Colorado lifestyle industries emerge big winner at 2013 Wright Award

By Something Independent November 12, 2013.

Something Independent Announces Pagosa Springs-based
Voormi as the Winner of the 2013 Wright Award

Fishpond and Optic Nerve also recognized as Colorado lifestyle
companies that most embody the pioneering spirit of the west

DENVER (Oct. 24, 2013) – The 2013 Wright Award, presented by Something Independent, was awarded Tuesday night to Voormi a Pagosa Springs, Colo., startup producing backcountry gear made in the United States with proprietary wool materials. Something Independent presents the Wright Award annually to a Colorado lifestyle company that most embodies the pioneering spirit of the west and is a leader at the intersection of lifestyle and commerce.

Voormi emerged from a statewide pool of more than 200 nominees and 14 final contenders to take home the 2013 Wright Award and a $6,000 prize. Companies competing for the award ranged in size from one or two founders to the 80-person Boa Technology team. Each contender was charged with creating a 90-second video to tell the compelling story of their business to a panel of judges, led by 2011 and 2012 award winners — Dan Abrams, CEO/Co-Founder, Flylow Gear and Jeff Popp, CEO/Co-Founder, MHM. Through the videos, companies were asked to convey their core business proposition, vision, and how Colorado has influenced the company’s inception, culture and growth.

A surprise during the event was a visit from Governor Hickenlooper who arrived early during the event to meet with the contenders and kick off the award program.

“Recently I’ve seen a lot of the ‘Colorado Spirit’ in action with flood recovery efforts around the state. When you visit the various communities in our great state you witness people who are helping each other and willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done, and you see the same with our small business community,” said Hickenlooper during his remarks to the crowd. “Here is to the wonderful energy you are creating and here’s to the entrepreneurs of Colorado.”

Three finalists – Voormi, Denver-based Fishpond and Wheat Ridge, Colo.,-based Optic Nerve – went through a question and answer session before a live crowd and the winner was chosen by the seven judges – all chosen based on their own Colorado entrepreneurial spirit. The initial prize offering of $3,000 was doubled to $6,000 during the program when the Colorado Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Tourism Office and an anonymous donor each contributed an additional $1,000 to the prize pool.

“This is not your everyday business award competition,” said Chuck Sullivan, co-founder, Something Independent. “This is a platform built on Colorado’s unique state of mind, which makes it a place like no other. These 14 contenders are building companies based on instinct and belief, and they are doing it in Colorado. They are the doers who exemplify the notion that if you believe hard and do good work, people will notice. They deserved to be in this room and share this stage. The Wright Award creates energy and opportunity for collaborations. We are thrilled for Voormi and look forward to witnessing them doing great things in our state.”

The winning company, Voormi, is a Southern Colorado brand built around the belief that true backcountry gear should be just as unforgiving as the remote and rugged places in which it’s used. The company manufactures 100 percent of wool-based outdoor clothing in the U.S., and launched its e-commerce website just three weeks prior to the Wright Awards.

“The one thing that struck me at this event was to see meet other Colorado folks with so much passion about what they do everyday,” said Voormi’s Timm Smith. “It’s incredibly inspiring to us, and to be recognized with all of these of entrepreneurs, and in Colorado where so many amazing things are happening in our industry, is a level beyond anything we expected.”

2013 Wright Award Photo Gallery

2013 Wright Award Contenders Include:
Voormi, Pagosa Springs
Optic Nerve, Wheat Ridge
Fishpond, Denver
Badfish SUP, Salida
Boa Technology, Denver/Steamboat
Colorado Malting Company, Alamosa
Jiberish, Denver
Kota Longboards, Denver
Loki USA, Grand Junction
Panda Bicycles, Fort Collins
Peach Street Distillers, Palisade
Silverton Mountain, Silverton
Topo Designs, Denver
Viktorian Guitars, Denver

Watch the 90-second videos submitted by the 2013 Wright Award contenders.

Wright Award Partners & Sponsors:
The 2013 Wright Award is presented by Something Independent in partnership with Flylow Gear (2011 Award winner), Colorado Small Business Development Center Network, Ground Floor Media, Messner & Reeves, Denver Office of Economic Development, Session Kitchen, Breckenridge-Wynkoop, LLC, Zenman, and the Grand Junction Business Incubator.

Something Independent
Something Independent (S|I) is providing leadership at the intersection of lifestyle and commerce. It is at this convergence that doers and pioneers come together to make good sh*t happen. And, it is in Colorado – a place like no other – that this intersection is at its busiest.

Along with the Wright Award, S|I programs include: the Founders Series, an integrated media series featuring inspiring Colorado companies; DSTILL, an annual week-long celebration of American craft distilling; CO:built, an exploration of innovative manufacturing partnerships; Art of Winter, a snow-inspired exhibition of ideas, art and entrepreneurship; The Economics of Soul, a business forum series; and S|I Insight Tours, a behind the scenes look at emerging Colorado lifestyle companies.

Additionally, S|I partners with organizations and initiatives that are inspiring others to find and operate from their intersection. They include TEDxMileHigh, The Millennial Trains Project and Denver Startup Week.

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