Telluride Venture Accelerator Announces Four Winners
by Watch Staff
Jan 27, 2013 | 1528 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Companies From Telluride, Dolores, Denver and Maine, Range in Size From Brand New Startup to $500K in Annual Sales


TELLURIDE – Representatives from four companies – one Telluride-based, two Colorado-based companies and a fourth company from Maine, come to Telluride in early February.

The four companies, ranging in size from a brand-new startup to approaching $500,000 in annual sales, were selected after a competitive round of applications from 100 companies by Telluride Venture Accelerator organizers and a panel including past and present entrepreneurs and board members from Whole Foods and Patagonia,, IZZE Beverages, Burton Snowboards and head of marketing for Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.

Organizers of the coming-online companies – Hoggle Goggle, High Desert Farms, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear – participated in TVA’s 2012 Initiative, launched in October, to support emerging entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and young businesses, will work out of Telluride for six months, receiving intensive business mentoring; a co-working space at The Peaks Resort; a $30,000 investment; $100,000 in free services from companies like Microsoft and Amazon; and access to two prominent entrepreneurs-in-residence and “angel” members of Telluride’s investment community. 

TVA uniquely targeted businesses focused in the areas of outdoor recreation, tourism, natural products, health, energy, water, and education.

“We were really pleased with the quality of applications, and there were some big surprises,” said TVA Director Jesse Johnson, who is also a Telluride Foundation boardmember. “Even though our applicant pool was national and international, and we didn't have a geography bias in our scoring, three of our top companies are from Colorado,” and one of the three is from Telluride

The winning Telluride company, Hoggle Goggle, was founded by Lara Young, who recruited fellow local moms/outdoor adventure enthusiasts Candice Good and Michelle Kustes. The company creates ski and outdoor accessories with an emphasis on both function and aesthetics, thus filling a void in the outdoor industry. “Our Telluride-based company is excited to launch the Hoggle, the first product of our intelligent accessories brand,” said founder Young. “We have already learned so much in the TVA application process and from the mentors.  The resources available through TVA offer an amazing opportunity to bring Hoggle to skiers around the world!"

High Desert Farms, based nearby, in Dolores, is a start-up natural and organic foods company producing “great-tasting healthy premium dried fruit snacks,” according to a press release, currently “sourcing all of its fruit regionally from the Colorado Plateau.” Its COO, Bill Manning, has spent 13 years in southwestern Colorado as an organic fruit grower, creating a variety of shelf stable food products under the High Desert Foods brand. “On behalf of all of our management team, I want to share our excitement at the opportunity to work with the TVA,” said Manning. “This selection will help us build momentum and attract attention to our project, while at the same time offering us the chance to work with TVA advisors to strengthen our efforts to build a solid business, and one that can make a difference in our region."

The third Colorado company,, currently based out of Denver, is a new online travel marketplace dedicated to the discovery, review and booking of non-mainstream travel. Co-founders Sarah Fazendin, CEO, and Mallory Worthington, director of sales, have dedicated the past decade to promoting “off the beaten path” travel experiences. “We are really looking forward to being part of this first round of the Telluride Venture Accelerator program and helping make it a long term success," said Fazendin.

The Maine-based Hyperlite Mountain Gear designs, manufactures and sells ultralight packs, tents and accessories made from a high-tech, non-woven laminate called Cuben fiber. HMG sells its products through both direct (online) and wholesale channels, and has already gained industry recognition and accolades from Outside Magazine, Climbing Magazine and Backpacker Magazine. HMG Founder Mike St. Pierre’s love of outdoor sports – and his belief led that innovative, lightweight and durable solutions can always trump problematic natural conditions – led him to create products that are innovative, lightweight, durable, and perform well in the field.

In a bid to promote entrepreneurship in the Telluride region, TVA will begin next month offering public workshops featuring some of the many of experienced entrepreneurs who are visiting Telluride as part of the accelerator program from February through July in 2013. To facilitate networking, TVA has launched the tellurideXchange, an online forum, designed led by the entrepreneurial community and offering the opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the Telluride region to connect and collaborate, so as to push their ideas and businesses forward. To sign up, go to, Join Groups, and search for the tellurideXchange.

“The goal of TVA is to find, start and grow new, high-growth businesses, ideally starting and staying Telluride,” said Paul Major, President & CEO of the Telluride Foundation. “Capitalizing on Telluride’s uniquely inspired community and enormous human capital, TVA is proactive venture philanthropy, pioneering a sustainable and diversified Telluride economy.”

For more information on TVA, visit For more information on the Telluride Foundation, visit

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