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 3: What Is Our Societal Obligation? 

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”

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

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.