11 startups culminate Techstars experience; 3 Colorado VC firms announce B Corp status

BOULDER – A software platform for preserving the sanity of mortgage loan officers. An app for making learning a new language a snap. A platform for helping insurance companies leverage drones so their building inspectors don’t have to ever climb precariously onto a steep roof again.

Those were a few of the ideas startup founders pitched Wednesday night at the Boulder Theater as part of Techstars’ 10th demo night for its Boulder accelerator program.

“Tonight we’re putting the banks on notice because we’re creating money without borders,” proclaimed Will Madden, founder and CEO of Bridge 21, a company that enables individuals and businesses to instantly transfer money across borders by leveraging digital currency like Bitcoin.

Boulder-based Techstars’ 10th Boulder demo night brought to 110 the number of startups that have graduated from the local program. Techstars provides companies with $20,000 and 13 weeks of intense mentorship in exchange for a 6 percent equity stake. Participating startups are also offered an optional $100,000 convertible note upon acceptance to the program. Graduates of Techstars Boulder, including companies like robotic toymaker Sphero and email delivery services firm SendGrid, have raised more than $450 million in funding. And Techstars has grown to now operate 21 such programs around the world.

“Never could have imagined the incredible support we’ve had in Boulder and around the world,” said David Brown, who cofounded Techstars in 2007 with Brad Feld, David Cohen and Congressman Jared Polis.

In addition to the startup pitches, venture capitalist Seth Levine of Foundry Group hopped on stage to announce that Boulder-based Foundry Group and Greenmont Capital Partners and Denver-based Colorado Impact Fund have become the first three venture capital firms to become certified B Corps, a designation signifying companies’ commitment to not just profit but also people and the environment in the ways they do business.

The VC firms joined 75 other certified B Corps in the state of Colorado and more than 1,700 companies that have earned the status around the world.

“So hopefully this action will inspire other venture firms to become B Corps,” Levine said. “Boulder is a leader in the B Corp movement and we’d like to sing from the hills about that.”

The 11 startups that graduated the Techstars program Wednesday night included:

AncestorCloud, Provo, Utah: Enables people to discover their family history through a network of expert genealogy researchers in more than 120 countries.

Bridge21, Denver: Enables individuals and businesses to instantly and more cheaply transfer money across foreign borders and into other currencies by leveraging digital currency like Bitcoin.

Converge, Boulder: Helps building inspectors and insurance companies use drones to examine buildings more safely and faster by using the company’s copilot software.

Edn, Denver: Makes an automated, digitally connected wall garden for growing herbs and vegetables in your home.

Init.ai, New York: Enables companies to create natural-language conversational apps to help them expand their user-acquisition reach and engage more customers.

Maxwell, Palo Alto, Calif.: Helps mortgage loan officers increase productivity by automating their workflow with homebuyers and streamlining paperwork processes.

MeetMindful, Denver: Makes a dating application and community for connecting people interested in mindfulness, health and wellness, personal growth or spirituality.

Orderly Health, Denver: Makes a text-message-based platform that helps consumers and companies understand their health-care costs and recommends ways to save money.

Section.io, Boulder: Makes a content delivery network that delivers faster, more secure content that can be run in local development environments.

Sigmend: Enables companies to track and understand the emotions of workers to improve team and management effectiveness.

Spoken: getspokenapp.com Connects language learners with fluent speakers on-demand to practice speaking, receive feedback, and rapidly improve language acquisition via mobile app.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly noted the amount of cash Techstars provides participating startups as $18,000 instead of $20,000.