Telluride Venture Accelerator: New Director Announced

Telluride Venture Accelerator: New Director Announced

Thea Chase, new director, Telluride Venture Accelerator

Thea Chase, new director, Telluride Venture Accelerator

Thea Chase brings 20 years of experience building successful entrepreneurship and accelerator programs

After a nationwide search with over 50 applicants, the Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA) announced Thea Chase will be the new director.

TVA is a mentor-driven accelerator program based in Telluride. The initiative provides seed funding, co-working 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 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. Thea rose to the top as she has built several successful, nationally-recognized entrepreneurship and accelerator programs in the past,” said Jesse Johnson, TVA’s co-founder and CEO and Telluride Foundation board member. “TVA had a great first year and I believe Thea will bring the skills and leadership to grow TVA into one of the country’s leading accelerators.  In addition, Thea has 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.”

Ms. Chase has 20 years of experience in the field of entrepreneurship to the position. Most recently, she was managing director at Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and Director of the Small Business Development Center for Innovation. She launched the SLO HotHouse, an accelerator, an incubator and co-working space in San Luis Obispo, California. 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 7 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 of entrepreneurship at Colorado Mesa University.  From 1993 – 2006,  she was executive director of the Western Colorado Business Development Corporation (WCBDC), commonly known as the Business Incubator Center, Grand Junction, CO. During that time, WCBDC served over 1,000 companies per year, graduating and funding hundreds of companies, won 5 national awards for its business incubator, and grew its annual budget from $75,000 to several million dollars per year.

Chase has extensive experience supporting statewide economic development efforts. She has been President of the Colorado Business Incubation Association for 15 years, a member of the Economic Developers Council of Colorado, and served on the Governor’s Council on Small Business in both the Romer and Owens administrations, working directly with many communities to advance their entrepreneurial eco-systems.

Thea Chase went to grad school at the University of Colorado, Denver, and is thrilled to be returning to her favorite state.

“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 to further the growth of the entrepreneurial eco-system in the region.”

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.

Through October 23, Telluride Venture Accelerator will be accepting applications for the 2014 program.  Six companies will be selected to receive a $25,000 investment, 5 months of intensive mentoring from our 60 mentor,  and access to our unique community of investors.

For more information on TVA and our application requirements please visit our website at For more about the Telluride Foundation, please visit



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