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Five new, rapid-growth “Gazelle” firms honored as Denver Startup Week kicks off

Local companies recognized for growth, raising money, creating jobs

In a tradition aligned with the kickoff of Denver Startup Week, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network Colorado (BEN Colorado) today announced their annual additions to the roster of “Denver Gazelles,” a cohort of rapidly growing firms with both proven success and excellent potential in raising money and creating jobs.

The 2018 Gazelles are Guild Education, Maria Empanada, P2Binvestor, RemoteLock, and Velocity Global.

“Here in Denver, we know that supporting startups and small businesses is about understanding the passion and innovation that comes within the field,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Every year, our Denver Gazelles showcase how entrepreneurs and startups are driving the innovation, investment, and job creation that support Denver’s neighborhoods and our workforce.”

“Combining our original vision for the Gazelle concept with the energy and know-how of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network helps us celebrate the immense talent of our startup community,” said Eric Hiraga, OED executive director. “Each fall, and now in our seventh year, a fresh batch of Gazelle honorees demonstrates that Denver’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship continues to thrive.”

The 2018 Gazelles will be featured in a welcome event on Thursday, September 27 from noon to 1 p.m. at The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St. More details and registration is available at the Denver Startup Week website.

Since 2012, OED has named a carefully selected batch of Denver Gazelles based on referrals and internal research among its business development staff and the venture capital/financial community. Criteria include exponential job growth and a CEO-level commitment to engagement in strengthening the Denver entrepreneurial climate.

New this year, two 2018 Gazelles--Maria Empanada and Remote Lock--are graduates of a related city initiative called the ScaleUp Network, a six-month program to boost emerging firms that have completed an accelerator curriculum and are eager to maximize peer-to-peer support to tackle the challenges of next-step planning and growth. “This is proof that our ‘feeder’ approach of supporting rapidly growing small firms along their unique and critical life cycle stages is right on the mark,” Hiraga said.

With BEN Colorado formally engaged as a program partner a year ago, today’s announcement brings the roster of Gazelles to 35.

OED adopted the name “gazelle” from the observation that all honorees are demonstrating swift growth in job creation. Emerging firms such as these are expected to drive half of Denver’s workforce growth in the decade ahead.

SUMMARY PROFILES – 2018 Gazelles:

Guild Education offers adult education as a company benefit to help the 64 million working Americans who have yet to earn a college degree advance their education and their career. Founded in Denver in 2015 by a team of three (including two women), Guild Education has 175 employees and has raised $71.5M, bringing it recognition among the top 10 certified B-Corps internationally. Co-founder and CEO Rachel Carlson leads the mission-driven, high-growth company. Certified B-Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose and promote a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Maria Empanada was founded by Lorena Cantorovici, who came to the U.S. with only a backpack and $300 in her pocket and not a bit of English. In just five years she has built the company into the leading brand of artisan empanada, an Argentinian pastry, in the U.S. The company has raised more than $3.5M and garnered wide recognition, including winning the 2017 Small Business of the Year Award for Colorado; it is Zagat-rated as “One of the 12 hottest new bakeries in the U.S.”; and it has been recognized as “One of 8 Breakout Brands” by the leading restaurant industry magazine. Lorena was the featured empanada judge in Argentina’s National Championship for Empanada Artisans and has been featured on the Food Network as well as appearing in media across the world. The Denver-based firm has 40 employees today and expects to grow to 60 in the coming 18 months.

P2Binvestor is a marketplace lender providing small and growing businesses with flexible, scalable, asset-backed lines of credit from $500K to up to $10M on an easy-to-use platform. Founded in 2012 by Krista Morgan and Bruce Morgan, P2BInvestor has 29 employees today and expects to have 40 in the next 18 months, along with an ambitious growth plan. Krista Morgan serves as CEO. The firm has raised $18M and has built its lending activity to more than $125M in total commitments through its thoughtfully designed online financing experience. Their typical business customer for a revolving line of unrestricted credit is U.S.-based, has been established at least two years, and generates $2M in annual revenue.

RemoteLock provides the ability for vacation rentals, commercial enterprises, and property management organizations to control and manage any lock, on any property, from the cloud. Through partnerships with Airbnb, HomeAway, Target and others, RemoteLock utilizes internet-connected devices and cloud-based access control solutions for properties globally. Founded in 2011 by CEO Nolan Mondrow, the firm has 32 employees today, plans to expand to at least 50 in the next 18 months, and has raised $7.5M through venture capital and investments. The firm selected Denver as its corporate HQ, centrally located in the U.S. for ease of cloud-based control, management, and product distribution along with proximity to Colorado's growing high-tech resources for future expansion.

Velocity Global provides global employment services and solutions to meet the needs of companies expanding globally. With 88 employees today and up to 275 employees anticipated over the next 18 months, the firm was ranked #4 on the 2018 Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Founded in 2014 by Ben Wright, who serves as CEO, the firm attributes its location choice of Denver as a key contributor to attracting and retaining top talent, along with a strong emphasis on working with local colleges and universities.