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Startup Colorado Announces First Founder CO-OPetition Cohort

In the fall of 2021, Startup Colorado launched a free CO-OPetition pilot program for idea to early stage entrepreneurs. Merging the concepts of “cooperation” and “competition,” the four-week experience invited entrepreneurs to participate in weekly activities by not only building their own business, but also providing feedback for others. At the end of the program, participants anonymously evaluated and voted for a winner. Startup Colorado provided $15,000 in funding, awarded to all participants in amounts of $2000, $1000, and $550. 

We successfully ran two cohorts of rural entrepreneurs across all industries – from outdoor industry to tech – and are currently fundraising to support this program in the future. By merging the concepts of cooperation and competition, the program encouraged participants to support each other in the development of their business. 

In the first of two blog posts, we’re highlighting our CO-OPetition participants and their businesses. See who participated in the the first cohort below. 


Mariana Cevallos & Mike Davlantes – Alluvia Packraft, Grand Junction, CO

Alluvia Packraft

Alluvia Packraft is an outdoor startup based in Grand Junction, that makes lightweight, packable, inflatable boats for adventurous explorers who want to include water sports in their outdoor activities. A packraft can be folded down to the size of a roll of paper towels and weigh less than a gallon of water. Unlike our other portable raft companies, Alluvia strives to be perceived as a more approachable option, positioning themselves around urban/suburban use with easy access to water. 3% of our profits will go towards making the outdoors a more inclusive, diverse, and safe space for everyone.

“We thoroughly enjoyed the entire program! Thank you for giving us such a great opportunity! It helped us clarify our focus on product/market fit and encouraged us to focus on the highest-impact things we could do to move the business along.”


Paula Peterson – ZODAT, Hesperus, CO


Zodat Industries is an innovative, southwest Colorado company that manufactures USA made, patented, high pressure washing solutions for the commercial transportation, industrial equipment and renewable energy markets that enhance safety, efficiency, and bottom line. The launch product is the Zodat Headlight Washer; which cleans your headlights from the cab, no more stopping on the road to be able to see and be seen.

“The connections and the people at Startup Colorado make it easy to reach out to them and they are all so helpful with introductions, guidance and information. I would still be stumbling about wondering where to go next in obtaining information. We are building a pitch deck and are looking for venues to obtain funding so we can get our product to market.”


Josh Jacobs – SJ Eco Materials, Pagosa Springs, CO


SJ Eco Materials is a cutting edge natural fiber materials company that specializes in creating sustainable solutions for the growing demand of composite manufacturing. We provide a variety of manufacturing facilities with durable, aesthetically pleasing materials that help them create eco-friendly products, replacing toxic materials such as Hard plastics, Fiberglass, Kevlar, or Carbon Fiber.

“I was in a cohort which was a variety of businesses, each were at their own stage of development and we helped each other progress. My business has been simultaneously going through a program called SCAPE in Durango, so this program helped me stay focused on weekly goals and achievements.”


Thayer Hirsh – HomeCheck, Frisco, CO


Owning and maintaining a home is hard. HomeCheck makes homeownership a breeze by providing smart home maintenance action plans to homeowners in vacation communities. With the HomeCheckUp app, homeowners can receive proactive maintenance reminders, lookup their maintenance history, and access discounted one-click service requests. HomeCheck is headquartered in Frisco, CO.

“It allowed me to network and bounce ideas off of other early stage entrepreneurs. Specifically, I received a lot of feedback on pricing with new potential clients.”


Martha Heim – BCKYRD, Glenwood Springs, CO


BCKYRD is a new platform that allows individuals and companies to schedule in-person, customized yoga classes for their friends, family, co-workers, and teammates in safe spaces they choose.  BCKYRD liberates you from the traditional four walls of fitness and lets you customize a wellness setting that is tailored to your specific needs.

“The Coopetition helped us with ideas on how to pivot our business model and find traction in other ways.”


Jodi Jahrling – Zu Gallery, Cortez, CO

ZU Gallery

A MonteZUma County Photography Studio | Art Gallery | Meeting & Makerspace – Community & Collaboration Meets Art. ZU Gallery is a community space providing an environment for gathering, learning, and creating, showcasing MonteZUma County artists and providing portraits, products and event photography.

“When you don’t feel alone in the process of starting a business, you feel braver about taking leaps.”


Chris Gousset- GLADIS, Grand Junction, CO


GLADIS is a real time GPS tracking and geofencing platform designed with outdoor enthusiasts, professionals, and event coordinators in mind. The system is rugged, affordable at scale, fully customizable and very easy to use. Best of all, GLADIS is capable of operating completely offline, with no need for an ongoing data connection, no subscription fee, and no external hardware requirement. The GLADIS web, mobile and PC apps harness Wi-Fi and data connection, allowing the GLADIS operator to use their system how, when, and where they please.

“My biggest take away was the benefit of all the feedback and coaching on how to communicate my business ideas clearly and in a way that gets the listener interested, without bogging them down with tech jargon. Also, learning to set actionable goals and holding myself accountable without beating myself up for my failings was a big one as well.” 


Jeremy Kilpatrick – Klover Kare, Haxtun, CO

Klover Kare

Klover Kare is an out of the box collaboration, for an age old problem: Mental Illness. We unite the strength of Veterans, both young and old, with those struggling with mental illness. Who better to aid someone struggling than the men and women who have struggled themselves, many still coping with what life has given them. Klover Kare uses the power of Comaradarie, something built in times of pain and suffering as a unit, in the healing environment of horticulture. 

“The team was the best. Had a lot of fun collaborating with everyone.”


Breanna Ortiz – All Bre’s Cakes, La Jara, CO

A bakery based in the San Luis valley, All Bre’s Cakes, by offering custom cakes, cookies, and everything in between. Breanna hopes that through her business she can help be a voice and an agent for change to help make the future brighter for members of the Southern Ute Reservation and beyond. 

“The CO-OPetition helped me more than any other program before to help me find a specific product to focus on. This truly helped me find my product market fit.” 


Sonjia Weinstein – LifeHands, Durango, CO


The LifeHands™  packet integrates scene assessment and diagnostic reminders as well as documentation tools with the first aid kit essentials of medical gloves and a biohazard bag. All materials are weatherproof and designed to function reliably in the range of conditions that explorers and outdoor enthusiasts encounter. 

“The weekly pattern of activities, setting goals and discussions/critiques with the cohort were all very helpful. Being part of a group with other entrepreneurs, seeing how people present their companies while learning how to present their company was educational, and encouraging.” 


Jamie Matthews, Durango

Jamie Matthews is developing an accounting cooperative to empower women with the skills and knowledge to manage their own networks, balance work with personal endeavors and support each other to earn a living wage. Unlike a traditional accounting firm, an umbrella cooperative will help offset the expense of technology, licenses and insurance for the benefit of all its members.

“The CO-OPetition kept me motivated to keep moving forward as I transitioned out of my full time employment and into owning my own business.”