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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.”

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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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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Future Fit Foods

Future Fit Foods is a woman-and-minority-owned food startup out of Boulder, Colorado, bringing people diverse plant-based foods that prioritize the wellbeing and happiness of people and communities. They are also the winners of the 2021 Trout Tank CPG Pitch Event. Paloma Lopez, founder of Future Fit Foods realized the change people were making was incremental because the business models, brands, and products had not been designed with today’s sustainability and nutrition needs in mind. After

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Med-Fit

Med-Fit, PLLC provides physician-supervised individualized weight management systems designed to help overweight and obese clients lose and maintain a healthy weight. Owner Dr. Angela Tran is Board-Certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine and has practiced in primary care since 2007. Despite Angela’s extensive education and experience, she admits she knew very little about how to start a business when she decided to seek assistance from the Denver Metro SBDC in January of 2012. Angela

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Discovery College Consulting, LLC

When Sara Zessar first began meeting with consultants and attending programs at the Denver SBDC in 2013, she had a company name and not much else. A former high school counselor, Zessar wanted to start a college consulting practice to assist high school students with the college search and admissions process, but she had no experience in the business world. “I knew what I wanted to do, but I needed a lot of help in

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Big Sky Aerial Technology

In business, the sky is the limit for Big Sky Aerial Technology—literally. This start-up company captures high-resolution aerial images for use in precision agriculture, allowing farmers to analyze the health of their crops. Founded in 2015 by Ron Lester and Jerred Lane, the idea to launch Big Sky Aerial Technology was inspired by the years Lester and Lane spent working with land and air-based remote sensing technologies in the Middle East. “With some of the

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