"Better cities, better entrepreneurs...and vice versa," proclaims [i4c], which is running a contest to make things better for three entrepreneurial ventures. The prime mover behind [i4c] is Galvanize, an organization founded last October that's dedicated to "growing start-ups through capital, community and curriculum." And now the finalists have been announced. The application deadline for this inaugural [i4c] contest -- which will reward three startups with packages each worth up to $50,000 in investment funds, office space, marketing exposure and strategic mentorship -- was late last month, and after reviewing more than a hundred entries, Galvanize has revealed the ten finalists that will compete for the grand prize. One of the finalists is Waste Farmers, which we profiled earlier this month. Three other finalists have Denver offices. One is Dabble, an affordable community marketplace for prospective students and teachers to create classes ranging from beginner Spanish to cupcake-decorating for $20 a student, ten of which goes to the teacher. "What Dabble does is provide education, but at a grassroots level," says founder Jess Lybeck. "Through that, we can create stronger communities here in Denver." With i4c's investment, Dabble would bolster its seven-person staff that's stretched between here and its home base in Chicago.
Another finalist is insideGOOD, a feedback-management system for nonprofits, which provides organization leaders with everything they need in order to collect expert-validated, ongoing feedback data from their key constituents (volunteers, donors, staff, partners and clients). "Every organization can benefit in the pursuit of their mission from having quality feedback data," argues founder Katie Weiss. "We hope to really have a large-scale impact on all sorts of organizations and missions to help them do what they do better."
The fourth local finalist is BOULD, a tuition-based training program that works with Habitat for Humanity (and hopes to expand) to equip potential professionals with the experience and skills they need to launch green careers, while simultaneously funding and building energy-efficient, long-lasting homes for low-income families in the community. "Our model is primed for success," says founder Shane Gring. "Green building is continuing to blossom and grow and it's crucial that this educational component....is a part of that."
All of these companies, as well as the six other finalists -- AYZH, Funding Launchpad, Given Goods, Pangea Organics, Simple Energy and Regenesis -- will face off on July 13 at The Summit, a "Shark Tank"-like event at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. A team of judges -- Ryan Martens, chief technology officer at Rally Software; Brian Thomas, president of PDA armor company Otterbox; and Paul Washington, executive Director of the Denver Office of Economic Development -- will narrow the field of ten down to three winners.