Startup companies in rural Colorado have until Tuesday to apply to compete in an investment contest with the winner receiving a $250,000 investment from the Greater Colorado Venture Fund.
The Greater Colorado Pitch series can be entered online in about 30 to 60 minutes and is open to any startup in rural Colorado, which is defined as any location outside of the Front Range corridor from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.
“We like to help build growth companies that attract new dollars into the community. So you might be selling your products all over the country or the world, but you’re company and where you build your product or develop your service is located in Colorado,” said Cory Finney, one of three partners in the Greater Colorado Venture Fund. “MuniRevs is a great example. They have their company in Durango with clients all over the country. They’re bringing in new dollars into the community from outside the region and the state.”
Finney along with his brother, Jamie Finney, grew up in Durango, and they are now partners in GCVF with Marc Nager.
Eight finalists will be chosen July 17 to deliver four-minute presentations July 30 during a live question-and-answer session that is planned to be online to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.
Final investment negotiations will follow with the winner, who will gain access to the $250,000 prize. Finney said $250,000 is the minimum prize, and the dollar amount could grow, and more than one company might be funded if proposals earn favor with GCVF.
The pandemic changed original plans. GCVF was set to host eight events, driving town to town in 10 days, culminating with one final event in Grand Junction at the Avalon Theater to hear pitches and pick a winner.
Now proceedings have moved online.
GCVF has $17.5 million under management, and to date the fund has invested in 15 companies with investments ranging from $50,000 to $750,000. GCVF is supported by 12 other private investors, with the state of Colorado the largest investor.
Finney said 1% of rural Colorado companies receive venture capital, but the GCVF partners don’t want that to dissuade companies from moving or starting their companies in small towns.
“It’s why we exist. To show that you can get venture returns outside of metro markets because we want to show that if you can get venture returns, then we hope that would open up more capital to these regions,” Finney said. “The local success stories – GitPrime, Ska and MuniRevs – show this area really is an entrepreneurial hub. The state looks at Southwest Colorado really as its own entrepreneurial hub.”
“We really want to show that business innovation and businesses can be built anywhere, especially now as geography doesn’t have the same level of importance as it once did. A business built in rural communities and small towns ends up having an outsized impact compared to being built in a metro market,” he said.
In addition to the $250,000 prize from GCVF, companies have a chance of securing a $25,000 investment prize added by the Colorado Outdoors Pearl Fund of Montrose. Colorado Outdoors will also announce its winner, which will go to an outdoor company, July 30.
Also, $15,000 in in-kind services also will be awarded.