AlignTec is a relative veteran, founded in 1996, while GitPrime is but a toddler, founded in 2015, but both companies have caught the eye of people sizing up Colorado’s business environment for the next big thing.
Both Durango businesses made the cut of 50 firms to watch with the release of the 2018 Colorado Companies to Watch list.
“We look far and wide for companies that are really driving products or services forward or have made outstanding philanthropic contributions or have created an outstanding corporate culture,” said Erin Beckstein, program director with Colorado Companies to Watch.
CCTW is a nonprofit awards program that annually honors 50 fast-growing companies that have moved beyond the startup stage and have entered the so-called second stage of development, when they are trying to grow their business and to reach beyond a startup’s focus on mere survival.
From across the state, companies are recognized for their performance in the marketplace, innovative products, unique processes, strong corporate cultures and philanthropic actions, Beckstein said.
Companies that are named to the CCTW list usually have $750,000 to $5 million in annual revenue and at least six employees.
This is the 10th year for the CCTW, which held its 10th anniversary Gala Awards on June 22 in Denver, when it named 50 new companies to its list that now has 500 alumni. Previous companies named to CCTW include: Justin’s Nut Butter, 2009; OtterBox, 2009; and PharmaJet, 2011.
AlignTekOrion Lukasik, CEO of AlignTec, said, “We were nominated in 2017, but we weren’t quite ready. But 2018, I always thought, was going to be our year.”
In 2013, Lukasik said AlignTec began a concerted effort to grow its business of providing terrestrial-fixed wireless for internet service first in La Plata County and now moving beyond into a wider area of Southwest Colorado.
“We’re coming up on $1 million in annual revenue,” Lukasik said. “In 2013, we had three employees. Today, we have six full-time employees, and we work with a couple of contractors. So we’re right where CCTW was looking.”
AlignTec is examining taking its first steps to integrate fiber-optic networks with its existing terrestrial-fixed wireless network to add to its ability to provide internet to remote parts of Southwest Colorado.
About four months ago, AlignTec entered Montezuma County, using its own, in-house-built towers that don’t require a permanent foundation to provide microwave wireless internet service to remote subdivisions. The remote developments often come with an array of topological features, making affordable internet service a headache.
“Topography is difficult in Southwest Colorado; the more locations to broadcast, the better,” Lukasik said. “Hills, canyons, mountains, dense growth of trees, a neighbor’s house can all pose problems” of getting internet service.
Despite obstacles of local terrain, Lukasik said AlignTec is starting to benefit from its growth.
The more remote areas AlignTec covers with links to other towers in its network, the more robust and wide-reaching its provision of broadband internet becomes, Lukasik said.
Cynthia Dow, chief financial officer for AlignTec, points out another benefit to customers as AlignTec grows.
“The only thing that has changed is that prices have come down as we’ve grown,” she said. “There is a certain benefit that comes from economies of scale.”
Mark Petrocchi, AlignTec chief technical officer, sees continued growth in providing internet service in Southwest Colorado.
“Telecommuters are coming, and if they don’t find service available, they won’t buy,” he said. “A lot of people are looking for a house, and they won’t take it without a certain bandwidth,” he said.
The new reality of digital-era infrastructure required to attract desirable telecommuters to La Plata County, Petrocchi said, has made for “a good relationship” with local economic development officials.
“Roger Zalneraitis (executive director of La Plata County Economic Development Alliance) is always excited to hear about new areas we are going into,” Petrocchi said.
While AlignTec for now is focused on providing the best internet service it can to rural areas, Lukasik sees potential to offer other services.
In the future, the firm could explore offering internet TV and voice-over-internet telephone, Lukasik said. AlignTec also has an eye on offering residential services such as home media, home wiring, home IT and home networking.
GitPrimeTravis Kimmel, GitPrime CEO and co-founder, said, “We are honored to be recognized as one of the top 50 most innovative companies in Colorado. The support we’ve received along the way has been truly amazing, and we’re proud to be a part of the growing Colorado tech ecosystem.”
In the three years since it was founded, GitPrime has moved from serving a dozen customers to serving some 300 customers all over the world. It aims to grow into a major employer in Durango.
Kimmel and Ben Thompson started the company focused on providing productivity analytics for software teams in DurangoSpace in early 2015.
“Back then, Ben and I were two guys with a PowerPoint and a dream,” Kimmel said.
Earlier this year, GitPrime closed on an agreement with OpenView partners, a venture capital firm, on a $10.5 million investment. OpenView is the prime investor, but other investors are also involved in the equity offering, said Brook Perry, marketing manager with GitPrime.
Kimmel, in announcing the $10.5 million investment, said, “Every company that builds software can benefit from transitioning from gut feel to a data-driven approach. Each day it is our great honor to work with our customers to improve the way engineers are led, managed and cared for.”
The company employs 20 people and has offices in Durango, Boulder and San Francisco.