Latest News2022-11-22T18:43:09+00:00
1505, 2024

Robin Vega

By |May 15th, 2024|Categories: The Team|

"I believe the most important stories we can tell right now are stories that ignite community, stories that inspire changemakers, and stories that activate global and local impact. Which is why I can honestly say working with the Ascent has been the highlight of my 20+ career as a storyteller, and I don't believe I could have dreamed up a more perfect position. Never could I [...]

1505, 2024

Jake Rishavy

By |May 15th, 2024|Categories: The Team|

"Supporting these entrepreneurs gives me so much purpose. Through the Ascent Accelerator I get to witness formative memories in brand new relationships, happening in real time. Community and collaboration over competition. It’s now undeniable to me." - Jake Rishavy Jake Rishavy has led economic development organizations and initiatives in Colorado for more than a decade and currently leads the Chaffee County EDC. His previous work [...]

1505, 2024

Abby Peters

By |May 15th, 2024|Categories: The Team|

"Working with the Ascent has been an incredibly rewarding experience. This division of the EDC is deeply committed to fostering economic growth and innovation in our community. Through the various initiatives and support programs, we're able to provide invaluable resources and mentorship to local entrepreneurs and businesses." - Abby Peters Abby Peters serves as the Program Director for Central Mountain Entrepreneurs, a key initiative under [...]

1505, 2024

Tara Reed

By |May 15th, 2024|Categories: The Team|

"I'm so honored to be on this team! The Ascent program is clearly making a positive impact in our communities. And it continues to gain momentum! I look forward to seeing how the program continues to grow and evolve." - Tara Reed Tara Reed serves as the Administrative and Accounting Support for the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC). With a keen eye for detail [...]

1405, 2024

Tim Martinez

By |May 14th, 2024|Categories: The Team|

"The best part of working on the Ascent Accelerator and Ark_Angels programs is the opportunity to support cool ideas by smart people.  Being an entrepreneur is difficult and these startups are in the trenches every day.  A small amount of guidance, a little promotion, or bringing together the right people can make a word of difference.  They do the hard work, we just make sure it [...]

1004, 2024

Powder_Pitch 2024 Greatest Hits

By |April 10th, 2024|Categories: Ascent Cohort, Ascent News, CME Mentors, Powder_PItch|

Holy smokes! Powder_Pitch 2.0 did NOT disappoint! In fact, it truly exceeded all of our expectations. In case you're new here, Powder_Pitch is the quintessential Colorado networking event for mentors, investors, and entrepreneurs currently enrolled in our Ascent accelerator program. An essential part of our 12-week program is not only matching the companies in our cohorts with world-class mentorship, but also suppporting their fundraising intiatives. So we created Powder_Pitch as [...]

2602, 2024

Mark Eagle

By |February 26th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

‘Make a difference, have fun, and oh by the way, make some money.’ -Mark Eagle   Mr. Eagle is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur with over 30 years of management and leadership experience with a track record growing companies utilizing technology. His startup was 23rd on Inc magazines fastest growing companies list and had 2 public exits during his tenure. He is a life-long-learning catalyst [...]

2102, 2024

2024 Ascent Launch Event Recap

By |February 21st, 2024|Categories: Ascent Cohort, Ascent Members, Ascent News|

Our 2024 SOLD OUT Ascent Launch Event surpassed our wildest dreams. Thanks a million to our Partner & Startup Story Spotlights, to the Ascent House Band, delicious Beverage Sponsors and Funding Partners, and our Title Sponsor Collegiate Peaks Bank! We couldn't have pulled this off without you! We hope you'll enjoy the beautiful moments captured by Amanda Podesta! For those of you that were not able to make it, please [...]

2601, 2024

Janice Fritsch

By |January 26th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

Our mission is to create opportunity for Coloradoans to reach their fullest potential for self-sufficiency through access to entrepreneurship, meaningful employment, basic needs and an improved quality of life. - Kenneth King Foundation Janice Fritsch is an accomplished professional with a proven track record in the world of philanthropy and impact investing. With twenty-plus years of experience involved in leading a Colorado-based private foundation, the [...]

2601, 2024

Marah Rosenberg

By |January 26th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Only the paranoid survive." -Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel Marah is a certified agile project manager and coach with Fortune 500 experience.  Work projects have spanned a variety of vertical markets, including Health Care, Retail, Hospitality, Education and Personal Finance.  They are also the treasurer of the Salida Council for the Arts, and on the board of TRex Arts (across from the library) Marah [...]

2501, 2024

Laura Rodriguez

By |January 25th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

"In business, you're going to hear the word "no' a lot. The importance of trusting yourself and your own rear end is what's going to keep you going. Recognize that failure or the word "no' is not the end." -- Sara Blakely Laura Rodriguez serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), Laura brings years of [...]

2501, 2024

Jed Selby

By |January 25th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Music is one of the most powerful things in the world because it's one of the only things that will bring people together regardless of race, religion, or politics." - Jed Selby Jed is co-founder of South Main. He brings passion to his study of traditional building design and construction patterns, continually raising the bar through his involvement in the South Main Building Company. Jed [...]

2401, 2024

Nim Patel

By |January 24th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” - Bill Gates Nim Patel is Chief Strategy Officer of Colorado Enterprise Fund, Inc. (CEF).  He is responsible for coordinating and optimizing CEF’s operational processes and technologies to maximize their alignment with strategic business goals.  Prior to CEF Nim had over 20 years of management experience in various industries including non-profit/social enterprises, venture capital, Fortune 500, Big 5 consulting at the [...]

2401, 2024

Kay Henze

By |January 24th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

"When in doubt, bootstrap. Using your own personal resources is the easiest way to start a business. You don’t have to convince investors about the merits of your idea. You just have to convince yourself." -Ryan Holmes, Co-founder of Hootsuite Kay Henze’s expertise in board service and leadership consistently showcases her ability to drive meaningful change and growth. Serving on multiple boards, her contributions are [...]

1601, 2024

Bonnie Watson

By |January 16th, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

"When you learn, teach. When you get, give." ― Maya Angelou  Bonnie Watson is a finance professional specializing in small business lending, venture capital, rural ecosystem development, and acceleration. Currently, Bonnie serves as the CEO of Energize Colorado, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering resilient business communities across the state by innovatively addressing capital gaps. Her entrepreneurial spirit runs deep, as she proudly represents the [...]

301, 2024

Warren S. Cook

By |January 3rd, 2024|Categories: CME Mentors|

“If you can't do great things, do small things in a great way.” — Napoleon Hill Warren is the President and Chief of HR Advisory Services of  TAHR Services Inc and former co-founder of SymbianceHR  and SymbianceHiRe. As a business management consultant with specialized subject matter expertise in Human Resources, he continues to provide strategic leadership in both human capital management and business operations. Warren is a human resources [...]

2812, 2023

Brittany Romano

By |December 28th, 2023|Categories: CME Mentors|

"It's important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable." -- Sara Blakely Brittany is the Executive Director of Startup Colorado and is known as a trusted and collaborative leader with reputable experience working within the rural startup landscape. She founded Thrive Yoga Studios, a Colorado-based franchise focused on supporting small business owners in the health and wellness industry. Her [...]

1412, 2023

Kira Spivak

By |December 14th, 2023|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Before you are a leader, success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others." -- Jack Welch Kira Spivak, CFO and founder of VenturePack CFO Solutions, has been easing the minds of CEOs and their investors over 25 years in Colorado and across the U.S. As financial technology evolved, Kira designed VenturePack CFO Solutions (venturepackcfo.com) in order to deliver [...]

2311, 2023

Nick Thomas

By |November 23rd, 2023|Categories: CME Mentors|

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently." - Warren Buffett Nick is the business lead at Wildwood Ventures.  At Wildwood, Nick partners with early-stage entrepreneurs to build companies at the intersection of the outdoors and wellness.  Prior to Wildwood, Nick managed brands and products for The North Face, Amazon [...]

2311, 2023

Jake Rost

By |November 23rd, 2023|Categories: CME Mentors|

"It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure." - Bill Gates Jake is an Executive Team Leader with experience in Manufacturing Operations, Business Development, Marketing & M&A. Over the past 25 years he has  helped launch 75+ products in regulated industries spanning medical devices, diagnostics, industrial and military markets.  His success as an individual contributor at startups, [...]

1807, 2023

Zero Fare “We’ll Get You There” – Enjoy Free Rides From Salida to Buena Vista All Summer Long!

By |July 18th, 2023|Categories: Chaffee County EDC, News|

How would you like a free ride between Salida and Buena Vista for the rest of the summer?! The Chaffee Shuttle is participating in the Zero Fare "We'll Take You There" statewide transit campaign to help introduce the community to transit. The Department of Energy is paying for transit fares all summer long!   As part of Colorado’s Zero Fare We’ll Get You There initiative, The Chaffee Shuttle has expanded [...]

2606, 2023

2023 Rapid_Pitch Recap

By |June 26th, 2023|Categories: Ascent News, CME Mentors|Tags: , |

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 [...]

1505, 2023

Salida-based Oveja Negra Awarded $99,350 Through Outdoor Recreation Industry Grant

By |May 15th, 2023|Categories: Ascent News, Chaffee County EDC, News|Tags: , , |

On May 11 the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced 24 recipients of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund (ORIIF). These competitive grants are intended to help outdoor recreation industry businesses and nonprofits hire and retain over 100 full-time and part-time positions, especially for those businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oveja Negra, a sports accessories manufacturer based in Salida, [...]

105, 2023

Salida-based DRAM Wins BIG at the 2023 Good Food Awards with Three New Honors

By |May 1st, 2023|Categories: Ascent News, CME Mentors|Tags: , , |

As an advocate for entrepreneurship in the Central Mountains, the Chaffee County EDC team loves to highlight the success of great local companies and founders. Today, we're shining a little light on one of Salida's low-key but far-reaching product brands, DRAM. And while we're at it, let's note the leadership of founder Brady Becker, who serves as a key mentor for the Chaffee County EDC’s Central Mountain Ascent business accelerator [...]

2204, 2023

2023 Ascent Startup Summit Recap

By |April 22nd, 2023|Categories: Ascent News, CME Mentors|Tags: , |

It will be quite some time before we can put into actual words what unfolded at our 2nd Annual Ascent Startup Summit. To say we are inspired and impressed with this entrepreneurial movement happening in Chaffee County would be the understatement of the year. Our 2023 Ascent Startup Summit took place last Thursday, April 20th at the stunning Surf Hotel in Buena Vista, Colorado and celebrated entrepreneurs, dreamers, and doers [...]

803, 2023

2023 Ascent Powder_Pitch Recap

By |March 8th, 2023|Categories: Ascent News, CME Mentors|Tags: , |

Simply, wow. Earlier this month we had the incredible honor of hosting our inaugural Powder_Pitch @ Monarch Mountain. The testimonials have been rolling in and the prevailing feeling was that this was among the best business events that our attendees had participated in. Throughout two days, participants received nearly $20,000 in complimentary consulting from some of the leading business growth advisors and mentors in the state.  And, the vibe was [...]

1502, 2023

2023 Ascent Lauch Recap

By |February 15th, 2023|Categories: Ascent News, CME Mentors|Tags: , |

It's been less than a month since we hosted our 2nd Annual Ascent Launch event and we're still reeling from this sold-out celebration. The community support, incredible start-up stories, and generous sponsors, truly made the night an unforgettable one. We couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to our 2023 Cohort! Get to know these remarkable companies, some of which are already making a really big impact in rural Colorado, [...]

1312, 2022

Lisa Pedersen

By |December 13th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader. “ - Seth Godin Lisa Pedersen founded Root Purpose Group specializing in executive coaching, leadership, and organizational development. Lisa is passionate about helping CEOs, leaders, and teams achieve their potential, resolve organizational challenges, and align their actions with their purpose.  Lisa has over 25 years [...]

1312, 2022

Clare J. Hefferren

By |December 13th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

Callosum is an outdoor industry branding agency that guides early and growth stage purpose-driven brands to $10M, through a Signature Growth Road Map to grow awareness, build community, and create content that converts in 3 steps to close the gap between the impact you want to make and the revenue you generate. Committed to the quadruple bottom line (profit, people, planet, purpose.) Clare Hefferren, Founder [...]

2211, 2022

Local HealthTech Startup DifferentKind Wins State Grant, Secures Local Angel Funding

By |November 22nd, 2022|Categories: Ascent Members, Ascent News, Ascent Spotlights, Careers, Chaffee County EDC, News|Tags: , |

CHAFFEE COUNTY, COLO. – Buena Vista, Colo.-based DifferentKind, makers of an innovative technology solution to measure and improve patient outcomes in dental offices, announced today that it had been awarded a $250,000 grant funding from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s Advanced Industries Accelerator grant program.      The Early-Stage Capital and Retention grant supports businesses commercializing innovative and disruptive technologies that will be created or manufactured [...]

811, 2022

Todd Evenson

By |November 8th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” —Charles Schwab “Recognized by Modern Healthcare as “Top 25 COO in Healthcare” and the Denver Business Journal as a “Top C-Suite” award winner, Mr. Evenson is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of leadership in the health care industry. He is an expert in strategy, finance, performance improvement, communication, analytics and [...]

1110, 2022

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Katabatic Gear

By |October 11th, 2022|Categories: Ascent Members, Ascent News, Ascent Spotlights|Tags: , |

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Katabatic In our new blog series, Ascent Spotlights, we shine a light on the entrepreneurs and mentors in our Ascent accelerator. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Katabatic Gear which originated in 2009 out of founder Aaron Martray’s desire to create a warm, light, sleeping experience using quilt-style sleeping bags, known today as simply quilts. Katabatic’s intentional design approach began, and moves forward with, some key [...]

410, 2022

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Elevation Beer Company

By |October 4th, 2022|Categories: Ascent Members, Ascent News, Ascent Spotlights|Tags: , |

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Elevation Beer Company In our new blog series, Ascent Spotlights, we shine a light on the entrepreneurs and mentors in our Ascent accelerator. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Elevation Beer Company, which participated in our 2022 Ascent Cohort. Established in 2012, Elevation is a craft brewery in the rural mountain town of Poncha Springs, Colorado, called the Crossroads of the Rockies. Founded on the principles [...]

3009, 2022

Matt Pesce

By |September 30th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Peter Drucker Matt’s specialty is helping technology- and innovation-led B2B companies grow and scale, with expertise in strategy, product, marketing, business development and international expansion. Having led growth initiatives for organizations from startups to the Fortune 100, he is able to help scaleup companies grow effectively without losing the ability to adapt and innovate [...]

2609, 2022

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Over It. Raft Covers

By |September 26th, 2022|Categories: Ascent Members, Ascent News, Ascent Spotlights|Tags: , |

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Over It. Raft Covers In our new blog series Ascent Spotlights, we shine a light on the entrepreneurs and mentors in our accelerator. As we wind down our peak summer river season we thought today would be great timing to introduce you to Over It. Raft Covers, an affordable, simple, long-term solution to protect your raft investments in between river trips. Two Salida boaters turned entrepreneurs Kevin [...]

2209, 2022

The EDC is seeking a Program Director

By |September 22nd, 2022|Categories: Ascent News, Chaffee County EDC|Tags: |

Summary Chaffee County EDC is seeking a Program Director to lead and support exciting new initiatives to promote the development of a thriving, resilient, year-round economy in Chaffee County. In support of the organization’s objectives to ensure economic recovery, resilience to future disruptions, and the creation of greater wage diversity and economic diversification; the Program Director will work in the following three strategic focus areas: startup support, public policy, and [...]

1509, 2022

Joe Thurman

By |September 15th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs Joe is an entrepreneur, community leader, and talent expert who is currently the founder and CEO of interviewIA of, a VC-backed SaaS company focused on transforming the hiring process via data and machine learning. Being in [...]

1209, 2022

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Elements Mountain Compost

By |September 12th, 2022|Categories: Ascent Members, Ascent News, Ascent Spotlights|Tags: , |

Ascent Spotlights: Meet Elements Mountain Compost Today we want to introduce you to a new blog series called Ascent Spotlights where we'll shine a light on the entrepreneurs and mentors in our accelerator. For our inaugural episode we're featuring Elements Mountain Compost, an incredible small business in Chaffee County doing big things that has an impact on both our community and the planet.   Ascent Accelerator Elements Compost Video 2022 [...]

109, 2022

Chaffee County Named “Emerging Startup Community of the Year” by Leading Statewide Business Investment Group

By |September 1st, 2022|Categories: News|

Chaffee County Named “Emerging Startup Community of the Year” by Leading Statewide Business Investment Group CHAFFEE COUNTY, COLO. – Chaffee County–including the communities of Buena Vista, Salida, and Poncha Springs–was named “Emerging Startup Community of the Year” by the Rockies Venture Group, a leading business investment organization serving companies and communities in the Mountain West region. The Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation, which recently created a new business accelerator in [...]

308, 2022

Q3 Chaffee County Economic Data: Unemployment Rate, Job & Population Growth

By |August 3rd, 2022|Categories: Ascent News|

Chaffee County - and its economy - is ever changing. That reality is being driven locally by a confluence of significant population, workforce, and employment trends.   To understand these trends, Chaffee County EDC - in partnership with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the Colorado Workforce Center, and EMSI - commissioned a far-reaching new Economic Overview Report. This report highlights population growth trends, labor force participation, demographics, inbound and [...]

2705, 2022

Michael Robinson

By |May 27th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Starting a business is a huge amount of hard work... You had better enjoy it."- Richard Branson Michael Robinson possesses a rich history of global executive leadership in telecom infrastructure operations and engineering, technology innovation, corporate security and fraud detection, banking and business risk management. He was a pioneer in the deployment of land and sea based fiber optic systems, where he collaborated on the development and [...]

1805, 2022

Ascent Startup Summit 2022 RECAP

By |May 18th, 2022|Categories: Ascent News|

Peek behind the curtain of every successful event and you'll find an A-team of planners, partners, and volunteers who are dedicated and driven. Look deeper and you'll find supportive sponsors with an aligned audience championing and elevating the experience. Last month's Ascent Startup Summit was no exception. Today we're shining a little light on this sold-out inaugural event with a recap blog post. We wanted to share the highlights, the [...]

1005, 2022

Will Sarni

By |May 10th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swann Will Sarni is the Founder and General Partner of The Future of Water Fund, a water strategy consultancy. He is also the CEO of the Colorado River Basin Fund, the first placed-based water technology venture fund in the United States. He has been a sustainability and water strategy [...]

2704, 2022

Todd Stockbauer

By |April 27th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Todd Stockbauer started Stockbauer & Associates in late 2008 to provide financial, operational and administrative/cultural guidance and expertise to early stage and less mature brands.  He operates as a CFO, COO, strategist, advisor and partner to brands in the sports (apparel and hard goods), retail, alcohol beverage and food industries.  Prior to commencing Stockbauer & [...]

2704, 2022

DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL FEATURE: Coming to Chaffee County: Denver mentors and financiers for growing businesses

By |April 27th, 2022|Categories: Ascent News|Tags: , , |

We are so thrilled that the business community of Denver is interested in the moves we are making here in Chaffee County to support entrepreneurialism, innovation, and job growth! Check out this article published yesterday in the Denver Business Journal.   By Ed Sealover – Senior Reporter, Denver Business Journal 6 hours ago Chaffee County and Denver may be separated by 130 miles, but metro-area leaders are playing a significant [...]

704, 2022

Elizabeth Marsh

By |April 7th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

Elizabeth Marsh is a Fort Lewis College Business Administration graduate. She has an extensive understanding of the region’s resources for economic growth and the experience necessary to leverage these resources for new business development. She has overseen the creation of 31 new businesses in Southwest Colorado and has built the SCAPE accelerator program into an award-winning, results-oriented engine for innovation and growth. [...]

704, 2022

Robbie Vitrano

By |April 7th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

75% of a company's footprint is in its supply chain. Roughly 2 billion people stuffed on unhealthy food while a billion are starved for basic nutrition. The promise of regenerative agriculture to heal the soil, sequester carbon, cool the earth, and restore balance and connection. Greta. Things that cannot be unseen. Let's get to work. I am fundamentally a designer. My hometown of New Orleans taught [...]

604, 2022

Lorena Cantarovici

By |April 6th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

Lorena Cantarovici is the CEO & Founder of Maria Empanada: a Denver-based restaurant chain that earned national recognition as the leading brand of artisan empanadas in only six years. She developed an on-trend, differentiated, and highly scalable craft casual food concept, and currently has 50 employees. Lorena is the force behind Maria Empanada, originally coming to Denver from Argentina with $300 in her pocket and not [...]

604, 2022

Charlie Chupp

By |April 6th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

Charlie is an energetic team builder, driven to do good in the world. He believes in bold action, challenging norms, and tackling big problems. As founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fading West Development, he leads design, development, manufacturing, and construction teams into a single LEAN value stream. Bringing over 20 years of experience in manufacturing to the construction and development industries, Charlie drives innovation, efficiency, [...]

2702, 2022

Nathan T. Lawrence

By |February 27th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”― Jeff Bezos Nathan Lawrence provides solutions for innovative small businesses and startups. Nathan uses his years of experience as a business owner to help entrepreneurs use the law as a tool to realize their goals. Nathan’s practice focuses on helping his clients to form and organize their businesses, [...]

2602, 2022

Oli Sanidas

By |February 26th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.”― Amy Poehler Oli Sanidas, Executive Director Arapahoe Libraries, Co-Founder of The OAK Journal MethodOli is very experienced in supporting entrepreneurs, especially when working with local governments and the public [...]

2602, 2022

Drew Elder

By |February 26th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Life is best spent outside, experiencing healthy, connected, and fulfilling lives. Outside inspires people to discover why.” - Outside Inc. Drew Elder is the Chief Experience Officer at Outside, where he and his team focus on deeply understanding the client and driving memorable live, offline, and online experiences that create member loyalty, brand affinity, and measurable results. Over one million people a year take part in [...]

1102, 2022

John Vandewalle

By |February 11th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison John Vandewalle MD MBA BSc (Hons) has held numerous executive positions and is currently a serial entrepreneur and investor. He has several companies including Lumen Touch, iNTouch Consulting, Living Arts Space and Blue Apple Trends. He also sits on the boards of several for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. John began his [...]

202, 2022

Central Mountain Ascent Launch Event Recap

By |February 2nd, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|

Last Friday we hosted our Central Mountain Ascent launch party to introduce the ten businesses who have been accepted into our new accelerator program. You can get to know the 2022 Cohort HERE! We'd like to send a HUGE shoutout to our presenting sponsor Collegiate Peaks Bank for believing in our organization and these purpose-driven businesses that are making a big impact in our community. We'd also like to [...]

2701, 2022

Wes Anderson

By |January 27th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” - Theodore Roosevelt As a CFO, Wes Anderson is passionate about helping start-ups make sense of their numbers and prepare for the future. Wes currently [...]

2701, 2022

Christy Doon

By |January 27th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Follow your passion — and if you don’t know what it is, realize that one reason for your existence on earth is to find it.” —Oprah Winfrey Christy Doon is the Regional Manager for the Department of Local Affairs for South Central Colorado.  She has worked for the State since 2006, first as program staff for the Conservation Trust Fund, Community Services and Community Development Block [...]

2601, 2022

Ashlie Arnold

By |January 26th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them." - Marissa Meyer As the Rural Empowerment Programs Manager at Pax8, Ashlie oversees projects and programs that utilize innovative technology to enable economic growth throughout rural Colorado. With a data-driven and strategic approach, she connects Pax8 to unique talent pools throughout the state, increasing diversity within the company and technology industry. Ashlie co-chaired the Upper [...]

901, 2022

Sumer Sorensen-Bain

By |January 9th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them." - Marissa Meyer Sumer Sorensen-Bain has over 25 years of direct MEP management with 25 years in manufacturing consulting. Sumer is the CEO of an international consulting firm that focuses on consulting the MEP national network and local companies called the Business Excellence Group. Their clients range from manufacturing, healthcare, service industry, and government and [...]

801, 2022

Pete Kinser

By |January 8th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Well done is better than well said.” — Benjamin Franklin Pete Kinser is the Co-Founder of the Strategic Design firm ThinkWyn. The firm’s focus is to serve as the connector for innovation, leadership, and strategy. He partners with Startups and Fortune 500 leaders to build skilled teams, scalable processes, and systems rooted in design-led innovation. As an executive coach and guide, Pete currently supports innovation leaders [...]

801, 2022

Wendell Pryor

By |January 8th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein Wendell Pryor retired as the Director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation on June 30, 2021 after 12 years. He has been an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer with the University of Colorado School Of Public Affairs for over 20 years, and Senior Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion. He also taught in the Graduate [...]

601, 2022

Brian Rose

By |January 6th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill Brian joined Region 9 Economic Development District of SW CO, Inc. in early 2018, after spending the previous fifteen years as a commercial lender in community banking in Chaffee and La Plata Counties. Joining a non-profit lender was a natural transition as the mission was in [...]

601, 2022

Jamie Billesbach

By |January 6th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” - Oprah Winfrey Jamie Billesbach, Center Director of the Central Mountain SBDC has years of experience in business and brand development, marketing vision/creation, merchandising, graphic design, training programs and special event planning and implementation. For 19 years Jamie ran her own consulting business Creative [...]

601, 2022

Chuck Sullivan

By |January 6th, 2022|Categories: CME Mentors|

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” - Henry Ford A Colorado-based nonprofit organization, The Wright helps shape the economic and cultural vitality of our western communities by bringing together place-makers and innovators to awaken ideas, unlock new partnerships, and celebrate the wins. At the helm of The Wright, Chuck’s best days [...]

2912, 2021

Josef Scarantino

By |December 29th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

"When companies fail, or fail to grow, it’s almost always because they don’t invest in the people, the systems, and the processes they need."- Howard Schultz Josef Scarantino is a self-described empathic founder coach, trusted advisor, and early-stage investor with extensive experience as a 3x founder, mentor, educator, and program director. While currently at HubSpot Ventures, he previously ran a global fintech accelerator for Techstars. When [...]

1112, 2021

Michael Gellman

By |December 11th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

"I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."-Steve Jobs Michael Gellman is Executive Chairman at Kin + Carta, which acquired Spire Digital, the digital transformation firm he founded and operated since 1998. In addition to his work supporting K+C, he is an active investor, advisor, author, and indie rock dadfluencer. At Spire, Gellman helped lay the foundation for [...]

1012, 2021

Koel Thomae

By |December 10th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

"I knew I was going to have to work hard and I wasn't afraid of that. I think it was the intersection of all these things and timing, and that's something you can't predict. But it's amazing what you can do when you find these things and are willing to work hard. If you're willing to work hard, she says, no matter your food startup idea, you [...]

612, 2021

Tim Martinez

By |December 6th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill Over the last couple of decades, Tim Martinez has actively supported Colorado's economic development initiatives, most recently at the City and County of Denver.  He has helped recruit some of the state’s largest corporate headquarter relocations, traveled on Governor/Mayor international trade delegations, co-founded a statewide outdoor brands association, [...]

612, 2021

Kelly Jean Brough

By |December 6th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” -Eleanor Roosevelt Kelly Brough is the former President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 3,000 businesses and 400,000 employees in Colorado. In her career, she has worked to advance Coloradans through multiple capacities in the private sector, higher [...]

612, 2021

Rachel Dixon

By |December 6th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Follow your passion — and if you don’t know what it is, realize that one reason for your existence on earth is to find it.”-Oprah Winfrey Rachel is an energetic leader, community builder, innovation enthusiast, telemedicine whiz, and public health nerd. In addition to her role as President and Executive Director of Prime Health, a nationally-leading health innovation ecosystem and nonprofit, she is proud to serve as a [...]

512, 2021

Sumanth Channabasappa

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

”Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” -Thomas Edison Sumanth is an executive, entrepreneur & venture investor. He has ~20 years of combined experience with incubating impactful technologies, products, and services, few that are used globally with multi-billion dollar returns. His experiences have spanned mobile and internet technologies, telecom, cloud, cybersecurity, internet of things (IoT,) healthcare, and smart cities.  His current affiliations include Embodied Labs (strategy and tech [...]

512, 2021

Adrian Reif, Serial Entrepreneur

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill Adrian is a serial entrepreneur with 13 years of business-building experience. His first company, Yumbutter, became a leading socially conscious food brand in the US. Adrian’s work focuses on regenerative business & building a better world. He and his wife live in Salida, CO, and love spending time on bikes, skis, and SUPs [...]

512, 2021

Taylor Grande, Director, Startup Colorado

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“I want every little girl who’s been told she’s bossy to be told again she has leadership skills.” - Sheryl Sandberg Taylor Grande currently serves as the Director of Partnerships & Ecosystem Development for Startup Colorado, an organization dedicated to ensuring rural Colorado founders, entrepreneurs and startups have access to the resources they need to start and scale businesses in the places they call home. Prior to [...]

512, 2021

Thomas Knoll, Founder and CEO, The Innovators CoLab

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." -Elon Musk Thomas Knoll is an entrepreneur and business professional with a track record of success in diverse environments.  He has international business experience across multiple industries including corporate innovation management and consulting, technology, e-commerce, outdoor and sports equipment, apparel, sustainable and technical hard goods, and importing and distribution. Thomas is currently [...]

512, 2021

Tricia Meyer, Founder, Meyer Law

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.” -Arianna Huffington Tricia Meyer is the Founder + Managing Attorney of Meyer Law, one of the fastest-growing law firms in the United States. Meyer helps entrepreneurs and technology companies from startups to large corporations with day-to-day matters and notable clients include companies that [...]

512, 2021

Tyler Svitak, Executive Director, Colorado Smart Cities Alliance

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”- Albert Einstein Tyler Svitak has built his career solving problems at the intersection of technology, urbanism and partnership. Tyler has held strategic roles advancing electric, connected, and automated mobility initiatives bringing new technologies to market at the City and County of Denver, Colorado Department of Transportation, and American Lung Association in Colorado, where he [...]

512, 2021

Jake Rishavy, Executive Director, Chaffee County EDC

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” John Lennon Jake Rishavy is a Co-Founder and Executive Committee member of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. He has led economic development organizations and initiatives in Colorado for more than a decade, including co-founding the Denver-based nonprofit Prime Health, aimed at facilitating the growth of Colorado-based health tech companies. [...]

512, 2021

Cory Finney, Co-Founder, Greater Colorado Venture Fund

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently."- Warren Buffett Cory Finney is a 6th generation Coloradan from Durango.  He started his first company, SnowGate, while completing his undergraduate degree at CU Boulder.  After selling that company, he spent several years as Entrepreneur in Residence at a Boulder-based accelerator.  In 2017, Cory [...]

512, 2021

Eric Byington, Entrepreneur/Ecosystem Builder

By |December 5th, 2021|Categories: CME Mentors|

"Failure is success in progress." - Albert Einstein Eric Byington has worked with a wide variety of economic development projects and startup initiatives across various industries throughout his career. He spent nearly 10 years working on international economic development projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America, specifically focusing on education and healthcare initiatives and impact investment projects in water and sanitation. Eric spent time as [...]

1503, 2016

Peter Adams, Managing Director, Rockies Venture Fund

By |March 15th, 2016|Categories: CME Mentors|

"It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure." - Bill Gates Peter Adams serves as the Managing Director of the Rockies Venture Fund, an early-stage venture capital co-investment fund and as Executive Director of the Rockies Venture Club, the longest-running angel investing group in the U.S.  RVC is a non-profit organization furthering economic development in Colorado by connecting [...]




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