Tech companies love expanding to Colorado because of lifestyle, skilled
workersVIDEODespite a global pandemic, Colorado will continue to be attractive to techcompanies.“We can attract talent at levels that other states just can’t,” says MichelleHadwiger, director of Global Business Development at the Colorado Office ofEconomic Development and Trade. “That means companies can find the educatedand diversified talent they need here.”Colorado also is the most similar culturally to the Bay Area, where many techcompanies have headquarters. “We share the same fit and active lifestyle andlove of the outdoors,” Hadwiger says.
Competing with the big boys
Troy Lerner, chief executive officer of Booyah Advertising, The Denver Post’sNo. 1 Top Workplace in the small-size category, could have located his digitaladvertising firm anywhere, says Aubree Cross, head of marketing. But he likedthe idea of building a premier agency that could compete with the best of thebest in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in a former cow town, Cross says.RELATED: Check out the winners of Top Workplaces 2020“The big agency Troy worked at before Booyah had an office in Denver. Herecalls that his boss there used to laugh off this Denver office, sure therewas no business in Denver and baffled as to why the agency would maintain apresence in this city.”But Lerner had the last laugh. The city continues to be a draw for people whowant to leave New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.“Denver continues to lend itself as the perfect home for our agency and thethings we value: the friendly, Western attitude; the proximity to nature andrecreation; and the relative freedom from the high-octane and (we’d maintain)unnecessary stressors of some of the largest U.S. cities make Denver an ideallocation for our relationship- and people-focused agency. We’re able toattract employees who are eager to roll up their sleeves and work incrediblyhard, but who also value collaborating, delivering top-tier service, and nottaking themselves too seriously.”
Adding a Denver office
Gary Nafus, senior vice president for enterprise sales at Salesforce, a globalleader in customer relationship management software and No. 1 Top Workplace inthe large-size category, says Denver’s home to a diverse slate of industries,including aviation, bioscience, financial services, and more.The city also is an emerging tech hub and was named the No. 10 U.S. city fortech growth and a leading growth market by CBRE in 2019.“We first set up shop in the region starting in 2013, supporting leadingcustomers including the State of Colorado, the City and County of Denver, BallCorporation, amongst other top organizations,” Nafus says. “Last year, weannounced our new home in the heart of the city would serve as a world-classhub for our local metro Denver employees, where we can welcome our customers,partners, and the community. Our expansion in Denver reflects the excitementhere, and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow in the Mile-High City.”In addition to Booyah and Salesforce, other tech businesses on this year’s TopWorkplaces list include:Gusto processes tens of billions of dollars of payroll and enables thousandsof businesses to provide employee benefits like health insurance and 401(k)retirement plans and 529 college savings plans. Keysight delivers breakthrough solutions in electronic design, test,manufacturing, and optimization. RingCentral is a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications,collaboration and contact center solutions. It provides unified voice, videomeetings, team messaging, digital customer engagement, and integrated contactcenter solutions.
More tech companies coming to Colorado
Tech companies continue to announce plans to locate in Colorado despite theeconomic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Among the recent developments:Two Denver tech businesses won federal grants to develop new products.Greetly, which provides systems for companies to check-in and track visitors,received $50,000 through the Small Business Innovation Research program towork with the Air Force. Cipher Skin won a $1.5 million grant from theDepartment of Defense through the SBIR program. The company will match thegrant and work with the Air Force to explore how the military can use andfurther develop its technology for civilian use.Denver-based York Space Systems, a satellite manufacturer and operator, andMetropolitan State University of Denver received a federal contract to moreefficiently process and analyze data collected from space.Marqeta, a global card-issuing platform, picked metro Denver for its secondheadquarters. The company plans to employ more than 500 people in Coloradoover the next eight years. Started in 2010, Marqeta provides payment cardprogram clients such as Uber, Square, Instacart and DoorDash.Global website creation company Wix.com picked Denver for its newest location.The company will start with 200 employees and plans to open its new officethis fall. Wix.com has more than 170 million users and employs about 3,200people across 15 locations worldwide, including its headquarters in Israel andU.S. offices in Miami, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix.Why Silicon Valley companies are coming to Colorado to fuel growthImage via shutterstockA little more than a year ago, Ben Hamlin had a critical decision to make. Hisstartup, a job board platform called Localwise, was poised to grow after aquarter of positive cash flow — but he wasn’t certain Oakland, CA, where theywere founded, was the right fit.Silicon Valley had been a great place to launch a company and connect withengineers, but the exorbitant cost of living, interminable commute times andWest Coast time zone made it impossible to grow. He needed to find a citycloser to the middle of the country, with a deep talent pool for recruitingand a vibrant culture to build out a sales and operations team.Find Top Jobs in ColoradoSee Tech Companies Hiring NowChicago and Austin made the shortlist, but after visiting Denver, Hamlin said,the choice was easy.“It just felt good as we were testing the waters,” he said.Localwise completed the move, opening its headquarters there in October 2018,and they’re hardly the first Silicon Valley company to think of Colorado as anew landing spot. Tech giants like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and Apple haveall recently opened second headquarters or offices in the region.> [When] you think about creating a sustainable lifestyle for your company,> then I think Denver is at the top of that list.”Dozens of smaller to mid-size tech companies have followed suit, too,including companies like Strava, Thanx and Mindflash. And where it once seemedthat the only way to make it in the tech world was to be in Silicon Valley,for many companies it now seems like the only way to grow is to move out.“[The Bay Area] has so much VC money and a great talent pool that it’s still agreat place to launch an idea and get that seed fund,” Hamlin said. “But whenyou’re in growth mode, and you need to add a lot of headcount, and you thinkabout creating a sustainable lifestyle for your company, then I think Denveris at the top of that list.”The injection of silicon into the Rockies has brought a windfall of attentionand economic growth to Colorado, but Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs havea lot more than cold brew, amazing hiking and frothy beers to offer SiliconValley companies.PHoto via natty zola
A new chapter
As major tech companies continue to flock to Colorado, it’s placed theregion’s tech scene on the national radar. Amazon alone is slated to bring 400new jobs to Colorado, while Zola said outside venture funds seem to be lookingto invest more in Colorado.They’re also bringing more experienced tech workers and opening up newopportunities for smaller startups in the area to partner with the giants. Andwhile rent and cost of living have increased slightly with the rise in techcompanies moving to Colorado, it’s also boosted commercial tax revenue andbrought more people to the region, Harbert said.“You would not see nearly as many planes in the air if it weren’t for some ofthe companies moving from Silicon Valley,” Harbert said.But the biggest impact on Colorado may be that it’s proved itself to be anecessary part of the national tech ecosystem. It’s common for Zola to hearstories of companies new to Colorado shocked that a local company was willingto connect them with an investor or help them build a talent pipeline.That shock soon wears off and becomes enthusiasm to do the same, he said.> There’s just a lot of momentum for Denver, and I don’t think it’s going to> stop.”Colorado’s influence is also in the small things, like what benefits andoutings a company organizes. Since moving to Colorado, Hamlin’s team has grownfrom two employees to 10, with designs to reach 30 soon. From their locationin the office structure Taxi in the thriving RiNo district, they have a viewof the mountains, a gym on site and pets in the office — you can’t get moreColorado than that.“It’s pushed us to have more cultural elements that are good for a sustainablelifestyle for employees,” Hamlin said. “That’s influenced by the greaterDenver culture. We didn’t feel those pressures in the Bay Area.”Silicon Valley may still draw the attention, but Harbert believes Colorado’stech scene is just getting started. Pretty soon, he sees Colorado as one ofthe top tech hubs in the country.“There’s just a lot of excitement about what’s going on,” Harbert said.“People have always believed in what we had and in the potential we had, andnow we’re starting to see that come to fruition. There’s just a lot ofmomentum for Denver, and I don’t think it’s going to stop.”Top Denver Tech Center CompaniesThe area known as the Denver Tech Center is a business district locatedsoutheast of downtown Denver. Situated most heavily in the town of Greenwoodvillage, the center boasts dozens of companies ranging from startups to globalempires.Originating in the 1970s, Denver Tech Center was designed to run along a fiberoptic line south of Denver as well as the intersection of I-25 and I-225,attracting cable companies like AT&T Broadband and United Cablevision. To getto know the space today, check out the following nine tech companies andstartups currently call Denver Tech Center home.
Top Denver Tech Center Companies
* Arrow Electronics * Xero * Ciber * RingCentral * Zoom Video Communications * ENAVATE * Recondo Technology * Selling Simplified * TeleTechZoom Video CommunicationsIndustry: SoftwareWhat they do: Zoom provides enterprise video communication solutions acrossdesktop, mobile and conference room systems. Top brands and companies likePandora, ticketmaster, Slack and GoDaddy use Zoom to seamlessly connect withtheir teams. In addition to their Denver Tech Center location, Zoom boastsinternational offices and multiple domestic locations.RingCentralIndustry: CloudWhat they do: RingCentral is a leader in providing cloud communication andcollaboration solutions that connect employees regardless of distance orcommunication method.The platform integrates with major business apps likeOutlook, Google, Salesforce and Oracle to consolidate and empower a company’smessaging abilities, with messaging, video, phone and customer engagementtools all featured within.xeroIndustry: Cloud / SoftwareWhat they do: Xero provides online accounting software that is used bycompanies in over 180 countries. The cloud-based system fits a variety ofbusiness types like retail, nonprofits, startups, real estate, farming andmany more. For the best business visibility, Xero integrates with over 600business apps including Google, Microsoft, Squarespace, Shopify and Expensify.arrow electronicsIndustry: HardwareWhat they do: Arrow Electronics supplies electronic component products andcomputing solutions to companies around the globe. Serving over 80 countries,Arrow is a leading partner in the supply channel for thousands ofmanufacturers, commercial customers and resellers.ciberIndustry: SoftwareWhat they do: Ciber provides IT consulting services to companies andorganizations in logistics, transportation, finance, healthcare, manufacturingand the public sector. Founded in the mid 1970s, Ciber has partnered withcompanies to create IT innovative strategies and solutions for over fourdecades.enavateIndustry: Enterprise Web / SoftwareWhat they do: Enavate provides consulting services and software developmentsolutions to clients using Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM and AX platforms. Thecompany’s solutions provide a full view of a business and connect a variety ofoperations like customer service, warehousing, head office and onlinebusiness.recondo technologyIndustry: Artificial Intelligence / HealthtechWhat they do: Recondo is a cloud-based system connecting patients, payers andhealth providers for the duration of the healthcare revenue cycle. Whether acommunity hospital, an integrated network or a specialty provider, Recondostreamlines communications and payments.selling simplifiedIndustry: Software / Big DataWhat they do: Selling Simplified connects sellers with B2B buyers, coveringthe entire funnel from qualified leads to sales-ready leads. Leading companieslike IBM, Oracle and DocuSign use Selling Simplified’s platform to grow theirrevenue.teletechIndustry: SoftwareWhat they do: TeleTech provides solutions for customer experience, growth andengagement. Their platform features multiple channels like analytics, systemsintegration, strategy, optimization and CRM for companies in a variety ofindustries. Companies and organizations including Godiva, Banana Republic andFEMA have used TeleTech solutions for a variety of needs.Denver’s Tech Boom: How One City is Building the Next Generation of ThrivingBusinessesAmazon. Google. Facebook.In the last 20 years, America has seen companies launched in garages andcollege dorm rooms transform into technology behemoths.Check almost any list of America’s top or fast-growing companies and you’llsee an assortment of tech businesses. The tech sector is expanding so fastthat tech jobs are expected to grow 13.1% by 2026, compared to 10.7% for U.S.employment overall. The tech industry had an estimated $1.8 trillion economicimpact in 2018, contributing around 10% to direct economic value of the U.S.economy.If it seems like a good time to grow and scale a tech company, thank thestrong economy. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% last year, its highest growth ratesince 2015. Plus, unemployment is low at 3.6%. Favorable tax climates and agrowing, educated workforce are also driving business growth in cities acrossthe country. Denver is just one example.
Building a business environment tailor-made for tech
Denver is developing a thriving, tech ecosystem buoyed by state and localresources that embrace business. It’s also part of a state where the techindustry is growing rapidly — Colorado added more than 7,000 tech jobs in2018, a 2.5% year-over-year increase.“Denver has always had a very intentional strategy about what we call our‘start up, scale up, grow up’ ecosystem when it comes to entrepreneurship,”says Deborah Cameron, the chief business development officer for Denver’sOffice of Economic Development. “It began by scanning our environment to seewhat was really needed and studying other successful locations.”A low corporate tax rate, an educated workforce and a plethora of resourcesmake Denver business-friendly. But it’s also the intangibles, like acollaborative culture and a better work-life balance, that make the city workso well for business.But Denver— and the entire state of Colorado — still has its challenges,particularly competition for skilled talent amid ever-increasing job growth.Regardless, Denver is undoubtedly undergoing a tech boom and is forging a pathfor business that other cities may want to follow.
Business incentives and low taxes
Colorado offers a job growth incentive tax program that gives businessesincome tax credits for creating jobs the state wouldn’t have otherwise. Thereare tax credits for new business development, business expansion, relocationand for job creation in enterprise zones or economically-disadvantaged areas.Companies also benefit from sales and use tax refunds for investments in themanufacturing, biotechnology, renewable energy, and medical and cleantechnology industries.Kyle Sherman, CEO of Flowhub, a WeWork Triangle Building member, says hiscompany, which creates compliance and point of sale software for cannabisdispensaries, took advantage of the state’s research and development taxcredit. This is a 3% credit for taxpayers and companies who increase researchand spending on product development or new lines of business within enterprisezones.Though Denver charges a head tax ranging from $4 to $5.75 per employee amonth, businesses benefit from the state’s low 4.63% corporate tax rate. As ofthe 2016 fiscal year, for every $1,000 of corporate income, Coloradoeffectively taxed $2.17, according to the Colorado Fiscal Institute. The ratecan be as high as $9.38 in some states. Colorado also is one of nine stateswith a flat income tax (also 4.63%), ranking the fourth-lowest rate in thecountry.
Infrastructure and business resources
Denver has a robust transportation infrastructure. Along with a rapid transitlight rail and bus system, and free transportation in parts of downtown, thecity is home to Denver International Airport — the state’s top economicdriver. The airport has nonstop service to most U.S. cities, Europe and Asiafor easy executive travel.“We felt that to build a really strong company culture, you’ve got to havediversity and some kind of stimulation around. When you walk outside, thereare restaurants, things are accessible, there are parks — you get all of thatdowntown — there’s life,” Sherman says.“The local government has invested considerably in mass transportation andcultural amenities like public parks. The local investment in publicinfrastructure gave us confidence the city would be able to scale along withus,” says Josh Reeves, CEO and founder of Gusto, a human resources, payrolland benefits solutions provider that has grown its Denver team to more than500 employees in the last three years.The city and business community also have invested in building the businessecosystem. WeWork has opened 10 locations in Denver to support the growingbusiness needs in the area.The city partnered with the Colorado Technology Association and the DowntownDenver Partnership in 2015 to create the “Commons on Champa.” The publicspace, which hosts more than 200 annual events, is “the crossroads forentrepreneurship and innovation in Denver,” Cameron says.
A collaborative, balanced work culture
What differentiates the area from other tech hubs is “one word —collaboration,” says Kristin Russell, president of global services at ArrowElectronics and the state’s former secretary of technology and chiefinformation officer.“In many other cities and communities in which I have work and lived, therejust isn’t the level, interest and intent around collaboration. The concept of‘the high tide rising all boats’ is never more true than in Colorado,” Russellsays.Patrick Quinlan, CEO of the ethics and cloud compliance platform Convercent,says as more technology companies have come to Denver, the level ofcollaboration has grown.“One of the real benefits of starting and building Convercent here is the CEOsare very supportive of each other. When I have a question, thought or concern,I can drop somebody a note or jump on a five-minute call,” Quinlan says. “It’sa helping culture, not a competitive culture.”That extends to how people work. With easy access to the outdoors, Denvercombines urban living with a relaxed culture. For example, across all of its10 Denver locations, WeWork provides wellness programming to members,including regular yoga classes, meditation sessions, massage and spa pop-ups,various Denver-based wellness brand highlights, and more. Other companiesoffer employee perks ranging from Yoga Wednesdays to dog-friendly workplaces.Gusto even gives employees a free round-trip ticket to anywhere they chooseafter their one-year anniversary.Frannie Matthews, president and CEO of the Colorado Technology Association,says even with this laid-back environment, the tech community is veryproductive.“We’ve got a great ecosystem here, but it doesn’t mean we’re out mountainbiking on Thursday afternoons,” she says. “It means we love where we live andwe love the recreational aspects of it. But this is a work-hard community. Isee that ethic across the state.”
Confronting challenges to business growth
One of the main challenges Denver faces is competition for talent.One of the things that makes the city so business-friendly is the educatedworkforce. Forty-one percent of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree,compared to 25% of the workforce nationally. But with Denver’s 2.9%unemployment rate, competition for talent is fierce.“Denver is a small city, but it’s growing very rapidly. It’s harder to scalein a small city because the bigger you get, the harder it is because you haveto poach people from other companies,” Sherman says. “We also have virtually anegative unemployment rate. That makes it difficult to scale.”The key to addressing this challenge, business leaders say, is to build thetalent pipeline across the state. The Office of Economic Development hasfocused on building sector partnerships to bring together higher education andbusiness groups to address the pipeline problem. Cameron says some localschools with two- or four-year degree programs now offer short-termcredentials to accelerate upskilling the local workforce.But the state also isn’t resting on its laurels. Colorado launched a $500,000marketing campaign in 2018 called “Pivot to Colorado” to lure tech talent fromSilicon Valley. State agencies and tech companies collaborated on the effort,but only future numbers will tell whether this self-proclaimed “poachingstrategy” works.Whether Denver’s tech community grows because of this approach or bycultivating homegrown talent, business leaders say the time is right to start,grow and scale the country’s the next generation of great businesses.“It’s a great time because many problems are waiting to be solved,” Reevessays. “A business exists to fix something, so every problem is anopportunity.”* * *This article is part of the “The Way We Work Today” series brought to you byFiveThirtyEight in partnership with WeWork. Together, they are exploring thebest places to base your business in 2019.Visit WeWork’s medium and large business blog, Deconstructed, for similararticles or learn more about workspace options for larger businesses athttps://www.wework.com/workspace.13 Top Companies In Downtown Denver 2021The tech community in Colorado is sprawling, with companies not only settingup shop in the Greater Denver area, but also Fort Collins, Colorado Springsand of course, Boulder. With all of these tech clusters, we decided to focuson the scene in downtown Denver. To get to know this area better, check outthese 13 companies who all call downtown Denver home.
Top Tech Companies in Downtown Denver
* Procare Solutions * Virta Health * Bluprint * FareHarbor * Granicus * Gusto * Ibotta * Vertafore * SALTProcare SolutionsIndustry: SaaSWhat they do: Procare Solutions ensures child care facilities have access tothe tools they need to best scale their business and facilitate growth inchildren. The platform features tools like contactless check-in/check-out,integrated tuition collection and additional business management tools, idealfor child care facilities of all kinds — from in-home care to entire schooldistricts.evolve vacation rental NetworkIndustry: TravelWhat they do: Evolve is redefining vacation rental management by offeringhomeowners a better way to generate rental income and providing travelers withthe industry’s best booking experience. Their team is dedicated to eliminatingthe hassle, guesswork and frustration that so often come with renting a home.Related Article203 jobs in downtown Denver: 12 tech companies hiring nowfareharborIndustry: Software + TravelWhat they do: FareHarbor is an online booking software for tours, attractionsand other travel activities. The platform makes reservations simple forcustomers and enables businesses to manage bookings in real time. Founded inHawaii, FareHarbor has five offices around the country and their headquartersplanted right here in downtown Denver.gospotcheckIndustry: Mobile + SoftwareWhat they do: GoSpotCheck provides management software for teams working outin the field. Their streamlined solution boasts features like mobile datacollection, photo capture and analytics, field team management tools andcontent distribution. Brands like Under Armour, Camelbak, Panera Bread andOtter Box all use GoSpotCheck to keep track of operations for their teams onthe ground.granicusIndustry: SoftwareWhat they do: Granicus creates solutions for government organizations at alllevels. Whether local, state or federal, the platform enables bettercommunication and simple management of meetings, agendas and records. Granicususers include a variety of departments, states and counties including ArizonaDepartment of Transportation, Leon County, Florida and Wisconsin Department ofNatural Resources.salt lendingIndustry: Blockchain + FintechWhat they do: SALT provides blockchain-backed loans, meaning users canleverage their blockchain assets for cash. The system forgoes credit checks,features a simple application, offers competitive interest rates and enablesusers the flexibility to get their assets back on their own timeline.ibottaIndustry: E-commerceWhat they do: Ibotta provides ways for consumers to receive cash back on theirmost common purchases. From groceries and apparel to cosmetic items and mobileapps, the platform rewards users for purchases they make all the time. Ibottahas facilitated millions of dollars in cash back rewards since their founding.vertaforeIndustry: SoftwareWhat they do: Vertafore works with independent insurance brokers, agents,carriers and MGAs to automate and manage their business processes. Theplatform’s solutions include content management, workflow, data and analytics,credentialing and compliance.aptoIndustry: Real Estate + SoftwareWhat they do: Apto is a web-based management software for commercial realestate brokers. The software allows brokers to manage properties, contacts,listings and deals across devices. Currently six of the top eight commercialreal estate brands use Apto, including CBRE, Cushman and Wakefield and AvisonYoung.gustoIndustry: SoftwareWhat they do: Gusto creates HR, payroll and benefits software that automatesprocesses for more than 60,000 companies around the world. The platformmanages multiple processes like accounting, time tracking, paid time off,onboarding, compliance and insurance.marketoIndustry: Marketing Tech + SoftwareWhat they do: Marketo provides marketing automation solutions for everychannel ranging from mobile and social to email and web. The platform helpsbusinesses engage with their customer base, grow revenue and gain resultsthroughout the marketing lifecycle. Companies and brands around the world useMarketo for their marketing needs, including CA Technologies, CenturyLink,Charles Schwab and Panasonic.Virta HealthIndustry: HealthcareWhat they do: Virta Health helps patients with type-2 diabetes manage theircondition without the use of medication or surgical procedures. The healthcarecompany’s treatment services include access to continuous remote medical carefrom virtual caretakers and coaches, as well as individualized, sustainablecarbohydrate restriction plans that allow users to take a long-term initiativeto reversing type-2 diabetes.BluprintIndustry: Consumer WebWhat they do: Bluprint is an online learning destination for those who loveto create. Hosting hundreds of classes, users can learn skills from pastamaking and cake decorating to photography and painting. In addition toclasses, Bluprint offers supplies, kits and patterns to jump-start thecreative process.