Photo Credit: PHOTO | San Luis Valley by Christian Collins

Season 2 – Crisis Solutions for Entrepreneurs by Entrepreneurs

At Startup Colorado, we work with change agents across the state who are dedicated to building for rural communities. They may be small, but their stories are big. We’re chatting with entrepreneurs and community champions who are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in innovative and inspiring ways.

If you know of an entrepreneur rising to this unprecedented occasion, let us know. We’d love to tell their story. We’re looking for startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes who are finding innovative solutions to transform their business during this crisis. Their story can inform and inspire other rural entrepreneurs and keep us moving forward.

Email your idea to


Episode 21: Investing For The Good Of It

There’s a saying: our attention goes where the money flows. That’s why social entrepreneur Adrian Reif wrote The Do-Gooder’s Guide To Investing, a guide for anyone interested in putting their money where their values are. In this episode, we chat with Adrian (who is also on our Executive Committee) about his book, what do-gooder investing is, and why now is the time for a regenerative mindset.




Episode 20: Save the Businesses, Save the Communities

Many rural, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses often have trouble accessing traditional funding. Throw in an economic and health crisis, and you’ve got a lot of businesses struggling to tap into the money they need to stay open. In this episode, we chat with three alternative funds – the First Southwest Community Fund, Greenline Ventures, and the Energize Colorado Gap Fund – about how they’re pumping money into rural communities.



Episode 19: In Conversation with Brad Feld and Delaney Keating

In this special conversation with Techstars Co-Founder Brad Feld and Startup Colorado’s Managing Director Delaney Keating, we discuss the importance of ecosystem builders (community champions) for rural startup communities. Plus, we’ll hear from the three recipients of the Anchor Point Foundation’s Startup Champion Awards.



Episode 18: Virtual Events in the Age of COVID

When COVID-19 swept across the nation this Spring, major events were cancelled left and right. Event organizers were asked to decide: do I cancel? Do I postpone? Or do I do something different? In the case of the West Slope Startup Week, they decided to do something different. The second annual startup week is going online. We spoke with event organizers about how they came up with some really creative solutions to convening online that may influence how we organize events in the future.



Episode 17: Money Is Still Moving

Finding investors is challenging enough without a pandemic, so we wanted to know how and if money is moving toward rural startups. We chat with Marc Nager with the Greater Colorado Venture Fund, Jay Bockhaus from the CORI Innovation Fund, and Jeffrey Max from Agile Space, a Durango-business that recently received investments from both. We dig into how the health and economic crisis have impacted investors and what they’re looking for in a company.



Episode 16: Trinidad Entices Creatives with Affordable Housing

Want to move to Trinidad, Colorado? You might, once you hear about their new affordable housing initiative for creatives. Space to Create, a program through Colorado Creative Industries and Artspace in Minnesota, will soon make 13 affordable live/work spaces available; plus a commons area for coworking and creative businesses. In September, another 28 apartments will be completed. While Trinidad has suffered economic hardship for years, this new investment in the arts is poised to bring new life, energy, and money to the area.



Episode 15: New PPE Marketplace for Businesses

Finding Personal Protective Equipment has been yet another headache for business owners. That’s why Energize Colorado, a volunteer organization originally tasked with sourcing PPE for healthcare providers, has launched a new marketplace for masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and more. We spoke with Andi Rugg, a volunteer with Energize Colorado, and Ginny Burroughs, the owner of Inn at the Lake, who recently took to the new platform.



Episode 14: Phil Weiser Departs SUCO Executive Committee

Phil Weiser, the Colorado Attorney General, is stepping down from the Startup Colorado Executive Committee. In this episode, we’re recognizing his contribution to our organization, as well as Colorado’s startup community as a whole. We speak with Phil about the history of Startup Colorado and his hope for the organization’s future.




Episode 13: Becoming a Business Owner in a Pandemic

Mara and Josh Hardy purchased their new physical therapy business in January. In March, the pandemic hit. We spoke with this husband/wife team about what it was like to be a new business owner navigating an unprecedented crisis. Despite the challenges, Mara and Josh experienced some unexpected silver linings.




Episode 12: An Apothecary, an Herbalist, and COVID-19

When Briana Wiles came down with an assumed case of COVID-19, she relied upon her background as an herbalist to cope with the symptoms. She developed new teas and tinctures from roots and herbs at home, then figured out how to make these new blends available to her customers at Rooted Apothecary in Crested Butte and Gunnison. In this episode, we hear about her experience with the virus and how it changed her as a business owner.




Episode 11: The Reopening Trail Map

Eagle County recently received an exemption to the new Safer at Home Order and is laying out a tiered approach to reopening. We chat with the county’s emergency manager, as well as business owners who are implementing health and safety protocols to keep their employees and customers safe. For other counties developing their reopening strategies, Eagle County can provide some solid advice.




Episode 10: Waste Not – Save the Food, Serve the People

When over a hundred restaurants closed for their doors, many wondered what would happen to all that food sitting in their coolers. That’s where the Good Food Collective and emergency food assistance groups in Southwest Colorado came in. Through a quick response to the pandemic, a coalition of kitchen staff, community organizers, and farmers are now providing restaurant-prepared meals for those in need.




Episode 9: A New Mentorship Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

A new mentorship program aims to help Colorado business owners and entrepreneurs navigate the growing economic crisis. Erick Mueller, the Executive Director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, introduces COVenture Forward and how business owners can take advantage of an extensive network of mentors, CU faculty, and business students.



Episode 8: Finding Calm and Clarity in a Chaotic Mind

It’s a stressful, chaotic world out there. No wonder so many of us are feeling overwhelmed and anxious. While there is some comfort in knowing that we’re all in the same boat, we want to explore ways of finding calm and clarity. This week, we speak with Jeff Kinsey from The Logos Group, a coaching and consulting business in Boulder, about how entrepreneurs can learn to let go of stressful thoughts and tackle the big challenges ahead.



Episode 7: Design Thinking in a Crisis

Design thinking is an iterative process used by entrepreneurs throughout the world. We want to know, how can this same process be used in times of crisis? This week we speak with Jonathan Ballesteros of Geyser Systems, Beth Flowers from the AIR Institute, and Beth McKeon with the Fluency Score. We’ll explore what design thinking is and some simple methods entrepreneurs and community champions can use it right now.




Episode 6: A Free Financial Advising Network
5-Minute Listen

In response to the ongoing financial crisis, The Foundry Group has teamed up with Lew’s List and High Plains Advisors to create a pro-bono COVID-19 Finance Assistance Network. The group comprises CFOs, controllers, and other senior finance professionals who are helping business owners navigate the new relief programs, as well as advice on planning for cash flow management and business planning in a post-COVID world.

In this episode, Seth Levine from The Foundry Group tells us about this new network and who should apply.




Episode 5: How One Makerspace Is Saving Lives
8-Minute Listen

Durango’s MakerLab is teaming up with Fort Lewis College and a small army of volunteers to produce protective equipment for local hospitals. Here’s how this rural makerspace transformed their day-to-day operations overnight and will soon produce $2.5 million worth of medical supplies. Features the MakerLab Director Ryan Finnigan.



Episode 4: Going Online… Overnight
6-Minute Listen

Since the Stay At Home order went into place, yoga studios and gyms have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Many, like The Sweaty Buddha in Durango, are moving their classes online to connect with their community of members. The transition isn’t as easy as turning on the camera and pressing record, so we wanted to know how they’re making it happen. 


Episode 3: What Is Our Societal Obligation?
8-Minute Listen 

Packraft manufacturer Thor Tingey reveals how his business is navigating his societal obligation to slow the spread. Based in the rural town of Mancos in Southwest Colorado, Alpacka Raft has been at the forefront of promoting responsible adventuring and providing for 30+ employees in a moment of crisis.


Episode 2: One Step Ahead of “You Know What”
7-Minute Listen

Josh Niernberg is the co-owner of three restaurants in Grand Junction. When the need for social distancing and staying at home meant customers could no longer dine-in, Josh revamped his entire business structure to stay one step ahead of You Know What. Episode 2 of Startup Colorado’s new podcast examines how one restaurant owner is responding to the crisis.


Episode 1: “We can do this” – A Note to Entrepreneurs
4-Minute Listen

The Startup Colorado team is pivoting in response to the ongoing crisis by providing a new podcast series featuring rural entrepreneurs and community champions who are rising to the occasion. In our first episode, we hear from Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser and Startup Colorado’s Managing Director Delaney Keating.


Season 1 – The Flyovers

While Colorado is gaining worldwide recognition as a hub for startup growth, how much of that attention is focused on rural communities? With a new 8-episode podcast series, Startup Colorado will turn the spotlight to founders farther off the beaten path. The Flyovers will feature interviews with entrepreneurs driven to build businesses in the places they call home.

The Flyovers is hosted by Alan Wartes, a writer, musician and digital media producer based in Gunnison. Through his discussions with entrepreneurs, Wartes reveals the challenges, opportunities, and chiefly, the importance of founding a business in a rural community.

For press inquiries, download The Flyovers press release and print-quality photos. Or contact

Episode 8: Youth Entrepreneur Fair – Starting Entrepreneurs Early

In this special episode of The Flyovers, host Alan Wartes talks with John Wittler, Regional Coordinator and Development Director of Ogallala Commons—a Great Plains region community advocacy non-profit. Wittler shares his vision for an OC program called the Youth Entrepreneur Fair—a kind of business incubator for young people in rural communities.

Episode 7: Bonsai Design – Adding Some Zip to Rural Economics

In this episode, our host Alan Wartes talks with Sarah Shrader, owner and co-founder of Bonsai Design in Grand Junction, Colorado. The company is a one-stop shopping center for the design and installation of world-class aerial adventure courses—from tree-top canopy tours to 3,000 foot zip lines.

Episode 6: Delta Brick & Climate Company – Mud, Methane, and the Mad Scientist

In this episode, host Alan Wartes talks with Chris Caskey, founder and owner of the Delta Brick and Climate Company in Paonia. Caskey is a chemist and materials scientist working to position his company to make a difference in several big picture environmental challenges at once.

Episode 5: Fence Easier – Better Fences, Better World

Fence Easier founder Ray Lyons proves that startups happen everywhere and that innovations that emerge from necessity will captivate your bottom line, your heart, and your soul. Join our host Alan Wartes as he discusses how Ray developed a new method of installing fences that cuts time on the range in half, allowing for more BBQ with the family.

Episode 4: StoneAge Waterblast Tools – Built to Last

In this installment, host Alan Wartes talks with John Wolgamott, co-founder of Durango-based high-pressure water blasting tools manufacturer, StoneAge. Established in 1979 in a garage workshop, the company is now a leader in a different kind of innovation—employee ownership. We explore what it takes to not only startup, but to keep going.

Episode 3: Hemp Foundry – Riding the Wave

“Riding the Wave” is part three in a series of six special episodes of the Flyovers. In this episode, host Alan Wartes talks with John Kelly, CEO of the Hemp Foundry in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The manufacture of CBD products — which are derived from hemp, and not to be confused with cannabis — is an industry that’s in the process of exploding all across the world. Kelly and his crew at the Hemp Foundry are at the leading edge of that wave.

Episode 2: Oveja Negra – Black Sheep of the Family Business

Oveja Negra makes making things cool. They are more than a bomb-proof bikepacking bag manufacturer; they are a culture in and of themselves with the rare honesty that owns every step of their journey from the kitchen table in Leadville to their growing factory in Salida. Not to mention, Lane’s commitment to her company leaves you ready to apply for a job.

Episode 1: Land & People Are Our Cultural Levers 

As Hickenlooper aired during his time as Governor, topophilia or “love of place” is a cultural norm in Colorado. We felt it essential to explore this dynamic as we launched the podcast series. Land and people are our core cultural commodities, and it is interesting to witness how one informs the other. The Wright, in Golden, CO – an annual conference for outdoor-inspired misfits and startups – was the perfect place to feature the kick-off to this series in honor of rural entrepreneurs.