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RoGo Fire co-founders Ken Chez, right, and Rod Goossen work on their laptops Thursday at their office in Westminster. The company is one of three finalists for the Boulder Chamber Esprit Venture Challenge grand prize of $10,000.
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Three startup companies will step into the spotlight this week in hopes of securing $10,000 to fund their efforts and fuel their visions for products that can improve the lives of autistic children, firefighters and cyclists.

The Boulder Chamber on Thursday will hold its annual Esprit Entrepreneur event, highlighting the finalists in this year’s Esprit Venture Challenge. Each of them will make one final pitch in hopes of scoring the $10,000 grand prize.

The Shine On bike light illuminates both the rider and the road ahead. The company is one of three finalists for the Boulder Chamber Esprit Venture Challenge $10,000 grand prize.(Courtesy of ShineOn)

The challenge, which in 2014 was added to the 35-year-old Esprit Entrepreneur event, allows companies to showcase their innovative ideas and vie for the prize.

Morgan Bierbaum, a marketing coordinator for the Boulder Chamber, said, “This event in particular is important because we want to highlight how vibrant and diverse the startup community is in Boulder.”

The finalists this year — Boogaloo Beds, RoGo Fire, and ShineOn — are all helping to address critical human needs, Bierbaum said.

The three finalists were among 13 contestants that went  through an initial application process followed by online voting in September. The top eight voter-getters advanced to the semi-finals, from which the three finalists emerged on top.

Boogaloo Beds, founded by Caleb Polley and Kevin Custer, created specialized beds to help children with autism with sleep issues. by creating specialized beds that aid their sensory sensitivity. The name Boogaloo comes from the combination of the word’s bungalow and igloo, indicating the bed should be welcoming and feel like home. The beds have many features such as lights, sounds, vibrations, weighted blankets and aromatherapy, along with safety aspects like padding and motion sensors parents can monitor.

Polley said the Esprit Venture Challenge “felt a lot more natural than pitch competitions I’ve done in the past.”

RoGo Fire focuses on advanced satellite communication solutions for firefighters are in rural areas where communication can be difficult. Founders Rod Goossen, Ken Chez and Derek Goossen said their communication devices and software aim to reduce line-of-duty deaths, firefighting expense and property damage, and improve firefighter situational awareness. RoGo Fire’s Firefighting Advanced Asset Communication Tracking System, or FAACTS, allows firefighters to quickly communicate with incident commands and emergency response operations.

“The holy grail of wildland firefighting is to save lives and improve situational awareness. We’ve made it our mission to bring technology to first-responders in remote areas to make their jobs safe,” Chez said.

ShineOn has designed a new dual-beam bike light to improve cyclist safety. Founders Alex Mulvaney and Kathy Vega came up with a light that illuminates a cyclist’s body as well as the road ahead.

The idea was the result of many dark bike rides as students at the University of Colorado Boulder. ShineOn’s light is brighter than a traditional bike light and has a greater surface area of visibility and incorporates biomotion, which is the brain’s receptivity to organic movement. By putting light on the cyclist, it triggers the idea of biomotion, so they are seen easier.

Mulvaney and Vega said they have received a lot of good feedback and interest in their product.

“It’s really cool to have some external validation of how far we’ve come, honestly,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney and Vega have some ideas on what they would do if they were to win the Esprit Venture Challenge prize money, such as improving their website so they can reach more people, along with hiring a brand agency.

If you go

What: Boulder Chamber Esprit Entrepreneur event

When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Thursday

Where: Embassy Suites Boulder, 2601 Canyon Blvd.

Cost: $65 for Chamber members, $95 for non-members. Tickets are available here

More info: Finalists in the Esprit Venture Challenge will pitch their idea one last time and the live audience will vote on their favorite. A keynote presentation given by local entrepreneurs Tamar and Asa McKee of Khala & Co. on building a business in Boulder. There also will be a sneak peek of the Boulder Innovation Venture 2.0 report.

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