Colorado Springs Venture Attractor welcomes its 2022 Cohort 1

The EPIIC Venture Attractor, launched by Tom Duening, Associate Professor of Management at UCCS, aims to drive regional economic development and strengthen the startup ecosystem in Colorado Springs. The Colorado Springs Venture Attractor is housed in the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization at UCCS.

The Colorado Springs Venture Attractor welcomed its 2022 Cohort 1 companies into their Boot-Up Camp last month. Four Colorado-based ventures have joined the cohort from among a worldwide pool of applicants: Wear Bands, Linkup Point, Forevergreen Tech, and Salt Athletic.

As the ventures begin the Scale to $1M program, an online education and mentorship opportunity, the entrepreneurs will have high-impact action items to complete, including monthly ‘progress pitches’ to ensure accountability and other deliverables and milestones to achieve over four months. Each of the ventures has a dedicated mentor with whom they meet at least once per week.

The Scale to $1M online curriculum is taught by accomplished entrepreneurs and academics from around the country. The purpose of the Scale to $1M program is to help each of the participating ventures develop a foundation for scaling their valuation to the coveted $1M level. At that level of valuation, new opportunities for growth financing becomes available.

“The Scale to $1M program is an incredible resource that I wish existed when I was working on my startup. Participating ventures get to peek into the minds of subject matter experts who have successfully applied their teachings in a real way,” commented Luke Doster, the Venture Attractor’s new program director.

The Colorado Springs Venture Attractor is a research project under the direction of Thomas Duening, El Pomar Chair for Business & Entrepreneurship and associate professor of management. The Venture Attractor is a concept designed specifically to attract people, resources and startup ventures to help build regional economies based on a region’s predominate industry cluster.

The Colorado Springs Venture Attractor is a worldwide first, and is centered on developing the region’s sports/outdoors, health innovation and human performance cluster.

“Since I arrived in Colorado Springs in 2009, I’ve always believed that the most durable, sustainable and unique industry cluster the region should develop is the sports/outdoors cluster,” Duening said. “The Venture Attractor is designed to be a catalyst to that end.”

Duening launched the Venture Attractor in 2020 just prior to the onset of the pandemic. Nonetheless, the project persevered and was able to attract eight ventures to its 2021 Cohort 1, which launched in March 2021.

Each of the twelve ventures, eight from 2021 Cohort 1 and four from 2022 Cohort 1, is eligible to compete for the first $50,000 Torch Grants. The Torch Grants are non-equity grants awarded to the ventures that are deemed the most likely to scale and grow within the Colorado Springs sports/outdoors, health innovation and human performance cluster.

Final determinations of grant recipients will be made by a blue-ribbon panel of local entrepreneurs, business owners, investors and civic leaders. The Colorado Springs Venture Attractor expects to award up to three Torch Grants in July 2022. A stipulation of receiving a Torch Grant is that the recipient venture must establish its principal operating headquarters in Colorado Springs.

Duening wants to continue recruiting ventures to the region, and intends to raise additional funds to provide more Torch Grants to worthy, high growth potential companies. Eventually, Duening said, it would be great to develop a facility to co-locate the ventures so they can collaborate and grow in a dynamically creative and supportive atmosphere.

Learn more about the Colorado Springs Venture Attractor

The EPIIC Venture Attractor™ is a university-based research initiative of the El Pomar Institute of Innovation & Commercialization (EPIIC) at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) and is on a mission to drive regional economic development and strengthen the startup ecosystem in Colorado Springs. The focus on early stage startups in the sectors of sports and outdoors, health innovation, and human performance spurs the organic development of a dynamic regional cluster from these complementary sectors. Learn more about the Venture Attractor on the UCCS website.