Go Code Colorado, the app-development challenge created last year by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, was well attended May 21 in Denver by more than two dozen enthusiastic locals. But, despite their efforts, the two Colorado Springs teams walked away without accolades.
“We really enjoyed going to Denver to watch the nine teams from all over the state present at the Go Code finals,” said Lisa Tessarowicz, owner of Epicentral Coworking in downtown Colorado Springs. “We had high hopes for the two teams from Colorado Springs. … But we’re still very proud of what they accomplished and we hope they continue working on their apps, both of which have a lot of potential.”
The state’s nine finalist teams — two each from Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Denver and Grand Junction, and one merged team from Durango — competed at the History Colorado Center in downtown Denver in the second annual competition. The three winners each received a $25,000 contract with the Secretary of State’s Office.
After dinner was served and brief introductions by Secretary of State Wayne Williams and other Go Code dignitaries were made, the nine finalist teams were given five minutes each to pitch their concepts to a sold-out crowd of more than 300, followed by a long deliberation by a panel of five expert judges.
“The apps were stronger this year,” said judge Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. “Go Code Colorado continues to find innovators across the state who are doing amazing things with public data.”
The three teams that won were Mentor Matter from Denver, Stay CO-Flow from Fort Collins and Pikr Knows from Fort Collins.
Mentor Matter aimed to create an app to bridge the gap between the skills that graduates have and what businesses are looking for in potential employees. “Mentor Matter connects college and university students with volunteer industry mentors to improve recruiting and increase new hire retention through mentorship,” according to gocode.colorado.gov.
Fort Collins’ Stay CO-Flow created “an incentive-based mobile-app designed to encourage and validate responsible and environmentally friendly ways to change commuting patterns,” according to gocode.colorado.gov. “Commuters will be incentivized by perks from local businesses.”
Pikr Knows, the other Fort Collins team, designed a “tourism app for residents and visitors that suggests activities based on user preferences,” according to gocode.colorado.gov. “Users willingly offer personally identifiable information in exchange for suggestions of interesting things to do. This visibility informs businesses as to how they might adjust their business models, offerings and marketing/sales efforts to maximize profitable and sustainable revenue.”
The competition kicked off April 8 at the Denver Art Museum, followed by “challenge weekend,” during which competitors from the five challenge cities vigorously planned, designed and coded to prepare for the first round of judging. Of the eight Colorado Springs teams that competed for a finalist position at Epicentral Coworking, only two were victorious: Quizata and U-Nite.
Quizata, which included two Magneti Marketing employees, a UCCS student and a 15-year-old high schooler, created an app billed as a cross between popular dating app Tinder and online content aggregator Buzzfeed. The app is designed to use quizzes to help Colorado tourists engineer their own vacations and provide helpful data to tourism agencies.
U-Nite (originally G-Team), composed of Gazette staffers and led by reporter Maria St. Louis-Sanchez, designed an app to pair businesses with competent interns studying in applicable fields at nearby colleges and universities.
Judges for the local competition included J Chesney, general manager of Colorado Springs defense contractor TechWise; Aimee Cox, housing and community initiatives manager for the City of Colorado Springs; and Patrick Bultema, a venture capitalist who serves as executive director of the Innovation Institute at Colorado College.
Between challenge weekend and the final event, the finalist teams attended a “mentor weekend” in Boulder to “hone their apps and business ideas,” according to Go Code’s website.
In developing their apps, the teams used public data provided by the Secretary of State’s Office to address one of four challenge prompts related to business intelligence, transportation solutions, higher-ed partnerships and tourism.
“When our office launched Go Code Colorado last year, we had a vision for the value that data could add to Colorado’s business community,” according to Williams. “The final event just proves that putting a resource like public data in the hands of smart and savvy entrepreneurs and developers can create great solutions for Colorado businesses.”
This year’s finalist judges included state officials and Colorado entrepreneurs: Bing Chou, vice president of product at tech firm Simpler; Ingrid Alongi, Boulder Chamber of Commerce’s entrepreneur of the year and co-founder/CEO of tech company Quick Left; Nicole Gravana, chief visionary at The Quandry Group and former director of operations for the Rockies Venture Club; Erik Mitisek, CEO of Colorado Technology Association; and Suma Nallapati, Colorado Secretary of Technology.