The Blog

BLOG: Summit County Startup Weekend Set for April 10-12

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – February, 2015 – Fifty-four hours, dozens of people, hundreds of great ideas and 60 seconds, all for the opportunity to change your life and start something amazing, meaningful or just downright cool.

Summit County organizers announced a new name and new dates for the 2015 Startup Weekend.

“Mark your calendar for April 10-12, 2015 for Summit County Startup Weekend,” says Larry Sullivan, lead organizer of the Summit County event. “We had a phenomenal level of enthusiasm and participation for our first Startup Weekend in August in Breckenridge that we knew we needed to host another one and expand the scope to all of Summit County and beyond.”

Winners of that first Startup Weekend Kyle DeFrew, Lindsay Balgooyen and Dan Balgooyen have launched their idea — Gr8tful Giveback – to connect corporations and business contributors to nonprofits and charities. Their goal is to revolutionize cause marketing.

“Startup weekend was more beneficial to us than we could of ever hoped for,” says Lindsay “All of the coaches and mentors were extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and volunteered their entire weekend to help us in any way they could.”

Since startup weekend, Gr8tful Giveback has been working on their website and app and plan to beta test both this winter. They’re already hiring a tech position and this spring will be applying for the Boomtown Accelerator program.

Startup Weekend gives anyone –- like Lindsay and her team — the opportunity to pitch an idea on Friday night in 60 seconds or less to a group of local executives, entrepreneurs, designers, developers, founders, startups, digital experts and students.

After a vote, teams form around the top ideas and then they launch into 54 hours of creating, designing, researching, analyzing, developing, coding and teamwork all to present to a panel of expert judges and local startup veterans. Prizes will be awarded to help the teams put their ideas into action and build a startup.

“The phrase that “It takes a village” is true when creating your own startup or even a startup community,” says Sullivan. “Summit County has caught the startup bug. Two new coworking spaces ELEVATE coSPACE and Evo3 Workspace are examples of the infrastructure that has been built recently that plays an important role in creating the ecosystem for a healthy startup community. Many talented individuals and companies from the county are actively involved in building the buzz and the support network young entrepreneurs need to succeed.”

Even if you don’t have an idea or don’t want to pitch, come, says Sullivan. If you’re intrigued with the idea of a startup or want to support a startup idea, this is the right event for you to attend.

According to Sullivan, Friday night is the perfect time and opportunity to find out more. “Who knows,” he says, “you might get inspired to pitch an idea or join a team.”

Summit County Startup Weekend starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 10 and runs through 9 p.m. Sunday, April 12 in Frisco at ELEVATE coSPACE and Evo3 Workspace. Visit for more information.

Or connect on social at or on twitter @summitcountySW.




BLOG: The Power of Focus for Your Company’s Bottom Line

BY: Michelle Warner

We all know focus is hard. Especially when you’re running a small business or start-up and wearing every hat around. You need to bring in all the revenue you can, show evidence of every bit of traction you have and be consistently growing your customer base.

So when you hear that it’s important to choose a niche place in your market or only market to a very specific type of customer, it sounds backwards. In fact it sounds like the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Why in the world would you limit your options – why would you focus – at the very time you’re supposed to be doing anything and everything possible to increase revenue and bring in more people?

Why? Because it works. For a small business, especially one just starting out, focusing on a niche market or one ideal customer type is one of the best things you can do to achieve your growth goals.

Here’s how it works.

Imagine a customer who is faced with a myriad of businesses, including yours, that could all solve her problem. They all look the same to her, so her decision ends up being a coin flip and she randomly chooses one. You have no control over whether or not she chooses your business.

What’s the result? She’ll probably gets her problem solved, but it won’t be a memorable exchange for her or for the business she chooses. Even worse, the next time she’s looking for the same service it’ll again be a coin flip.

Why does it go back to random chance? Because she chose a generic solution, she didn’t have a particularly memorable experience the first time around and she won’t build any loyalty to that business. She may not even remember choosing it. Her coin flip choice didn’t provide her or the business with any long-term utility. And that business is left in the same place it was before she came along – hoping to win enough coin flips every month to meet revenue goals.

Do you really want the success of your business dependent on a series of coin flips?

Now let’s imagine that same customer faced with the same problem and the same choices, except you’ve chosen to do the tough work of identifying your perfect market – your perfect customer – and sharing that through your brand messaging. When she looks at her options this time she can tell right away that you’re different, you stand out from all the others. She remembers you

And if you’re a match – if she’s your perfect customer – she’ll connect with that right away and have no choice but to choose you. After all, she sees right away that you understand her. That you know her. And because she’s your perfect customer, her experience with you will be positive and memorable. You’ll do your best work, because she’s the kind of person you most like working with. And she’ll be thrilled with the result, because your best work is always really great. She’ll probably even send her friends and family to you.

Congratulations! You’ve gained a loyal customer and taken your control back. No more coin flips for you.

Sometimes, though, because you’ve shared exactly with whom you work best, you won’t be a match and she’ll choose someone else.

And that’s ok. (say it with me: That’s ok. I promise.)

When you’re a small business or a start-up you don’t need to be – shouldn’t be – everything to everyone. You just have to the right solution for your right people, and scream that from the rooftops often enough to make sure they know you.

Because if they know you – if you’ve done enough work on focus to allow your perfect people to immediately find you – they’ll never even consider the coin flip. 

(Optional Exercise)

Wondering how to start thinking about who your ideal customer is? Here are a few prompts to get you started:

1.     Rank your current customers on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being your least favorite and 10 your favorite customers. What characteristics do your 8, 9 and 10 customers share? That’s a good starting point to understand what type of customer helps you show up your best – and that’s half the battle of figuring out who you should be working with.


2.     Think about the customers who rave about you and your business the most, the ones who leave positive reviews and already send their friends and family to you. What common characteristics do they share? These are probably the people you serve the best so it’s important to understand if there’s a commonality among them.

Not sure what characteristics to consider?  Here are a few to get you started.  

1.     Age

2.     Gender

3.     Occupation

4.     Type of service requested

5.     Interests and life beliefs

6.     What changed for her as a result of working with you?

7.     What was her motivation to seek out your business?


*Bonus Tip: While the basic demographics are usually the easiest to determine, it’s the answers to the deeper psychological questions that will usually help her connect with you. 

Michelle Warner built and led a successful seven-figure social venture and had a hand in many other start-up endeavors before shifting her focus to mentoring creative entrepreneurs in April 2014. She helps makers and doers of all kinds transform their big ideas into actual businesses through a deft combination of smart strategy and inspired action. Michelle holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and is an ardent believer that good business is, in fact, a combination of art and science. You can reach her at



BLOG: Meet Marianne. She’s a farm girl, artist and part of ELEVATE’s creative community

There’s a soft, whimsical touch to Marianne Brown’s photos … and to her life. Born on a farm in Georgia, her love of the outdoors brought her to Colorado after graduating with an art degree in photography. 

As she talks about her photography business, her food blog she and her sister started and her Etsy shop, there’s a glint of her Southern soft drawl but there’s something more. Look in her eyes. It’s there – the grit and determination of a serial entrepreneur who worked hard and journeyed far to create her own luck.

We sat down with Marianne at her new office space, ELEVATE coSPACE, to find out more about who she is, why she’s driven to create and why she’s chosen to live, work and play in Frisco, Colorado.

How & why did you start your own business?

“I was a Photography major,” Marianne says. “I never wanted a desk job … I never wanted to sit in a cubicle… 

“I spent three years as a ski bum,” she adds. Then, the spark happened. “My friend who is a wedding photographer visited. She encouraged me and taught me … everything.”

She created her first photography website and booked her first wedding. “I was a nervous wreck,” admits Marianne. But she has a soft, gentle approach. “People tell me that I make them feel relaxed. Maybe I’m just a nerd,” she says, laughing. “I make them laugh and make them feel natural and comfortable.”

That wedding led to others and still others and now Marianne shoots weddings in Colorado, Utah, Georgia, Costa Rica, the Bahamas and elsewhere around the country. She’s expanded into newborn photography and other photography that captures special moments. And, hasn’t lost sight of the fine art. She’s planning a trip to the desert this spring to shoot on film, again.

What’s your motivation?

“Being successful, whatever that means…” she says, then pauses. “Actually, it’s working to gain the means to do other things. It’s rewarding to capture a big moment in people’s lives – weddings or newborns. I’m in their bedroom, on their bed with their baby, their newborn baby. I’ve never met you but here I am lying on your bed with your baby.”

“I get to be part of these meaningful moments and relationships … it’s so special to be part of it.”

What’s your biggest challenge?

Like many entrepreneurs, starting a project is one of the toughest challenges for Marianne. “I have to tie myself to my chair to make myself start editing. I love the process but sometimes I have to make myself sit down and just do it.”

Then, there’s the challenge of too many opportunities or choices. “I shoot continuously,” she says in talking about her photography. “Those in between moments are natural and candid. I end up with so many more pictures to review/edit. I need to work on this – to narrow down and be more selective.” She could also be talking about her life.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

“My dog gets me out of bed,” she laughs. “And then, coffee.”

She stops and stares off. “Really … I don’t like to feel as if I’m wasting my life. I get up… and get outside.”

Marianne just bought a winter fat tire bike. “The reason why I moved from Georgia was this romanticized version of the Wild West – I like to ski and bike. Since I moved to Denver, I haven’t mountain biked. I’ve wanted to do it for four years. I always had … excuses, excuses, excuses.

“Quit making excuses,” she says. Now, you can find her on the snow-packed trails with her brand-new, gleaming winter fat tire mountain bike. No more excuses.

How do you ELEVATE your BIZ?

“I was working from home and struggling,” Marianne says. She recently moved to Summit County from Denver and was seeking to plug into the community. “I needed to be more motivated. Be around people and get out of the house. I come here (to ELEVATE), sit down and actually do work.”

Like many others, Marianne was drawn to the concept of coworking. It was an affordable way for her to get her own dedicated working space. She works upstairs at a dedicated desk. But, she was also inspired by the creative open-air space of ELEVATE, along with the creative energy of the space and community.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

At moments, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Then I think I could be doing more.

“Stagnation feels like death,” Marianne says.” I need for things to be constantly changing … So, I keep going.”

 What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs and business owners?

“Try not to worry about it,” she says. “I had a lot of worry and anxiety about society’s expectations.

“Do what feels right. People get sidetracked on what they should do instead of what feels right.”

For now, Marianne is doing what feels right – skiing, mountain biking for the first time and capturing those special moments in others’ lives and creating new special moments in her own life, as well.

BLOG: Networking Tips. Work the Room Like a Rock Star

When it comes to networking, Maureen Kanwischer has this advice for you – Don’t listen to your mother: Talk to strangers.

Networking for business is crucial. Why? Because it all comes down to relationships, says Mo (Maureen). Even if you’re introverted, you can and you must learn to network. Still not convinced. Here are some benefits to having good relationships through effective networking:

  • You can increase the awareness of your product or service
  • You can form new partnerships that can lead to more sales or can grow your business

  • You can create ambassadors and “walking billboards” for your business

Networking may not be “second nature” to some of us but there’s a direct connection between the level of effort you put into networking and the results you get out of it, even when it seems like the results are completely unrelated to your efforts. In other words, invest the time and energy into networking but do it effectively. Here are some tips:

  1. Keep your goal in sight. Remember that the purpose of networking is to network – not to sell. How many times have you left a networking event and said to yourself:  “Well, that was a waste of time! I didn’t sell anything!” By reminding yourself that you’re there to increase your pool of contacts you won’t be disappointed when you don’t make a sale. Your goal is to build relationships and foster trust. 
  2. Beware of social traps. Networking should be fun, but don’t confuse it with being totally social. It is easy to fall into the trap when you’re at a cocktail party, for instance, to gather with friends you already know and socialize with them. That’s not networking – that’s socializing. You should be taking the time to introduce yourself to folks you don’t know in order to increase your business network. Remember, networking is a business function. The hours you spend at networking are the same hours you could be doing some other business requirement. There’s a reason the word “work” is part of the word “networking.”
  3. Be genuine. Since you’re networking to build relationships, you want to meet each new acquaintance with a genuine interest to learn more about that person, offer to help where you can and, perhaps, have intent to meet again to further develop that relationship. You are creating a network – people who may become clients. But more importantly, you’re there to build relationships.  Be authentic in your desire to get to know them. Make it easy for people to know you, like you and trust you. 
  4. Cat got your tongue? If you find it difficult to strike up a conversation, first, introduce yourself, then use a few open ended questions to advance the dialogue. Questions like:  “How did you get started in your business?” or “What do you enjoy most about your work?” or “How long have you been in the business?” will allow for an uncomplicated exchange and will lead to a friendly sharing of information about each other. But remember that loose lips really do sink ships. After you ask your question, shut up and listen! 
  5. It’s not all about the numbers. The key is quality; not quantity. Your objective isn’t to fill your pocket with new business cards. You want to gain a few quality new associations for which you can enhance your network. Follow up is important. Whether you agree to meet again over coffee or forward a referral to your new network partner – do what you say you are going to do. And, do it in a timely manner.
  6. Location, location, location. Network in the right places. Be sure to utilize those precious networking hours to the best advantage. Chose your networking events judiciously by mixing with others who have similar customers or industries. After all, if you’re hunting for zebras, you want to go where zebras hang out!
  7. Add some sparkle. Sometimes it helps to be memorable. Perhaps you can wear a colorful scarf or tie or a unique piece of jewelry while you are networking. It helps people make a visual reference to you and can act as a conversation starter. 
  8. Be prepared. Carry business cards and make them easily accessible. There’s nothing worse than asking for someone’s card and then having to wait for them to dig thorough their purse searching for a card. When you receive a card, read it like you have never seen a business card before – it honors your new found networker.

Business networking is making things happen for other people so that they’ll make things happen for you … in that order (most people get it backwards)!  Just remember to be genuinely interested in others’ businesses and provide ideas for how you can help them succeed. That’s relationship building and the key to successful networking.

Visit Momentum Business Consulting at and schedule a free consultation with her to discuss your small business challenges.




NEWS: ELEVATE coSPACE welcomes Reno’s The CUBE to the Mountain Coworking Alliance

The alliance of mountain-town coworking spaces continues to grow. Now offers reciprocal membership benefits at nine coworking spaces across the country

Coworking is on the rise in mountain towns around the country. To help skiers and snowboarders work and play in the mountains, nine mountain-town coworking spaces have joined together to form the Mountain Coworking Alliance. The CUBE, a coworking space, business accelerator and incubator in Reno, Nevada, is the latest to the join the MCA, a collective that provides free reciprocal coworking days at coworking spaces near Jackson Hole, Vail, Aspen, North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, Park City, Durango, Breckenridge and now Reno.

“Collaboration and networking are the fundamental building blocks an effective ecosystem that can meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s innovators and entrepreneurs. The CUBE is excited to join the Mountain Coworking Alliance and we look forward to sharing our expertise in fostering the creation, development and growth of new businesses with other MCA members,” says Eric D. Madison, executive director, The CUBE. 

Mountain town coworking spaces offer local startups, entrepreneurs, business owners, students and corporate workers plus vacationers a flexible and affordable place to work and gather in a collaborative environment.

The way people work is changing. And where they work is changing. It’s estimated that more than half of the workforce will work remotely by 2020

“It was only natural for the coworking phenomenon to reach mountain towns, and now we’re really seeing an explosion of people coming to the mountains to play and also wanting a place to get work done. The rise in coworking spaces in ski towns in Tahoe, Colorado and Jackson Hole is giving people an opportunity to have affordable, collaborative and productive spaces to work while living or visiting the mountains.” says Megan Michelson, co-founder Tahoe Mill Collective, located at Alpine Meadows, California.

The Mountain Coworking Alliance offers members two free days at the participating spaces, including:

Tahoe Mill Collective in North Lake Tahoe (near Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley)

Tahoe Mountain Lab in South Lake Tahoe (near Heavenly)

The CUBE @ Midtown in Reno, Nevada

Spark Jackson Hole in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Assemble Park City in Park City, Utah


Durango WorkSpace in Durango, Colorado

RiverCoWorks in Basalt, Colorado (near Aspen/Snowmass)


Base Camp in Avon, Colorado (near Vail and Beaver Creek)


ELEVATE coSPACE in Frisco, Colorado  (near Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain)

To take advantage of the two free reciprocal days, workers must have a membership at their home coworking space and must contact the visiting coworking space at least a week in advance to make arrangements and provide verification of membership. Space is offered pending availability.

The Mountain Coworking Alliance capitalizes on another trend – skiers and snowboarders who plan multiple trips within one ski season to different resorts. This has been driven, in part, by the popularity of affordable multi-resort season passes like the Mountain Collective and Epic Pass. The Mountain Coworking Alliance now provides flexible places to work with access to more than a dozen of the top-rated ski resorts in the country ranging from Jackson Hole to Aspen and from Heavenly to Breckenridge.

“Mountain Coworking spaces give people the launching pad to pursue their passions,” says Julia Landon, co-founder of ELEVATE, a new space and community gathering spot that opened Oct. 1 in Frisco, Colorado. “They don’t have to choose between work or play. They can do both – work and play with the end result of ‘elevating’ their life.”

According to Jamie Orr, co-Founder of Tahoe Mountain Lab in South Lake Tahoe, “The mountain coworking spaces create a place for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers to collaborate and thrive. As an example, Tahoe Mountain Lab has become a hub of activity for the community in a way that just wouldn’t happen in a big city, and we love seeing the impact we’re having both inside and outside our office walls.”

The Mountain Coworking Alliance reciprocal program started Nov. 1. For more information about the program, contact the coworking spaces:

Megan at Tahoe Mill Collective:

Jamie at Tahoe Mountain Lab:

Ky at The CUBE:

Jamie at

Megan at Spark Jackson Hole:

Kelly at Assemble Park City:

Steve at RiverCoWorks:

Jasper at Durango Workspace:

Brad or Doug at Base Camp:

Amy or Julia at ELEVATE: or

# # #

Map of Mountain Coworking Alliance:



Tahoe Mill Collective

Tahoe Mountain Labs




Spark Jackson Hole




Durango Workspace


Assemble Park City


BLOG: The Heart & Soul of ELEVATE coSPACE is You. Our Community.

For many of us, we can live wherever we choose. We’ve lived in New York City, San Francisco, China, France, Denver and Boulder but we deliberately choose Summit County, in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, as the place we call home.

As John Muir once wrote, “the mountains are calling and I must go.” We’re lucky. When the mountains call us for a powder day in the winter or a hike in July, we can go. We can walk outside our doors of ELEVATE and breathe the fresh mountain air and reset ourselves.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” — John Muir

Then, we step back inside to this … an inspiring shared workspace that seems to bring the outdoors in. ELEVATE coSPACE is filled with energy, driven visionaries and go-getters that inspire us to do even better work and be more productive.

But, it’s so much more than the fresh air, the world-class skiing, the mountain biking, the sailing, the hiking, the views, the stunning coworking space. It really comes down to the people. Our community is amazing. True, we’re diverse and different. But, it’s not what you do but who you are. We’re a group of trail blazers who aren’t just climbing for the individual glory but who are helping to bushwhack a new path, guide others along and share their successes and stumbles along the way.

Meet Holly. She’s just one of our inspiring collaborators and our lead bushwhacker. (We’ll be featuring more of our friends and coworkers right here. So stay tuned)

We’ve always loved our little mountain town of Frisco but now we have dozens more reasons to love and celebrate it every day. So, thanks Holly, Kathryn, Ciara and the hundreds of community members and supporters. You are the heart and soul of ELEVATE coSPACE.

BLOG: Meet Holly Resignolo, coworker, founder of MTN Town Magazine, bushwhacker and mother

There’s always a turning point. For Holly Resignolo, it was turning on the TV in a Telluride hotel and the news was all Denver related.

It didn’t make sense to her. Life is short. Her son, Nick’s past accident reminded her of that. Life is precious. Her three kids were a shining testament of that. And, life is meant to take you off the beaten path. Her bushwhacking and backcountry adventures in her Breckenridge, Colorado backyard reminded her of that too.

Here she was in Telluride, 330 miles away from downtown Denver and 260 miles away from her home on Peak 7 in Breckenridge when she decided to quit her job and start her own business, MTN Town Magazine.

“I realized there was a need for this, (MTN Town Magazine)” says Holly. “There was no way to find out what was happening in our Colorado mountain communities.”

But, more importantly, Holly wanted more freedom and flexibility. “I wanted the opportunity to take care of my family,” she says. “Unfortunately, many businesses up here don’t allow you to do that.”

She didn’t waste any time. She started a website and wrote about food, travel, events and the people of Colorado’s mountain towns. Now, four years later, MTN Town Magazine has expanded to include a revamped website and a print magazine (that can also be read online) that is distributed to almost all of the mountain towns in Colorado.

It’s no surprise that this spirited adventurer who once told her High School guidance counselor (who said she wouldn’t amount to much) to “screw you. I can do anything I want.,” has bushwhacked her own path in life.

In between a trip to Telluride for the first-ever Fire Festival and the Snowsports Industry of America show in Denver, we sat down with Holly to find out how and why she’s “elevating” her life and work.

How did you start your business? And, how do you start new endeavors?

I didn’t even try. I just went ahead and did it.

I’m the kind of person who just sits down, puts pencil to paper and then I see where it goes. See where it takes you.

What’s your motivation?

I’m motivated to connect our mountain towns and let them see and know what’s happening. Rather than just exist as individual towns that are isolated, we can be our own mountain town community and region.

I’m inspired by the unique individuals – educated, pioneering people who are creating and making – while living in our mountain towns. I love telling people about these entrepreneurs and the towns they call home.

What’s your biggest challenge?

I don’t have a team of people. I need a team of people in other towns who can sell it. Talk about it. To make it happen. This is my largest challenge.

All of our towns are individual islands that exist within the region. It requires time to get there. I have to do it myself right now in order to make this happen. It’s a lot of traveling and hard work.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Money. (laughs) I need to pay my bills – that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. Well, really it’s my kids and being able to do amazing things with them.  It’s also the fascination with all of the cool stuff. I love telling people about the new restaurants and events. I love food. I love to travel and eat. And love to be outdoors and discover new things … skiing, hiking, and finding new cool things

How do you ELEVATE your BIZ?

I’ve learned some really cool things from being here (at ELEVATE). Sitting down with everyone and having a sharing moment of who we are and where we are and the challenges has been inspiring and helpful.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

When people go into business, they think it’s going to be instant success. They think you’ll have money rolling into your pockets. I think I knew that it wasn’t going to be that way.

I realize that it requires hard work and I’m willing to put it in … It’s really easy to say ‘screw it’ or ‘it isn’t worth it.’

I have those moments.  When something isn’t working, it’s okay to take a step back and think about what do I need to do.

I’m in that step back moment. I’m searching for people to do sales and re-evaluating what steps are next. Then I say “Oh yeah. That’s right. Stop crying in your soup. Keep moving.”

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs and business owners?

Everyone has those moments of “This isn’t working. Maybe I should quit.”

I’m not a quitter. I don’t know how to do that.

I tell my kids, “Don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do. You can be anything you want. But, don’t forget it takes a lot of hard work.”

“But… don’t forget you can be anything you want.”