Fourteen contestants- all successful and all in the running to be crowned the winner of the 2013 Wright Award as Colorado's most successful and innovative entrepreneur. Something Independent, a Denver company that works to promote Colorado born and bred businesses put on the event October 22 at the newest eatery on S. Pearl Street: Session Kitchen. More than 200 entries were trimmed to 14 contestants who presented a 90 second video of why they are deserving of the Wright Award.
The line-up for the big-time check included Optic Nerve Sunglasses, Fishpond outdoor gear, stand up paddleboards made by Badfish and bamboo bikes from Panda Bicycles. (See Full line up and videos from each contestant here) . Each company has transformed the face of their industries, crated jobs in the state and contributed to the the vibrancy of communities and Colorado.
Each of the three finalists: Fishpond, Optic Nerve and Voormi answered a live set of questions from a panel of judges, chosen based on their own entrepreneurial spirit, about challenges faced, opportunities pursued and contributions to Colorado. The $6,000 grand prize doubled from the original $3,000 when the Colorado Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Tourism Office and an anonymous donor each tossed in an additional $1,000. And the winner: -- Vroomi- A Pagosa Springs startup producing backcountry gear made in the United States with wool.
“The one thing that struck me at this event was to see meet other Colorado folks with so much passion about what they do everyday,” said Voormi’s Timm Smith. “It’s incredibly inspiring to us, and to be recognized with all of these of entrepreneurs, and in Colorado where so many amazing things are happening in our industry, is a level beyond anything we expected."
Governor Hickenlooper, kicked off the program. “Recently I’ve seen a lot of the ‘Colorado Spirit’ in action with flood recovery efforts around the state. When you visit the various communities in our great state you witness people who are helping each other and willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done, and you see the same with our small business community,” said Hickenlooper. “Here is to the wonderful energy you are creating and here's to the entrepreneurs of Colorado.”
This is the third year for the awards. Something Independent started the awards to recognize small businesses that take big risks.
“This is not your everyday business award competition,” said Chuck Sullivan, co-founder, Something Independent. “This is a platform built on Colorado’s unique state of mind, which makes it a place like no other. These 14 contenders are building companies based on instinct and belief, and they are doing it in Colorado. They are the doers who exemplify the notion that if you believe hard and do good work, people will notice. They deserved to be in this room and share this stage. The Wright Award creates energy and opportunity for collaborations. We are thrilled for Voormi and look forward to witnessing them doing great things in our state.”
2013 Wright Award Contenders Include:
Voormi, Pagosa Springs. Colo.
Optic Nerve, Denver
Badfish SUP, Salida, Colo.
Boa Technology, Denver/Steamboat, Colo.
Colorado Malting Company, Alamosa, Colo.
Kota Longboards, Denver
Loki USA, Grand Junction, Colo.
Panda Bicycles, Fort Collins, Colo.
Peach Street Distillers, Palisade, Colo.
Silverton Mountain, Silverton, Colo.
Topo Designs, Denver
Viktorian Guitars, Denver