TELLURIDE – The Telluride Venture Accelerator is entering the final phase of its inaugural year. Launched in the fall of 2012 as an initiative of the Telluride Foundation to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Telluride, the TVA selected four companies out of 100 applicants to participate in its business accelerator program’s first year. The winning companies are now in the final phase of their six-month program and preparing for the concluding investor pitch event scheduled for July 15.
While operating in the co-working space hosted by The Peaks Resort, founders of the four winning companies have learned new skills and progressed toward achieving their business goals. Leveraging TVA’s extensive network of over 60 mentors, they have created new products, refined business plans, generated financial models, finalized investment term sheets, lined up customers, and evolved marketing and branding strategies. Two of the four companies have raised bridge funding from within the regional community.
The TVA program culminates with an Investor Pitch Demo Day in mid-July at the Peaks Resort, where each winner will pitch his/her company before a select group of local, regional and national investors. The event kicks off with a private reception featuring Colorado Governor John W. Hickenlooper; Scott Key, president and CEO of IHS, a global information company; and Lesa Mitchell, vice president of Innovation and Networks at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a national foundation that fosters economic independence by advancing education and entrepreneurship.
The companies have been able to benefit from TVA’s two entrepreneurs-in-residence: Pete Wheelan, CEO of Inside Track, who visited Telluride early in the program; and Craig Howe, digital media strategist and founder of Rocket XL, who will guide the companies through the final stage.
The 2013 class of TVA winners includes:
· Globa.li (www.globa.li), the Denver-based company, co-founded by Sarah Fazendin, that aggregates boutique hotel inventory in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
· Hoggle Goggle, founded by Telluride local Lara Young, a new venture that creates ski and outdoor accessories with function and aesthetics that fill a void in the outdoor industry;
· High Desert Farms (6350' Natural Foods www.6350naturalfoods.com), founded by Bill Manning, the Dolores-based natural and organic foods company offers consumers organic and regionally-sourced dried fruit snacks; and
· Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) (www.hyperlitemountaingear.com), based in Maine and founded by Mike St. Pierre; the company designs, manufactures, and sells innovative, ultralight outdoor gear; and sets itself apart from industry traditions with its minimalist and simple design approach. HMG products are sold locally by the Jagged Edge.
The Telluride Venture Accelerator participants receive $30,000 in seed money, $100,000 in free services from companies like Microsoft and Amazon, access to two prominent entrepreneurs-in-residence, as well as Telluride's angel investment community. TVA uniquely targeted businesses focused in the areas of outdoor recreation, tourism, natural products, health, energy, water, and education. Along with the Telluride Foundation, TVA is supported by individual donors, the Kaufman Foundation, the Johnson Family Foundation, the Colorado Economic Development Commission, and receives corporate support from The Peaks Resort, ASAP Accounting and Payroll, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP attorneys at law and Great Lakes Airlines. For more information on TVA, visit www.tellurideva.com.
TVA has also had a positive impact on the Telluride region. It is facilitating new personal and business relationships among mentors, expanding the resources available to local entrepreneurs, promoting area businesses, ,and developing an entrepreneurship education effort with the Telluride High and Telluride Mountain schools. The winning companies have also hired local companies for legal, branding, marketing, website development and other professional services. Furthermore, participating TVA mentors have also discussed starting new local and regional businesses.
As part of the “tellurideXchange”, the small business and entrepreneurship forum launched in November by the Telluride Foundation, visiting mentors have attracted crowds to local venues by delivering public presentations on key business topics. Last week, two visiting mentors and the CEO of a Durango-based start up shared how to build, sell and communicate value to customers and investors. Upcoming events include a public workshop by Craig Howe on social media strategies scheduled for July 9, 1p.m. to 3p.m., at the Telluride Library Program Room. The public is invited, including nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs and businesses.
The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that provides year-round support for local organizations involved in arts, education, athletics, charitable causes, land conservation and other community-based efforts through technical assistance, education and grant making. As a grantmaker, the Foundation awards grants to qualified applicants that serve the people living and working in the Telluride area for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life within the region. For more information on the Telluride Foundation, visit www.telluridefoundation.org.