The remarkable natural environment and world class outdoor recreation we enjoy in the Central Mountain regions has drawn talented people to our community for generations. Today, the Chaffee County EDC is leveraging uniquely Chaffee County activities, like backcountry cat skiing at Monarch Mountain and high-water river trips down The Numbers and Browns Canyon with River Runners, to attract business growth experts from around Colorado to share their time and insights with local entrepreneurs.

In the spring, we tested this approach by hosting Powder_Pitch @ Monarch Mountain. To say it was a hit is something of an understatement: The event drew 45 participants from around the state, in support of 12 local entrepreneurs. Over two days, the event attracted about $18,000 in complimentary consulting for local business owners.

On the heels of that success, earlier this month the EDC proudly played host to a river-based version, called Rapid_Pitch @ Riverrunners. Despite the less-than-ideal temps and rain, nothing would put a damper on this event – where funding, mentorship, and rafting meet! Rapid_Pitch took place at River Runners on June 12th & 13th and brought together our 2022 and 2023 Ascent cohort, mentors, and equity investors.

Each day featured curated one-to-one mentoring “speed dating” sessions on the banks of the Arkansas, followed by afternoon floats paring entrepreneurs seeking guidance and funding with the angel investors and business mentors in our Ascent program. Immediately following these “rapid pitches,” we headed back to River Runners Riverside Grill where our guests built community while connecting over amazing food, rum runners, and live music featuring our Ascent House Band, with members Coleman Smith, Bonnie Culpepper, Charlie Mertens, and Alex Johnstone.

Of course, none of this magic would be possible without our generous sponsors River Runners, Collegiate Peaks Bank, and Aristata Communications.  We continue to be inspired and very impressed with this entrepreneurial movement in Chaffee County. Scroll to the end of this article to read what entrepreneurs and the business community are saying about Rapid_Pitch!



We could continue to go on about our own views of the 2023 Rapid_Pitch event, but honestly think our attendees said it best!


“You need a great guide to take you down a raging river. You need great guides to help you build a successful company. At Rapid_Pitch, you get both!”

“Rapid Pitch was amazing! I loved getting to know other founders and mentors and getting outside feedback on how to grow my brand. Thanks EDC!”

“Chaffee County Economic Development’s Rapid Pitch is a one-of-a-kind program that showcases what makes Chaffee County so special: talented entrepreneurs and community-first advisors combining work and play to build a successful business and strengthen the region!”

“Taking entrepreneurship out of the classroom and into the real world is creative, relaxing, and encouraging for open dialogue and getting to the heart of matters.”

“There are some talented, passionate entrepreneurs in Chaffee County! In addition, the overall community (including “outside” advisors and mentors) is growing in both numbers and strength. We are forming a community of passionate, smart, like-minded people that is committed to supporting one another and building an ecosystem that fosters success.”

“From a business perspective, this event strengthened my desire to do more in Chaffee County!”

“I am just getting familiar with the Chaffee County programs; but am very impressed and thrilled by everything going on and how much more potential there is for the future of this organization and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

“Amazing event, amazing location, amazing opportunity for Chaffee County to be itself while supporting startup growth and job creation.”

“What a way to engage the business future in the present.”

“I love the creativity and passion I saw at Rapid_Pitch!”


Photography Credit: Amanda Podesta Photography