Craft beer and toy robots put Colorado entrepreneurs on BI’s ‘Creators’ list

When Business Insider released their list of 100 visionary entrepreneurs, Colorado made the list. Twice.

CHLOE

When Business Insider released their list of 100 visionary entrepreneurs, Colorado made the list. Twice.

Joining the ranks of entrepreneurial giants such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jeff Bezos of Amazon were Kim Jordan, founder and executive chairwoman of Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing Company and Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson, co-founders of Sphero, a Boulder-based company that makes little round robots.

Jordan, 54, started brewing what would later become New Belgium beer in her basement 25 years ago. When she stepped down as CEO of New Belgium in 2015, she had created an environmentally sustainable, 100 percent employee-owned company — not to mention $225 million in annual profits. Today her legacy comes in at No. 12 on Business Insider’s “The Creators,” a list of entrepreneurs and companies praised for forward-thinking practices that make money and benefit the greater good.

Rolling in at No. 74 is Sphero, the whimsical toy robot company out of Boulder. Inventors Bernstein and Wilson, both 32, started off building everyday items that could be controlled with a smartphone. After realizing the educational potential of a small, programmable robot, they released Sphero in 2011. It was an instant hit that landed them a contract with Disney and introduced the robot in schools nationwide. Today more than 150,000 students in more than 1,000 schools have used them.

Sphero's programmable toys promote educational play.

Sphero's programmable toys promote educational play. (Courtesy of Sphero)

Business Insider dubbed “The Creators” its inaugural list of influential companies. We’ll have to see which Colorado companies make the list next year.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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