KUSA - Kristen Aguirre sat down with 9News technology expert Scott Yates to talk about 2017, but instead of focussing on all the big winners, they talked about companies that had to learn from adversity.
The year certainly had plenty of success stories, the biggest of them was probably the news that SendGrid, based in Denver, went through a successful Initial Public Offering. That means that investors and employees will be able to cash in as the value of the email delivery company grows.
SendGrid is a graduate of the TechStars accelerator. There are now dozens of such accelerators around the country and a handful of great ones here in Colorado, but SendGrid is the very first company to graduate from any of those programs to go public.
That's great news, of course, for SendGrid employees and investors, but it underscores an important fact: If SendGrid is the only one to go public, that means that thousands of companies are not doing as well, or have actually failed.
Revolar - A rebirth in 2018?
One such story is Revolar, a company that makes a small, portable button that a user can push to alert her contacts with a custom message. The product is aimed at young women so they can feel more safe in urban settings or if they are alone late at night.
Like SendGrid, Revolar graduated from TechStars, and the prospects seemed great as the company grew, and took more than $5 Million in venture capital.
Then earlier in 2017, the company suddenly announced that it was bringing in a new CEO. Then just a few months later BusinessDen reported that the new CEO had left and the company laid off its staff and vacated its office.
What's next? It's not clear, but the founder of the company, Jacqueline Ros, is working on it, and it will be interesting to watch in 2018 to see if she can bring that company back from the brink.
eBags - Like a novella
Way back in the 1990s, a marketing guy at Samsonite went to the management and said the company should sell suitcases on the internet. His boss told him that NOBODY WOULD EVER BUY BAGS ON THE INTERNET!
So that guy, Jon Nordmark, later quit, and started eBags, which became one of the earliest successful ecommerce sites. It pioneered the use of user-reviews on the site, which was really revolutionary at the time.
The company later took a huge round of venture capital funding, mostly from California investors, and then sort of just remained steady for years and years, which in the startup world is essentially failure.
Finally the investors wrote off their investment as a failure, and much of the original team was able to recapture control of the company of 2015.
Then -- in a great full-circle story -- Samsonite ended up purchasing eBags for $105 million in 2017. It wasn't exactly the same Samsonite that had started in Denver in 1910. Now the company is controlled by a Hong Kong conglomerate, but the fact that eBags was still around nearly 20 years later when so many other venture-backed companies had completely folded is a testament to the hard work of the eBags employees in Denver.
Scott Yates showcases new and emerging companies that are doing great things in Colorado, along with tech events on 9News. This post was written by BlogMutt, a company Scott founded. He's an Entrepreneur in Residence with the UpRamp program CableLabs.