Telluride Venture Accelerator

  • Location: North America, United States, Telluride
  • Timing of Applications: Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter
  • Focus: Internet, Physical Devices, Software, Technology, Web-Based
  • Vertical: Cleantech, Education, Energy, Life Sciences, Sustainability

Telluride Venture Accelerator is leading a new type of conversation for resort towns. Following our rich history of innovation from Tesla to tourism, we’re not just talking about big ideas, we’re creating solutions from our tiny box canyon in Southwestern Colorado.

We have assembled a world class network of highly experienced individuals with amazing networks that are committed to helping founders on their entrepreneurial journeys. The outcome: a culture of innovation, creativity, and global problem solving that leads to a more diverse economy and sustainable future for those who choose to enjoy everything Telluride can offer.

HISTORY

Over the past 4 years, Telluride Venture Accelerator has pioneered the way for the conversation around building real companies in a mountain town. As the first accelerator of its kind in the world, it has proven that real companies can build and thrive here. Since 2012, 18 startup companies have graduated the program and raised over $1 million dollars with the help of an incredible network of more than 90 mentors. Also, over 87 jobs have been created as a result of affiliated companies.

Telluride also has a $3M fund for early stage startups called Telluride Venture Fund which has historically invested in ~50% of all TVA graduating companies.

With other resort towns starting to visit and reach out from around the world, it is clear that something meaningful has been established. It is time to double down as a community and realize our full potential to extend just a program to a broader, community owned and led effort to make Telluride an amazing place for entrepreneurs and a global hub for entrepreneurial thinking.

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THE VISION

 A truly diversified and sustainable economy in one of the world’s most authentic mountain communities.

MISSION

We are reinventing what is possible in a mountain town by establishing Telluride as a true hub of innovation through a series of community driven programs and offerings that support entrepreneurs at any stage.

VALUES

  1. Honesty: Open and direct communication is the foundation for successful relationships.
  2. Community: The best way to live a fulfilling life is to share it with great people in a place that you are deeply committed to.
  3. Adventure: We learn the most about ourselves and the world around us through challenging experiences. Embrace the unexpected, and seek out the unknown.
  4. Nature: At 93 million miles from the sun, we are more than just lucky to live where we do, and we have a responsibility to not only enjoy it but to protect it.
  5. Inclusion: True innovation is most often a result of a series of unexpected collisions from the most unassuming places, people and ideas. We seek out individuals from every background, race, gender, geography, religion, and way of life to help us create the best outcomes.

CORE BELIEFS

  1. To create is to be human. We are problem solvers, dreamers, and optimistic by nature. Doing so leads to a fulfilling life.
  2. Entrepreneurship is the most powerful force advancing human welfare and building sustainable economies across the globe
  3. It is possible to solve global problems from anywhere in the world

Theory of Change

  • Grassroots entrepreneurs [combined with…]
    • stage appropriate resources & mentors [create a…]
      • thriving startup community [that produces…]
        • incredible startups solving real problems [that lead to…]
          • social and economic growth.

KEY PRINCIPLES

  1. JIT Resources: We don’t believe in classroom style learning or one size fits all curriculums. Every startup needs something different at any given time, and we strive to ensure that we provide the right resources at the right time for every founder / team.
  2. Mentor Dating vs. Matching: Just like building a team, finding the right people to invest and truly change the trajectory of your company must be committed on a human level, not the result of some spreadsheet.
  3. Cohort Knowledge: Even the most difficult problems are made easier by leveraging the power of the people in the room. The combined knowledge can help solve almost any challenge a startup has.
  4. Work life integration: work shouldn’t be a four letter word. It should be something that aligns with your passions and personal interests. Powder days are food for the soul.
  5. Connecting through adventure: the strongest relationships are created through shared experiences.
  6. People are more important than ideas: Focusing on building amazing teams will ensure that the best ideas are being pursued successfully. Every individual is on an entrepreneur journey of their own.
  7. Hustle: There is no substitute for hard work and no better way to afford the lifestyle that one of the most beautiful places on the planet can provide.
  8. Entrepreneurial Communities – must be led by entrepreneurs

Not your conventional Accelerator

Starting a business is one of the most difficult things you can imagine doing. It can also be very lonely, even in a big city. We support entrepreneurs solving meaningful problems in the world across many industries by leveraging our truly world class mentor network, providing access to curriculum and topic specific experts, and of course helping with capital resources.

We are one of the first accelerators in the world to offer flexible capital alternatives, a mentor network that can compete with any of the top tier programs, a professionally run program, and an amazing community that all will help you increase your odds of success.

Mentors

We’ve assembled a world class group of mentors. One of the greatest assets of Telluride is the amazing volume and diversity of incredibly accomplished people who call this place home or spend as much time here as possible. We run a two step process to match you with the mentors that are best for you: first we ensure you meet with the mentors who have the most experience relevant to your needs and second: we establish clear expectations around three possible commitment levels to ensure both parties have a successful relationship. Our goal is to help create relationships that go beyond just this venture and help unlock the amazing power of the global network through this group.

Capital

Upon acceptance, each team is given the choice of $30k for 5% equity OR debt in the form of a loan. Both are instruments to help you meet your goals and prepare you for growth and possible further investment from our network and beyond.

Too many of today’s programs are built on high-growth, moneyball strategies that force companies into relentless growth in the pursuit of massive returns for the investors. The high growth route is great for some companies, but we believe in supporting entrepreneurs whether they are aiming to disrupt massive industries OR the entrepreneurs looking to build meaningful and moderately sized companies without giving up all of their ownership to investors. There are pros and cons to both, and we’re happy to work through the choices with you. Our intent is to provide more flexible options to entrepreneurs based on their business models and end goals.

  • Equity: $30k for 5% equity in the form of a convertible equity note. Very similar to the Techstars or the YC SAFE note.
  • Hybrid Loan: $30k that is repayable after a grace period at only 5% interest, but it converts to equity in the event a startup is wildly successful in terms of revenue, takes a major financing round, or sells their company. We’re working hard now to finalize the exact structure of this creative, startup friendly offering!

Community

Ask locals around Telluride why they moved here and it’s almost unanimously “the community.” This is truly a special place full of amazing people. Our remoteness can be challenging but it has created one of the most authentic mountain town communities you’ll ever find. Throughout the program, we help integrate you with the local business owners and community leaders. When you move to Telluride as  an entrepreneur, you’re not just building a business, you’re contributing to the future of the community, and everyone here can tell you that for every ounce you put into it, you’ll receive exponential rewards in return. There may not be a better place to have this quality of life AND have ambitious, meaningful, and stimulating work. See more about the broader community at Telluride.me

Cohort

Beyond the local community, one of the greatest values of any accelerator program is the peer group. Being around other passionate and dedicated founders tackling many of the same issues is not only helpful on the hard days, but it can truly accelerate your growth as an entrepreneur. We can almost guarantee that you will forge life long friendships with the other founders in the program.

Curriculum

This isn’t school, and you won’t have homework, and we know that you still have a business to build while going through the program. The program’s curriculum will ensure that we evaluate all key aspects of your business and give you access to some top experts from across the nation in very specific areas. Check out our full schedule here.  Our key principles around curriculum approach are:

  •  JIT Information: We might revisit content or run custom for specific teams at any given time as it is relevant to their businesses.
  • One size does not fit all: Some companies may not benefit from every planned session or mentor. We’ll work actively to identify these before each session to maximize productivity.
  • Max of 10 hours / week of required formal content/curriculum (not including activities). The teams are still building and running businesses

 

  • There are 5 primary aspects of the program that will be ongoing throughout, and we will have at least 9 specific topics of focus that will be addressed both as needed and more formally with experts from our network.

Post Program & Alumni

Support for TVA companies doesn’t end after the program. We know that over the long-term our alumni network becomes an incredible value to all future teams. We’d hold quarterly check in calls to ensure we’re doing anything we can to be helpful. We also host an annual alumni event right before our demo day to continue to provide access and opportunity within the entire TVA network. Ultimately, we aim to be a supporter for life of all individuals that come through the program, be it this idea or the next!