2023 Business Awards Start-Up of the Year Finalists
Each year, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce recognizes organizations that are writing Denver’s next chapter in business. Join us for the 2023 Business Awards presented by BOK Financial on April 27, 2023 to see the winners announced live! This year’s Start-Up of the Year finalists are: Fulfilld, Strat Labs and Ship Sunshine. Get to know each organization more below.
This isn’t the first time Yosh Eisbart and Michael Pytel have built a successful company together from the ground up. Yosh Eisbart, CEO & co-founder of Fulfilld, and Michael Pytel, CTO & co-founder, first merged minds in 2008 to create NIMBL, a Colorado-based enterprise B2B software and services company. In 2018, the duo exited to start a new venture: Fulfilld. Fulfilld is a warehouse management and logistics company that optimizes the distribution process.
Unlike NIMBL, Fulfilld leverages venture capital to build global operations, and has raised close to $8 million. What inspired this new direction was the lack of innovation in warehouse management and the opportunity for growth in this space. “The ecosystem of direct-to-consumer delivery is growing every day and will continue to grow,” said Pytel. “We believe we can create a global organization focused on optimizing warehouse operations.” Fulfilld has customers spanning from various backgrounds from greeting cards to rockets to shoes to protein products.
Looking ahead, Yosh and Michael see this area as a great place to expand. “We continue to add additional customers – and that means adding employees. Colorado continues to be a great place to attract talent. [We’re focusing on] customer acquisition and continuing to develop product and support teams here in Colorado,” said Pytel.
Founded in late 2018, Strat Labs is an organizational strategy and marketing agency focused on social impact. Strat Labs works with mission-driven companies in four key areas including strategy, marketing, communications and philanthropy with the goal to tie all of the components together. “In the nonprofit world, we combine marketing, communications and philanthropy to drive donations, bring in additional supporters and engage the community,” said Elizabeth Neufeld, CEO & founder of Strat Labs.
Elizabeth started the agency when she was consulting and found that many of her clients didn’t have the bandwidth to execute the recommended strategies. Since that discovery, Elizabeth assembled a skilled team that shares in its commitment to social impact and mission-driven work for clients.
After living in big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, Elizabeth finds the Metro Denver business community to be unique. “Denver is supportive, energizing and engaging. There’s a willingness to help others succeed. People are willing to lend resources, time and energy,” she said.
Ship Sunshine’s purpose is simple: to brighten someone’s day. This rising small business offers custom gift experiences for all occasions to individual clients, corporate employees and for events. The inspiration to start Ship Sunshine struck founder Anna Costello after she quit her corporate job and attended a yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia.
“I had a stereotypical and privileged Eat Pray Love moment and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself,” Anna explained. At the time, Anna was bouncing around the idea of three different business ventures and distinctly remembers the moment one stood out among the rest. Through sheer determination, Anna had gotten up at 1 a.m. to participate in a group sunrise hike at Mt. Batur.
“It was cold, rainy and still dark outside. When we got to the top, I remember the feeling of the sun rising. I could feel it on my skin and everyone’s spirits lifted. I thought, ‘We have to figure out a way to bottle this feeling’,” Anna shared. That was the point Anna decided to move forward with her gift experience business idea.
Anna knows the importance of supporting local and spreading the love within the community. Over 70% of the products prepared in the gift boxes come from local and woman-owned companies. “I feel so lucky being here. I can’t imagine starting anywhere else. We’ve felt the love [in Metro Denver] and try to reciprocate that. It’s important to shop with your values.”
The 2023 Business Awards Small Business of the Year award is presented by Emergenetics.