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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.”

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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Coppertops Paperie

When considering starting her own business, Jessica Burke was given the advice, “do something you completely love, even in the tiny details.” The only thing she felt absolutely certain she loved – tiny details and all – was paper products. Jessica’s passion drove her to start CopperTops Paperie, a company that sells personalized paper products, in 2013. CopperTops is most widely known for their patent-pending bottle wrap, which emerged from a conversation with a customer

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Create Cooking School

Create Cooking School has actively engaged with the SBDC community for two years by taking advantage of Leading Edge, Trout Tank, financial classes and multiple consultants within the network. And now, owners Erasmo Casiano and Diego Coconati are on the brink of opening Create Cooking School in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver. Leading Edge played an important role in the growth of the company. Casiano learned that adapting and pivoting is beneficial to your business,

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C-21 Project

Keaunna Figgers, Denver’s newest fashionista, is raising awareness of Down syndrome and doing so in style through her company The C-21 Project, which refers to the extra 21st chromosome that she was born with. Born with Down syndrome, Figgers faced obstacles from the start – she had open-heart surgery at just 3 months old and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a very young age. Growing up with arthritis, Figgers would spend hours coloring in

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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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ECS

Jessica Acosta’s business philosophy is focused on three things: people, planet and profit. The Environmental Consulting Services (ECS) founder and CEO works to bring new jobs to the region while creating sustainable environment and financial stability. ECS, established in 2011, provides services ranging from design and development of stormwater management plans to training. Acosta launched ECS to serve and address environmental management and water quality compliance needs of private, federal, state, and local clients. “I’ve

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