains.
The Fat Bike Co.
Colorado Springs – fatbike.com – Founded: 2013
As so many startups have before, The Fat Bike Co. formed out of a garage after Alaska native, college student and mountain biker Adam Miller let his professor Steve Kaczmarek take his fat bike out for a spin. The bikes have gained traction almost immediately, garnering industry buzz and impressive sales.
All bikes are custom-built using hand tools rather than automated assembly. The 21.5-pound carbon-fiber “Borealis” – Fat Bike’s first major project – took “Best of Show” honors at Interbike, the world’s second-largest bike industry trade show in Las Vegas. Orders for the light frameset models came pouring in by the time Fat Bike’s team returned to its Colorado Springs home base. Since, the Borealis Yampa has made an entrance into the market.
Turnagain Components is the other side of The Fat Bike Co., currently making fat bike rims and rim strips, with expanded offerings in the works.
The Fat Bike Co. has grown its employee base in a short time, knocking down a wall and doubling available workspace.
Though manufacturing takes place overseas, assembly is 100 percent completed in Colorado Springs. The vintage brick assembly facility boasts floor-to-ceiling red, yellow, black and white 4-inch rims to attract visits from a growing regional biking community. Dozens stop by weekly at Fat Bike Co.’s headquarters. A handful of assemblers add rack mounts, pull wide-tire rims from inventory and install cable routing and steering mechanics.
The Fatbike Co. is dedicated to designing and producing the lightest and most technically advanced fat bikes and components in the world. It sells in more than 40 states and 20 countries.
KEEP WATCHING FOR: The Fat Bike Co. will continue to expand its customer base around the world, with beach communities as the next target. The sport biz is as outgrowing its current facilities, so stay tuned.
Odell Brewing Co.
Fort Collins – odellbrewing.com – Founded: 1989
34th — That is Odell Brewing Co.’s standing among microbreweries in the U.S.
200 to roughly 3,400 — That is the spike in number of microbreweries that’s occurred in the U.S. since 1989, when Odell Brewing Co. officially set up shop.
Before that surge in Colorado and beyond, husband-wife duo Doug and Wynne Odell made the move to Fort Collins from Seattle, took their home-brewed batches up a notch and went commercial. “It was a total lifestyle play,” says Wynne. More than 25 years later, the company has grown to nearly 100 people and has been profitable every year since inception. The beer biz has invested $17 million in building and production updates during the past four years, including a bump up in capacity from 80,000 barrels annually to 300,000 distributed currently to 11 states and England. Odell has garnered a reputation for innovative recipes, powerful business management, high employee engagement and solid ethics.
KEEP WATCHING FOR: Wynne Odell describes three major trends and predictions for the craft brewing biz:
Major domestic brewers such as Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors continue to buy up handcrafted breweries. This changes the market value of the local, independent guys.
A wide array of private equity is eyeing the micro beer marketplace, infusing breweries with a lot of cash and changing the identify of the individual organizations in the industry.
The state’s retail liquor license regulations will be on the debate table yet again in the not-so-distant future.
Moreover, adding new states is something Odell has kept in its back pocket, looking at distributing beyond its current footprint while maintaining deep and meaningful connections.
Grateful Bread Co.
Golden – gratefulbread.com – Founded: 2007
There are Dead Heads ... and then there are bread heads. Though carb-loading is the habit we love to hate in true 21st century, health-centric fashion, Grateful Bread’s baguettes, pretzel buns and lavender sourdough boules are worth the indulgence.
The artisan baked goods are sought after by the best-known chefs around the Front Range.
Since bread is often the first impression for diners, Jeff Cleary – who once cooked for Julia Child at his former Denver restaurant – took his culinary background to the high-end bakery market in 2007, using only natural and organic ingredients, including 100 percent American-grown, non-GMO wheat flour, unlike many machine-heavy, cost-cutting bakeries. Cleary’s motto from day one has been to produce a high-quality product consistently, and the business will fall into place. And sure enough the family-owned bread biz has been a hit, popular among all of the 2013 and 2014 Denver James Beard Award semifinalists and Denver’s only James Beard award-winning chef. Cleary’s wife, Kathy Mullen, Grateful Bread’s client ambassador, estimates the company turns away 95 percent of its potential clients in order to keep its focus.
Worth Watching: Expanding wholesale production and the grocery market. Grateful Bread ordered a new flourmill from Austria so the baking team can mill specialty flours. The food firm is also building a test kitchen in its new space, and Cleary intends to put out a cookbook.
The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Denver – theinfinitemonkeytheorem.com – Founded: 2008
The Infinite Monkey Theorem, an urban winery, has redefined a beverage with simple yet innovative packaging. Located in Denver’s artsy River North (RiNo) district, the team seeks to produce wine that is unpretentious, accessible and environmentally sound. Inside its 1,600-square-foot Wine Lab tasting room, guests nibble small plates and sip red, white and moscato wine from cans that slip out of a vending machine and taps behind the bar. While it may seem too casual to be cool, IMT has earned critical acclaim with its variety “The 100th Monkey,” which received an 89-point rating from Wine Spectator, the highest rating for a Colorado wine.
WATCH OUT FOR: The grand opening of Infinite Monkey Theorem’s second location in Austin, Texas, set for late summer-early fall. The winemaker will continue to concentrate on its canned products and processes moving forward as well.
Wallaroo Hat Co.
Boulder – wallaroohats.com – Founded: 1998
In Colorado, where the sun shines 300-plus days a year, woman-owned Wallaroo Hat Co. aims to fashionably protect exposed skin with its colorful, crushable fabric hats. Equal parts form and function, Wallaroo Hat Co. originated after an Australian adventure with a mission to eradicate skin cancer. To combat the uptick in melanoma, the company creates fashion-forward headwear, manufactured in China. Small but nimble, Wallaroo began a 1 percent sun protection campaign, committing a percentage of its profits each year to organizations that promote skin cancer education, research and prevention. The organization also became a Certified Benefit corporation, meeting a threshold for sustainable practices.
WATCH FOR: The team will begin offering dressier headwear, hoping to capture a new market share. Though a sun-protective clothing line has been requested, Wallaroo will remain concentrated on hats indefinitely.
Blue Moose of Boulder
Lafayette – bluemooseofboulder.com – Founded: 1997
Finding its way above the fray of natural food products based in Boulder County, Blue Moose crafts a full line of flavorful, fresh spreads under its self-titled brand, as well as Ciolo. Distributed and sold at retailers ranging from Whole Foods to Costco, Blue Moose focuses on quality and the best method to introduce its products to new audiences. The team receives numerous requests daily from customers looking to purchase its products and has worked diligently to extend the shelf life of its spreads, dips and other products from 25 to 90 days.These innovations and investments have positioned the business to grow by 30 percent this year and continue on that trajectory for several years to come.
WATCH OUT FOR: Blue Moose is in the process of expanding its product portfolio as well as retail partners outside of the Rocky Mountain region and increase its sales team to serve markets where requests have been made for Blue Moose products. The company’s current production facility will enable the team to grow three to four times its current size.
Boulder – buybamboobies.com – Founded: 2009
Bamboobies believes that providing new mothers with better, healthier solutions to common breastfeeding challenges can improve building a parent-child relationship. Bamboobies makes eco-friendly breastfeeding support products for modern moms.
The company is continually expanding its product line, just launching new Bamboobies EcoPure Premium Disposable Nursing Pads, made from environmentally friendly bamboo, antimicrobial and antibacterial components. Many of the products are made in Colorado, and have created jobs for manufacturing partners in La Porte, Loveland, Englewood and Boulder, meaning higher-quality products, a more stable and flexible supply chain and happier distributors and customers. Regardless of where manufacturing is taking place, the team has begun to take orders of up to 1.5 million nursing pads, and can insist on organic, certified raw materials and safe working conditions.
KEEP WATCHING: Bamboobies will launch in Target stores this summer.
Crazy Mountain Brewing Co.
Edwards – crazymountainbrewery.com – Founded: 2010
Rather than stick it out in high-rises in the chaos of city life, husband-wife team Kevin and Marisa Selvy combined their love of the outdoors and adventurous pursuits with the beverage-of-choice for laid-back living. Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. – based in the Vail Valley – is undergoing major expansion this year, requiring no new infrastructure or procurement of any new equipment. In 2011, the team was approached by Breckenridge Brewery, which was in the planning phase for a large facility build-out and offered the rights to purchase their old space, giving Crazy Mountain the opportunity to grow into one of the top 40 breweries by size in the country. The new brew facility is slated to open in quarter two of this year. The beer business has also been hard at work establishing a distribution network that will take distribution from 18 states to 40.
Worth Watching: Crazy Mountain forecasts that with the pending expansion, the company will see an 800 percent growth potential in the next three to four years. The brew masters plan to expand distribution to the following new markets in the next quarter: Chicago, Missouri, Indiana, George, Kentucky, Arizona, Pennsylvania, United Kingdom and Spain. This brings total distribution to 19 states and seven countries.
Boulder – skratchlabs.com – Founded: 2012
Mission: To provide people with inspiration, life skills and products to take better care of themselves and their families.
Method: In 2008, Dr. Allen Lim was working with the Garmin Professional Cycling team as its director of sports science, preparing cyclists for the Tour de France. He noticed that many of his riders were watering down sports drinks and complaining about the available energy bars. So, starting from scratch, Lim began testing recipes, traveling around the globe with a rice cooker and an electric frying pan to prepare fresh food and diluted sports drinks. To address the bigger issue – teaching athletes fundamental life skills to feel and perform better – Lim teamed up with Chef Biju Thomas and wrote a cookbook called “The Feed Zone.” Recently the Boulder-based business has introduced a cookie mix and fruit drops to Skratch Labs offerings. Whether gearing up for fierce competition, adventure sports, or plain old everyday life with its educational and product offerings, Skratch Labs intends to bridge the gap between an over-engineered sports nutrition world and market demand for people to better themselves.
KEEP WATCHING: Skratch Labs is looking for the “right people” to grow the company and keep up with demand. The existing and future team is expected to maintain the company’s mission and focus on the journey without compromising just to grow.
Denver – 3dlacrosse.com – Founded: 2009
There are several signs that lacrosse is becoming a go-to sport, especially here where the Colorado Mammoth topped the National Lacrosse League for attendance in 2013, two area colleges launched new programs (CSU Pueblo men’s Division III and the University of Colorado women’s Division I), and the University of Denver men’s lacrosse team captured its first NCAA title in May — after the quarterfinals were held at Sports Authority Field.
3D Lacrosse is capitalizing on the new popularity, specializing in training for individuals and teams, events and tournaments, applying uniform terminology, drills and consistency across a national platform used by hundreds of contract coaches. The company has jumped from 14 full-time employees in 2011 to roughly 75 projected by the end of this year, while revenues have spiked from $2.5 million to an anticipated $17.5 million in the same time frame.
WATCH OUT FOR: 3D Lacrosse moving into more markets.
Elevation Beer Co.
Poncha Springs – elevationbeerco.com – Founded: 2011
Living the dream – four friends decided to go into business together on a cool Colorado night over a few beers and a backyard barbeque in Poncha Springs, a community of roughly 500 people just minutes from Salida, the Arkansas River headwaters and jumping-off point to more than seven 14,000-foot peaks.
The mission behind the award-winning Elevation Beer Co. – a microbrewery specializing in high-end artisan beers made in an outdoor nirvana – is all about the process, embracing the opportunity to learn and hone the craft. The team ranges from biologists to accountants and Cicerones – the equivalent of a sommelier in beer terms. The way the crew categorizes its beers is modeled after the way ski runs at nearby Monarch Ski Area are graded by difficulty. A “green circle” beer is considered a beginner-level amber or kolsch. The more complex, adventurous beers are dubbed black or double-black diamond.
Elevation has completed multiple expansions in less than three years, adding three 60bbl tanks to its cellar, including two fermenters and a brite tank from American-owned and operated Marks Metal Works. This growth gave Elevation another 30 percent capacity, allowing it to open distribution to Washington State.
WORTH WATCHING: Elevation’s main focus is growing within the state of Colorado and working toward national distribution. Another primary concern is creating sustainable careers, participating and contributing to the community.