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SUCCESS STORIES

Ristole

“Moving to Denver set me on a trajectory that changed the course of my life.” For Ristole CEO Jackie Adams, a woman whose life has already taken many turns, that’s saying something.

Starting her career in computer programming, she quickly found the hours behind a computer screen tedious. She then applied for and was accepted to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, where she taught high school math in Swahili. After returning to the U.S., she began working as a corporate technical trainer.

At one international medical equipment manufacturer, she was the first woman to be hired for that position in their 100-plus year history and taught a department with 800 men and four women. It was during that time that Adams realized there is something wrong with the way employees are trained – specifically engineers and technicians.

“Employee training sucks,” Adams deadpans. “Everyone dreads falling victim to ‘Death by PowerPoint.'”

Frustrated by the limited change she could enact within a corporate structure, Adams quit her job and embarked on a one-year sabbatical. During this time, she helped co-found and launch a scholarship program at her alma mater, Case Western Reserve University, which awards students who give TED-style talks on the experience of minority groups in STEM fields.

At the completion of her sabbatical, Adams moved to Denver where she started her own technical training company.

“I knew I was an inexperienced business owner who had a lot to learn, so I just went to everything!” Adams said. She began regularly attending the consulting sessions offered by the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Through the SBDC, I’ve met with consultants in various realms of expertise. They’ve helped me create a business plan, develop content for my website and marketing my company,” says Adams. “I can honestly say my business wouldn’t be where it is today without the SBDC’s assistance.”

She has also joined the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to take advantage of networking opportunities.

Her company, Ristole, was accepted into prestigious local programs including the Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s “Leading Edge for International Opportunities” and Rockies Venture Club’s Hyper-Accelerate. During this time, Adams “was named among the Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business” and received the Institute of Electrical and Electronic’s (IEEE’s) Outstanding Engineering Educator Award.

At the end of September, Ristole celebrated its one-year anniversary. Adams expressed the debt she owes to the supportive entrepreneur community in the Denver metro area for her company’s success: “This city has given me the opportunity to empower myself as an entrepreneur. I’m grateful to all the organizations and resources this city has made available to people like me, as well as the countless small business owners and industry leaders who have gone out of their way to take me underwing during this past year.”

Briar Common Brewery + Eatery

Kent Dawson is no stranger to the hard work it takes to start his own business. He learned young as he and his brother Greg spent their summer breaks helping their grandparents tend to their farm. “Spending time on ‘The Farm’ was no picnic: this wasn’t one of those grandparents spoiling the grandkids situation. It was exhausting!” Dawson recalled. Dawson and his wife moved to Denver in 2008, looking to enjoy what Denver and Colorado

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Open Road Snacks

In January of 2007, Karen and Tim Bradley were looking for an opportunity to combine Tim’s expertise in consumer packaged goods, finance and operations with Karen’s background in graphic design, marketing and sales. That’s when they acquired Rocky Mountain Popcorn Company. “We work really well together and we wanted to use both sides of our collective brain,” Karen said. “With our experience in brand management, we recognized that, while Rocky Mountain Popcorn was proven in

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Denver Bouldering Club

The Denver Bouldering Club (DBC) started in 2009 when three local climbers – Thomas Betterton, Lee Payne, and Kevin Brown – decided that Denver’s passion for climbing and the outdoors deserved a better indoor training facility. What began as a dream to construct a small training center has now grown into one of the best climbing gyms in Colorado – a gathering place where climbers can learn, train and share their love of climbing. “It’s

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Sky Blue Builders

When Mowa Haile set out to build a business with a couple of friends, they agreed on one fundamental principle: customer service. “The opportunity to be customer focused is what motivates us and differentiates us,” said Mowa, President of minority-owned Sky Blue Builders, LLC. “As consumers, we see the mistakes that big companies make – and we want to change that. Everything we do, we consider it from the perspective of the customer. If it

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The PB Love CO

“We want to feed people real, delicious food and make them happy!” That’s how PB Love CO , a Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) company describes themselves, and it’s apparent in everything they do. PB Love is committed to creating stone-ground, handcrafted, artisan nut butter, using only real-food ingredients in every jar they make. Mario Esparza had been perfecting the flavor, consistency and ingredients of his own nut butter for over 12 years,

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Factotum Brewhouse

The concept of Factotum Brewhouse was first imagined when siblings Christopher and Laura Bruns met their other brother and sister for dinner. As it usually goes when the four congregate, several beers were consumed and before long the idea of a homebrewer-driven craft brewery began to materialize. No strangers to the craft beer scene, Christopher and Laura began racking their minds, trying to think of any brewery—local or otherwise—that truly focused on homebrewers. Was there

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