The IQ of America's Entrepreneurs

Aug 25, 2011 | Updated Oct 25, 2011

In the world of today's entrepreneurs, the term IQ doesn't refer to how intelligent one is. Instead, it refers to the Innovation Quotient of companies with innovative new products or services. Over the past 11 years in Boulder, winners of the IQ Awards have included DigitalGlobe and TechStars. This year it's GNIP, one of only two companies in the world picked by Twitter to manage their social media content), and OPX, an innovative biotechnology company whose products promise the world a bio-based chemical future.

Looking for ideas that go from good to GREAT takes more than funding. According to the Boulder County Business Report, which hosts this annual event and tracks business startups in around the county, 75% of ideas that evolve into a business should have been killed, but get funded anyway. "These "zombie innovations" end up clogging the innovation pipeline," says BCBR's Chris Wood.

The IQ Awards, which wrap up a summer of start up enterprise in Boulder, point toward companies that -- in the eye of the judges -- offer the most promising ideas.

One IQ finalist, who was also showcased in a keynote address AREDay in Aspen, was The technology, says CEO Carla Johnson, allows for the build-up of well-organized layers of information -- such as information related to the bio-diversity, climate, growth projections, and sustainable, green activities of any selected region in the world, or any city. The information is added Wikipedia-style by users, and presented in 3-D views.

An innovative app created by Backpacker Magazine was also a IQ finalist. Its GPS Trails app creates a "breadcrumb trail" while geotagging photos, videos and voice memos, that can be uploaded to socialmedia sites such as Facebook and YouTube on-the-go. Sea to Summit's outdoor crew showcased its down-filled sleeping bag that features its patented technology called 3D NanoShell for moisture prevention in extreme ice and snow condition. And, Backjoy handed out free BackJoy Core seats to a long line of people seeking relief from back pain.

Since I don't suffer from back pain, I didn't plan to bring home their promise of a "better-balanced spine" until one of the product investors, Richard Polk, advised that I should "Stand in line for a miracle." How could I resist that tagline?

At the end of the evening, I ran into the IQ Awards youngest finalist, CEO Daniel Haarburger, age 19. He was busy checking his iPhone for updates on WINGStand. With only two days to go on Kickstarter, his project had raised close to $60,000. In only 60 days, this "fund and follow creativity" website had helped him launch a well-drafted idea into a tangible product with worldwide potential. It also got him a front row seat at this end of summer gala event.

Alexia Parks is an inspirational speaker, founder of the Focus on Success mentoring system for schools and business, and author of 12 books including the Amazon business and motivational best-seller: Parkinomics - 8 Great Ways to Thrive in the New Economy.