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Colorado Companies to Watch 2016 explore new frontiers

These second-stage businesses innovate on land and in space




Founded: 2013

Base: Boulder

What the company does: Uses drones to deliver agricultural intelligence to increase yields and profits.

The company discovered that the Front Range is a great place to start an agricultural drone business. The region’s deep agricultural skills, anchored by Colorado State University, combined with aerospace expertise from places such as Lockheed Martin and Digital Globe, supply a ready source for assistance, contractors, and staff.

Defining innovation: All Agribotix solutions include FarmLens, the leading cloud-based data analysis and reporting solution for people using drones in agriculture. Outputs include Field Health reports for drone-enabled crop scouting, prescription maps for in-season fertilization, and specialized reporting. The company has processed drone-collected agricultural data from more than 34 countries. 

Game-changer: In 2015, the company signed and shipped products through a major partnership with AGCO, a $7 billion public ag retailer, tapping into its 1,300 dealer network. 

Down the road: The company is expanding its market by shifting from making its own drones to focusing on the software that is required to use anybody’s drone.


Parkifi, Inc.


Founded: 2014

Base: Denver

What the company does: Helps relieve urban traffic congestion by facilitating the hunt for parking spaces through the use of “smart parking sensors”.

Given the state of parking in any big city, it’s tough to believe there are actually more than 100 million parking spaces nationwide. The problem, Parkifi founders Ryan Sullivan and Rishi Malik discovered, was a lack of data. Parkifi’s “smart parking sensors”, installed in spaces in lots and garages, provide parking operators with historical, real-time and predictive analytics about the use of their inventory.

Disruption factor: Parkifi partners mobile applications so drivers can click into the app, and through its sensor technology and Bluetooth connectivity, find an exact parking space closest to their destination. Helping drivers quickly and easily find a parking space reduces city traffic by up to 30 percent, the company says. Data from the sensors helps parking lot operators make smarter, more efficient decisions about how to run their parking businesses.

Why Colorado? “Living in a buzzing city with great restaurants and a great music scene and tech scene while being just a couple hours from an epic mountain escape is an incredible balance to live with." Plus, Denver and Colorado are experiencing rapid population growth, “creating an even bigger, more vital need for a smarter city. We’re committed to building both smarter parking and smarter cities.”



Founded: 2005

Base: Boulder

What the company does: Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates, LLC (ASTRA) applies fundamental space physics knowledge to real-world problems.

ASTRA’s customers ― Department of Defense (DoD), NASA and other federal agencies, as well as university and industry ― care about the region of space called the ionosphere, where you can find the International Space Station. The ionosphere affects all types of radio systems, with applications in navigation (GPS), communication (UHF satellite coms), and surveillance (radar). ASTRA helps them understand the ionosphere, and its effects on their systems.

An example: ASTRA’s real-time data products for an array of Space Weather monitors in Alaska monitor the overhead ionospheric properties round-the-clock and display maps of the disruption of GPS signals that can lead to errors in GPS position, location and timing; and surveillance systems and disruption in communications

ASTRA’s instruments are designed, manufactured and assembled at its Boulder headquarters, including ASTRA’s software-based GPS receivers for measuring ionospheric space weather – a commercial product now on its fifth generation. These receivers, exported worldwide, are now found from the northern arctic to Antarctica, from the South American jungles to the Far East.

Defining innovation: ASTRA’s specialized knowledge of fundamental Space Physics and modeling of the Upper Atmosphere has enabled the design of miniaturized instruments and sensors for use in harsh land, water and space environments.

Down the road: ASTRA has received clearances to perform classified work for the Department of Defense, opening up a broad area to utilize its expertise in new ways.



Founded: 2008

Base: Boulder

What the company does: Creates live chat software installed on more than 10,000 websites worldwide.

SnapEngage started as a video and whiteboarding collaboration solution but morphed into a real-time live chat solution to help any size company interact with their customers.

The company helps clients build business and improve customer satisfaction through proactive chat, post-chat surveys, industry-leading ‘call-me’ feature, SMS-to-Chat and analytics, to name a few.

Defining innovation: SnapEngage took personalization to the next level by sending automated chat invitations (with real agent photos) from the actual online agent that a visitor would be connected to. The company was among the first to introduce in-page chat, as opposed to pop-up chat windows, which allows visitor-agent communications to persist across all pages of a website domain.

Disruption factor: SnapEngage’s ‘Call-Me’ and ‘SMS-to-Chat’ features bridge the gap between live chat and phone customer support services, allowing website visitors to instantly connect with the agent they are chatting with at the click of a button.

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Lisa Ryckman

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

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