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Trout Tank Spring Participants

Meet Our Trout Tank Participants


Backyard Soda Company

We create all natural simple syrups-for use in crafting sodas, cocktails and more-using locally sourced, whole ingredients and pure cane sugar. We have spent the past three yearsbuilding our brand by selling at farmers markets and special events, as well as to Colorado’s best liquor stores and specialty markets.  

We would now like to build our already established beverage brand into a national competing label by building a production facility and tap room. This would give us the space needed to bottle our sodas as well as give us a destination for our customers to “meet the maker” and understand our process-from ingredients purchased all the way through product delivery. By integrating our products and brand with the ever-growing and popular craft brewery concept, we foresee a wonderful opportunity for growth, and for marketing and recognition as a first-of-its-kind business.

How did Backyard Soda Co Start? 

Backyard Soda Co began when XXX made simple syrups while running a seasonal cocktail menu at a popular Denver restaurant. With syrups as the base of his cocktails, he was also able to craft non-alcoholic sodas for customers that didn't imbibe. As the popularity of his syrups grew (articles in 5280 Magazine, Westword and Denver Post), he realized that he was onto something great. 
He and his wife formed Backyard Soda Co in the summer of 2012. The set out to serve craft sodas, snow cones, sluchies and teas at local farmers market and special events. Because of the many customer requests, after our first year of operation we began bottling our syrups for those wanting to make our drinks at home. Three years later and we are on the shelves of over 80 retailers including Whole Foods Market and are now ready for our next big step into the non-alcoholic beverage industry. 


Kushi-riki crafts exceptional products for children—and then donates one hundred percent of its profits to thoughtful partners who serve them. With a focus on health andeducation, these nonprofit organizations work relentlessly to ensure all children have the lives and opportunities they deserve. Currently, Kushi-riki focuses on the same products on which CandyGrind and CG Habitats built their reputations—gloves. The design and craftsmanship of these products is perfectly paired with the company’s mission. Simply put, Kushi-riki aims to share the love and share the warmth. 

Brandi Paik Co-Foudner Kushi-Riki

Brandi Paik is Co-Founder of the companies Kushi-riki, CandyGrind and CG Habitats. She earned her Associates in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, and has been involved in the fashion design industry since 2001. After marrying her husband Austin, they moved to Coloado and created CandyGrind. Last year, she attended the Goldman Sach's 10,000 small business program. Soon after, CG Habitats and Kushi-riki were formed. Brandi is excited for the philanthropic opportunities through Kushi-riki for children in need. 

                     Website:  Facebook:  Twitter:  Instagram:  Pinterest:


Everleash has invented and patented a whole new concept for pups and their owners - a chew toy attached to the end of a short leash.  Everleash Pacifiers, for larger breeds, and Everleash Binkies, for smaller, are clicked and worn on the dog collar as a wearable, take everywhere they go toy. Dogs enjoy having their favorite toy always within reach.  

 Its adorable, fun for the pup and when you are suddenly in need of control, they are wearing the perfect short  leash!  Whether  you are unexpectedly answering the door, dashing in and out of the car, or enjoying  company, your  playful pup is happily wearing his short leash.     

 How did Everleash Start?

 We are a small group of dog loving entrepreneurs who loved the idea when we saw its initial conception by CEO and  founder Michael Garner. The EverLeash™ was born out of necessity as Nate (Michael's handsome poodle) always  wanted to  play when Dad would work from home. Fed up with the never ending distraction of a playful companion, Michael tied a ball toy to his collar and low and behold Nate was satisfied! He wagged away chomping at his new leash toy. When the doorbell rang, Michael found himself holding the ball as a leader-leash to control Nate as he excitedly sniffed the delivery man. Michael was shocked how simple is was and how well it worked!

It's about making things easier for us, and more fun for them!


Frost'D is an all natural coconut oil frosting that is gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free and vegan. We believe in simple ingredient recipes  that are chemical-free, additive-free and guilt-free. We carefully craft each unique flavor to bring a little excitement to your snack time. Sure, it's great on cupcakes, but we encourage you to mix it up and try it on an apple, french toast or, even, flambeed with bananas.

 Jessica R Hamel - Co-Founder & Owner of Frost'D

 From a young age Jessica knew she'd be an entrepreneur. She spent her early twenties in Boulder. Inspired by her grandmother's baking and  frustrated with the lack of natural frosting on store shelves, she began to experiment with what would one day become FROST'D. and began to  share  with friends. Hannah added the last and final ingredient needed in FROST'D.: friendship. Hannah saw the future in FROST'D. and  convinced  Jessica it was a treat meant to be shared with the world, not just our lucky friends. Alas, FROST'D. was born. CO at a number of tech  start-ups  where she  worked on helping these companies developing new positions in sales and marketing. Baking and cooking  ad always just  been a creative outlet, as  well as, a way to calm her insatiable hunger from hours of ultra-running in the mountains. She had many ideas for  companies and many of them  were only good enough for a little giggle, but there was one that stuck: natural coconut oil frosting. 


Personal financial management is a juggling act. “How do I create a budget that actually works for me?” “Should I be saving more?” “Do I have enough insurance?” “How does my debt affect everything?” and most importantly, “How can I figure out how to make this all fit together without getting frustrated and giving up?" MoneyCarta fills this void by offering comprehensive personal financial planning guidance as a mobile platform because the app puts everything at their finger tips. Everything ties together, everything is in focus. For the first time, everyone can participate.

 Bryan Knoebel - Founder MoneyCarta

 Bryan has worked in the financial services industry for over 8 years. Over that time he has helped countless individuals, families and businesses  develop unique financial strategies to meet their specific needs. During this time, Bryan recognized the alarming lack of access young people  have  to quality financial advice. This inspired him to explore technology solutions that could efficiently deliver financial guidance to a greater  number of  people. He also recognized the need to make personal financial management fun, engaging and easy.

 This has become his passion and directly led to the development of the MoneyCarta mobile application. Bryan’s diverse background also includes  time spent as a nationally touring musician; one high-level music executive referred to his group as “The Hardest Working Band in North America” in  a published interview, noting their unrelenting work ethic and standard of excellence. Bryan graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of  Colorado with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.  He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).                                         

Flipside Pillow

Flipside Pillow makes a whimsical line of single pillow cases to be sold in gift shops. Our pillowcases are made with fabric, we design, which is filled with happy images and encouraging words. Our intention is to offer gifts that continuously tell the recipient that they are amazing and they are loved.  Whether it is a child hospitalized with cancer, a recovering athlete or just a friend who needs to be reminded they are strong and courageous, Flipside brings the joy!  Flipside Pillow is also a Colorado winner of the 2016 Small Business Championship.

Melanie Avjean -Founder of Flipside Pillow

Melanie Avjean is the Founder and Chief Everything Officer at Flipside Pillow! Melanie was recently awarded the 2015 Ice House Entrepreneurial Achievement Award from Colorado Lending Source.She excels at inside and outside sales. Most recently she was a million dollar producer and member of the President's Club at Hyde Park Jewelers. She is excited to bring Flipside Pillow to a gift shop near you!

Website:                             Facebook: 

Luv Byrd

Luv Byrd is an online dating platform that connects people through their love of the outdoors. It fosters the creation of meaningful relationships built upon a mutual interest in individual, outdoor activities. It is the fastest growing, online dating platform of its kind and is accessible through the use of a website and free mobile app. The platform is user friendly, free, highly efficient, safe, and offers a niche outlet for its members.

LuvByrd was created in 2014 and operated solely as a website in order to test the marketplace. Colorado has been utilized as a testing ground, and the market has been proven. Demand for the platform has expanded well beyond the state and LuvByrd is seeking to grow its member base exponentially, throughout the country. Mutual interest is the single most important criteria when formulating a new relationship and LuvByrd successfully provides a valuable service to a large demographic.

Mike Keshian - Founder 

Mike Keshian is a Colorado native who grew up in Albuquerque and has been calling Colorado home since 2002. Mike founded LuvByrd in late 2014 out of his home. He is an experienced outdoor enthusiast who enjoys backpacking, skiing, fishing, and world travel. He has worked many years as a commercial fisherman in Alaska in the summers and a Crested Butte/Steamboat ski bum in the winters. Mike decided to go all in with LuvByrd in 2015. He moved to Denver and began bootstrapping the business and driving for Uber in his free-time to make ends meet. Mike is fully invested in his venture, but still gets up to the mountains as often as he can.

Website:  Facebook Twitter:                                                    Android App Download       Apple Mobile App Download

My Kids Lunch

My Kids Lunch brings affordable, healthy and popular meals to the school meal market through the cutting edge technology of Hot Lunch Online software. We serve over 12,000 meals per day to 145 schools and day care centers on the front range of Colorado. With four individual kitchens in four cities we bring scratch cooked, delicious meals to Head Start, USDA, Charter, and Private school students at a competitive and reimbursable price. Incorporating our school organic gardens, kitchen composting, and our commitment to re usable service ware, we strive to eliminate packaging and waste while offering a true dining experience.

Michael Sudak and Eric Fowler - Co-Founders of My Kids Lunch 

Both founders are both home owners in Arvada, Colorado where the corporate offices are located. Michael Sudak is an executive chef, entrepreneur, and founder of My Kids Lunch. He is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, an organic gardener, and has 19 years of experience in school food service catering. Eric Fowler is a computer engineer and graduate of University of Colorado Boulder. Eric has worked as a software architect at TrackVia Inc. and has also worked as a lead developer for Photobucket and a senior programmer for Tech Law Inc.

    Website:        Facebook:

Colorado Caliber Apparel

Colorado Caliber Apparel is a small local business owned and operated by two veterans. The Colorado Caliber line of apparel was spawned from the desire to express our love for all things Colorado. We provide our customers our unique take on the Colorado State Flag. We basically take our love for Colorado and stitch it right into the flag! The apparel is perfect for gift shops, fly fishing shops, campgrounds, resorts, and shooting ranges – just to name a few of the types of retail outlets currently carrying the products

Will Bynum and Adam Sinclair - Co-Founders

Colorado Caliber Apparel is owned and operated by Will Bynum and Adam Sinclair. Serving together in the US Navy on the same ship, Will and Adam discovered a shared love of Colorado. Adam is a native and Will was a frequent visitor to our great state throughout his life. After leaving the Navy, both ended up making their homes in the Denver area. In the beginning, Adam and Will worked on Colorado Caliber Apparel in their spare time while they each worked full-time jobs. As our number of retail partners grew and our product line expanded, it became obvious that growing Colorado Caliber to its full potential would require more time and energy. In November 2015 Will turned his full-time attentions to the company.

Website:  Facebook:

Easy Float

The Easy Float building on South Pearl lends an upscale and trendy façade with a dedicated entrance to the center with glass front door embellished with the Easy Float logo. Guests experience a kind greeting from the attentive float center host and will be delighted by the exceptionally clean and welcoming environment. Outstanding guest services continue when the host offers a tour of the center accompanied by a locally sourced cup of tea or a refreshing sparkling water, the guest will enjoy a private float room with dedicated shower. The rest is a peaceful and relaxing 90 minute float session that will leave the guest with a sense of calm that can last for days.

The Easy Float model is simple, deliver the absolute best experience every time to everyone.

Bryan Messmer - Founder,Easy Float 

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Bryan Messmer relocated in 2013 to Denver, Colorado to open and operate better-burger franchises in the Denver metro area.  Since September 2013, he has successfully built, staffed, and operated two successful better-burger franchises. Staffing these restaurants, though likely the most challenging component in building a successful business, has also been the most rewarding piece. Considering the level of competition in the fast casual restaurant industry and the public’s increasingly high standards for levels or service and value, delivering a memorable and complete experience has been especially significant in growing a successful business and brand. After experiencing the immense health benefits from floatation therapy for the first time in 2015, Bryan has dedicate himself to bringing the therapy to the Denver metro area and beyond in an effort to improve population health.

    Contact Information:

Still Company

Still Company is considered an online image printing manufacture serving the North American market and located out of Denver Colorado. Our ecommerce focus allows general consumers and businesses the ability upload their image directly to our website for a customized product selection for the purpose of wall art decoration. Our print medium offering will include traditional and none-traditional substrates that range in size from (8”x8”-49”x98”). Our unique ability to print onto virtually any material will allow us to continually extend our print product offering after careful consideration and market validation. From an internal perspective our goal is to become operationally excellent, hiring true professionals dedicated to the craftsmanship of a business built on quality and innovation. At Still Company we plan to differentiate our business by being the first online printer in the world to offer a personalized Augmented Reality experience (i.e. Video) embedded into the actual image. 

Christopher Fisher - Founder, Still Company

Chris Fisher (28) was born and raised on a small ranch in Norfolk Nebraska. He attended college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney where he played NCAA Baseball and received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution. With his degree from the #1 technical sales program in the nation Chris was hired by a Global Manufacture and completed a three-year rotational management program. During the following three years Chris lead a team in growing the North American Medical market from a $1.4MM to a $3.1MM vertical market for electro hydraulic position control. In 2014 Chris began to develop the Still Company business plan utilizing Palo Alto Business Plan Software and working closely with Fuji Film in Chicago Illinois. In the Fall of 2015 Chris enrolled in the Denver Metro SBDC’s leading edge program where he would then be awarded the Creative Business Plan of the year.

Contact Information: Chris Fisher 262-501-1539