Western Slope companies launch their ideas in Steamboat-style ‘Shark Tank’ event
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — On Thursday, four companies with very different products shared the stage at the Chief Theater with the same objective during a Steamboat Springs version of “Shark Tank.”
“We are trying to connect entrepreneurs and investors on the Western Slope. We wanted to bring awareness to the community that these startups are out there and let the startups know what resources there are,” said Amanda Montgomery who works for Four Points Funding. “We don’t want people to think they need to move to Boulder and Denver to create a company.
“The main goal is to get investments for the companies, but it is also just to get the word out. Previous companies have made connections such as real estate advisors and business mentors that are just as, if not more valuable,” said Montgomery.
Four Points Funding hosts the program that introduces investors to entrepreneurs looking for funding and other support. This is the fourth Steamboat Launch, which takes place in February and August. Past companies that have taken part include Click Medical and hearOclub.
This year, four companies from across Western Colorado took the stage in the program which is also supported by Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, Startup Colorado and the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council.
This time around, the group included OP Makeup, out of Aspen, that has introduced a luxury makeup line for professionals; Durango’s Impact Fenders, a company that is manufacturing and marketing boat fenders and dock bumpers to give maximum protections for today’s high-tech boats; Grand Junction’s Proximity Space, which simplifies the management of coworking spaces so the owners can better focus their time on cultivating a community that makes those spaces successful; and Hemp Foundry which has an existing facility in Steamboat.
Hemp Foundry hopes to capitalize on the growing hemp industry and build another industrial lab in Illinois. To do that, company president Jay Fisher made his pitch to investors Thursday.
“We are excited to build our second industrial scale extraction lab,” said Fisher. “Industrial hemp has many uses ranging from textiles to hempcrete to, most importantly, CBD. … The many benefits of CBD include reduced inflammation, and it helps with pain and anxiety.”
The recently passed 2018 Farm Bill allows hemp cultivation broadly. Hemp is no longer limited to pilot programs for studying market interest in hemp-derived products. It also allows the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial or other purposes. It puts no restrictions on the sale, transport or possession of hemp-derived products as long as those items are produced within the guidelines of the law.
“We see a worldwide demand for these CBD products,” Fisher said. “In the market, we use CBD products in vape pens, consumables and topical, just to name a few. It’s an extremely exciting time with the Farm Bill passing into law changing CBD from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 6 allowing for interstate commerce and giving our U.S. farmers crop insurance.”
Fisher said the industrial hemp business is expected to grow to $22 billion by 2020.
“We see this as a huge opportunity,” Fisher said. “Hemp cultivation will exponentially rise, but the amount of qualified licensed extractors will not be able to meet this demand.”
The Hemp Foundry is currently running a licensed manufacturing and extraction facility in Steamboat for processing in the U.S. that is producing 100 kilograms of CBD isolate on a monthly bases. A kilogram of CBD isolate goes for $6,000. The company is using multiple licensed testing facilities in Colorado to make sure its material are 100 percent CBD.
The company is supplying several local CBD companies that offer vape cartridges, capsules, chocolate bars and tinctures. Eventually, the company wants to build a full Hemp Foundry CBD product line they will offer to companies like Walmart, Costco and CVS.
This spring, to meet the growing demand, the Hemp Foundry will start using it’s Illinois facility to produce more than 100 kilograms of CBD isolate on a daily basis. From there, Fisher said the company will try to capitalize on the growing international market.
The company seeks investors to keep the company on the forefront of the industry with growth and new technology.
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