Telluride Venture Accelerator Announces New Director
by Samuel Adams
Oct 16, 2013 | 2340 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THEA CHASE, Director of the Telluride Venture Accelerator
THEA CHASE, Director of the Telluride Venture Accelerator

Thea Chase Brings 20 Years’ Experience Building Successful Entrepreneurship and Accelerator Programs


TELLURIDE – After a nationwide search with over 50 applicants, the Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA) has announced Thea Chase as its new director. TVA is a mentor-driven accelerator based in Telluride that provides seed funding, coworking space, access to world-class mentors and entrepreneurs in residence, and a capstone event where each company can pitch for follow-on investment from Telluride’s angel network and venture capital funds, including the Telluride Venture Fund.

As TVA’s director, Chase will be responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the accelerator program and will play an instrumental role in further growing Telluride’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem.  

“We were fortunate to have a very talented pool of applicants,” said Jesse Johnson, TVA’s co-founder and CEO and Telluride Foundation Board member. “Thea rose to the top as she has built several successful, nationally-recognized entrepreneurship and accelerator programs in the past.

Johnson said that TVA has had a “great first year” and that its new director will bring the skills and leadership to grow TVA into one of the country’s leading accelerators.

“In addition, Thea will bring vast experience that will help TVA maximize its impact on the community and help make our region a better place to start and grow a business,” Johnson said.

“I am very pleased to be joining the Telluride community and adding value to the exceptional foundation built by the founders of TVA,” said Chase. “TVA has a unique vision in the world of venture acceleration. I look forward to working with the robust community of mentors and exciting start-ups.” 

Chase brings 20 years of experience in the field of entrepreneurship to her new position.Most recently, she was the Managing Director at Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and Director of the Small Business Development Center for Innovation, and launched the SLO HotHouse – an accelerator, incubator and co-working space in San Luis Obispo, Calif.  Companies in the first two years of CIE’s summer accelerator have raised close to $2 million in outside funds and employ 30 people full time and 26 part-time. The Accelerator recently graduated seven companies in its third year, all of which are continuing with the launch of their enterprises. 

From 2006-2010, Chase was a tenure track professor in Entrepreneurship at Colorado Mesa University. 

Prior to this, she was the Executive Director of the Western Colorado Business Development Corporation (WCBDC), commonly known as the Business Incubator Center, in Grand Junction from 1993-2006. During this time, WCBDC served over 1,000 companies per year, graduating and funding hundreds of companies, won five national awards for its business incubator and grew the annual budget from $75,000 to several million dollars per year. 

Chase has extensive experience supporting statewide economic development efforts as the President of the Colorado Business Incubation Association for 15 years, a member of the Economic Developers Council of Colorado and serving on the Governor’s Council on Small Business in both the Romer and Owens’s administrations and working directly with many communities to advance their entrepreneurial ecosystems. She attended graduate school at the University of Colorado, Denver and is thrilled to be returning to her favorite state.

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 the business accelerator’s first year. While operating in the co-working space hosted by The Peaks Resort, all of the ventures made significant progress and have raised over $800,000 to date.

The Telluride Venture Accelerator is currently accepting applications for the 2014 program through Oct. 23. Six companies will be selected to receive a $25,000 investment, five months of intensive mentoring from 60 mentors, and access to a unique community of investors. 

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