The Greater Colorado Pitch Series (GCPS) is still accepting applications, but prospective businesses have no time to delay because the deadline to apply is June 10.
Kiki Hooton is the event coordinator for GCPS. “I”m here to pull off the logistics of the event,” she told The Sopris Sun. “Also, if there is a founder or a business interested in applying and they need help with their application or want more information — I’m here as a resource for them as well.”
Seeing that there was a lack of funding opportunities for rural Colorado businesses, the event was started by the Greater Colorado Adventure Fund (GCAF) in 2020, Hooton explained. Additionally, it was apparent to GCAF that many entrepreneurs and small businesses don’t fully understand the “funding ecosystem” as it exists.
“So, the event was created both to help connect business owners with funders, but also as an educational event for the public to see a pitch competition, what goes into that and to learn about different capital partners that exist across the state,” Hooton elaborated.
Initially, in 2020, GCAF was the sole investor. Since then, the event has incorporated three additional capital partners. This year, each partner is offering varying start-up investments, referred to as capital tracks, which align with their interests and what they can offer. Western Colorado Angels — which most recently joined as a capital partner this year — will offer $25,000 to $50,000 in venture, pre-seed funding; First Southwest Community, $50,000 in pre-seed, low-interest debt; Greenline Ventures, anywhere from $250,000, and up to $1 million, in growth debt; and GCAF with $250,000 in venture, seed funding.
“We understand that not every business is at the same stage and looking for the same type of investment,” said Hooton, “so we brought in these other capital tracks to make sure that every type of business could participate in the event.”
There is one application. However, an applicant is to list the type of funding they’re interested in which will in turn match them with corresponding capital tracks.
“We typically have around 100 applications,” Hooton continued, “and we wittle that down to eight finalists who actually pitch at the event.”
Pitch events are common across the country — including on the Front Range — but are typically concentrated in metropolitan areas. “That’s why our event is different, because we have the focus on rural Colorado,” Hooton stated. She then touted that the GCPS pitch event has, in fact, become one of the largest in the state.
GCPS has undergone efforts to enhance its diversity, equity and inclusion practices. The organization keeps track of a plethora of data each year, including demographic details on applicants.
“GCPS has developed a strategy for improving diversity and equity across the pitch event,” reads a press release, “incorporating best practices outlined by Diversity VC — a nonprofit driving diversity, equity and inclusion in venture capital.”
“Between 2020 and 2021, we saw female ownership grow from 34% to 46%,” Hooton offered as an example. According to the GCPS website, “In 2021, applicant diversity tracking began with 29% recognizing as non-white, 4% part of the LGBTQIA community and 11% veteran-owned.”
Winners will be selected at the July 12 pitch event and it’s well within the ordinary for more than one of the finalists to go home as such. Often, capital partners will opt to invest in more than one business; at the same time, a business may receive investments from more than one capital track.
The July 12 pitch event will offer a hybrid attendance option. It will be held at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction and streamed simultaneously online. “This year we’re integrating a really cool interactive platform,” Hooton said, “where both in-person and online audience members can provide feedback to pitch participants, or provide resources.”
In its first two years, $7 million in investment capital was doled out to rural Colorado companies through the GCPS pitch event. Any businesses outside of the Fort Collins to Denver corridor are eligible. Applications are due by June 10 at midnight and the eight finalists will be announced on June 20.
To apply, or for more information, visit www.greatercoloradopitchseries.com
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