A Demo Day in Telluride

I’m in Telluride for the day. I drove from Aspen (where we are hanging out for the week) through some of the most beautiful mountains and countryside you will ever see and ended up in the magical place called Telluride.

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I’m here for the Telluride Venture Accelerator Demo Day. This is their third program and I’m looking forward to the day. While Telluride is known for being a super high end beautiful magnificent ski town, it’s also the second home to a lot of very interesting and successful people who are committed to making sure their corner of paradise has a long term sustainable future beyond just tourism.

In addition to the accelerator, there is a fascinating entity called NextLaw Labs here. At dinner last night I sat next to Joe Andrews, the chairman of Dentons (the largest law firm in the world) and heard about why he and Dan Jansen have set up NextLaw Labs in Telluride to create the future of legal technology.

In the afternoon I went for a short hike with Marc Nager, the Chief Community Officer at Techstars, who lives in Telluride with his wife Ashley (who is the program director for the Telluride Venture Accelerator). Marc, as always, is looking trim and happy in his green Techstars shirt and sandals.


Today, I’m doing a fireside chat with Jesse Johnson (TVA co-founder and CEO) to kick things off. Then, after demo day, I’m spending 15 minutes with each company. While I know they are looking to me as a potential investor, it’s a low probability for each of them. As a result, my goal will be simple – I’ll try to do at least one thing for each of them that is helpful to moving their business along. In most cases this will be a connection (the drone company here will definitely get connected to 3D Robotics), customer feedback (I’ll become a customer), or something that is tangible that goes beyond just feedback.

And then, I’ll drive back through the mountains from the glorious place called Telluride to another spectacular place called Aspen. I so deeply love Colorado.

  • Brad, have you thought of snapping a few shots of the scenery and posting them as a continuation of this story?

  • No offense to Marc but, what in God’s name is a Chief Community Officer?

    • Marc Nager

      haha, Frank. The main part of that which matters is the “community” – Practically in my case, it is all of the previous UP Global programs (Startup Weekend, Startup Week, Startup Next, and Startup Digest). More fundamentally though, it is aligned with a deeply held belief of the organization that communities that thriving startup communities are one of the, if not the, most important things that helps produce more successful entrepreneurs over time. The programs listed above are all driven to help create community, networks, and the fundamental learnings that help create real companies. Techstars and UP Global have helped foster and support the creation of entrepreneurial communities around the world. We know that has benefited not just the organization, but it has created access to entrepreneurship like we’ve never seen before around the world. We all want to live in a more entrepreneurial world! 🙂 Hope that helps Frank

      • It does indeed help and makes good sense given your business. I’m jealous you get to do your startup in Telluride. Mine were in the dazzlingly beautiful expanse of NoVa, blech. 😉 Good luck to you!!!!

  • shasheen

    Loved reading this as I pack my bags for my move to Telluride! A truly magical place that I’ve had the privilege of visiting for the past 25 years! So grateful to be calling it home as of tomorrow! Looking forward to our paths crossing! Enjoy the day and the spectacular drive back to Aspen. Cheers!

  • PC Drew

    Since you’ll be driving through Carbondale on your way back to Aspen, might as well stop off and see the coolest place in Colorado! Great food, great access to the outdoors, and even more chill than Aspen. It’s a Vacation Life here and, all the while, we’re pushing the startup scene hard across the Roaring Fork Valley! Drop me a line if you stop off.


  • DaveN

    How was Independence Pass?

    • Beautiful.

      • DaveJ

        Glad you had a view, though I was more thinking about the single lane shelf road…

  • Jeff Jones

    I have a friend who moved his family from NYC to Telluride and loves it. He’s a trader and convinced his firm to let him work remotely from CO. I was in Crested Butte in Feb and I heard the same story there – young couples moving to the mountains and maintaining their existing jobs but working remote. Sounds appealing.

    • Just pulled the trigger and can say it was the single greatest decision in my life. Places like Telluride have a spectacular filter. You’ve got to want it.

  • You go for the skiing and stay for the summers. My one summer in Colorado was absolutely beautiful-except for the marching part (I was in C Springs)

  • “I’ll try to do at least one thing for each of them that is helpful to moving their business along.”
    I’m learning to do that, because it’s so hard to say No, and you don’t want the entrepreneur to remember you as the one who said No and critiqued them, but they will remember how you have helped them. It’s super important. It takes a bit of extra level of work and willingness, but I’m doing it as a matter of principle.

    • coming from a place of contribution continues to put points on the board that matter the most. 😉