Pete Wheelan, TVA Entrepreneur-in-Residence


Pete Wheelan, TVA Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Pete Wheelan, TVA Entrepreneur-in-Residence

To know Pete Wheelan even a little bit is to wonder what influences modeled the success he embodies today – and wears as comfortably as a bespoke suit.

The data reports that 1/3 of our creative capacity is DNA, our nature. The other 2/3s is nurture, the environment in which we were raised. Did Pete’s parents listen to him when he spoke? Did they ask him the right questions? Did they introduce him to different cultures, triggering a passion for travel? Did books line the walls of his home?

An article in Forbes magazine defined an entrepreneur as “a person who creates, organizes and manages a business while trying to make a profit.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

But a success story like Pete’s?

Successful entrepreneurs tend to be risk takers, who enjoy gathering and synthesizing information. They are open-minded and confident enough to accept critical feedback and as good as the best TEDsters on their feet in front of any audience. (They have to be in order to raise funds and promote new business ideas.) The best of them know something about business law. And they tend to be principled, charismatic and empathetic, engendering loyalty.

Pete Wheelan is all of the above – and more.

Pete, who holds a BA from Dartmouth College, an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a JD from Northwestern Law School, has been an executive in the travel and publishing industries for nearly 15 years. Most recently, he was Chief Operating Officer and Chief Revenue Officer at Blurb Inc., a ground-breaking creative publishing platform that enables anyone with a story to tell – whether through photos, words, illustrations, or a combination – to create, market and sell bookstore-quality books simply and affordably.

In late March 2013, Pete takes on the role of CEO of a venture-backed, growth-stage company at the crossroads of higher education and technology. (Details are still confidential due to pending transition and communication plans.)

In his spare time, he will continue to travel – he has already visited more than 50 countries on six continents – and enjoy trail running, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, participating in triathlons and coaching youth soccer.

And Pete Wheelan is a mentor/entrepreneur-in-residence for the Telluride Foundation‘s latest initiative, Telluride Venture Accelerator. With TVA, the Foundation skips the toe part and gets waist-deep in the waters of philanthropic entrepreneurship. The big idea is to enhance the Telluride brand: more than a ski resort, a place to incubate new businesses.

“Our hope is that over the next few years TVA will successfully launch start-ups, potentially high-growth companies, that will bring new jobs to the area, and that will also reinforce the fact that Telluride is not only physically beautiful, but also an environment potentially very suitable for entrepreneurs like me,” he explained

At the request of Jesse Johnson, TVA’s CEO, whom Pete met through a mutual friend in October 2012, Pete joined board members from Whole Foods and Patagonia, 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. to select four winners from a field of 100 applicants from all over the world who applied for the opportunity to live in Telluride for six months to be mentored and receive investment capital and access to the Telluride region’s robust investment community. 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.

To learn more about Pete Wheelan, Telluride Venture Accelerators, and the four inaugural winners – Globa,li, High Desert Farms, Hyperlite Mountain Gear and Hoggle Goggle, click the “play” button and listen to our chat.

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