Telluride Foundaton's Jesse Johnson (left) & Paul Major (right)


Applicants from around the world seek to participate in new entrepreneur initiative

Telluride Foundaton's Jesse Johnson (left) & Paul Major (right)

Telluride Foundaton’s Jesse Johnson (left) & Paul Major (right)

Launched in the fall of 2012 as an initiative of the Telluride Foundation, Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA) ended the year with a successful application process targeting interested entrepreneurs from around the world.

TVA broadcast its offer In October, seeking to support emerging entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and nascent businesses. Applicants were competing to participate in TVA for the chance to relocate to Telluride for six months and receive intensive business mentoring; a co-working space at The Peaks Resort; $30,000 to help with business expenses; $100,000 in free services from companies like Microsoft and Amazon; and access to two successful entrepreneurs-in-residence, as well as Telluride’s angel investment community.

In its inaugural round, TVA attracted 100 applications from 10 countries, including local entrepreneurs, business school graduates with company concepts, and existing start-up businesses from around the world.

To ensure a successful first year, TVA targeted new and emerging businesses focused in the areas of outdoor recreation, tourism, natural products, health, energy, water, or education. With a strong public relations and media campaign, TVA contacted 20 of the top business schools from around the country and was mentioned in approximately 10 blog posts, including Yale Entrepreneur Institute, Kauffman Foundation, the, and Stanford Graduate School of Business Entrepreneurs. News of the TVA competition also reached 100,000 social media followers in the month leading up to the application deadline.

“With only one month to get the word out on TVA, we weren’t sure what sort of response we would get,” said Jesse Johnson, TVA Director and Telluride Foundation Board Member. “In the end, receiving 100 applications from all over the U.S. and 10 countries was a very strong turnout for our first year.”

Following the application deadline of November 15, 2012, each application was reviewed, and the top applications were evaluated by over 40 successful business owners and CEOs, professionals, and investors from around the country. Interviews were conducted with the top five applicants.

“The Telluride Venture Accelerator mentors deserve a lot of credit,” commented Johnson. “We had very qualified people reading our applications, including the former head of marketing for Burton and Timberland, the CEO of Patagonia, and a board member of Whole Foods.”

Competition winners will be announced to the public January 10, 2013. Afterwards, in early February, the winning companies will begin relocating to Telluride to engage with the successful business mentors and national corporate leaders. In addition, two entrepreneurs-in-residence will be moving to Telluride to provide dedicated mentoring while in the area. Those entrepreneurs are: Peter Wheelan, COO and Chief Revenue Officer of, the number-one fastest growing media company in 2012 and Top 100 Up and Coming private companies by Goldman in 2012; and Craig Howe, a marketing specialist with over 20 years of entertainment, digital, and brand marketing experience, and founder of Rocket XL, a social media agency in LA.

TVA has secured corporate sponsorship support from The Peaks Resort as the official location for the TVA workspace, meetings and events; ASAP Accounting and Payroll for accounting and payroll services; and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP for legal services. In addition, TVA has received funding support from the Colorado Economic Development Commission, the Kaufman Foundation, the Johnson Family Foundation, the Telluride Foundation, and numerous significant individual contributions.

Due to the overwhelming interest in the competition by local entrepreneurs and businesses, TVA has committed to sharing resources and working closely with the community. It recently launched a network for local entrepreneurs, “tellurideXchange.” The first networking event hosted by HUB Telluride was held December 4, 2012 and attracted over 75 locals. Anyone interested in getting involved or learning about upcoming events for entrepreneurs and businesses is encouraged to join the online forum at (Click “Join Groups” and search for “tellurideXchange”).

In developing TVA, the Telluride Foundation seeks to usher in yet another period of innovation and reinvention by helping Telluride to thrive economically and create new jobs and start-ups businesses locally.

“The overarching goal of TVA is to launch and grow new, high-growth businesses out of Telluride,” said Paul Major, President & CEO of the Telluride Foundation. “Capitalizing on Telluride’s uniquely-inspired community, TVA engages in proactive venture philanthropy, encouraging sustainable growth and diversification of the Telluride regional economy.”

For more information on TVA, go to

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 grant maker, 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

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