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Faces of Shift with the Team from RealView Real Estate

(Featured Left to Right:  Jack Sanders and Alex Knight)

 

Our relationship with our members is of the utmost importance to us here at Shift. Each month, we ask one of our cherished members to tell us a little bit more about themselves and their company. This month, we sat down with the team at RealView Real Estate to learn more about the real estate industry, their team, and their company.

Tell us about the work you do at RealView Real Estate and introduce the team?

At RealView Real Estate, the majority of our time is spent brokering private client multifamily buildings. In addition, we also raise equity and prospect potential acquisitions for developers and investors in the apartment and industrial sectors. Jack and Alex teamed up in 2021 to start this new venture. Jack had previously worked in different real estate roles while Alex’s background was in equity research and trading. On the brokerage side Jack focuses on Denver County properties while Alex focuses on Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson Counties.

What is your favorite part about working in real estate?

In Jack’s opinion, the best part about real estate is working with all the different types of colorful characters. And Alex loves the work/life balance relative to finance and not being chained to a desk all day.

What has been the number one key to your company’s success throughout the past year?

Jack worked a few months alone prior to Alex joining the partnership. He feels very fortunate to be able to work with and spend the majority of his time with one of his best friends. In Jack’s own words, “Don’t tell him I said this, but when it comes to business he is also very smart, determined, and loyal. In my opinion the biggest reason why our partnership works is that our different personalities connect with different types of clients.” Alex goes on to say, “Jack’s experience and knowledge of the market were crucial in the early stages as I was transitioning to a completely different industry. A big thing for us is to celebrate the small wins but not lose sight of our long term goals.”

What drew you to Shift to be the home base for your company here in Denver?

We toured multiple coworking spaces prior to deciding on Shift Corona. The biggest draw for us was the great location, flexible agreements for growing companies, and the fantastic staff that always goes above and beyond. Also, the melting pot of different companies and people that make this place so special. 

What do you enjoy doing with your time when you are not working?

Jack enjoys spending time with friends and family, usually skiing, listening to live music, and watching CU Boulder and Northern California sports teams. Alex enjoys golfing as much as he can, hanging out with friends, and the occasional modeling gig. 

Faces of Shift with the Team from Belay Development

(Featured Left to Right:  Brock Fleming, Marshall Hamilton, Basel Fleischli, and Matt Kretzmann)

 

Here at Shift Workspaces; we are fortunate to work with so many interesting companies. This month, we sat down with the team at Belay Development to learn more about the rapidly growing industry of real estate development, their team, and their company.

What inspired you to start your own company, and what do you do?

Having worked on both the owner’s side and contractor’s side of the table in development over the past two decades, our team has had the unique opportunity to engage with and develop relationships with the full spectrum of stakeholders involved in bringing a new asset to market. Furthermore, Colorado has several metropolitan centers that consistently rank among the top destinations for both companies and individuals—driving strong demand for new development.

What about your business and/or industry motivates you?

We’re motivated by helping our clients navigate the challenging landscape of bringing new real estate assets to market.

What is something about Belay Development that most people do not know?

Belay Development officially launched in April of 2021. As of the today, we are working on (or have completed) projects with a collective cost of development eclipsing $400 million dollars!

What are your long-term goals for Belay Development?

Long term, we aspire to establish Belay Development as a premier developer across Colorado, further develop our network of stakeholder partners, shape enriching communities for the public, all while continuing to create value for our clients.

What is your biggest piece of advice for those starting out in the industry you are in?

This industry is much too large and too complex for any single person to have all (or even most) of the answers. Surround yourself with good people and rely on them to be the expert in their field. 

How has coming to Shift Workspaces Bannock contributed to your growth and success?

Prior to Shift, Belay was operating entirely remote from our respective homes. Coming to Shift has enabled us to offer a home-base for our employees, and most importantly have a space to work collaboratively as a team. Coming out of a pandemic, it turns out that it’s incredibly difficult to design/manage construction of a building exclusively over Zoom meetings.

Tell us about the benefits you find coming into your office at Shift.

… ready-made coffee, the flavored water, curated snacks, what’s not to like?!

In all seriousness, Shift does an excellent job of creating a community amongst its members. We have two projects with an architect who is also a member in the building, who was actually the person that referred us to Shift. The management team does an excellent job of organizing social hours and events for members to meet one another/exchange ideas.

Faces of Shift with the Team from Nerd Street Gamers

(Featured Left to Right:  Joel Velarde, Sarah Williams, Derek McAdams, Brian Barr)

 

Here at Shift Workspaces; we are fortunate to work with so many interesting companies.  This month, we sat down with the team at Nerd Street Gamers to learn more about the rapidly growing industry of esports,  their team, and their company.

What inspired you to work at Nerd Street Gamers and what do you do?

Nerd Street’s mission is to lower the barrier of entry into esports. At our Localhost centers across the nation, we offer high-end gaming equipment, the best internet, and a safe place for players of all skill levels to compete or play, at affordable rates. We also host top-quality amateur online and in-person tournaments creating a pathway for players striving to go professional. 

What about your job do you enjoy the most?

Being a part of building local gaming communities and bringing people together.  Such as facilitating our Summer Camp programs and seeing the friendships students make with others.

How does your job/line of work motivate you?

Creating memorable experiences for our guests. Most players have never competed in person, and the energy is wild! Seeing teams meet in person for the first time after years of playing online together also always hits us right in the feels.

What is something about Nerd Street Gamers that most people do not know?

Our company is named after the street of our original center in Philadelphia at 908 N 3rd St! The original spelling was N3rd Street Gamers. 

What is your biggest piece of advice for those starting out in the industry you are in?

The esports industry is still young and very much still the wild west! Be ready to get creative!

How has coming to Shift Workspaces Littleton contributed to your growth and success?

It allows us to feel professional again since working from home! 

Tell us about the benefits you find coming into your office at Shift

It’s a perfect size. Not only can our satellite team work in the same room, but the phone booths are so convenient for private calls. We’re also very motivated by food – the daily snacks are always a surprise and delicious!

How Coworking Can Benefit You as a Remote Employee

Working remotely can be a very satisfying experience. You don’t have to deal with long commutes or rush hour traffic jams, you can usually make your own schedule, you have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, and you have the freedom to personalize your workspace however you want it. 

However, there are a few drawbacks that every remote employee will experience eventually such as feeling isolated and lonely, struggling to increase your productivity, being distracted and finding excuses to procrastinate too often, and having a hard time separating work from home. On top of this, an inadequately equipped home office can lead to physical issues too. 

Many remote workers have found that the best solution is to use a local coworking space to do their jobs. Here are a few ways coworking can benefit you as a remote employee:

Drive productivity

As a remote worker, you have the freedom to set your own schedule and be as flexible as you want with it. But this flexibility often leads to a chaotic routine that impacts your productivity negatively. Using a coworking space can help you lay the foundations of a more structured routine that will in turn boost your productivity. 

Combat loneliness

Working from home can feel very lonely after a while, especially if you are a digital nomad and change homes every few months. By joining a coworking space you get the benefit of being surrounded by like-minded professionals who can make your remote work feel way less lonely. This doesn’t mean that you will get interrupted constantly by other chatty members, after all this is a workplace and people are there to actually work. 

Do what works for you

Coworking spaces are usually set up to accommodate many different styles of working. If you work better in a traditional office, then you can work in a space that emulates that feeling. If you prefer a more relaxed type of setup, then you may want to check out the couches, bean bags, and coffee tables you can work from. Or if you work better outdoors, then there are often decks and terraces you can use. Some coworking spaces even have things like hammocks, giant nets, and other unusual areas for those looking for something unique. 

Work and travel

Nothing disrupts your routine more than traveling, and this in turn has a great negative impact on your productivity. Coworking spaces can help you mitigate this effect because they are literally everywhere in the world, and you can just pop in and get a desk whenever you need one. This means that your routine can follow you wherever you go. 

Be part of a community

Coworking spaces are also known for the strong communities that are formed between their members. They often have activities and events that help you grow your network and connect with others. This is very valuable for remote workers because they are usually not exposed to these social interactions. 

Work whenever you want

The ability to set up your own schedule gives you the power to work whenever you feel more productive. Some people feel like they do their best work during the normal 9-5 work hours. Others feel more productive very early in the morning, and there are also the night owls who like to work very late at night. Coworking spaces can accommodate most schedules, and some are even open 24/7, so you have access to a professional work environment no matter what your preference is. 

Faces of Shift with Jon Becker & the Team from PlatCore

Pictured: Lauren Alweis, Jon Becker, Matt McCubbin, Brian Damman, Matt Haltom. Not pictured: Shawn Gabel, Thomas Gardiner, and Elliott Pyles.

Training and developing employees within an organization is not only important, but it’s also vital. In a recent survey completed by Forbes, employees who feel that their company offers positive learning opportunities are 21% less likely to have left their organization for a new role. Before it’s too late, now may be the best time to look at you or your company’s L&D (learning and development) programs.

Recently, we had the chance to sit down with one of our current members here at Shift Workspaces, Jon Becker, who also believes in the importance of L&D and what it can do for the workplace. Jon is the Founder and CEO of PlatCore, a Learning Management System (LMS). While speaking with Jon, we were able to find out more about their system and how they have become so successful in their field.

Tell us what PlatCore is and introduce us to your team! What inspired you to start a company in this industry?

PlatCore is a Learning Management System, which means we provide enterprise companies simpler ways to deliver their employee training. We started 3 years ago out of a small office in the Shift Bannock lower level. We have been making our way slowly up the stairs since then (and multiple times daily) – and have grown to a small, often remote group of eight on the third floor. We work and play hard and are ultimately driven by the success of our customers.

You’re the first Learning Management System to utilize ServiceNow. Why did you decide to use this platform?

ServiceNow started as an IT platform to help companies streamline repetitive business processes. I knew the ServiceNow platform was growing rapidly and being adopted by large enterprises globally. I had worked on the platform for about 6 years at two prior companies and knew the growth potential of ServiceNow. I wanted to be on the growth path too.

Companies were asking for a learning management product built on ServiceNow for several years; however, the platform technology wouldn’t allow it to be commercialized. When that transition happened, I decided it was time and PlatCore was founded. We were early but the timing for our approach to learning and the ability to go to market was perfect.

Fast forward to today, and ServiceNow is the fastest growing software company in the world and has been named the most innovative company by Forbes.

What do you think has contributed to your success?

Decent timing. Product-market fit. A fantastic team.

Truthfully, our earliest customers took a chance on an unproven startup with a minimum viable product and a small team. We were lucky enough at that, but they also gave us invaluable feedback. So, we listened, even when we didn’t like it. 

We do our best to deliver on the promise and the trust that others have placed in us. It is important to who I am, and who our team is.

What type of businesses would benefit most from your product?

We serve small and large companies, and mostly (but not only) ServiceNow customers. Our customers often operate in highly regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare, and the public sector. A majority of them need to track training and certifications for employees and/or produce reports for audit and compliance purposes.

What drew you to Shift to be the home base for your company?

The fancy, yet geeky, vibe felt like home almost immediately. But the wonderful staff at Shift Workspaces is what makes us excited to come back every day. The location and amenities are ideal, and we always enjoy impressing partners when we host business meetings.

I personally love the proximity to the Cherry Creek path and commute options are great. Downtown is almost exactly a 1-hour bike ride on the Cherry Creek and Platte River paths to home. In the summer it makes a perfect afternoon ride home.

We’ve seen your team rapidly grow and excel this year; where do you envision your company in the next 3 years?

Over the next year, we hope to continue our rapid growth in both customers and employees. We will begin fundraising this year which would also accelerate our timeline. Our primary focus will be on how we can sustain a stable, profitable company that is an amazing place to belong.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs that you wish you had when you started your journey?

There are many things I’ve been told prior to starting that all make sense “on paper” but aren’t truly understood until you’ve lived them. There are a few that probably are more critical than others though. And none have anything to do with running a business.

a)  Make sure you are up for the journey. How committed are you? How committed are your co-founders? How committed is your family? Does working 80 hours a week for months on end scare you? Is your significant other willing to let something consume you? If you don’t have the drive and commitment, stop now. There are so many easier ways to make a living.

b)  Create your personal support team from day 1. Being an entrepreneur and especially a founder is lonely when you start. It’s lonely when you have your first few hires. It’s lonely as you grow. You get to make hard decisions alone. Your circle of friends gets smaller and changes significantly. Older close friends have no frame of reference to even have a conversation with you.

c)  As your company matures, the problems get HARDER, not easier. I thought problems would be simpler with growth and maturing my company. Well, I was wrong. Know you are on a journey that will transform your life, and the only guarantee is that you will grow personally. Looking back, if I really understood how hard it would be, I don’t know if I would have started the journey. Now that I’m on it, I can’t imagine any other way.

If you would like to learn more about PlatCore, you can visit their website.  You can also connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Faces of Shift with Meredith Wenskoski of Livable Cities Studio

During our interview with Meredith Wenskoski of Livable Cities Studio, we discovered that she speaks our language. Her company, Livable Cities Studio, creates spaces founded on positive societal impact and transformative values. Read our interview below to discover more about her blossoming urban design firm.

Hi, Meredith! Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I’m excited to spread the word about Livable Cities Studio. Can you provide some background on your company? 

At our core, Livable Cities Studio is a planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm focused on addressing the needs of the contemporary city by uniting individuals through public spaces and connections to the natural environment. Our work is based on the idea of creating places for people and human experience and putting those ideas at the forefront of the planning and design process. We ultimately want to create livable cities and public spaces that promote community, connectivity and human interactions and are designed for inclusion, social purpose, and health.

Livable Cities Studio focuses on city building and addressing the complex needs of urbanization and change in our cities and see the future being built on collaborative partnerships that fit the specific needs of each city, neighborhood and community. Our process starts with design collaboration, creative partnerships and a desire to bring diverse people together in intense collaborations to provide the springboard for unforeseen futures and solutions, resulting in ongoing innovation, refinement and reapplication.

I started Livable Cities Studio last year and we’re excited to celebrate our one year anniversary this month! We are currently working on both large-scale infrastructure and public space projects as well as small scale site designs, re-zonings and everything in between. We are a growing firm working to develop and nurture relationships locally while also being civically engaged. Denver is a great place to live and work right now, and we are happy to be part of the transformation!

How did you discover this calling?

I grew up on the east coast in Charlottesville, Virginia – home to the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson and the Dave Matthews Band. I was always intrigued by the architecture, the landscapes that surrounded and the interface between the two. I took time off during college and spent a year travelling around the world. That time was incredibly influential in opening my eyes to different cultures and how a vibrant public realm is fundamental to a city’s vitality.

As a result of my travels, I realized that my passion was in the built environment of cities – how each building sits within a broader context, how each culture or community relates to its built form, and the spaces between the buildings. Landscape architecture and urban design, as broad as it is, has given me the opportunity to work at a variety of scales and create spaces that positively impact people and community – which is what I love doing. Throughout my career, I have worked at a variety of scales and on all different types of planning, urban design and landscape architecture projects, but the work I love the most is always the complex urban projects that typically have a strong social impact.

But that’s just how I got into urban design and landscape architecture. I started Livable Cities Studio after working for years at other large design firms in town and decided that I wanted to take a risk and shape my own future by building my own firm around my vision. I absolutely love it. I love growing a firm, and I’m passionate about the work we do.

How does Shift fit into it all? I imagine it took quite a bit of research to find the right “homebase” for your business. 

We chose Shift because we wanted to be close to Downtown yet wanted a vibrant community and a really great space to work in. I had such a good feeling when I first walked in the building, and when we walked into our office for the first time, we knew we wanted to move in. The light, the windows and the indoor/outdoor experience of the space is phenomenal. We feel so lucky every day to work in such a great space and be part of this community!

What about your job inspires you?

I love that I get to work with people and neighborhoods and help to transform communities. My favorite projects are those that are messy, complex and sometimes controversial and I’ve felt most accomplished when I’m able to go back to communities and see the positive physical and social transformation and knowing that design has impacted people for the better.

Our clients and their project visions are generally pretty inspiring and the energy of the design and planning process motivates our team to continually come up with innovative and creative project solutions. The Sun Valley EcoDistrict for example – the development group we share our space with – has a mission to redevelop the Sun Valley neighborhood in West Denver, the lowest income community in the state, to a mixed-income, mixed-use community with new parks, streetscapes, food incubator spaces, a youth hub and district energy systems. We’re working with them to create a new model of community transformation with equity, environmental justice and public health as its driving forces. The work we’re doing with them is constantly inspiring and when built, will have a major impact on the city as well as become a model for similar communities internationally. I have been working with Sun Valley EcoDistrict and the neighborhood for 7+ years through community visioning and planning and we’re now embarking on implementation of the redevelopment, both the physical changes to the community and the community investments.

What’s on your summer agenda? Any big plans?

We are looking forward to a summer ahead of Colorado adventures from live music and concerts at the Botanic Gardens to camping and weekend getaways, oh, and a trip to the beach in North Carolina! I have two young kids so most of my time away from work and Shift involves kid entertainment and management. 😊

Find out more about Livable City Studios at www.livablecitiesstudio.com.

Faces of Shift with Danny Burns, Business Development Manager of TOKY

We meet a lot of people while working at Shift. And while many make lasting impressions, there are few who make you feel like family right of the bat. One of these people is Danny Burns. Danny’s smile is infectious and he’s always extremely well dressed. What’s not to like about that?

Danny also works for TOKY, a creative branding + design firm. Not only are they likeable people, but they’re also extremely talented. To prove it, they just took home “The Best Website Award” at the Colorado SMPS Marketing Excellence Awards.

Learn more about TOKY’s continued success in my interview below.

Hello, Danny! Thanks for meeting with me. Can you give us the whole story behind TOKY? How did it come to fruition, and what separates you from the rest of the branding & design companies out there?

TOKY, like most organizations, is defined by its people and our collective talents. We’re a specialized creative services firm made up of artists, designers, brand strategists, programmers, photographers, writers, art & architectural historians, and project managers. A perfect mix of left & right brain to keep us dreaming, yet on the level.

Our work; TOKY partners with local, national, and international organizations and institutions to help them define their unique points of differentiation…both internally and in the marketplace. Focusing specifically within architecture, arts & culture, private education, health & wellness, and food & dining – we turn those institutional differences into unique websites, brand identities, and marketing systems.

But as Simon (Sinek) says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. We strive to work with the brightest, most forward thinking and influential organizations and people we can find. Project by project, aspiring to put a little more of the ‘human’ back in humanity. It’s our ethos…and fortunate for us we’ve had the privilege of working with a highly selective and diverse group of clientele…all with a tie that binds us in a desire to create a more accurate and enlightened impact on everyone and everything around us.

What brought us to Denver besides the weather, mountains, and plethora of excellent brewpubs? Short on the coattails of winning work with local architectural firms, RNL Design and Fentress Architects back in early 2016, we became more and more enamored with the energy and overall vibe in this city. It was infectious…and we saw a huge opportunity to jump in and be a part of the exploding economic and cultural movement. Over a few cocktails and a ‘comprehensive’ New Market Launch Plan sketched on a napkin – the Denver office was born.

Five months into it – we’re still kind of the ‘new kid’ in town. We’ve been busy meeting with and joining local boards – both in the arts and with local business/civic initiatives. We’re steadily making friends and contacts, elevating our awareness in the creative community, and identifying some great opportunity for getting involved and doing more great work here in Colorado.

And if hardware were any indicator – our recent work with RNL Design took home the “Best Website” award last month at the Colorado SMPS Marketing Excellence Awards. We certainly don’t measure our success by the trophies we collect…but getting a little gold star in a new city definitely feels pretty good.

Now that is quite the prolific overview and a more impressive track record. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and how you fell into this  opportunity?

Ah, what a winding road it’s been. A fairly unconventional career path has spawned an approach unhinged from the conformity and general malaise that burdens those calcified into obsolete, archaic roles. I graduated from University of Denver in ’02 with a BA in Journalism and Fine Art – so naturally I’ve held prominent roles in animal control (Martha’s Vineyard), ski patrol (A-Basin), and several years driving 18-wheelers around the country on experiential marketing gigs, before settling into a multi-faceted career in all things marketing and advertising. The work, slow-baked and flash fried for an array of clients has been put to the test across screens and platforms, race tracks and supermarkets, All-star Games and street corners. It’s a career that might be described as a ‘tough read’, like if Tarantino was adapting a screenplay from Faulkner. But the result has been something utterly unique, enjoyable, and positively compelling.

But that’s all about me…and I’m hardly the most important individual to know about at TOKY.

Our Eminent Commander and Executive Creative Director, Eric Thoelke and his wife Mary founded TOKY twenty years ago in our hometown of St. Louis. The man is somewhat of an icon in the design, brand strategy, and cultural development circles around the US. Again, not to harp on the accolades, but Eric’s work has been recognized by all the who’s who in branding and design publications – Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, Print Magazine, Brand New, etc. Eric and Mary also co-founded the Midtown Alley Design District – basically a creative agency row where our St. Louis office is located. They also co-founded the annual St. Louis Design Week…yes, St. Louis has a Design Week and it will surprise you.

So when Eric Thoelke asks you to dinner to discuss the prospect of working together…and potentially opening a new TOKY office in Denver, you accept.

We are thrilled that TOKY has chosen us to be their second home. How has Shift helped you and your business grow? 

Once we decided to plant a TOKY flag here in Denver, we visited a handful of locations and offices around town looking for a place to call home. We wanted to be in the city, we wanted to be close to the cultural and creative epicenter, and we wanted an environment that was in line with the TOKY personality and brand. Even though Shift Bannock was only about 75% complete when we first toured…we knew it was the perfect place for us.

What we didn’t know, was that in addition to its great location, the creative and funky aesthetic, and damn fine coffee – was the human element and interaction we’d get from all the likeminded folks in the Shift building. As the office has filled out over the last few months the energy and overall mojo has just taken off. Even though the other folks in the building aren’t necessarily your colleagues, you still get a semblance of camaraderie. You learn names, family members and their pets – you give and take recommendations on weekend adventures. And when relevant, you talk shop and do business together. For a lot of us here at Shift we’re manning an outpost of sorts. With home offices on the left or right coast (or Midwest) – it helps to have a community of professionals in the same boat. We’re all relatable, and we help motivate one another.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Shift staff. Agata, Steph, Lindsay…exceptionally nice and supportive people. Like I mentioned before, I consider them more colleagues than community managers or building staff. I know I can count on them for anything.

 

Well, we love having you and the TOKY team here.

To wrap things up, please leave us with a final thought on why someone would choose TOKY as their next brand mastermind. 

Let me see if I can answer this without sounding too conceited or ‘salesy’.

I would have to say the number one reason we receive referrals is because of trust. Over the last twenty years TOKY has perpetually raised the bar in our branding, design and identity work. We’ve pushed, explored, made mistakes, innovated, and come out the other end better for it. Our diligent approach and seasoned experience allows us to get it right, the first time, every time. It’s all about track record.

Referring TOKY is like referring your favorite restaurant – while the menu may not be for everyone…the craft and quality is undeniable. And people hire us because they trust that we’ll deliver what they need, not just what they want.

To learn more about TOKY, or to inquire about their work, visit their site here.

Faces of Shift with Michele Lowell, Client Development Manager at C.A. Fortune

Operating two shared workspace locations is like having two kids: it may be twice the responsibility, but it’s double the love. With the opening of Shift Bannock, we have met some phenomenal human beings who encompass an uncanny amount of drive and dedication. One of these humans is Michele Lowell. Michele works long hours and has this super power where she’s always smiling, no matter the circumstances. Maybe having her adorable Bernese Mountain Dog, Cuba (pronounced Koo-Bah), by her side has something to do with it. We’re very happy that Shift is dog friendly so we can see that beautiful ball of fur.

We met with Michele, the Client Development Manager of C.A. Fortune’s Rocky Mountain Region, to learn more about the established product sales company that calls Shift home.

Hi, Michele! Thanks for meeting with me. 🙂 The Shift team office is right next to the C.A. Fortune office, so I can’t help but notice all of your delicious looking products on display. Can you tell us a little more about what C.A. Fortune does and who some of your clients are?

CA Fortune is a national full-service consumer products sales and marketing agency specializing in the Natural, Specialty/Conventional and Bakery/Deli trade channels. We represent passionate manufacturers and help grow their brands. Our clients range from established lines such as Pirates Booty, Pomi and Martinelli’s to smaller start up brands like Boulder Cookie, Buckley Pet and Two Leaves and a Bud Tea.

Very cool. Have you always been involved in the natural foods industry? If not, how’d you get into it?

I was born in Costa Rica but raised in Aspen, CO. I graduated from CU Boulder in 2009 with a double major in Anthropology and Spanish Literature. I live a very active, healthy lifestyle and have always had a passion for natural foods. A few close friends of mine, Maddy and Alex Hasulak, started a company called Love Grown Foods. I spoke to Maddy at length regarding the industry and it seemed to be a perfect fit. CA Fortune was looking to hire a sales rep in Colorado and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

It sounds like you find a lot of inspiration in this industry and bringing the right products to the right people. What, in particular, inspires you about your job?

Our industry, especially living in Colorado, is full of passionate, motivated entrepreneurs. What inspires me is their fortitude and commitment to what they believe in. Being a part of their success is what motivates me.

And I hope Shift has been a positive and motivational catalyst for you, both personally and professionally! How have you and your team been liking the new private office digs?

We started working out of the Shift Bannock location this past January. We toured several other workspaces in Denver and felt the most at home with Shift. You guys created a space that makes you want to come to work, which I love! The environment and collaboration are my favorite parts about Shift.

Well we’re glad to have you! We definitely appreciate the energy that you and your team bring to the community. Any upcoming plans for you this year?

I’m really looking forward to a ski trip we’ve planned this March, in gorgeous Whistler, B.C.! We’ll be celebrating my 30th birthday. Though my husband and I have been staying busy since the new year. We visited my mom in Costa Rica in January, and taken trips to Aspen, Taos, Telluride, Jackson, and Yellowstone Club since. Still on the calendar this spring… Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Find out more about C.A. Fortune on their website or on Facebook.

Faces of Shift with Deezer

Music is important to the Shift community. Classical tunes echo through the speakers, members dish about their next Red Rocks show and companies even base their livelihoods around it. One company that lives and breathes music is the personalized streaming service, Deezer. Led by Deborah Jourdan, the Denver team is a collection of ten strong individuals that help the Paris-based company thrive in the competitive landscape of streaming music.


Deborah and team, could you tell us how Deezer works? What are its differentiators from other streaming services?

Deezer a music streaming service and that aims to create the most personalized music experience for our customers and our partners.  For customers, we do that by using elements of man and machine to play the best new and old music tailored for each individual. For our partners, that means customizing our offering to their audience. With Sonos, a speaker and home systems company, we give their customers access to lossless audio. For Cricket Wireless, a wireless service provider, we provide users a great value at $6/month.

Where and how was Deezer created?

Deezer was founded in 2007 by 23-year-old French programmer, Daniel Marhely. He wanted to find a way to simplify music streaming for his friends, so started the project from his bedroom. He quickly realized the value of such a product, so gathered a small team to build the product. Once music labels and investors caught on, Deezer took off and is now one of the largest music catalogs in the world.

What keeps you going in the day to day? 

We are inspired by the creative minds in the music industry, and a fast-moving product that we all use daily. The unique combination of tech startup meets funky music label keeps us excited and busy every day!

Any exciting news or trips up next for Deezer? 

Our team is constantly traveling, with trips to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Paris, and Miami on the books over the next few months.

Faces of Shift with Lamine Zarrad, Founder of Tokken

One of the biggest perks of Coworking spaces is the vast network of innovative companies that exist within the walls. One of the more ground-breaking start-ups is Tokken, a secure mobile payment app for the cannabis industry, led by Lamine Zarrad. Zarrad is in the midst of creating something big within one of the largest growing industries in Colorado. Check out our interview with Shift member and banking pioneer:

Lamine, thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us. I know your schedule has been jam packed with travel these days. Could you tell us a little bit about Tokken?

Tokken is a digital bank that offers a consumer-focused, secure payment system that replaces cash. Our platform leverages the latest technological innovation in cryptography and data management to offer banking and payment services to a growing segment of the under-banked and un- banked.

Give us a little background on yourself. How’d you get into your current gig?
After six years in the Marine Corps, I earned degrees in Business Administration (B.A.) and Public Affairs (M.A.), with a focus on policy analysis and public finance. I worked briefly at Merrill Lynch before joining the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) as a Bank Examiner. During that time, I saw an opportunity to improve the banking system by incorporating the blockchain technology to create a transparent and cashless payment system that is compliant with US banking regulations, effectively extending banking services to large segments of the population—such as the cannabis industry—that are currently “unbankable.”

What is it about Tokken that inspires you most?
I am inspired to bring true innovation to the banking sector, which still operates largely by concepts that were developed in 15th century Florence. Numerous individuals and corporations are left without access to basic services offered by chartered financial institution because of antiquated risk management models. Tokken is reinventing existing risk analytics to generate accurate and dynamic models that will allow us to develop a robust compliance program which, combined with our unique blockchain technology, will allow us to extend financial services to clients who currently operate outside the banking system.

What’s up next for Tokken?

I will be a featured speaker at the PayThink Conference in New Orleans in September, a gathering of leaders from across the financial services industry. I am also looking forward to launching the beta testing round of our service later this summer.

You can learn more about Tokken on their website or contact them here.