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Telluride Foundation: Telluride Venture Accelerator to Jump Start Innovation



Contact: Paul Major




Telluride Foundation Releases New Program to Nurture an Ecosystem of Entrepreneurs


            TELLURIDE, Colo. – (Sept. 27, 2012) – The Telluride region has a rich history of innovation, invention and reinvention.  The well-known collaboration between LL Nunn, Nikola Telsa and George Westinghouse in 1891 forever changed the delivery of energy. The mining era transformed the region into an economic engine that produced hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and employed thousands. And the 70s and 80s brought about the region’s transformation into a world-class skiing and tourism destination.

            The Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA), a new program of the Telluride Foundation, seeks to usher in yet another period of innovation and reinvention by helping Telluride to thrive economically and create new jobs and start-ups businesses locally. With the advent of cloud computing, technology fueled commerce, examples across the country of thriving rural entrepreneurship and a body of evidence on the elements to support and accelerate entrepreneurship, TVA aims to launch that to Telluride. The overarching goal of TVA is to launch and grow new, high-growth businesses out of Telluride through a business competition for entrepreneurs, mentoring, business coaching, and incubation, as well as investment opportunities.  TVA will be inviting applicants from across the country and will require that the businesses target a national market.

The Telluride Foundation invites the public to a meeting on Thursday, October 4 from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. at the Telluride Fire District, 131 W. Columbia, in their upstairs meeting room to learn about TVA.

            “TVA seeks to be a catalyst for the sustainable growth and diversification of the Telluride regional economy”, said Jesse Johnson, TVA Director and Telluride Foundation Board Member, “TVA will invest in innovative enterprises with the aim of building and strengthening the entrepreneurial community in the Telluride area. It will start small but, if successful, TVA has the potential to create a self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem bringing innovation, jobs, ideas and a renewed dynamism to the region.”

            TVA will consist of an annual competition among talented entrepreneurs with high-growth business ideas.  Three finalists will be selected and will receive $30,000 to catalyze their business forward.  The finalists will be required to relocate to Telluride for at least six months where they will be provided shared office space and mentors to cultivate and support their business endeavors. TVA will uniquely tap Telluride’s growing community of successful entrepreneurs and investors, many of whom are eager to focus their skills in the service of Telluride but lack compelling opportunities.

In addition, the final presentation day will include a collection of potential follow-on investors including dedicated venture capital funds and Telluride’s emerging angel network.

            TVA will play to Telluride’s unique strengths, as the first known accelerator in the US focusing on businesses in sectors of outdoors, lifestyle and recreation; natural, organic products, food and beverages; health and healthy living; tourism. In addition, TVA will consider impact investing – energy, water, education, food. TVA will specifically not consider: biotech; manufacturing-based businesses; restaurants; and businesses solely focused on the Telluride market.  TVA will prioritize technological products and services (e.g. software, mobile, mobile apps, hardware).  Building on Telluride’s geographical strengths, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has expressed an interest in a deeper relationship with Telluride.  Specifically, they would like to explore making their scientists available and transferring commercially viable technologies to businesses participating in TVA as well as how their scientists could provide mentoring.

           “Telluride has historically been home to successful entrepreneurs,” said Paul Major, President of the Telluride Foundation, “TVA is not without risk. Start-ups will fail. However, the Telluride Foundation, through TVA, will capitalize on Telluride’s uniquely inspired community, as well as engage in more proactive venture philanthropy.”

            For more information on TVA, attend the public meeting on October 4 and/or go to

            The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that provides year-round support for local organizations involved in arts, education, athletics, charitable causes, land conservation and other community-based efforts through technical assistance, education and grant making. As a grant maker, the Foundation awards grants to qualified applicants that serve the people living and working in the Telluride area for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life within the region. For more information on the Telluride Foundation,