Earlier this week, the Denver Office of Economic Development named ProtectWise a Denver Gazelle as part of the fourth annual Denver Startup Week. We're honored to receive this recognition alongside Altitude Digital, Four Winds Interactive and Wayin and to join the ranks of Denver-based companies including SendGrid, Inspirato, Ibotta and Ping Identity that have been named Gazelles in previous years.

When Gene Stevens and I founded ProtectWise in April 2013 and began raising seed capital, we were frequently asked if we'd consider building the company in Silicon Valley. To be honest, we never seriously considered starting ProtectWise anywhere other than Denver.

ProtectWise is my third tech startup in Colorado and my second in Denver (I also co-founded USA.NET in Colorado Springs and MX Logic--acquired by McAfee--in Denver). I've long known that Denver has the deep bench of skilled talent, a culture of collaboration and innovation, and provides just the right amount of insulation from some of the distractions and pitfalls (like the sky high cost of living and competition for employees) of Silicon Valley or New York. Until recently, the fertile Denver soil was kind of a well kept secret.

It's only been in the past few years that the city and the state have begun to garner national recognition as a hub for economic growth and innovation. Forbes Ranked Denver #1 in its 2015 List of The Best Places for Business and Careers, this is in large part due to its diverse economy especially in the aerospace, bioscience, energy and information technology industries. Earlier this year an annual ranking listed Denver as the best metro area in the country for economic development and jobs. The Denver-Boulder corridor has a thriving tech scene and it is increasingly becoming a center of excellence for cyber security with Webroot, LogRhythm and Ping all calling Colorado home. This is not going unnoticed by those looking for jobs and for a chance to work with young, entrepreneurial companies. Denver is among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country with approximately 1,000 people per month moving to the area (more than 30 per day).

Beyond its natural beauty, world class outdoor activities and overall quality of life, Denver has a whole has a lot to offer emerging companies. It has the nation's second most highly educated workforce. Having access to a pool of talent with the the right education and skills is important, but to truly be successful, startups need employees who are passionate about innovation and willing to make a leap of faith. Maybe it's a legacy of the Front Range pioneer mentality, but Colorado attracts risk-takers and you need risk takers to give birth to innovation. According to the 2015 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, Denver unseated San Francisco to take the #5 spot on the list of top U.S. cities for startups. In the past year alone, forty-two Denver-based startups raised $408,990,000 in VC funding.

It's no surprise. You don't have to look farther than the success of events like Denver Startup Week--the largest free entrepreneurial event of its kind in the U.S.--to see why Denver is quickly becoming a haven for startups. This year the event attracted more than 10,000 startup community members from over 700 companies participating in more than 180 events over the course of the week.

We're so honored to be named a Denver Gazelle and can't think of more fertile ground from which to grow ProtectWise and completely innovate on how network security is delivered.