Telluride Accelerator Launches Startups in Colorado’s Ski Country
A haven for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, mountain biking and bluegrass in the summer—that’s the perception of Telluride, a town in southwest Colorado that is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) resort areas in the Rockies.
But some locals would like to add entrepreneurial to that list, and they might be making progress.
Last week, the Telluride Venture Accelerator graduated its latest class of startups. The nonprofit accelerator was founded by the Telluride Foundation and is part of a local effort to nurture more startups, said Thea Chase, the accelerator’s director. Telluride’s effort is one a handful of other Colorado ski towns are trying to diversify their economies.
Chase admits it is ambitious: Telluride is pretty out of the way in the San Juan Mountains, hours by car from any major city. That’s part of the reason why it’s so beloved by a number of highly successful entrepreneurs and executives who make it their second or retirement home. From those ranks, the accelerator has found some of its more than 85 mentors, Chase said, including Cheryl Rosner, founder of Hotels.com, and Jeffrey Katz, who founded Orbitz.
Chase said the mentors are strong in industries including outdoor recreation, travel and tourism, health and wellness, education, water, and energy. Over the two years of the accelerator, they’ve helped the 13 grads raise more than $8 million.
The latest graduates have raised more than $600,000 in seed funding commitments, Chase said. They’ll be in Denver on Thursday evening for a road show at Galvanize. Here’s a list of the latest graduates:
—Mountain Drones designs, builds, and operates unmanned aerial vehicles that have been customized for use in avalanche mitigation. That’s a serious problem in ski country and the mountains, and the startup will be trying to sell its products and services to ski resorts and government agencies. The company was founded in Vail, CO, and is planning to relocate to Telluride.
—BaziFIT is a startup trying to break into the mobile health and wearable tech market. It has created an activity tracker embedded with sensors that monitor a user’s range of motion, balance and stability, and movement mechanics, along with software that doctors and patients can use to create rehabilitation programs. BaziFIT’s pitch is this will lead to more patients following their physical therapy regimens, which will have them back in action in less time and at less expense.
—ProEditors helps amateurs create professional-looking videos from footage shot on smartphones, video cameras, and GoPros. Users upload their videos to ProEditors, which has a professional team of editors produce the videos.
—The Dyrt is creating a site where users can find campgrounds and outdoor adventures by using its database of more than 15,000 sites. Its goal is to become the Yelp for campgrounds as its adds features, including reviews and recommendations.
—Travel Recon. There are travel startups that try to offer travelers “intelligence” about local sites, restaurants, and lodging. Then there’s Travel Recon, which uses intelligence in a different sense—it provides risk assessments, safety updates, and GIS-based maps of security threats to users about potential destinations. The company was founded by military veterans and security professionals, and it says it uses machine learning and data analytics to scour the Internet for the latest information as it creates its assessments.