Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Jim Deters's [i4c] contest encourages small business to think big

This is National Small Business Week, but local entrepreneurs should think big. "Better cities, better entrepreneurs...and vice versa," proclaims [i4c], and the venture is putting its money where its mouth is, with a contest that will give three ventures not just investment money, but support that will galvanize the businesses.

And, in the process, help galvanize the city.

The prime mover behind [i4c] is Galvanize, an organization that Jim Deters founded in October that's dedicated to "growing start-ups through capital, community and curriculum." (Think of the company's name as "I foresee.") And Deters knows all about start-ups: He's also one of the partners behind ChoLon.

Deters helped launch the [i4c] campaign on Tuesday. Here's how it will work. Local "impact entrepreneurs" can apply online for the program; ten finalists will be selected to pitch their companies on July 13 at the [i4c] Summit in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, where a panel of experts will select the three winning companies.

The winners will receive marketing exposure, strategic mentorship, up to a $50,000 investment and office space for one year in the Galvanize co-working space (limit five people).

About that office space: Deters says Galvanize will be building a complex on Platte Street -- but because demand is so great, it's also making a deal for space in central Denver; that location will be announced in the next few weeks.

Interested? Applications are now being taken at; the deadline is June 25. Here are more details from that site.

The [i4c] Campaign builds better cities by investing in and rallying communities behind impact entrepreneurs.

What is the [i4c] Campaign?

Each year, impact entrepreneurs at an [i4c] city will have the opportunity to apply for investment, marketing, and mentorship from the [i4c] Campaign.

This year, the Denver [i4c] Campaign will open applications for all Denver impact entrepreneurs on May 22nd. After a month-long application process, 10 will be selected to pitch their companies at the Summit to a crowd of 2,000 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Three winning entrepreneurs will be announced the same night.

Who are Impact Entrepreneurs?

Impact entrepreneurs improve communities through a business model that solves social or environmental problems.

The [i4c] Campaign invests in early-stage impact companies that create a better future for our community (or have the potential to).

How does it work?

The [i4c] Campaign uses cities as a "canvas" to build better entrepreneurs.

Through a public-private partnership, Denver's public venues are used as the foundation for a citywide platform that showcases local impact entrepreneurs and supporting sponsors.

To qualify for a $50,000 investment and a place in the Galvanize community, entrepreneurs must have built an early-stage company that improves communities through a business model that solves social or environmental problems.

Winning entrepreneurs will have created an innovative model that creates (or has the potential to create) a better future for the Denver community.

All qualifying entrepreneurs must be based in the Greater Denver area.

Why better cities?

Better entrepreneurs create better cities, and better cities in turn create better ecosystems for entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem within a city is crucial for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship does not happen in a vacuum. Great ideas are not born in isolation - great ideas are co-developed, sprouted from bad ideas, and hacked together from interdisciplinary teams. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are bolstered by the energy of a group and the inspiration of like-minded innovators.

The [i4c] Campaign builds this 'entrepreneurial ecosystem' within the [i4c] city by investing in and celebrating local entrepreneurs, integrating local sponsors into the platform, and rallying the community behind our entrepreneurs that are creating a better future for our city.

Think big.

Denver is full of creative entrepreneurs, with more coming to the city every day, according to the Brookings Institute. Why? Get details in "Fifteen reasons why young people are moving to Colorado."