Editor’s note: Announcing “Telluride Venture Accelerator companies presenting.” Owners of the four companies who won the inaugural initiative plan to present regularly to the local entrepreneur community (tellurideXchange). First gathering is Monday, February 11, 5:30 – 7:30, 2nd floor, Camel’s Garden Hotel.


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

Telluride Venture Accelerator’s Jesse Johnson (left) & Telluride Foundation’s Paul Major (right)Snow.

Well, it’s flakey.

And not in a good sense. If you are in Telluride, look out your window. Looks good now, but a few short weeks ago? Can’t count on snow to happen.

An economy based largely on the whims of the weather gods is not a good long-term bet. Too much relies on luck alone.

A better bet might be, say:

A company founded by a local based on ski and outdoor accessories with function and aesthetics that fill a void in the outdoor industry;


A natural and organic food company founded by an organic fruit grower offering consumers great-tasting healthy premium dried fruit snacks and sourcing all of its raw ingredients regionally from the Colorado Plateau;


A new online travel marketplace dedicated to the discovery, review and booking of non-mainstream travel founded by two women who have spent the last decade promoting “off the beaten path” travel experiences;


A fourth company based in Maine that designs, manufactures and sells ultra-light packs, tents and accessories using high tech non-woven laminate, Cuben fiber, founded by a man who believes there are not so many uncomfortable conditions in nature as there is uncomfortable or inappropriate equipment.

Or all four collectively.

The companies roll up into the whole idea of Telluride being defined as more than a ski resort, albeit one of the prettiest and best in the country. How about Telluride as an incubator of new businesses too? Were that to happen then no snow would not mean no go.

Hoggle Goggle, High Desert Farms, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear all have the potential to make positive differences in people’s lives, Sir Richard Branson’s measure of success. The companies’s founders are the four winners of the Telluride Foundation’s inaugural Venture Accelerator competition.

The final picks were made early in the New Year from a field of 100 companies representing 10 different countries by a reviewing group that included dozens of leading entrepreneurs: board members from Whole Foods and Patagonia; the former CEO of; the founder of IZZE Beverages; the former head of marketing for Burton Snowboards; and the former head of marketing for Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.

Entrepreneur/philanthropist, Venture Accelerator founder/director Jesse Johnson and the Telluride Foundation‘s CEO Paul Major established the program to further innovation and entrepreneurship for young, high-growth business ventures nationwide, a flash of inspiration that could redefine the Telluride brand – and economy.

When a small resort town until now largely reliant on tourism and construction gets to channel its inner Branson, the bottom line is no longer just about a perfect line. And a more diverse economy is way more  attractive and sustainable for families attracted to the region for the long haul.

Telluride Venture Accelerator is the only business incubator in the country laser-focused in the fields of outdoor recreation, tourism, natural products, health, energy, water and education. The initiative is also a tour de force of creative thinking and perseverance, two essential ingredients of successful entrepreneurship.

L.L. Nunn, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla and the development of A.C. electricity originated in Telluride. Why not add more game-changers to the local list?

Telluride Venture Accelerator broadcast its first offer last October, seeking to support emerging entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and young businesses. Applicants were competing for the chance to relocate to Telluride for six months and to receive intensive business mentoring; a co-working space at The Peaks Resort; a $30,000 investment (plus up to an additional $8,000 for travel and lodging); $100,000 in free services from companies like Microsoft and Amazon; access to two successful entrepreneurs-in-residence; and access to Telluride’s robust angel investment community. The companies selected ranged from start up concepts to a business approaching $500,000 in annual sales.

In exchange for its efforts, Telluride Venture Accelerator will take a four percent equity stake in participating companies, potentially creating a fund with which to expand the program in the future.

Venture Accelerator will also open up its umbrella to the greater Telluride community, with mentors delivering free lectures open to the general public. It is also creating a platform that encourages local entrepreneurs to share resources.

For more information about the Telluride Venture Accelerator and when applications open again, please visit:


Click the “play” button and listen to what more Jesse Johnson has to say.

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