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City invites early-stage startup businesses to “Race to the Raise” for capital

Venture capital competition includes pitch event, invite to Colorado Venture Summit, and up to $100,000 award

Early-stage companies in Denver who have raised at least $250,000 are invited to apply for a unique venture-capital opportunity through the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) and its Denver Venture Showcase. Entry forms for the “Race to the Raise” competition open today, and the top-scoring firms will be invited to a June 13 pitch event, where they’ll compete for prize packages.

Designed to boost Denver’s small business environment while supporting local job growth, the program offers a $25,000 grand prize, two runner-up prizes of $15,000 each, and an opportunity for one of the finalists to receive a funding match of $75,000. In addition, the grand prize includes admission to join the invitation-only Colorado Venture Summit on June 14.

“There is no shortage of early-stage firms that are doing great things in Denver,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We’re committed to doing all we can as a city to spotlight these firms, foster additional growth and investment, and propel our culture of innovation to an even higher level.”

The competition is open to early-stage companies that are currently, or soon will be, located in the City and County of Denver. Applicants need to have raised $250,000 in capital already, but not more than $4 million. To qualify, applicants also need to demonstrate a growth and job creation plan that will further build the local economy.

Applications are available via this link and will be accepted through Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m. MDT.

“We’re tremendously excited to send the winning firm to the Colorado Venture Summit,” said Turid Nagel-Casebolt, OED’s director of business development. “With investors from around the nation, the Summit offers incredible potential for a growing firm to land a significant amount of operating capital. This could truly be a quantum boost for a small firm that is just beginning to learn how to present itself, demonstrate promise, and raise funding.”

A team of expert judges from the startup community will use Denver-based Valid Evaluation’s evidence-based platform to score companies while providing structured and prioritized feedback to all applicants. The judges will select a group of finalists to showcase their products/services at a June 13 pitch event, where judges will select the top three firms.

But the competition doesn’t end with the pitch event. The winning company and the two runners-up will have six months to see who can be the first to raise an additional $500,000 in equity or convertible debt—which will be matched with a $75,000 boost from OED.

The competition is the latest effort by the OED to support entrepreneurship and business innovation in Denver. The Denver Venture Showcase and “Race to the Raise” is funded by the OED, with U.S. Bank and Holland & Hart, LLP as sponsors, and developed in conjunction with the Colorado Venture Summit.