Business Post-Accelerator Marks Five Years Guiding Local Startups

Published on October 07, 2021

DENVER — The Denver ScaleUp Network (DenSUN), a program developed by Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO), along with partners Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN Colorado) and Colorado Thought Leaders Forum, is celebrating five years of success supporting Denver’s startup community. The DenSUN is an intensive six-month training program for selected local startups looking to achieve their next level of strategic growth.

 “Denver is no longer just an early-stage ecosystem. In the last ten years we have seen this environment grow and strengthen, and as such we know the needs of our firms have expanded,” said Deborah Cameron, DEDO’s Chief Business Development Officer. “The Denver ScaleUp Network is designed to support our local entrepreneurs in their growth and to help build a diversified and equitable economy. We are encouraged by what the program has achieved, and together with our partners we look forward to continue building a vibrant and innovative economy.”

Launched in 2017 in response to the challenges of firms looking to expand beyond their initial rounds of capital, the program has grown from a cohort of six firms to help more than 60 local startups, 65 percent of which have been women/Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color (BIPOC)-owned or led. Past DenSUN participants have influenced the creation of over 480 jobs and have raised more than $63M in capital after participating in the program. One of DenSUN’s core competencies is the facilitation of connections between its participants and seasoned leaders and funding sources. 

Notable DenSUN graduates include Barbara Brooks, CEO and founder of SECONDACT Women; John Paasonen, CEO and Founder of Maxwell, and Amanda Moriuchi, CEO and Founder of Appit Ventures among many others. Nearly all DenSUN companies have stayed in Denver, and there is a very low business failure rate among participants. 

“Since the inception of the Denver ScaleUp Network, BEN Colorado has worked closely with DEDO to build an educational and inclusive community around underrepresented early-stage entrepreneurs,” said Kay Henze, CEO & ED of BEN Colorado. “Building on this strong foundation, BEN's commitment to growth and innovation will continue guiding and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs to grow their companies, elevate our community, and build a thriving Colorado economy.” 

Denver’s entrepreneurial environment is richly diverse with companies venturing into not just technology but also healthcare, agriculture, food, and many other industries. This collection of focused leaders and their knowledge is one of the program’s strengths, as participants and mentors are able to lean on each other while exploring concepts and identifying synergies between their sectors. 

“The partnership of our three organizations has been incredibly successful in large part due to our shared commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in their growth,” said Sara van Rensburg, president & CEO of the Colorado Thought Leaders Forum. “It’s inspiring to see the progress these business owners make during the program and to watch them realize the impact of their entrepreneurial ideas within the Colorado economy.” 

The program is currently accepting applications for the 2022 cohort, and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, a supporter of BEN Colorado, has secured $900K for BEN CO to continue its efforts with diversity and inclusion, which will include further investment in DenSUN in these areas. Interested companies are invited to contact Michael Bevis, DEDO manager of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, at Michael.Bevis@denvergov.org

About Denver Economic Development & Opportunity 
Denver Economic Development & Opportunity is leading an inclusive and innovative economy for all Denver residents, businesses, and neighborhoods. By supporting local and global business development, workforce development programs, and stabilization efforts in Denver’s diverse neighborhoods, we are creating opportunity for everyone to make a home, get a job, and build a future. Learn more at www.denvergov.org/economicdevelopment

About Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network Colorado 
BEN identifies promising Colorado-based companies across five industries (technology, health, aerospace, energy, and natural products) and provides guidance and meaningful connections to help these companies scale. With the help of their advisor network, BEN leverages expertise across a wide range of disciplines to connect and support the community members with valuable programming. Learn more on the BEN Colorado Website.

About Colorado Thought Leaders Forum 
Colorado Thought Leaders Forum is a community of business leaders whose aim is to help you become the best leader you can be, both personally and professionally. They provide leadership development programs, sophisticated professional networking groups, inspiring keynotes, and opportunities to connect with many of Colorado’s best and brightest business leaders.  All their work is designed to help leaders create authentic, healthy, prosperous cultures for the 21st century. Learn more on the CTLF Website.

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