Why you should be launching your global brand in Colorado
Looking at examples from past successful startups in the state
When entrepreneurs think of launching a global brand, cities like New York, Seattle, and San Francisco come to mind. These places are bursting with new businesses and startups and for good reason. Each location has a vast number of accelerator programs and incubators that attract some of the best talent and brightest minds across the globe. So, why would you choose to launch a global brand in Colorado?
Starting a business can be a daunting pursuit and to do it successfully, you need to have an idea of how well your environment and location can support you. This means acquiring a unique understanding of your state’s business ecosystem.
Colorado is home to a handful of companies at the forefront of their industries ̶ think of beer, software, travel and technology. In a study that compared fifty American cities, Inc. magazine named Denver as the second-best city for entrepreneurship and the twelfth best city for early-stage funding deals. With tech-focused early-stage investment groups like Denver Angels, Rockies Venture Club and Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, the Colorado startup scene is growing faster than anyone could have predicted. And contrary to popular belief, Colorado’s growth is not all cannabis-focused ̶ the fastest-growing sectors in Colorado are artificial intelligence and machine learning, followed by blockchain and cryptocurrency.
This state is a fantastic place to launch a global brand, with a net new business growth of 3.4% over the last year. The Kauffman Index ranks Colorado as No. 4 for startup activity, behind Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. New York is ranked 11th, California 14th and Washington 38th. While some of these states have startup hotbeds that produce killer products, their overall environment does not compare to what Colorado has to offer. As an example, look at the successful global brands that have launched from all corners of Colorado.
OtterBox is a consumer electronics accessory company based in Fort Collins that brings water-resistant, shock-resistant and drop-resistant phone cases to market. The company was founded in 1998 and aimed to manufacture tough goods for one of Colorado’s major audiences, outdoor enthusiasts. Since its launch, Otterbox has acquired the San Diego-based smartphone and tablet case manufacturer LifeProof, was named one of the Best Medium Workplaces in America and has donated over three million dollars to non-profits across the globe.
Sypder, hailing from Boulder, is an apparel company for those in the mountains, on the trails or racing to the finish. Not only are they the official supplier of the U.S. Ski Team, but they are also one of the largest winter sports brands in the world. Spyder sells high-performance sportswear in the United States, Canada and in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Arrow Electronics, headquartered in Centennial, is an American Fortune 500 company specializing in distribution and value-added services relating to electronic components and computer products. Over the last five years, Arrow Electronics has acquired four companies across the globe and in 2019, Arrow was ranked No. 109 in the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Smartwool, headquartered in Steamboat Springs, is a company that makes outdoor products primarily from treated merino wool. The company was founded in 1994 when ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke began making products. In 2005, Peter and Patty sold Smartwool to the Timberland Company and were later acquired by the VF Corporation. Today, Smartwool is one of the leading players in their industry supplying merino wool products worldwide.
As you can see from the variety of brands representing Colorado, the state has something to offer for all entrepreneurs. For one, investment has started to pour into Colorado. According to Built In Colorado’s 2018 Annual Report, 95 startups in the state raised over $683 million in the last year.
Startups have also started to relocate to the state. In 2018, Denver welcomed several fast-growing startups such as SendGrid and LogRhythm.
In addition to funding, Colorado has a handful of networking opportunities at the disposal of entrepreneurs that should not be overlooked -- one of the biggest being Colorado’s expansive coworking scene. The coworking spaces here provide a community that is extraordinary for those launching brands and provide great opportunities to network and strategically partner with other companies. There are also countless workshops focused on startup essentials for those who seek them out in Colorado, including several startup weeks in Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.
For these factors and more, Colorado is and has been a startup hub, comprised of entrepreneurs who want to see you and your brand succeed. The whole state is rooting for your success, so take advantage of what they have to offer.
Kellen McCarvel is the CEO of Denver-based footwear company, Joybees. McCarvel has previous experience with Crocs and Funsies Onesies. He also built and launched an e-commerce marketplace focused on small pet brands and retailers, called Shop Ketti. His passion lies in bringing brands to life and growing them in international marketplaces.