Angie’s List Acquires Denver Startup BrightNest

BrightNest, Denver startup, Angie's List, Indiana startup

On Friday it was announced that Indiana-based Angie’s list, the worlds largest referral startup, has acquired Denver startup BrightNest.

BrightNest was founded in 2011 in Denver’s River North Arts District.  The startup is a community-based platform centered around homeowners. They offer tips, tools, and ideas that they say will “shape up your home and simplify your life.”

While Angie’s List is a great place to find a handyman to change a door, over the years their offerings have evolved to include contractors, carpenters, and other service people who can help complete long renovation projects and bigger home improvements.

With  BrightNest incorporated into the Angie’s List site, home owners will be able to get suggestions for projects and then find the people they need to work on the projects.

“The only way to transform the local services industry is to solve real problems in a bigger, better, and new way,” Angie’s List Chief Executive Officer Bill Oesterle said in a statement. “With two million members and more than 18 years in this space, no one has better data on local service providers than Angie’s List. BrightNest adds a user-friendly front end and personalized member experience to our marketplace platform which is built on rules, tools and transparency.”

Angie’s List also announced the national rollout of its new communication and scheduling tools. In the second quarter, Angie’s List processed more than 116,000 transactions on its marketplace platform. This represents a tiny fraction of the total transactions that flow through Angie’s List. “We’ve been quietly transforming the way local service is transacted, and we are now in a position to scale it. We will put the platform everywhere our members want it to be, including web, mobile ,and call center,” said Oesterle.

In the new marketplace, Angie’s List can monitor and evaluate each transaction as it progresses through to completion. “If a transaction gets stuck at any point, we are going to step in and fix it,” said Oesterle. “We have the critical mass and the relationships with local service providers that allow us to change service outcomes.”

BrightNest Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Justin Anthony echoed Oesterle’s statement. “We’re excited to join a trusted brand and help facilitate the solution to make it even easier to hire local service providers. Our tools and interactive content allow us to tailor a custom experience for every member because no two homes and no two homeowners are exactly alike.”

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Angie’s List acquired basically all of the assets of BrightNest for $2.65 million in cash. The cash value included $2.15 million at closing and $0.5 million payable at the one-year anniversary of closing, subject to certain performance criteria. Angie’s List funded the acquisition with existing cash. In addition, Angie’s List will grant options to purchase $3.65 million of Angie’s List common stock to the members of the BrightNest team, all of whom have been retained by Angie’s List. The transaction closed on August 2, 2013.


Broncos Turn To Local Denver Startup Wayin To Get More Socially Active

Denver Broncos, Wayin, Denver startup

On Friday the Denver Broncos launched a new socially-charged website to help fans stay better engaged with their favorite team. The effort is starting now, during training camp, and will continue through the regular season.

Broncos fans can go to where they will find an aggregated home screen with all of the official Denver Bronco’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. The official @denverbroncos Twitter account, along with the Bronco’s TV Twitter account, Bronco’s cheerleaders, and several actual Broncos players have their latest Bronco-related tweets and status updates in one central location so that socially active fans can engage.

Right now, during training camp, the site is encouraging fans to look up and use the hashtag #broncoscamp. Using that tag fans can find the latest behind-the-scene goings-ons at Bronco’s training camp.

To pull off this next evolution of fan interaction, the Denver Broncos turned to local Denver startup Wayin, who has already had success creating social pages for the Atlanta Falcons and the St. Louis Rams.

Wayin is an official certified Twitter partner.

“When people want to talk about what is real and current, they do so on Twitter,” Wayin’s senior director of product Hunter Ansley said in a statement. “Enabling brands to display Twitter’s unparalleled in-the-moment content to further engage their followers is a goal we aim to accomplish with our Hubs.”

The Denver Post reports that in addition to The Atlanta Falcons, Wayin was also the social startup of choice for Cheverolet’s SXSW efforts last March in Austin, Texas.

The Denver startup has already raised in excess of $20 million dollars and is chaired by Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy.

Marc Freeman, the Denver Broncos Senior Vice President of Business Development told The Denver Post that team wanted to create “an engaging experience that gives fans minute-by-minute updates.” Our fans are extremely tuned into social media, making tools like Twitter more important than ever before,” Freeman said.

You can find out more about Wayin here at

The St. Louis Rams also use St. Louis startup Bonfyre to engage with fans socially on site at home games.


New Coding School Startup In Colorado Offers Money Back Guarantee

Galvanize Denver,,gschool,code academy,Denver startup,startup,startups,startup newsGalvanize, the Denver Colorado startup and coworking space in Denver’s Golden Triangle Neighborhood has a new tenant called gSchool. gSchool joins the onslaught of new coding schools that were brought on by institutions like Code Academy. Coding schools typically teach one thing, coding.

While IT schools are nothing new, in coding schools you’ll find the next generation of technical founders, hipster geeks and hoodie wearing future nerds. They’re a far cry from the pocket protector, briefcase students that roam the halls of ECPI.

gSchool is confident though. They plan on putting their students through a rigorous, fast paced program teaching skills like Ruby on Rails, for around $20,000 a clip. You may have just had a little accident when you read that but here’s the rub. gSchool has a money back guarantee. A good one.

After students complete the gSchool program they guarantee that you’ll get a job earning $60,000 or better or they will refund your $20,000 tuition. Think about that for a second. You’re spending $20,000 to make a guaranteed 300% return, much better odds than those betting on startups in the valley.

Galvanize is home to 27 startup businesses and now the gSchool. Jim Deters a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Galvanize recruited Jump Start Labs and coding instructor Jim Casimir to teach at gSchool.

gSchool’s intense six month program is designed to graduate high caliber performers, not high caliber beginners, according to Deters.

“They want people who get the ethos and are imbued with the work ethic in startups today,” Deters said to the Denver Business Journal. “It’s fast-paced, and it’s creative.”

Galvanize is about growing talented startups and for that to succeed they need to increase the talent pool available in Denver. That’s the real goal behind gSchool.  Growing top tier programmers right in the building will give other building tenants access to the talent they need to succeed.

Deters is working on the second Galvanize a few miles north of the original location. It too will house startups, co-working space, gSchool classrooms and an eatery based on Deter’s first startup the ChoLon Bistro.


Galvanize is here

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Source: Denver Business Journal

Colorado Startup SeedLauncher Joins The Online/Offline Crowdfunding Space

Seedlauncher,Colorado startup,startup,startups,Denver startup,startup interview, founder interviewCrowdfunding could have very well been the most popular startup space in 2012. Crowdfunding startups came out of the woodwork for every industry and everybody. Even the porn industry got it’s own crowdfunding startup which we actually covered here.

One of the niche’s within crowdfuding that’s heating up right now is hybrid crowdfuding sites. These are the crowdfunding sites like SockStock and SeedVille, that fit in this hybrid space.

So what’s a hybrid crowdfuding site?

Crowdfunding sites that most people are familiar with function like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These are sites where people can post whatever project they are working on and the crowd funds those projects. The project creators can be anywhere in the world because everything is done online.

In exchange for funding or a donation if you will, the entrepreneur getting their project or startup crowdfunded, gives the donator, or funder, some kind of perk. The more money that gets donated, the better the perk.

To us, a hybrid crowdfunding site is one that utilizes the internet for the funding but the business is local. Say you have a favorite ice cream shoppe around the corner from your home. The owner of the shoppe wants to expand but doesn’t have the money. He can go to a hybrid crowdfunding site and raise the money, and instead of sending perks in the mail, contributors can come to the local business and get their perk.

That’s exactly what Colorado startup SeedLauncher does. We got a chance to talk with SeedLauncher’s co-founder Jeromy Sonne about crowdfunding and the Colorado startup scene.

Check out the interview below.

Read More…

Denver Startup Appit Ventures Wins $50,000 In Business Plan Competition

AppitVentures,Denver startup,Colorado startup,startup,startups,competitionsThere are a fair amount of quality startups out there who’s purpose is to help startups. Take for instance. As the “voice of startups everywhere else” we’re providing news coverage and traction to startups across the nation and around the world that they may not otherwise get.

Appit Ventures, a Denver startup, is another great startup that fits in that category. Appit Ventures helps entrepreneurs write business plans, grow their business and get access to funding.  They also build custom mobile applications through a revenue sharing model. They also provide strategic consulting and post launch strategies.

The startup won $50,000 in Denver’s first ever JumpStart Biz Plan Awards.  In addition to the cash AppIt Ventures also receives free office space for a year at Galvanize a new hub/incubator for startups. Professional legal services provided by Polsinelli Shughart and tax services from Deloitte were part of the prize package as well.

Appit Ventures will also receive 60 hours of strategic marketing services fromDovetail Solutions, social media consulting from, and entrepreneurship mentoring from TiE Rockies.

“The quality of business plans presented in this inaugural program has been truly inspiring,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “Each of these entries further illustrates the strength and vitality of Denver’s small business climate. Our city has no shortage of promising entrepreneurial gems, and we are committed to helping our businesses grow and stay right here in our world-class city.”

Other JumpStart Biz Plan finalists were Big Mountain Robotics, Choozle, Fresh Takes Kitchen, Guerilla Gravity, Ibotta, One World Labs, Presm, The Uber Sausage and VertiFresh.

“Starting with over 150 companies and being selected to the top 10, we were honored,” said Jeff Macco co-founder of Appit Ventures. “Getting to the top three, we were humbled.”


Check out Appit Ventures here

Source: Denver Post

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From Brad Feld To CES To Obama The Accelerator Pivot

Brad Feld,Sphero,Orbotiz,FoundryIn Brad Feld’s column in Business Insider this morning he talked about the Orbotix team, Adam Wilson and Ian Bernstein. They’re the two guys behind that crazy little ball we all grew to know and love at Thedroidguy offices as The Sphero.  Feld was holding office hours during the 2010 Boulder TechStars program at a pivotal point for the ball. In fact, without Feld’s interaction with Wilson and Bernstein there may have never been a ball.

We first saw the Sphero Ball at Show Stoppers at CES in 2011, a year before almost everyone else saw the ball. You could control the ball with your smartphone and make it dance across the floor. It was right then and there that Russell Holly, a colleague of mine, and I, saw the true potential for the ball. Without any prompting we entered into a conversation with the founders about crazy cat toys, virtual golf, obstacle courses, virtual bowling and a slew of other things that would come to fruition in the following 18 months.

So how did it almost, not happen?

Well Bernstein and Wilson went through what feld called “Mentor Whiplash”. We’ve seen it happen at many accelerators across the country, the accelerator pivot.

From Feld’s account at SAI, Wilson and Bernstein sat down to meet with Feld and looked like whipped puppies. Their fire was gone from Feld’s previous visits with the duo.They had three slides on the table and Feld wanted to hear the ideas. Both Bernstein and WIlson were self-proclaimed robot geeks, and hackers and loved working with robotics all hours of the night.

As Feld tells it in his SAI column, the first idea was a door lock that unlocked with a smartphone. The second idea it seems no one could remember, and the third idea was the robotic ball. Problem is, there was no market for a robotic ball,no way to scale a robotic ball and it just seemed like a fun toy. Feld encouraged Wilson and Bernstein to go for it.

Bernstein, Wilson and heck Feld aren’t alone when it comes to pivoting in the accelerator. In fact, pivoting in the acce

Dave Knox,Brandery,StyleZen

lerator is justpart of the process.  Top ranked Cincinnati accelerator, The Brandery, co-founder Dave Knox told us:

“In the early days of a startup, a company is searching to find a business model that resonates with consumers and can scale.  This search can lead to subtle changes in their direction or at times a complete course correction that we often call a pivot.  It is a process we have seen several times at the accelerator stage at The Brandery. At an accelerator, startups are put into the spotlight with their peer companies, mentors and potential investors.  This leads to a quick determination if their startup is going to have what it takes to make it.”
“A great example of a pivot during the accelerator was Michael Wohlschlaeger in 2011.  He came into The Brandery with a company called Meruni that was a data aggregation and analytics play.  At The Brandery he found that the original business model was flawed but there was a segment of consumers in fashion that were incredibly interested in parts of the plan.  He pivoted the company to StyleZen, focusing entirely on that fashion market opportunity.  And while the pivot happened only 4 weeks before Demo Day, it ultimately led Michael and his team to raise a seed round from the venture firm CincyTech.”

Wohlschlaeger added:

“StyleZen started as Shoptimize, an automated, smart grocery list solution.  The link between Shoptimize and StyleZen was harnessing the power of consumer data to build compelling solutions for the consumer (as opposed to just the brands and retailers).  StyleZen is a personalize fashion discovery platform (truly “me-commerce) that learns a consumers preferences and distills the fashion universe down to a personalized, consumable level.  ”

In Memphis Tennessee at the Seed Hatchery accelerator, Work For Pie pivoted from a website that was looking to link founders to technical co-founders, to an all out social network for open source developers. In fact, the name Work For Pie came from that idea where they would link founders together who would of course work for equity instead of pay (well at least by design). When the concept changed the name remained the same and they quickly took off getting a $300,000 add on funding round led by Solidus.

As for the little robotic ball. After making it’s debut at CES 2011 it was prominently featured at SXSW 2011 and Google I/O 2011 where the Sphero ball was a main attraction at the Google playground. The balls officially went on sale right before the holidays last year and are still selling like hotcakes, or like must have robotic balls controlled by your smartphone.

Check out the Sphero Ball rocking it at Google IO 2011 (1:30 in or so)

The Sphero ball also caught the attention of one Barrack Obama back in April. The President even got a little snippy with passerbys while he was trying to play with the Sphero Ball telling them “Excuse me- give me some space to drive my ball”.


Here’s Brad Feld’s SAI column

Check out Sphero here

Check out StyleZen here

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Denver Startup Plink Raises $3M Series A From Grotech Ventures

Denver loyalty and rewards startup Plink has been on a roll lately. Back in June we brought you this story about how they partnered with TangoCard to bring their rewards beyond Facebook credits and that strategy has seemed to pay off.

Today they’ve announced that they’ve closed a $3 million dollar series A round entirely from mid-atlantic (VA & MD) based Grotech Ventures.

Plink began as a company that would take offline businesses and incentivize their customer base with something simple, and easy that millions would benefit from, Facebook credits. While only offering Facebook credits they rapidly ramped up their brick and mortar customer base, until the recent transition to rewards from TangoCard partners. The company has reported that they will use the new funding to continue accelerating development of their offline program. Of course they will also ramp up member acquisition and their marketing efforts.

“Connecting online-to-offline is a challenge for marketers,” said Plink Co-founder and CEO Peter Vogel. “Plink bridges that gap and Grotech Ventures’ investment brings nearly 20 years of successful experience, an enormous amount of industry know-how, insight, and strategic guidance to propel Plink to the next level.”

“For consumers, Plink is a no-brainer,” said Joe Zell, general partner of Grotech Ventures. “Why wouldn’t someone join and get rewards for going out to their favorite places? There’s no extra card to carry or steps a consumer has to take. In addition, Plink has already proven that huge national restaurant brands love the model and they’re already seeing significant increases in consumer purchases.”

Some of the largest fast food establishments are already on board with Plink including Arby’s, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King.

Large chains have embraced Plink because it doesn’t require any changes to their existing point-of-sale infrastructure, does not require staff training, Plink does all the marketing and the restaurants only pay a percentage of the sales that Plink drives. Initial results have shown that Plink members are spending 65 percent more per month at partner restaurants than they were prior to joining Plink. It’s a risk-free, 100 percent turn-key model for national chains and Plink will soon be adding large retail and travel partners.

Plink has raised $4 million to date.


Check out Plink here

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Denver Startup: Full Contact Gives Employees $7500 For Paid Vacation,Vacation

Could you go completely off the grid and really enjoy vacation time with your friends and family? When we say off the grid we mean off the grid, no checking work emails, taking work phone calls, checking in on work gossip, no VPNing into your work network?

If you said yes, you might want to consider applying for a job at Denver startup FullContact.  They have a whole list of openings including Android developer,business development, iOS and Mac developer,Outlook and Exchange .NET developer,platform engineer and web app/front end engineer.

FullContact specializes in an API that keeps your contacts up to date and so much more.

Now for the part about the $7500.

Bart Lorang, co-founder and CEO of FullContact offers his employees $7500 of paid, paid vacation time. This means that when you take vacation time, you get $7500 but you have to totally unplug. Lorang wants his employees to have mind resting, enjoyable vacation time.

That’s not the only reason for the paid, paid vacation though. Lorang feels that knowing that you’re going to go totally off the grid (at least the work grid) employees will be more comfortable creating total redundancy in their positions.

Knowing that employees will go completely off the grid, Lorang wrote in a blog post that they may:

  • They might empower direct reports to make more decisions.
  • They might be less likely to create a special script that isn’t checked into GitHub and only lives on their machine.
  • They might document their code a bit better.
  • They might contribute to the Company Wiki and share knowledge.

Lorang talks on the FullContact blog about how this idea of his for paid,paid vacation kept invading his brain. For a final blessing on the idea he reached out to TechStars and Founry’s Brad Feld who said:
“I love the Paid Paid Vacation concept and totally agree with it. A lot of people won’t spend the money because they don’t have it or think they’ll be happier if they save it. But they miss the value of disconnecting.
This exchange about paid, paid vacation assured Lorang that Feld would make a great board member and as a result the Foundry Group led the startups Series B round.
At this day and age, from a worker’s perspective this is supposed to sound like a no-brainer but to some it really isn’t. Their brains aren’t programmed for a total disconnect. There’s that inherent feeling of missing something, and then at work there’s the feeling that if someone else can do their job than they aren’t indispensable. The reality is, is that in an employment situation everyone is dispensable and yes the world will be there when you get back from Vacation.
Working at FullContact means you’ll get the time off, and the money to take a good, quality vacation.
Here are their job openings
Here’s their blogpost about “paid,paid vacation”
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Denver Startup: Plink Teams Up With Tango Card

Plink,Tangocard,Colorado startup,denver startup,startup,Seattle startup,rewards,loyalty,Facebook rewards,nibletz,pandodailySeattle startup TangoCard continues to make news. Just last week we reported that Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, had participated in a $1.8M round of funding for TangoCard through his Innovation Endeavors investment arm.

Today loyalty and rewards startup Plink has announced a partnership with TangoCard that will take their 35,000 merchant rewards network from Facebook credits, to a plethora of great opportunities for redemption. Now in addition to earning Facebook credits that can be used for hundreds of Facebook apps and games, customers in the Plink reward network can also earn credit towards top merchants like Amazon,Home Depot, Target,iTunes,The Gap, Nike and many more.

“Our members have asked for more choices and we’re excited to expand the innovative ways they can earn rewards for eating and shopping offline,” Peter Vogel, Plink’s co-founder and President said in a statement. “Plink’s goal is to bridge the gap between online consumers and their offline purchases and partnering with Tango Card makes that vision more rewarding for our current members and attractive to new ones. We still believe in Facebook and Facebook credits; we wanted to increase our reach and exposure.”

Tango will also handle all of the work involved in the gift card part of the program.

“Plink and Tango Card are rethinking how consumers want to earn and use rewards,” David Leeds, CEO and founder of Tango Card said in a prepared statement. “Tango Card carefully curates digital rewards to deliver a complete program in a card. This approach allows Plink to focus on their core business: creating an innovative online-to-offline loyalty program. We are huge fans of what Plink is doing and are delighted that Plink selected our easy SDK [software development kit] to integrate the Tango Card.”

“We were looking for new ways to advertise all over the Internet and through Facebook, not just to people that are playing games on Facebook,” Vogel added. “We had seen Tango out in the marketplace. They have a lot of the biggest and most popular brands that our members want. Tango Card provides our members with a one-stop stop shop with an easy entry point. Tango also has a mobile application that enables our members to pick the [electronic] card they want on the go. It’s a very appealing model. For us, it’s all about choice.”

Just last week Tango received a $1.8 million dollar series A round. They said at that time they would use the fund for expansion, hiring more developers and expanding their proprietary software applications. Obviously they are moving quickly toward that goal.


For more information on Plink visit this link

For more information on TangoCard visit this link

Source: Press Release via Loyalty360

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Denver Startups: Castrol 20/20 innoVentures Crops In Denver To Hear Pitches.


20/20 innoVentures a venture capital arm of Castrol  Oil/BP stopped in Denver Colorao this week to hear pitches from up and coming mobile/mobility technology startups. 

Crashboxx a Fort Collins based startup was one of four companies that made their pitches. David Byrne, Crashbox’s CEO said that this was his first time pitching to a vc firm.

Crashboxx is a technology geared towards fleet. The Crashboxx functions much like the black box on an airplane and records data that can be recalled in the event of a crash.

“This is really the future of fleet management and something every parent of a teenage driver would want,” said Byrne to the

Denver Post

Lightning Hybrids out of Loveland pitched as well.  Their technology uses a hydraulic system to store the force from braking and re-applies it to accelerating. 

According to Lightning Hybrid’s Founder Dan Johnson, their technology boosts mileage efficiency up to 30%

Fort Collins startup VanDyne SuperTurbo has made over 300 pitches according tp founder Ed VanDyne. They’ve raised over $14 million dollars so far.

They need to raise more capital for their technology that uses exhaust waste heat and torque from an engine’s drive train to increase an engine’s energy efficiency up to 30%.

GreenGold of Colorado Springs also pitched their manufacturing technology that according to their website “unlocks the full potential and benefits of biobased ingredients to create machining lubricants”

Source: Denver Post

Denver Startup: DailyCloset To Open Monday

dailycloset, daily deals, groupon, nibletzA new woman owned, Denver startup in the daily deals space is slated to open tomorrow. The #startup called DailyCloset, is going to offer daily deals on a variety of women’s clothes and accessories.

DailyCloset realizes that the daily deals space is getting crowded. They plan on differentiating themselves by making their #dailydeals more socially appealing to their users. Users will be encouraged to comment and share the deal of the day via their Facebook account.

“In addition to providing a product for purchase, we utilize the featured item as a centerpiece that engages visitors and stimulates conversation,” said Charles Cunningham, Chief Marketing Officer with “We want to see users talking about the product and respectfully share their opinions, whether good or bad.”

DailyCloset is going to kick off their site tomorrow morning at 9am EST at their first deal will actually be free while supplies last. DailyCloset has teamed up with AJ Morgan to give away hundreds of free sunglasses. Each user will be able to get one pair of free glasses and all they have to do is pay DailyCloset’s flat rate shipping fee.  After they run out of the initial free pairs they will have more available for $4.00. The deal lasts for 24 hours like all the deals on DailyCloset.

DailyCloset will also have a weekly drawing for a free handbag tied in with liking the site on Facebook. Every day at 5pm EST DailyCloset will post a new daily deal. The deal will end at 4:59pm the next day.

The free deal starts at 9am Monday.


Check out here at their website

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Denver Startup Holding Habitat For Humanity Campaign

The team at is happy about donating to Habitat For Humanity this month

Denver startup kicked off a campaign to help Habitat For Humanity of metro Denver at the beginning of the month. Through the end of April for anyone who lists their home for rent, vacation rental or corporate suite will donate $1 to Habitat Humanity.  Listing your property on is free.

“We believe people deserve options where they lay their head down at night–whether it’s for someone in need, like those that benefit from the Habitat for Humanity, or for an individual who wants to find their home away from home.”’s founder Elia Wallen said in a statement. challenges already established sites like AirBnB or VRBO without charging fees and no fees or markups to travelers or property owners.

People are paying for online rental listings and I wondered, why?  Would you pay to create a Facebook profile? Probably not. So, why are people paying to create a profile of their home on a property website? Because it’s the only option. So, I created an alternative,, and we live by three rules:

  1. 100% free for property listings and reservations. No hidden or back end fees.
  2. Open communication for everyone. Let visitors communicate on their terms.
  3. Adapt if a visitor suggests a change to the site, listen, and if it makes sense change.

Wallen hasn’t said anything about how they plan on monetizing their business. Wallen also owns which is a corporate focused website which finds employee’s their next temporary home. The site boasts corporate apartment housing opportunities in all 50 states and in 5,000 cities.

source: prnewswire