TVN

The Telluride Venture Accelerator’s Demo Day in 2018. The organization recently rebranded as the Telluride Venture Network. The application process for this year’s bootcamp is now open with companies accepted on a rolling basis through May 31. (Courtesy photo)

The Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA) is rebranding as the Telluride Venture Network (TVN) and launching a new phase in its eight-year existence as a nurturer of budding enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The managing director of the new entity, Bonnie Watson, said the rebranding and launch of the TVN comes from a desire to bring together the various elements of Telluride’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” some of which were operating outside of the TVA’s remit.

“There’s this incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem in Telluride,” she explained. “We had the Telluride Venture Accelerator and our incredible mentor network. And we have the Telluride Venture Fund and the Telluride Regional Loan Fund. And we have coworking space. We have all of the pieces of that ecosystem … and this will bring them together under one umbrella.”

While the TVN has a new name and some new responsibilities, Watson said that its focus is unchanged.

“The mission of the TVN remains the same as the TVA’s, which is to diversify the regional economy by fostering a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem,” she said.

Watson added that a significant component of the move is the addition of an official mentor program, an effort that will include the creation of three to five mentor teams.

“How it will work is that we will meet with a venture, get to know that venture and identify the needs of that venture,” she said. “Then we will pitch the venture to our mentor network and the folks in the room that have the expertise can raise their hand and we’ll assemble a mentor team with a lead mentor for that venture.”

Watson continued, “We know that the journey of entrepreneurship has many hurdles and can be difficult and a very scary journey. What we are hoping to do is create a very robust, strong group of expert mentors to walk these entrepreneurs through the start-up phase. Mentor teams will serve as an ongoing resource for ventures in the region.”

The TVN will continue to operate quarterly bootcamps for startups, just as its predecessor did, this week announcing that it is now accepting applications for the 2021 Investment Bootcamp. The application process is open through May 31 with companies accepted on a rolling basis.

According to the announcement, the bootcamp is for startup companies that are actively seeking equity or revenue-based investment, and focuses on companies “based in the Telluride region and the Western Slope, particularly and Colorado generally”.

The bootcamp will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person formats and will run from June 24 to July 6, culminating in the annual Demo Day event, held this year on July 7.

In addition, the TVN will assume responsibility for the Telluride Venture Fund, which is a seed-stage equity fund, as well as the San Juan Regional Loan Fund (a working capital fund formerly known as the Telluride Regional Loan Fund).

The venture accelerator began life in 2013 as an initiative of the Telluride Foundation.

According to a news release announcing the rebranding, the entity’s “mission to diversify the regional economy has resulted in 50 graduating companies, dozens of new jobs, millions of investment dollars raised, 1,000-plus hours of mentoring and the birth of high-impact efforts such as the Telluride Venture Fund, a regional loan fund and an active co-working space.”

In the same release, TVA founder and Telluride Foundation board member Jesse Johnson said of the award-winning accelerator, “This is a world-class organization with one of the strongest mentor communities in the country. TVN has been and will continue to be on the forefront of innovation and finding solutions.”

Now, with the reimagining coming to fruition, Watson said the new website, which will provide a one-stop shop for both potential entrepreneurs and mentors, goes live this week.

A launch event will follow in early June.

With at least 10 new local businesses (by this reporter’s informal count) opening their doors since the start of the year, has the pandemic actually encouraged entrepreneurship?

“I think a lot of people are seeing an opportunity in the market, which is shifting in response to the pandemic,” Watson said. “A lot of entrepreneurs that I have talked to have decided they want to be early to the market. I say there’s no better time than now to start that small business or venture. Take advantage of the opportunity.”

For more information, visit tellurideventurenetwork.com. More information and applications for this year’s bootcamp can be found at f6s.com/tva2021investment.