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How Two Colorado Software Startups Are Boosting Their Local Economies

How Two Colorado Software Startups Are Boosting Their Local Economies

Wayne Heilman/The Gazette, Colorado Springs

Two small Colorado Springs-area online software start-up companies are trying to carve profitable niches in specialized markets that they hope will help them grow into key players in their industries and play a significant role in the local economy.

Colorado Springs-based Four Roads LLC helps its customers build an online presence using social media and electronic commerce tools based on the Telligent Community software suite, which includes tools for organizations to build blogs, wikis, discussion forums, media galleries, RSS feeds and other applications.

After some early successes, such as winning a contract with New Zealand consulting firm Aliveware Ltd. that has since ended, the 2-year-old company is trying to broaden its customer base of 100.

Monument-based ProVault LLC earlier this month moved from the testing phase with its online software that helps clients of family law practices and support professionals produce the financial affidavit used in divorce proceedings.

The 9-month-old company bought the rights and customer list for desktop software used by three-fourths of Colorado’s family law practices and developed the online software that can be accessed from the client’s home.

The two companies are “exactly the kind of employers we are looking at for the continued growth of the Colorado Springs economy,” said Mike Kazmierski, president of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp.

“These kind of technology companies can meet the needs of their customers globally, while finding the talent they need in Colorado Springs. We have found these companies find our area appealing and are less interested in incentives.”

Six of the 13 companies or organizations that EDC helped to expand or relocate operations in the Colorado Springs area this year employ fewer than 10 people and moved their headquarters to the area with plans to hire dozens of additional workers.

EDC also is targeting technology start-up companies as one of its primary focuses of its economic development efforts under a new plan developed earlier this year with the help of an Austin, Texas-based consultant.

Four Roads

Sean Winstead started Four Roads in 2007 with three other entrepreneurs from Florida and England after Telligent’s product evangelist, Dave Burke, realized the four were working on similar projects individually and should start talking with each other.

Winstead joined Gary McPherson, Michael Trefry and Rob Nash to form Four Roads a few months later after Burke sent them their first two potential customers, Aliveware and SchoolDude.com, which offers online tools for managing schools.

All four founders and nine others work for the company as contractors.

“Telligent makes one of the leading platforms for building social media Web sites for companies who need to hear from their customers, and each of us on our own came up with the idea of adding an e-commerce add-on so companies and organizations could collect payments for subscriptions, memberships or merchandise,” Winstead said. “The revenue from those first two customers provided the funding for our product development.”

A veteran software developer, Winstead moved to the Springs in 2000 to work for TurboPower Software Co., which developed software for computer programmers before it was acquired by a casino software company and shut down. After TurboPower shut down, he and four others started Component Science, which also produced software for computer programmers, but the company lacked the marketing and sales support to be successful, he said.