Frequently Asked Questions

What is Colorado Companies to Watch?

Colorado Companies to Watch is an awards program honoring 2nd Stage companies headquartered in the state of Colorado. These companies demonstrate high performance in the marketplace or exhibit innovative products or processes. The awards program is designed to seek businesses from a wide range of industries throughout the state, not just the major metropolitan areas. The companies selected each year make an astounding impact on Colorado’s economy by collectively providing thousands of jobs and contributing millions of dollars in revenue. In short, they tell a compelling story about the state’s diverse economic landscape.

Awardees do not simply make it onto a list. They become part of a cohort of 2nd Stage companies that are known for their distinguished leadership, innovation and impact. Honorees receive the following

  • Special recognition at an awards gala attended by business and government leaders from across the state.
  • Complimentary tickets to the celebration event (additional seats or tables are available for purchase).
  • Award inscribed with your company’s name.
  • Increased exposure to the media.
  • A graphic announcing your company as an award winner (to be used on your website or in marketing materials).
  • Profile of your company in an issue of ColoradoBIZ magazine.
  • Invitation to participate in future Colorado Companies to Watch events, including a leader’s retreat specifically designed for Companies to Watch award recipients.
A company must be a 2nd Stage company, characterized as established and growing firms as defined by the traits below. They are typically past the startup phase and face growth challenges rather than survival issues. A company must meet the following for the prior calendar year:

  • Be privately held (not publicly traded and not a subsidiary or division of another company).
  • Be a commercial enterprise, not a nonprofit.
  • Be past the startup stage.
  • Be facing issues of growth, not survival.
  • Employ 6 to 99 full-time equivalent W-2 employees, including the owner.
  • Have between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants.
  • Be headquartered in the state of Colorado.
  • Is not a prior winner.
  • Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow based on evidence such as:
    – Employee or sales growth
    – Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership
    – Sustainable competitive advantage
    – Other notable factors that showcase the company’s success
Anyone can nominate a company. Nominations typically come from service providers such as accountants, bankers, attorneys and public relations professionals. Nominations also come from economic development professionals; trade, business and community associations; the media; and universities. If you wish to nominate your own company, you can either submit a nomination or proceed directly to the application. Tell someone you think they have a Company Worth Watching and nominate them!

We accept nominations throughout the year; however, our Official Nomination Period is December to January of each year for the current year Award Season. All nominees receive an email notifying them they have been nominated. You may nominate them anonymously if you prefer.

After the nomination period, all nominees receive an email with instructions to complete an application.

Only online nominations and applications will be considered.

First and foremost, Congratulations! Your nominator thinks highly of your company! Review the eligibility criteria to ensure you are eligible, then fill out an application by the application deadline. Only online applications will be accepted.
Absolutely. Companies may apply directly and need not be nominated. Just fill out the online application.
Award recipients are selected by a panel of judges representing areas of economic development, banking, legal, entrepreneurship and small business. Judges look for evidence of fast and/or high growth in employment rates and revenue. In addition to being evaluated on past growth and projected success, applicants are also judged on their special strengths (see “What are special strengths?” below).
We are unable to accept materials other than your application. However, do refer to these materials or quote from them to support your points in the application.
Please be assured that we exercise numerous measures to ensure the information you provide is kept confidential and used only for purposes of selecting awardees.
Here is how we handle the financial information on your application:

  • Information provided in the application, including the financials, is used to determine if a company is eligible for the award and to gauge a company’s growth factors. Without this information, judges have no way to determine your eligibility. Moreover, judges sign a nondisclosure agreement before they begin reviewing applications.
  • The information provided in the application may also be used to write a profile of the company for a commemorative magazine. The magazine does NOT publish revenue figures, and references to finances are made using growth percentages only, if at all (e.g., “the company experienced 45% growth over the course of two years as a result of the new product”). At your request, we omit references to growth percentages entirely.
  • If selected as a winner, a company’s contact information (namely the company’s name, principal’s name, industry, city and description) is used to publicize the program and the awardees. Financials from specific companies are NOT used for this purpose.
  • Specific data such as revenue figures are used only in the aggregate for statistical purposes. In this way, it is not possible to isolate data from the whole and attribute it to an individual company.
  • The application asks if information should not be used publicly, including employee counts, revenue growth percentages and other details entered on the application. Companies may select “No,” according to their comfort level.
Franchisees are technically eligible if they are wholly-owned and operated. Some franchises typically don’t fare very well in this competition if the local owner does not have complete autonomy to lead or grow the business (e.g., branding, innovating solutions, branching out). Franchisors operate differently, so if the business owner can be entrepreneurial in approach and isn’t bound by the franchisor in strategizing for growth, then it’s worth a shot. To help the judges understand that your franchise operates differently than the typical one, please address the entrepreneurial aspects of your franchise on the application.
Start-ups that meet the eligibility requirements may apply. Keep in mind that revenue can include equity investments and grants, in addition to sales receipts.
Nonprofit organizations are not eligible for this award. A company must be a commercial enterprise to be considered for the award.
Past winners are not eligible. As we like to say, once a winner, always a winner. However, past winners are eligible for special opportunities such as attendance at leader’s retreats, events and networking. Be on the look out for notices from Colorado Companies to Watch.
Applicants must be privately held and not a subsidiary or division of another company. If the parent company is eligible, we encourage that entity to serve as the applicant.

Colorado Companies to Watch focuses on businesses that are in control of their own destiny in terms of strategy, vision and profit. Entities that take direction from a parent company are often not in a position to exercise such control. If you feel your situation is in a “gray area,” enter “Yes” to the question in Section 2K, then answer the questions that follow, and we will consider your situation on a case by case basis.

Yes, convertible debt can be included in your revenues; however, you must explain this in the area immediately below the revenue amounts on the application. Also explain when the debt will mature and if company ownership will change upon conversion. Lastly, list the conversion as “other” in Section 4C (percentage of revenue from various sources).
Yes, to qualify for the award, companies must have between 6 and 99 full-time equivalent employees in the prior calendar year for the current Award season. To determine full-time equivalent for purposes of this award, consider the following:

  • An employee qualifies as full time if working 21-40 hours/week (this amounts to 1 FTE)
  • An employee qualifies as part time if working 20 hours/week (you would then count each employee as 1/2 an FTE).
  • An alternative way to calculate FTEs is to annualize this figure. This approach is ideal if employees were seasonal, did not work a full calendar year, or worked less than 20 hours per week (base the annualized figure on 2,080/hours/year being 1 FTE).
  • If you provide staffing services or use contract employees, these personnel should be listed in the Leased Worker and Contract Worker sections, respectively.
    Note: Leased and contract workers do not count toward eligibility.
Yes, companies must have between $750,000 and $50 million in revenue in the prior calendar year for the current Award season. In addition to sales receipts, revenue may include equity investments, grants or other forms of funding that were used as working capital. Be sure to apply the same approach for all requested years and list the various sources of revenue in Section 4C of the application.
The following best practices were followed by past winners:

  • Submit your application before the deadline. Applications may be updated up until the deadline. Take this time to proofread for typos, spot errors and edit for conciseness.
  • Past winners recommend printing out the application as soon as possible. This allowed them to collect the various data and compose their Company Strengths statement before submitting the online form.
  • Provide specific examples in the Company Strengths section to support your statement of accomplishments.
  • Using lay terms for technical processes is helpful, and avoiding jargon and buzz words is advisable.
  • It helps to hear how your company compares to others in your field (e.g., if your practices are unique and, if so, how).
  • Use exact amounts for employee counts and revenue figures, if available (judges tend to trust exact figures more).
All applicants will be notified by late April if they are Winners. Companies that make it to the finalist round will be notified in early March that they are Finalists, but please keep in mind that all applications are active and eligible until the final decisions are made.
If you are listed as a contact on your company’s application, contact with your full name, title and email address.

If you are not a contact on your company’s application, because of confidentiality, we do not provide access to applications except to those listed as company contacts, or if the contacts allow us to do so. To expedite your request, contact with your full name, title and email address. If possible, copy the company contact in your message. We will request permission from the contact person on record to share the online login account with you.