Founder Coopetition participants

Founder Coopetition Launches to Support Rural Entrepreneurs


April 20, 2023

COLORADO – The Founder Coopetition, a business accelerator program for early-stage startups in rural Colorado, is returning April 24th. The four-week program will expose participating companies to robust educational programming that will prepare them for funding eligibility, including venture capital, small business loans, and state grants. Powered by Startup Colorado, the Founder Coopetition will run an additional two cohorts this year, with a third in early 2024.  

“Access to experienced funding guides and capital networks is often limited in small-town Colorado,” said Spencer Ingram, Founder Coopetiton Program Director. “That’s why Startup Colorado created the Founder Coopetition. We’re bringing hands-on support to help make funding more accessible to founders no matter where you start.”

The Founder Coopetition combines the ideals of “cooperation” and “competition” in this unique programming opportunity. Participants will engage in shared learning and accountability experiences, helping to elevate the outcomes of all businesses in the program. They will also compete via a funding pitch with both peer and expert-review feedback. Three businesses per cohort will receive a $5,000 micro-grant, totalling $60,000 in available funding for early-stage companies across all four cohorts. 

“We’ve all heard some version of the expression: we go further together. That couldn’t be more true for rural founders,” Ingram said. “Living in small towns often means we have small professional networks. That’s why the Coopetition connects founders across the state in shared learning. We then invite over 50 partners to meet these promising founders and further expand the network.”

The first cohort beginning in April will feature 11 rural startups, six of which are women-owned startups. They include: 

BarUEat in Hayden
MilkxWhiskey in Steamboat Springs
ChronoCards in Grand Junction
Knome in Frisco
Verra AI in Durango
AltSpace in Grand Junction
Orion Labs in Nunn
Zombeez in Buena Vista
Stay Loci in Frisco
Gipht in Leadville
Dating Tips by Meg in Montrose

In 2021, Startup Colorado ran two Founder Coopetition pilot programs to test the viability of the “coopetition” model. The organization awarded $24,650 in financial awards to businesses across the Western Slope and Eastern Plains. Many of these businesses have since gone on to participate in advanced accelerator programs like the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE) in Durango. 

Startup Colorado believes that everyone should have the ability to start and scale a business in the place they call home. However, “That reality only happens if resources are accessible at every stage of a startup’s lifecycle,” said Startup Colorado Executive Director Taylor Grande. 

“We know that rural entrepreneurs need access to vetted funding guides and inclusive capital networks from day one,” Grande said. “The Coopeition focuses on preparing founders to better utilize those resources and gear up for the next round of support from our partners.”

Startup Colorado helps both entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders to access the human, social, and financial capital they need to build thriving businesses. They do this via an online peer-to-peer community and resource center, partnership development with business support organizations, and storytelling efforts to highlight the efforts of rural entrepreneurs in Colorado.

The first Founder Coopetition cohort will conclude on May 19th. The $5,000 grant winners will be announced shortly after. Applications for the next three Founder Coopetition cohorts will soon be announced. 


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Margaret Hedderman
Communications & Editorial Director at Startup Colorado