Colorado Companies to Watch 2022: The Helpers
We could all use a little help right now. Thankfully, these Colorado businesses have us covered.
Since 2009, the Colorado Companies to Watch program has sought to recognize second-stage enterprises from around the state. These companies often fly under the radar of awards programs of this type, yet they play an enormous role in fueling Colorado’s economy.
From an economic-development perspective, the importance of recognizing second-stage companies — those beyond the startup stage but still developing — is obvious: As these companies grow, not only do they employ an increasing number of people, to the benefit their local economies and quality of life; they also create a need for outside services, and thus opportunity for other businesses, from restaurants to accounting firms to pet boarders, to flourish. The ripple effect on the economy is sizable, to say the least.
This year, more than 1,100 companies from industries ranging from biosciences to fitness to food and beverage submitted nominations. A judging panel made up of business and economic-development leaders throughout the state whittled those candidates down to the finalists, and finally to this year’s select cast of 47 Colorado Companies to Watch winners.
Read on to learn more about our favorite Colorado Helpers.
Agile RF Systems LLC
Agile RF Systems specializes in the research and development of advanced antenna technologies for the Department of Defense and commercial and civil space applications.
The company built its technology toolbox with the help of Small Business Innovative Research grants from the Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA.
Agile RF Systems specializes in four business segments: small, tactical radars for weather and counter unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); satellite communications on-the-move active electronically steered antennas; millimeter wave antennas for communications and remote sensing; space deployable antennas for communications, radar and remote sensing.
The company offers array-based radar with multichannel digital transceiver for weather and UAS surveillance and tracking; electronically steered antenna for millimeter wave applications; and space-deployable antenna innovations.
Agile RF Systems recently completed the construction of a state-of-the-art facility housing an antenna test range.
“The promise of low-cost systems to fuel the demand in distributed sensors and communications equipment can drive significant growth,” says Kim Kelly, the company’s chief operating officer.
Artifact Uprising strives to create joy by helping customers honor the “meaningful” in their lives through printed photo gifts, books and more. The Denver-based company has been profitable every year since 2013, the year after it was founded.
Artifact Uprising offers customers an assortment of customizable products that help commemorate the moments and people that are most important to them. Of one its most notable innovations is the Display Box, for which it earned a patent. It came about during the process of re-imagining how customers interact with photo goods.
“Most photo prints in people’s homes are stored in a plastic bin, or, at worst, a cardboard shoebox,” says CEO Brad Kopitz. “Our Display Box is a way for customers to both, keep their photo prints protected while also being able to display them in a way that blends in with and elevates their home decor.”
Through the years, Artifact Uprising has been quick to evolve with changing market trends and conditions, such as inflation and customers who are increasingly pressed for time.
“Our customers lead very busy lives, and demands on their time continue to grow,” Koptiz says. “We’ve had to evolve our marketing to also focus on how easy it is to create a project and to give our customers lots of inspiration by sharing not only what design experts in the field are making, but also what everyday customers are making.”
Wedding-related materials — guestbooks, photo albums and such — are a significant source of business for the company. With weddings widely expected to boom in the coming months, Artifact Uprising is well positioned to capture an even greater portion of that market.
Cloud Campaign is a digital platform that helps marketing agencies scale social media management so they can increase the number of brands they manage and charge a higher retainer with a leaner team. The platform is used by more than 1,000 marketing agencies managing social media for nearly 16,000 brands globally including Mazda, Hilton and E&Y, to name a few.
Founded in 2017, the company has seized on a shift in the market whereby more and more brands are hiring marketing agencies to help them with marketing in general. More specifically, “We’ve seen this trend become increasingly true for social media management,” Cloud Campaign CEO Ryan Born says.
From 2020 to 2021, Cloud Campaign increased both its employee count – going from 11 employees to 22 – and its revenues more than twofold. The company expects to double year-over-year revenues again in 2022 and plans to keep expanding its workforce as well.
“We are growing our engineering and go-to-market teams as we build new products,” says Born, who notes that the pandemic has accelerated the need for brands to “go digital” to stay in touch with their audiences as physical storefronts temporarily close down.
“We beat out our competitors when it comes to building a product that is loved by our target market,” the CEO says.
Comcentric, a leading provider of staffing solutions to health care, technology and telecom providers, isn’t exactly a newcomer – founded in 2003 and profitable for 19 straight years. But the Lone Tree-based firm has amped up business to a new level in the past two years.
From 2020 to 2021, Comcentric nearly doubled its workforce, from 44 full-time equivalent employees to 87 last year, while increasing revenues by 80% year-over-year during that period, to $10.5 million last year. The company expects a year-over-year revenue increase of 42% this year.
Having the know-how to identify and respond to what clients want in terms of workforce talent, is one reason for the company’s rise. Also, says founder and CEO Eric Grenier, “We are seeing fewer smaller competitors, as there has been consolidation in the industry.”
Comcentric strives to match people with the right organization – taking steps to learn whether that prospect prefers a fast-paced environment or one that’s more quiet – so that the staffer and company are less likely to part ways after six months.
“We have succeeded by structuring our business processes to meet our clients’ needs in terms of quick response, reasonable rates and quality of candidates,” Grenier says. “We utilize a best-practices approach and constantly refine our processes to lead the market in next-level recruiting.”
Grenier also cites social media as a factor in the company’s growth. “A lot of the talent pool we seek is out there on GitHub, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and some of the lesser-known groups and networks as well, so we have to really try to find them there,” he says. “The biggest benefit in social recruiting is in finding passive candidates — people who are not actively seeking employment.”
GavinHeath’s staffing model ensures its clients have the workforce they need to meet their business objectives.
Founded by Holly Steele in 2015, the company provides temporary workers, temporary employees to be converted to permanent staff, direct hire or permanent placement employees. The company recruits employees for positions at all levels, from entry-level and highly technical positions to executive leadership roles.
The company started as an information technology (IT) staffing provider but has expanded to support its clients’ administration and operations needs. It also serves the finance and accounting industry.
“Though GavinHeath has become more agile over the last two years, especially in seeking opportunities outside of the IT space, one of the firm’s greatest strengths still rests in doing what they do best — staffing IT professionals,” says Daniel Steele, the company’s president and chief operating officer.
Last year was the best in GavinHeath’s history. The company more than doubled in revenue year over year from 2020 to 2021. It also nearly doubled in size from an average of nine employees in 2020 to 16 employees in 2021, retaining several consultants covering bookkeeping, human resources and investment banking.
“While expanding offerings and seeking to alleviate pain points regardless of vertical, staying true to what the company does best in finding exceptional IT professionals remains GavinHeath’s strong suit,” Steele says. “Hiring recruiters and salespeople with IT staffing experience ensures GavinHeath can serve as their client’s go-to resource with reliable and consistent performance.”
GoQAV provides design-focused technology solutions for homes and businesses – thinking beyond “smart homes,” to “pure homes.” The company’s Experience Center in Centennial is designed to help educate the design-build community about the latest advancements in energy-efficient interior lighting, hidden technology solutions, and wellness within the home. Then GoQAV makes it happen.
“Fifty percent of all homes in America by this year will be considered a ‘smart home,’” says GoQAV founder and CEO Tyson Rabani. “The term ‘smart home’ is changing quickly as there are many DIY products on the market for anyone to make their home ‘smart.’ We are seeing a big shift in focus on wellness in the industry, and it’s been said we are heading into the ‘pure home’ phase with smart home products that emphasize lighting solutions for mental health, clean air, clean water and fitness.”
The company, founded in 2006, regards its industry relationships as its greatest strength. That includes relationships with some of Colorado’s best custom homebuilders. GoQAV’s own workforce doubled from 2020 to 2021, and the company expects to increase its employee count by another 33% this year.
“We have an extended team of talented engineers, designers and professionals, helping us create a world-class client experience,” Rabani says. We pride ourselves on providing a great company culture for our growing team. GoQAV remains relevant by exploring the latest trends, consumer education, and providing education to our design-build partners. Our design-focused technology solutions emphasize the experiences that will come to life in the luxury home and the modern business environment.”
Journey Payroll & HR
Journey Payroll and & HR offers the services its name suggests, and more: payroll tax services, onboarding, time-clock, EAP (Employee Assistance Program), workers’ compensation solutions and more.
Software advancements lead some businesses to believe that they can handle their own accounting, but they often learn that’s best left to the pros.
“We see a lot of businesses thinking they can take payroll in house and do it on their own to save on cost,” Journey Payroll CEO Kevin Welch says. “Businesses think the dot com world saves them money, but in fact, it usually costs clients more. That has been something we’ve seen change in our market over the years.”
Journey Payroll, founded in 2010, cites company culture and “heart” among its strengths. “Our infrastructure is only as solid as our team, and we have proven time and time again that our ability to adapt and change quickly, while always keeping heart in everything we do, is at the core of our business,” Welch says, adding that his Fort Collins-based firm is preparing to introduce a new technology that he believes will spur growth nationwide.
“We are excited about all of our growth over the past years,” he says, “though we believe that was just setting the foundation for 2022 and beyond.”
Kanso Software helps tribal and public housing authorities simplify how they manage and adhere to complex rules and regulations associated with providing housing to people in need.
The company’s Doorways tool transforms data into knowledge, giving organizations insight into all aspects of their operations and the people they serve. The software was built with affordable housing as the priority and the open platform easily integrates with third-party apps.
“We have developed the only product to manage subsidized housing for Native American and U.S. homelessness,” says Doug Chapiewsky, the company’s founder and CEO. “No other software vendor has been able to create a platform to manage this distressed problem domain.”
More than 250 Native American tribes and 270 U.S. public housing authorities use Kanso’s software to manage their business operations, including occupancy, finance reporting and maintenance, and make data-driven decisions.
Doorways also is well-suited for providers that manage services for the homeless. The software can be configured to manage the often unpredictable components of people moving in and out of homeless services and helps organizations ensure the careful distribution of limited resources while managing relationships with landlords, housing specialists and others who serve people in need.
“Our culture is one of high empathy and emotional IQ ,which allows us to support the underserved with technology,” Chapiewsky says. “We are very nimble and customer driven.”
Start Talking LLC
Many people who need behavioral health therapy put it off because they think they’re too busy to go to a counselor’s office. But Start Talking is changing that dynamic, making it easier for patients to get the therapy they need thought its HIPAA-compliant and encrypted video platform for teletherapy.
Start Talking providers are accessible through the cameras of smartphones, tablets and computers, whether the patient is in the car, at work or at home. The company works through employee assistance programs (EAPs) at companies like Charles Schwab, which has 5,000 employees at its Denver headquarters.
The company generates $500,000 annual recurring revenue through the 400 therapy sessions it facilitates each month. It’s expected to increase that to $1 million ARR doing 1,000 therapy sessions per month by July 1.
“We are doubling and tripling our numbers some years,” Start Talking CEO Mark Nolte says. “We are adding new therapists every month.”
The Christi Reece Group, A Refreshing Real Estate Company
Real estate agents at The Christi Reece Group focus on customer relationships and building community — it gives 2% of its revenue to local nonprofit organizations selected by its clients.
The brokerage is gearing up for another strong year in real estate sales and development by adding up to 10 new agents to its ranks to help clients buy, sell or invest. The company has a full-time marketing manager and other support staff to ensure its agents stay focused on what they do best.
Founder and CEO Christi Reece says the Grand Junction area was on the cusp of being “discovered” before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Surprisingly, the pandemic accelerated real estate sales, she said.
“Demand for homes in our area is at an all-time high, while inventory is incredibly low,” Reece said. “New construction projects are attempting to provide relief to the housing shortage, but the planning and development processes are challenged by lack of staff. Technology continues to play a bigger part in our industry, making agents, and the buying and selling process, more efficient. But I believe this is still a relationship business.”
Xyleme empowers companies to transform how they create and deliver content across their organizations. In this area, Xyleme has become the service provider of choice to the Fortune 500, with a global customer base that includes Cisco, 3M, Kaiser Permanente and VMWare, to name a few.
The Denver-based firm enables customers to use their content as a competitive advantage to scale quicker, deliver products to market faster, and ensure their talent is always ready to respond to ever-changing market dynamics. Xyleme combines capabilities to deliver a scalable solution for collaborative content authoring, publishing, management, delivery and syndication, making it easy for large organizations to deliver the right content to the right audience on the right channel at the right time — anywhere in the world.
While Xyleme’s sole office and corporate headquarters are in Denver, fully remote employees operate across the U.S., Europe & Canada. In the past six months, the company has more than doubled its employee base and is actively hiring across a dozen roles.
In 2021, Xyleme received a major investment from Bow River Capital that will enable the company to accelerate growth and deliver on leading innovation to accelerate modern learning experiences in training and development, and scale operations globally.