5 local companies driving Colorado tech — and their industries — forward

by April Bohnert
October 31, 2018

Colorado’s thriving tech scene is no longer a secret — and new companies are arriving every day to get in on the action. But it’s not just a supportive community or high-quality talent that’s helped put Colorado on the map.

We talked to five local companies — spanning industries from adtech to travel — to see how they’ve helped establish Colorado’s reputation as an innovation hub and how they’re driving their own industries forward.

 

AdAction Interactive tech innovation Colorado
Photo via AdAction Interactive.

Colorado has become a major hub for the adtech industry, and AdAction Interactive is one of many leading the way. The company has made a name for itself — in Colorado and beyond — for its full-service ad platform, and Vice President of Business Development Andy Norwood shed some light on what exactly sets AdAction’s technology and team apart.

 

How has your company set itself apart as a leader in your industry? What tech innovations have helped you differentiate yourself?

AdAction has focused on being the best mobile performance advertising company in the U.S. since day one. We believe in long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with a focus on consistent scale and performance.

We built our internal fraud compliance tools and team to mitigate mobile ad fraud, not only within our own direct partner network but also offering daily fraud sweeps to protect our clients from ad fraud in the wild.

 

“The secret is out about Colorado incubating some monster adtech companies, and we are seeing an influx of talent from the Bay Area as a direct result.”

 

How has your expertise and leadership helped put Colorado on the map for your industry? Is there anything specific you’re doing to put the spotlight on how Colorado companies, like yours, are driving the industry forward?

Our CEO and I have shed blood, sweat and tears on the road over the last five-plus years building a strong reputation for AdAction in the mobile advertising industry. A big part of who we are is being those fun dudes from Colorado who work harder and smarter than the competition.

The secret is out about Colorado incubating some monster adtech companies, and we are seeing an influx of talent from the Bay Area as a direct result. AdAction will continue to evolve and expand with exclusive inventory offerings and unique technology to maximize our client’s ROI.

 

What do you think will be the next big tech trend in your industry? How do you plan to stay ahead of that trend?

Continued growth in the mobile app subscription and shopping businesses as people have become increasingly reliant on their mobile devices. We will continue to diversify and expand our exclusive inventory offerings to ensure we are delivering the users who our clients are targeting with massive, global scale potential.

 

Evolve Vacation Rental Network tech innovation Colorado
Evolve Vacation Rental Network.

Born and raised in Colorado, Evolve Vacation Rental Network has grown leaps and bounds and raised nearly $100 million since its founding in 2011 — thanks not only to its unique approach to vacation rental management services but also to its involvement in the local tech community. Director of Marketing Communications Rob Silk shared some insight into Evolve’s ongoing success.

 

How has your company set itself apart as a leader in your industry? What tech innovations have helped you differentiate yourself?

From the beginning, Evolve has taken a different approach to vacation rental management, primarily by uncoupling marketing and booking services from onsite services like housekeeping and property maintenance. In that sense, we’re pretty unique in our industry. We focus on creating optimized property listings for our homeowners and turning guest inquiries into confirmed bookings. All of that is made easier through our integrations with companies like HomeAway, VRBO and Airbnb, as well as our proprietary revenue management platform recently enhanced by our acquisition of Everbooked. In a nutshell, technology is helping us professionalize an industry that has traditionally been very “mom and pop” in strategy and execution.

 

Technology is helping us professionalize an industry that has traditionally been very ‘mom and pop’ in strategy and execution.”

 

How has your expertise and leadership helped put Colorado on the map for your industry? Is there anything specific you’re doing to put the spotlight on how Colorado companies, like yours, are driving the industry forward?

The fact that we’ve been in the Denver area since our founding and have grown to one of the industry’s largest management companies speaks volumes about Colorado. All along, we’ve hired talented, collaborative and driven people to get us where we are and see no reason that we can’t level up from here. Prior to Evolve, several leadership team members worked in travel and tourism here in Denver so the area is definitely on the map as an innovative hub for the industry. We love participating in local events like Denver Startup Week and joining organizations like Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network to exchange ideas, network with tomorrow’s leaders and continue to drive the growth of Colorado’s travel industry forward.
 

What do you think will be the next big tech trend in your industry? How do you plan to stay ahead of that trend?

At our core, we’re a service business. In fact, one of our differentiators as a company is the level of personal support we provide our owners and guests. So we view technology primarily as an enabler to offering a world-class customer experience. Professionalizing the vacation rental experience in a manner that rivals hotels is the only way forward for our space. So we will continue to utilize technology to gain a fuller understanding of our owners and guests, help optimize the booking experience, fine-tune nightly rates — you get the idea. It’s less about trends and more about the rising expectations of today’s travelers. That will be our technological north star.

 

Printfection tech innovation Colorado
Photo via Printfection.

Leveraging the latest technology, Printfection is giving a much-needed makeover to the printed swag industry — and they’re putting Colorado on the map in the process. Co-founder Casey Schorr explained more on how they’re driving that industry transformation and how the company’s work in the local tech community has helped fuel both its innovation and its success.

 

How has your company set itself apart as a leader in your industry? What tech innovations have helped you differentiate yourself?

We’ve turned a stale, century-old industry on its head by focusing on two pieces that were entirely missing: technology and service. Most companies have to manually purchase swag through an old-school promo products distributor. This means constant emails, paper trails and phone calls. We provide a seamless tech platform where our customers can create, manage and distribute their branded merchandise all on their own.

 

We’ve turned a stale, century-old industry on its head by focusing on two pieces that were entirely missing: technology and service.”

 

How has your expertise and leadership helped put Colorado on the map for your industry? Is there anything specific you’re doing to put the spotlight on how Colorado companies, like yours, are driving the industry forward?

We’re the first real swag management platform, and we’ve been based in Colorado since inception. We work with a number of amazing startups and tech companies right here in downtown Denver and Boulder.

In terms of driving the industry forward, we regularly share the awesomely clever swag campaigns our customers are using to drive real business ROI through swag. Many businesses don’t realize how to use swag to enhance lead gen, to reward customers, or net more booth traffic and ROI from events. So we’re doing our best to educate the world on how to think strategically about swag.

 

What do you think will be the next big tech trend in your industry? How do you plan to stay ahead of that trend?

As companies get accustomed to leveraging actual swag platforms to manage their branded merchandise, they’re ultimately going to want more and more robust integrations into their other systems. We’re already integrated with marketing automation and CRM platforms, but we see that extending into any system a business uses to interact with their prospects and customers. We regularly poll our customers to understand their future needs so we can build that into our enterprise functionality roadmap.

 

Guild Education tech innovation Colorado
Photo via Guild education.

Guild Education aims to bring higher education opportunities to all working Americans by partnering with businesses to offer education as a benefit to their front-line employees. The wide-reaching impact of its work, as well as its list of Fortune 500 clients, has garnered the startup nationwide attention and helped put Colorado on the map for its booming edtech community. Chief Academic Officer Randi Cosentino weighed in.

 

How has your company set itself apart as a leader in your industry? What tech innovations have helped you differentiate yourself?

While much is changing right now in higher education, what hasn’t changed is that an education still provides the main path to upward mobility and the middle class. What sets Guild apart is our ability to match the needs of Fortune 500s with those of the 64 million working Americans who don’t yet have a college degree and have not been served by traditional education systems. By harnessing the power of tuition assistance to reduce or remove the costs of college, we’re eliminating one of the single largest barriers to accessing higher education, and thereby helping to improve the economic mobility of these students.

We believe tech has helped us do this in two ways. First, it has allowed us to create an online marketplace that serves students across academic and programmatic interests at scale. Second, we’ve been able to leverage technology to help students find the right educational opportunities that marry their own skills with the skills and competencies they’ll need to succeed in the current and future workforce.

 

We’ve been able to leverage technology to help students find the right educational opportunities that marry their own skills with the skills and competencies they’ll need to succeed.”

 

How has your expertise and leadership helped put Colorado on the map for your industry? Is there anything specific you’re doing to put the spotlight on how Colorado companies, like yours, are driving the industry forward?

The extensive time our leadership has spent in higher education, focusing on working adult access and success, has allowed us to create a world-class academic marketplace — the scope of which expands greatly beyond just our home state. We also always seek to be good stewards of Colorado by engaging with our local community and explicitly choosing to partner with local Colorado universities.

 

What do you think will be the next big tech trend in your industry? How do you plan to stay ahead of that trend?

The workforce is changing, and what individuals need to succeed in that workforce is changing right along with it. We’re also seeing a shift to better recognize that college-level skills and the competencies associated may come from many environments, whether that is work, school or various stackable certificates earned throughout a career. Seeing so many changes in the skills required of the workforce on the horizon, we’re thinking critically about how to design our marketplace to ensure that the students we work with are gaining the competencies and credentials that will ensure long-term success, even amidst the changing economy.

 

FareHarbor tech innovation Colorado
Photo via Fareharbor.

As an epicenter of the outdoor adventure industry, Colorado makes a fitting location for FareHarbor’s headquarters. The company’s SaaS platform helps tour and activity businesses manage their operations and bookings online. Training Manager Christine Maedche shed some light on the ways the company is driving its industry and its technology forward.

 

How has your company set itself apart as a leader in your industry? What tech innovations have helped you differentiate yourself?

We built a software based on our CEO and co-founder’s experience working in the tour and activity industry. Everything we do comes back to the underlying goal of helping our clients grow their businesses — whether that means developing new AI programs like FareHarbor Telescope to optimize pricing and increase revenue, or FareHarbor Connect which will be enabled for the first round of companies in the U.S. We also recently released Translations, which is our software translated into 10 different languages. This software innovation allows us to accommodate our international clients, making our plans for continuous international expansion possible!  

 

FareHarbor was built by great people, and we’ve continued to expand by only hiring the most talented individuals.”

 

How are driving your industry forward?

FareHarbor was built by great people, and we’ve continued to expand by only hiring the most talented individuals. At the start of every employee’s journey here is our new hire training program. This is a two-week intensive training program that teaches our employees the fundamentals of our software and our culture here at FareHarbor. When our employees are confident in the software, we can better serve our clients.

We hold true to the idea that the client comes first, and that means minimal response times to support requests, seamless onboarding onto the software, and using Google Analytics as well as other tools and software to help us help our clients grow their businesses. With all the above working for us, we have been able to grow our business, empower our employees, and help our clients reach their fullest potential — in turn, moving the industry forward.

 

What do you think will be the next big tech trend in your industry? How do you plan to stay ahead of that trend?

With endless amounts of exciting new technology on the horizon, it's hard to speculate on what the next big trend will be. FareHarbor plans to continue to do what we do best: building and strengthening relationships with our clients and other third parties that benefit our clients, and continuing to provide the highest level of customer service to all. We have always been able to stay ahead of the trends by living out our mission of always putting our clients first and letting the rest fall into place after that.

 

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