Vail Daily column: Ideas bubble up at startup weekend

Ran in Vail Daily - September 3, 2014


Breckinridge startup weekend,

For those of you who don't know what a startup weekend is, it is a semi-competition, more of an event really, where people gather, pitch various ideas for new companies, and groups form to piece together what I call a feasibility plan. All in 50 hours. As one person put it “the plans that come out of this 50 hour session often take clients years to do.”

After 50 hrs, each group pitches their 50 hr old idea to an audience and judges in only 5 minutes, then the team is in the hot seat while the judges ask whatever questions they want for 5 more minutes.

Questions usually follow some kind of the following...

What is the potential market size? How do you know?What makes your idea, product, or team unique?How will you acquire customers?What prevents competition from taking over?How do the revenue and costs add up?What would you do with a check for a $1mm today for your idea?

 In Breck August 15-17, the first ever startup weekend in the mountains happened. I can honestly say we were surprised and impressed by the turnout, the competitors, and the organizers. It would have been considered a success with half the level of participation. All those involved should be proud.

 Here are some basic numbers. There were 60 people who attended the Friday night pitch fest, which included 18 pitches. From there 6 groups were formed including about 30 participants. The new businesses included everything from ways to improve regional cable service to new Iphone Apps to a third party approval for local non-profits (which won).

A half dozen of - High Altitude Entrepreneurs from the west side of Vail pass were present, including our own Luke Adelpia who is entering the 6th grade this month.

It may not sound like much but for THE first event and considering how many people gave up a whole weekend or a Sunday afternoon, in August, it is impressive and I think the concept has been proved.

This also plants the flag that there are entrepreneurs here in the mountains. While the tourism industry is important and vital to our local economies that doesn't mean tourism is the only thing that is happening up here.

I personally can't wait to see how summit and eagle counties can come together to do more. And when and how the rest of the towns and counties and individuals from Steamboat to Telluride come together.

For those of you who are interested, the next startup weekend is being lead by Aspen organizers and is occurring in Glenwood Springs in the next month or so. It is called a “Startup Weekend EDU” (SWEDU) and is meant for high school students.

Stay tuned for more information on that. If you want you can check out their Facebook page at: or email 81500.CO High Altitude Entrepreneurs at founders@8150.CO (not .com).

Keep up the good work mountain entrepreneurs. - High Altitude Entrepreneurs, is an organization to help bring together the entrepreneurs in the mountain communities. This editorial was written by Brad Bickerton an attorney who works in Minturn.