Spotlighting DU Entrepreneurs During Startup Week
For the eighth consecutive year, Denver Startup Week brings tens of thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs and community members together. From Sept. 16-20, participants will take part in panel discussions, Q&As, lectures, networking events and more.
To celebrate the University of Denver's involvement, the DU Newsroom is featuring a Pioneer alum each day this week who embodies the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Check back each day to meet someone new!
Name: Sana Hamelin
Degree: JD '12
Company: Denver Cat Company
What it does: Customers can grab a cup of coffee or a snack and cuddle up with one of the many cats that call the cafe home. All the animals are chipped, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and eligible for adoption.
Quotable: “Cats that are sitting in the shelter for a year are getting adopted here within two weeks. I think it caught Americans’ imaginations on fire. [Denver Cat Company] was kind of on the cutting edge of a trend.”
Read more: Cats the Catalyst for Cool Cafe Concept
Names: Kyle Granowski, Peter Burwell and Fred Klaas
Degrees: BSBA and MS '10, BSBA '11, BSBA '11
Company: Echo Mountain Ski Area
What it does: Despite being the geographically closest ski mountain to Denver, Echo Mountain has struggled financially -- that is until three friends from the Daniels College of Business took over in 2016. Featuring 60 acres of mostly intermediate terrain, Echo also prides itself on being an affordable alternative to other big name Colorado resorts.
Quotable: “You meet people that you’re friends with in college, for college, and then you meet your lifelong connections. Fred and Kyle and I have stayed together, and when this opportunity came along, because of the DU connection, this whole thing came to be.” ~Peter Burwell
Read more: Daniels Alums Make High Altitude Investment
Name: Yoal Ghebremeskel
Degrees: BA '07
Company: Street Fraternity
What it does: Young boys and men, primarily refugees and immigrants, can get the support they need to put down roots in Denver. Services include counseling, relationship-building, a kitchen, library, computer lab, fitness room, meditation room, music studio and more.
Quotable: “I have always been passionate to give back. So much has been given to me throughout my life, and I wanted to be involved in my community since my last year at DU.”
Read more: Alum-Founded Street Fraternity Helps Denver Immigrants Find Their Way
Name: Megan Smith
Degrees: BSBA '06
Company: Symbia Logistics
What it does: Serving a range of markets — from sporting goods to apparel to CBD — Symbia provides storage, fulfillment and shipping solutions, as well as pallet manufacturing and supply-chain management. The company prides itself on being employee-centric, cultivating positive relations at all times.
Quotable: "I was told, ‘You don’t want to get involved in this; this is a dirty business; it’s not really a place for a woman.’ But, being a woman is actually what gave me the competitive advantage to take over the company.”
Read more: Stepping Outside the (Amazon) Box
Names: Marcus Christianson and Paige Schuster
Degrees: BS '08
Company: Two22 Brew
What it does: Not only does Two22 Brew create craft beer, but the husband and wife behind the company serve up a healthy helping of charity. As the name suggests, the brewery donates $2.22 of every $10 to Colorado nonprofits.
Quotable: “My dad died in a plane crash when I was 17, so my mom and I had started a family foundation after that to honor his name and his memory. We had been looking at ways to expand the foundation and grow the foundation. We needed a profitable model that could then expand the nonprofit side." ~Paige Schuster
Read more: Alumni Couple Crafts Brewery With a Social Mission