2018’s Big, Bold and Bad Ass Brands in Denver and Colorado
Colorado is home to leading companies at the forefront of everything from beer to bike frames, from snowboards to software, and from travel to technology. It should be no surprise that Denver and Colorado at large attract some of our country’s best, top-tier job talent.
Here is our list (updated for 2018!) of some of the big, the bold and, in many cases, the quite bad ass brands headquartered right here in Denver or in Colorado. Learn more about Outdoor Apparel & Retail, Major Websites & Publications, Travel & Leisure, Finance, Technology, Healthcare & Consulting.
Outdoor Apparel & Retail
Backcountry Access (BCA)
Backcountry Access, the most trusted name in backcountry safety for over 20 years, was initially started out of a garage in Boulder, Colorado. BCA’s mission is to save lives, not just to sell their products. BCA supports all of their products with consumer education programs and well as boasting the most knowledgeable customer service staff in the industry.
Bandito Outdoor Apparel (BOA)
For the Bandito and Bandita in your life who loves any kind of fishing, their apparel is made for you. Bandito Outdoor Apparel‘s goal is to make you comfortable, looking good no matter what the situation and inspire you to get out there and enjoy the outdoors!
Started 18 years ago in Steamboat Springs, CO to an already “saturated” camping market, Big Agnes now stands alone as one of the premier outdoor gear brands that you can trust in the backcountry. Whether you’re getting into the backcountry in Colorado or packing for that global trip abroad – Big Agnes gear has you covered! Send them your adventures and crazy stories as the folks at BA thrive on making gear for people like you!
How can you not love this socially conscious, husband & wife founded Baselayer Clothing company? In addition to the rugged & stylish performance clothing – Corbeaux’s non-profit division – Join The Flight encourages donations of gently-used sportswear & outdoor gear. The company then hand delivers the products 1-2 times per year to mountain communities in underdeveloped countries so you know your donation goes directly to porters, guides, and children in need. They have reached communities in Ecuador and Peru already with plans in the near future to travel to Bolivia, Tanzania and Nepal.
Born out of necessity for those Colorado powder days – two college friends and ski buddies formed Flylow to design a pair of ski pants that would withstand the rigors of backcountry but fashionable enough for resort days. Still 100% owned and operated by the founders, Greg & Dan, Flylow has expanded to outdoor apparel for both men and women and has become staple in our wardrobe to those of us who live here in Colorado.
Need great gear that will last? Kelty has been around since 1952 in Colorado and they build gear to last. Like us – they “work hard to play hard” and enjoy what they do. They cover everything from sleeping bags, tents, to backpacks.
One of the premier climbing brands, La Sportiva is known globally for their gear, athletes, and solid, dependable shoes & climbing clothing. Originated in the Dolomites in Italy almost 90 years ago – the company continues to run its own factory in Italy and still focuses on making handmade footwear in an ever increasing world of competitiveness and cheaper manufacturing options. Here in Colorado, the North American Factory Retail Store in Boulder offers group runs, clinics and special events to support our local community.
Originally called “Eggplant Mountain Gear”, two friends envisioned living and doing business in a mountain town. They soon changed the name to Melanzana – Italian for “eggplant” and slowly built the business with the support of Leadville locals and outdoor enthusiasts. Melanzana takes pride in manufacturing with only U.S. made goods and selling their wares all under one solar powered roof.
Mountain Standard isn’t just a time zone – it’s a burgeoning Boulder-based company recently expanding into outdoor apparel. With their tag line “Right In My Back Yard” #RIMBY – that’s exactly what they are doing. As experts of outdoor product design and development with more than 20 years of experience in the industry and they are now taking that knowledge to create their own products to bring to the market.
What comes to mind when you think about running? Gravity, Momentum, Velocity? How about Newton? The Boulder-based running company is the first running shoe company that has achieved B Corp status for their non-profit work and meeting the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency set out by the B Lab. Newton Running also sponsors several charities to give back to the running community including Soles 4 Souls, Trickle Up and One World Running. Who wouldn’t want to get behind that? They also make great neutral drop running shoes too.
Obermeyer was one of the original ski apparel companies and was founded in Aspen, Colorado in the 1940’s. Klaus Obermeyer figured if he made clothes that kept people warm, dry and comfortable – they would spend more time on the slopes skiing. Obermeyer is still devoted to creating fashionable ski wear that holds up over years of use – so although you can buy a new ski outfit today – we Colorado natives, really seek out the vintage Obermeyer 1-pieces from the 80s – if you can get your hands on one of them!
Independent companies who stay true to their roots are harder and harder to find in this day and age. Optic Nerve is the exception. The owners, Tom and Bill pride themselves on being independently owned and operated for over a quarter of a century. Started in Vail, Colorado as a sunglass store, called Mountain Shades. Later expanding to six locations, and encouraged by Tom’s father to create a pair of sunglasses, Tom set out to do just that. When Optic Nerve first started, Tom and Bill drove around Colorado, selling sunglasses out of the back of their own Subaru’s. Now, the owners say although they are a much bigger company than the early days, not much has changed in the way they run their business. Optic Nerve empower their employees, gives back to the community and reduces environmental impact with the materials they choose. Buying Optic Nerve shades is a vote for a small, independent company to keep going strong.
Beautiful vibrant hair colors that you can keep longer than a few days after the salon, the company oVertone has created a line of products that allow customers to maintain that edgy look. With such a continued demand and products flying out of their online store, oVertone is on to something big. Especially when even your grandma wants to dye her hair pink.
In Colorado, you either love cycling or REALLY love cycling – which is why founders of Polar Bottle wanted to blend their passions and develop a water bottle that would keep liquids cool during long rides. Since inception, Polar Bottle has continued to use plastics sourced from around Denver and the USA. This is because Polar Bottle is committed to sustainability and reducing plastic waste. The best part – they will send you a free replacement cap, no questions asked.
Originated in 1965 by Bob Swanson and George Marks, Sierra Designs has been such a long standing company that they have pioneered many of the everyday outdoor inventions that we use today. Their mission was to help us get outside easier and to make it more enjoyable. Today their home base is split between Pasadena, CA and Boulder, CO and they continue to make gear that gets us to “Think Outside”.
Founded in 1976 by a husband and wife duo who initially hustled to sell their first products at trade shows around the country. In 1981, they settled in Golden, CO and introduced the first Spyderco knife. This knife was one of the first to introduce the clip on the handle that would allow users to carry it at the top of the pocket. In addition, they fabricated the round hole in the blade that allows for one-handed opening. These design features revolutionized the knife industry and Spyderco continues to be one of the leaders in the pocket knife industry.
Simple is better. One rod, one line, one fly. Tenkara is a Japanese concept that brings minimalism to fly fishing. The less you have to focus on the technical aspects, the more you can connect with nature and the environment. Tenkara USA was built out of a passion to share this concept outside of Japan – and in 2009 – Tenkara USA was formed. In the years since its inception, Tenkara USA has created a community, taught and continues to teach those who wish to learn, and already they have started a small revolution in the fly-fishing industry.
There are very few companies who can claim they invented a category of outdoor gear. Proudly, Ultimate Direction can lay claim to the entire category of hydration packs. With the creation of the popular “hydration vest” and a specific women’s line of hydration gear, Ultimate Direction has been leading the industry, supporting athletes, and helping conserve our environment.
With high performance wool clothing built for the elements and the rugged lifestyle of the San Juan Mountains, Voormi is a Colorado gem of a company. Fully manufactured and sourced in the US in small batches they maintain tight control on quality, are able to redistribute popular items and their popularity has helped put Pagaosa Springs on the map.
Wagner Custom Skis
Custom skis with your own “Skier DNA”? It doesn’t get better than that. Wagner knows how to build skis that will last and they take pride in their craftsmanship. Every ski is hand-made, hand-tuned and created just for you. The best part – they stand behind their guarantee – if you’re not happy – they will refund your money or build you another pair.
Started in Vail Valley in a small town called Minturn, Weston Snowboards traded in their storefront in 2016 for “Tiny” the mobile shop on wheels so they could tour the country “spreading stoke” and minimizing their footprint. Weston Snowboards is one of those companies behind something even bigger than themselves – the environment, and more importantly our National Forests.
Major Websites & Publications
5280 began in 1993 by asking 75,000 of Denver’s residence what they wanted in a magazine. “Denver, they told us, is a place of contrasts”, which still holds true today. Since its inception, 5280 Magazine has highlighted the best in Denver from its challenges as a growing city to what to do around town. Today, the magazine has more readers than most national publications, and has expanded to 5280 Home, 5280 Traveler & 5280 Health. You will find a copy just about anywhere in Denver.
303 Magazine has been established in Denver for the last fourteen years. Denverites look to the magazine and their online presence that shares the edgy side to fashion, culture, lifestyle and entertainment in and around Denver. As the company continues to grow – they also offer 303 Mixed Media which is a full-service creative marketing agency to help build any burgeoning brand.
Backpacker Magazine is the go-to magazine and website for all things backpacking and outdoors. Every April they publish the Annual Gear Guide along with 8 other issues throughout the year. Created in 1973, the magazine’s headquarters move to Boulder, Colorado in 2007 and has found its niche market with Coloradoans.
Owned by the same parent company as Backpacker magazine, Climbing Magazine provides the same level of quality to their readers for both online and in print. Similarly, the magazine is based out of Boulder, Colorado. The magazine focuses on the weekend-warrior style climbing, with plenty of graphics, advice for bouldering, trad climbing and gear choices.
This is what Colorado is about – skiing. As more and more people swing back to skiing for the newer aspects that bring a challenge – terrain parks, big-mountain and backcountry skiing, this magazine has that covered. The biggest selling issues of Freeskier are the Annual Buyer’s Guide, Photo Annual Issue and Backcountry edition. In addition, their online content is available through their website and mobile apps.
Mile High Sports
Denver is as big of a sports town as Boston. Maybe even more so…we don’t call it Bronco’s country for nothing. And Mile High Sports is where the locals get their sports news, updates, radio, and commentary on all Colorado sports. Download their mobile app or follow them on any of the social media platforms.
Snowboarders are a fiercely independent bunch who go against the grain, a “punkish” sub culture that has an identity of their own. Snowboard Mag was created to showcase the finer things of a lifestyle that isn’t always mainstream. Through photos, film, product selections and stories told, Snowboard Magazine highlights the importance of mountain life, catching first chair on a powder day and exploring life on and off a snowboard.
Education + Technology + Digital Media equals the new way we learn and build agency businesses. uGurus helps web professionals build video courses, tools, templates, apps that help entrepreneurs grow to a six-figure business and scale away from the solopreneur. You can find the folks of uGurus hosting local events in Denver, available for private coaching, and also curating a weekly Podcast – The Digital Agency Show, downloadable from iTunes or Stitcher to take learning into your own hands.
Travel & Leisure
Alterra Mountain Company
It was only a matter of time before this company came to fruition. A collaboration between the owners of Aspen Mountain, and a venture capital firm, Alterra was able to raise over $8 billion dollars as an initial investment. Alterra is now a major competing company in the realm of ski destinations in North America. With offering various levels of the IKON season pass, the premier level includes 15 high-end resorts across both the U.S. and Canada with partnerships on an additional six resorts. Winter won’t be the same again.
Bold Earth Adventure Camps
Offering epic once-in-a-lifetime summer trips for teens all over the globe, Bold Earth has been connecting teens for the past 42 years. With over 17,000 alumni they are doing something right! Whether its outdoor adventures in the US, language immersion in Europe or cultural trips abroad, these trips are booked solid because of their small group size and jam packed itineraries. In addition to the 27 trip options, Bold Earth has made partnerships with many non-profit organizations and every trip has a community service component that engages teens and provides a hands-on experience in the local community.
With offices coast to coast, including an office in Denver, Fareharbor helps travel companies establish and grow their travel websites and influence. Currently with over 5,000 clients worldwide and multiple partnerships and connections, they streamline the process to build up a company’s online reach and clientele. In a realm of many competing travel websites, Fareharbor can make companies stand out above the rest.
A Denver based start-up since November 2014, Hotel Engine provides exclusive hotel savings for business travelers. Connecting hundreds of companies and thousands of travelers in an exclusive membership platform had led this company to success. With 25 of the Top 100 Fortune Companies utilizing this platform, it’s no surprise Hotel Engine found its niche.
Inspirato is a Denver based company and took a spin off the Italian word “inspired”. And they definitely inspire those luxury travel fantasies. Between the destination photos on their website, to the curated residences in over 175 locations or the personalized custom experiences they offer, this company has been breaking milestone after milestone since their inception. Now all you have to do is become a member of the Mile High Club…
With a talented team of individuals that already showed their stripes starting other similarly successful businesses, InvitedHome was the next leap in their industry for the co-founders. Building a virtual rental management company online with luxury rentals in primarily mountain communities – their vision has been to bring hospitality and catered customer service to the vacation rental marketplace.
Offering some of the best technology platforms available for vacation rental software and website design – OneRooftop has it “literally” all under one roof. Allowing you to control your content and book guests on your own terms, there are multiple options to choose from when you hire OneRooftop.
Too Many Miles
Simple is good. Especially when it comes to trying to figure out which travel rewards card is going to give you the biggest payout. Too Many Miles makes this easy for everyone as they want you to explore, travel, and most importantly travel cheaply. With endorsements from travel bloggers like Nomatic Matt, this is something you can put your money behind.
A newer company based out of Boulder, Colorado, this is an evolving website that gives travelers the flexibility to build their travel itineraries without any limits. Trip30‘s founder – Jim Ball knew there were other like-minded travelers looking for the same functionality as all other applications and options currently on the market, create itineraries based on confirmations or travel that’s already booked. They plan to release new features as soon as they are built – let’s hope the app isn’t far behind.
Finance, Technology, Healthcare & Consulting
Founded in Denver in 2006, 303 Software develops custom web, mobile applications and digital products for businesses, governments and start—ups. They provide support to their clients throughout the entire process, from consulting to implementation and post launch support.
A boutique asset manager based out of Denver, Colorado that offers alternative and behavioral-based strategies for their investment clients. 361 Capital values full transparency and are committed to delivering quantitative analysis and in-house research to make its investments. Their range of clients include investment companies, pooled investment vehicles, charitable organizations and high net worth individuals.
AbscenceSoft delivers a cloud-based Human Resources (HR) platform specifically for FMLA and employee absences. Along with AbscenceSoft the company also developed the AbsenceTracker, a tracker to assist HR administrators with FMLA requirements and helps maximize compliance for companies.
With almost 19,000 employees worldwide, Arrow’s Colorado division is one of the largest employers in the Denver area. As a global provider of electronic components, technology and computing solutions, Arrow has been able to control the entire supply chain for their products and other manufacturers. They remain a leading company in their industry, a Fortune 500 company and close to $30 billion in sales last year.
It’s refreshing to see a start-up started by and run by women. Bamboobies came into the market after initially creating cute and fashionable nursing pads for nursing mothers. This product (and now many others) cater to their niche market of all women who are having or have children. With their growing line of products, available in Target’s around the country, and an Instagram feed that shows us what real women struggle with, this brand is showing us breastfeeding and women’s health is paramount.
Founded in 2016 in Denver, Colorado, CyberGRX is leading the way in cyber security. Much like open code for programmers, Cyber GRX is creating a space in which to share threat assessments to save on the redundancy for each vendor. With the attention of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, this company is poised to continue to grow in this expanding niche market.
DigitalGlobe is Google Earth times ten. DigitalGlobe is trusted by more than 40 governments for mission-critical information from satellite imagery provided by their satelites. With high-resolution images, 17 year time-lapse image library and all available through cloud-based services, DigitalGlobe is changing how we interact with each other and the planet. Big brother has arrived.
Since its inception in 1998, Healthgrades continues to evolve to provide consumers with trusted information about physicians, hospitals, and health care providers. The biggest benefit Healthgrades provides is a compiled list of physician’s, comparing and rating them based on the physician’s experience in a particular area or procedure. As with everything these days, you can find them on their website and mobile platforms.
Based out of Golden, CO, HomeAdvisor has gone through a few transitions since it’s origination in 1999. Most recently, HomeAdvisor merged with Angie’s List to become the leader in the digital marketspace for anything and everything home related. HomeAdvisors continues to be one of the Top 100 digital companies in Colorado and with that has come growth into a few international markets as well.
Founded in 2003, this Boulder-based start-up has grown to epic proportions and continues to make waves. Known for its threat-detection technology, it recently partnered with a private equity firm to assist them in growing on a larger scale. LogRhythm has won a multitude of accolades in the past few years and it’s only a matter of time before they bring more to the marketplace.
Madwire provides small businesses with a digital marketing platform and marketing services that help build their online presence. They focus on assisting with internet advertising, social media presence, lead-generation and lead-conversion while helping small business clients maximize their marketing strategies to target audiences.
Maxwell set out to reinvent the residential mortgage industry with a modern platform that would help mortgage professionals connect with their clients and automate the process of home-buying. The best part is, a certain portion of Maxwell’s monthly revenue goes towards New Story, a non-profit enterprise, that helps build homes in places that need it most – Haiti, El Salvador and Bolivia.
An innovative use of technology to provide support to those with behavioral health and mental health issues. The idea behind the myStrength app is to utilize it in conjunction with medical therapies such as medications and working with a behavioral health professionals. It already has garnered a lot of success and hopefully will continue to do with word of mouth.
ProtectWise has disrupted the realm of network security by offering real-time security with its Cloud Network DVR. The DVR allows security professionals to see real or potential threats, both in real-time and previously recorded to discover any weaknesses or changes that occurred over the network. This company is poised for continued growth as they recently secured more funding and have almost doubled their workforce since their inception. Keep your eyes focused on this company for what they bring next.
Started almost 20 years ago, ServiceSource specializes in B2B growth solutions by focusing on certain aspects of their client’s business. With ServiceSource’s talent and recent global expansion, they provide solutions to grow and retain more revenue to their clients in 45 languages and in 170 countries.
Formed in 2007, SpotX has undergone many shifts over the years as a company. Currently they have switched their current focus to Spot.TV. With converging digital video and traditional television they hope to form an integrated system where the media owners of the platform can manage content and inventory.
Recently relocated from Washington, DC to Denver, Vertafore is a long-time developer of insurance technology and platforms. Although the original firm has been around almost half a century, they have new momentum since being acquired by private equity firms and acquiring smaller competitors in the last two years. With the continued expansion comes the need for additional employees and they are looking to the Denver market to fill those needs.
Few companies can boast being the largest privately held internet security company in the US. Established in 1997, they now operate globally in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific Region. As cybersecurity becomes more of a pressing threat in our ever increasing cloud-based world, Webroot works to anticipate, predict and remediate threats before they happen.
At the ripe age of 45, the co-owner of Xero Shoes decided to get back into sprinting. To no one’s surprise, he was facing constant injuries. After some research and inspiration from the book Born to Run, he created his own barefoot running sandal. The demand in their hometown of Boulder, CO was so great, that within three months, this start-up became a full time job for both the co-founder and his wife. That was 2009 and with the help of Shark Tank in 2013, the company has now grown to multi-million dollar company.
Zenman brings a balance of left and right-brain strategies and designs to assist their clients with digital services, such as branding, product development, websites, e-commerce and marketing. They have been innovating for the past two decades and continue to produce amazing products for their clients.