Colorado Gazelles and Unicorns; From A to A

The Colorado innovation, start-up, and scale-up economy is on fire.  Unemployment is down; wages are up; real estate is skyrocketing (there are consequences...); and in-migration is accelerating.

That's a great backdrop to celebrate the range of great Colorado companies we're working with at BEN, which range is wonderfully expressed by two companies who inform this post's title, "A to A: Gazelles to Unicorns".

Artifact Uprising is a wonderful young Colorado company that this week announced its sale to VSCO. 

AU is a young 'gazelle'.  The company is a little over two years old; a number of BEN Advisors have been working with the founders for the last six months.   AU tripled revenue 2013 - 2014, and I don't think they'd mind my sharing with you that this 14-person firm generated about $600k in revenue over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend alone!

Jenna Walker and Katie Thurmes are photographers and sisters who realized that there was room for a very high quality e-commerce offering allowing photographers to create beautiful and wondrous print products produced largely from pine beetle kill.  

There are many great themes to celebrate in AU's success; two non-tech women founders building a wonderful tech business quickly to a great outcome; housing the initiative from the start at Galvanize (whose partners introduced BEN to AU); and the sale leading to much more employment for a great creative/tech firm here in Colorado.

Jenna and Katie seriously considered keeping AU independent; their words on the choice to join forces with VSCO:

"This is not the story of a business plan. It’s the story of kindred spirits with shared vision and values. It’s the story of bravery - the bravery to look across the creative landscape and ask the question “What if..?” And most importantly, it’s the story of building something worth believing in - something bigger than any one individual or company.

Together, we can do far more than any one of us can do alone. This has always been true - and it’s just as true today as we begin walking a new path hand-in-hand with VSCO....

...So what’s next? Artifact Uprising, as you know it, is not going anywhere. We will continue to lead Artifact Uprising along with our team here in Colorado, driving decisions with the same passion and heart in the only way we know how. Of course, we will welcome new peers and potential in Joel, Greg and the entire VSCO team. We are excited to get to the hard and meaningful work of writing a story that’s never been told."

We're thrilled for Jenna, Katie and the team -- and very excited to see them drive a great creative Colorado brand forward!

Accuvant is at the other end of the BEN spectrum.  If AU is a rising gazelle -- Accuvant is a Unicorn or, as Blackstone Entrepreneur George Heinrichs puts it, 'a herd of wildebeest'. Interestingly, Unicorns are rising outside of Silicon Valley more quickly then from within:  


The research into “unicorns” – fledgling companies that are valued at $1bn following an initial public offering, sale or publicly-declared funding round – found that 60 per cent ... ... were created outside California’s Bay Area.

Accuvant was founded about 14 years ago by four partners who had worked together as consultants in the '90s.  The first year, the founders paid each other $0 in salary.  After a couple of years they raised their comp all the way to $40k each.

Today, Accuvant has a $1.5 billion revenue run-rate and is poised to become the Accenture of Cybersecurity.

A number of BEN Advisors are hard at work helping Accuvant every way we can.  We want Accuvant to be a tent-pole for Colorado in the red-hot cybersecurity space.  Along with great firms we're also working with like Logrhythm, Ping Identity, and Webroot, Colorado has a remarkable collection of late-stage Unicorns in cybersecurity -- a fast-emerging ecosystem the envy of the rest of the country -- and outside the country.  

An ask:  shout from the rooftops that Colorado has a herd of cybersecurity Unicorns!

The Artifact Uprising and Accuvant stories illustrate the spectrum of wonderful scale-up success stories emerging in Colorado.  We're happy to do all we can at BEN to facilitate this growth - and immensely grateful to all our Advisors and Partners for your contributions. It's fun collaborating to insure that Colorado accelerates as the best place for the best folks to make and grow the world's best companies. 

And here's your latest picture of BEN activity: 

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