Founder Coopetition winners: Sara Jennings, Thayer Hirsch, and Mike Davlantes

Founder Coopetition $5K Grant Winners Announced

And that’s a wrap! The first cohort of Startup Colorado’s 2023 Founder Coopetition has concluded. Supporting only rural-based startups, the 4-week program helped 12 founders and co-founders advance their businesses and prepare them for funding opportunities. The Founder Coopetition concluded with a pitch competition; which awarded three $5,000 grants to participating companies. 
“The quality and diversity of startups represented in this cohort speaks to the innovative businesses starting and scaling in rural Colorado,” Taylor Grande, Executive Director of Startup Colorado, said. “Our team was impressed with the progress and effort all of the participants made during the program.” 
Winners were selected based upon their participation and progress throughout the program, quality of deliverables, and the final pitch. The results revealed tremendous growth throughout the cohort, but there were in the end three clear winners:
Orion Labs – Nunn, Colorado
Orion Labs has developed a safety system for outdoor mobile robots to help detect and avoid obstacles. Their system helps these robots to better understand their environment and accomplish their jobs without running into objects or stopping too frequently.

“Participating in the Founder’s Coopetition helped refine my business by getting real-time feedback from peers, getting tasks to help me stay focused and gaining insights on everything from manufacturing to fundraising from the other stellar founders in the group,” Orion Labs’ founder Sara Jennings said. 
Knome – Frisco, Colorado
Knome’s mission is to streamline homeownership through technology, data and insights by educating and empowering tomorrow’s homeowners. By utilizing their own AI and property database, Knome is a smart, app-based instruction manual for your home. The platform offers real-time resources, such as smart maintenance reminders, virtual contractor consultations and crowd sourced vendors to save users time and money with their home maintenance.

“Participating in the Founder Coopetition provided me with invaluable opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations and build connections with ten fellow entrepreneurs,” Knome founder Thayer Hirsh said. “This collaborative environment allowed me to refine my customer and investor pitches, while pursuing new types of opportunities for investment.”

ChronoCards – Grand Junction, Colorado
ChronoCards is a B2B SaaS that helps mapping teams better manage their work by providing activity logs, workflow documentation, and reporting tools for industry software.

“The Coopetition helped me clarify the company’s messaging and value proposition, which has enabled me to better articulate our services to potential customers and investors,” founder Mike Davlantes said. 

“We expect the grant winners to leverage their awards to further propel their business to the next level and prepare them for seeking larger investment opportunities,” said Grande. 
Startup Colorado first launched the Founder Coopetition as a pilot program in 2021 to address gaps in deal flow for existing accelerator programs. Upon the receipt of additional grant funding, Startup Colorado relaunched the 4-week program in April 2023. The Founder Coopetition combines the ideals of “cooperation” and “competition,” requiring participants to engage in shared learning and accountability experiences. 
Startup Colorado will offer an additional three Coopetition cohorts this year. There is currently a rolling application deadline. Rural businesses can learn more and apply here.