The Blog

BLOG: New Web + Mobile Development Program Launches

A new career path in tech could help locals in Summit County double or triple their salary.

A new Full Stack+ web and mobile development program could be the solution for locals to stay local, say Amy Kemp and Wendy Basey of ELEVATE coworking space in Frisco.

The ELEVATE team has partnered with Regis University to launch the first Full Stack+ web and mobile development program in the mountains. The 16-week accelerated software engineering and web development graduate-level program will begin Aug. 23 and offers more than just the typical full stack program of back-end and front-end web development. In addition, the program will include web visualizations and mobile development.

Full stack developers, sometimes called the “Jack of all trades for developers,” are in demand by tech companies and startups around the world and typically make $89,000+ in the U.S.( That compares to Summit County’s per capita income of $33,052. (Northwest Council of Governments)

“There’s no question that we need to diversify our economy in Summit County and create higher paying jobs,” says long-time local Kemp. “We’re too reliant on tourism, construction and real estate. We have one of the most highly educated communities in the state, but we have one of the lowest per capita incomes. We are shockingly underemployed and underpaid. It’s time to change that.”

According to Kemp and Basey, creating more tech jobs would give Summit County locals an opportunity to afford to live here and to contribute to an even more vibrant community.

“It’s time for us to forge our own future and build a hub for innovation and creativity right here in Summit County,” adds Kemp.

The Full Stack+ program is an opportunity to create a high tech workforce of remote workers or local startup founders or skilled employees to be hired by local tech companies like Dave Knell’s TeleNg and Fathom VR (virtual reality). Knell is a Breck-based entrepreneur and programmer who has struggled with hiring talented, experienced developers and programmers in Summit County.

He recently partnered with Kemp and fellow entrepreneur James Lee to open ELEVATE Breck, ELEVATE coworking’s second location in Breckenridge. ELEVATE Breck is set to open this spring.

The 16-week Full Stack+ program aims to teach people to code and develop the “full stack” of back-end and front-end web and mobile skills.

It’s more than the typical full stack program, that’s why we’re calling it Full Stack+, says Rob Sjodin, the Regis University instructor who created the Full Stack+ program. It includes four modules:

  • MSSE 661, Web Software Development
  • MSSE 663, Web Frameworks
  • MSSE 665, Web Visualization Frameworks
  • MSSE 667, Web Mobile Frameworks

Each module is four weeks and in-person classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. at ELEVATE Frisco. At the end of the 16 weeks, students will receive a graduate-level certificate in web development and have 12 credit hours that can be applied towards a Master of Science in Software Engineering degree.

“It’s an accelerated program that offers more than just the standard full stack web development program,” says Sjodin. “Our Full Stack+ program offers twice as much content as most of the other full stack programs at half the cost.”

Tuition start at $8,000-ish for the 16-week program that starts in August, 2016. An open house for the Full Stack+ program will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 28 at ELEVATE Frisco to educate the community about the program and to help them with financial aid and the application process.

“Education is evolving,” says Sjodin. “We’re at the forefront of that change and want to adapt and be ready to help our students solve real-world problems now and be lifelong learners who can impact their community and help change the world.”

In tech, it’s more important to have the skills and the portfolio vs. a degree. The Full Stack+ program does that.

The Full Stack+ program is designed for anyone who is interested in learning to build and develop web and mobile. A fundamental knowledge of HTML and CSS is preferred and students should have a bachelor’s degree.

The Full Stack+ Program Lunch & Learn event is set for noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 28 at ELEVATE Frisco. Representatives from Regis University’s admissions program and Full Stack instructors will be on hand to answer questions.

For more information, visit or contact 970-368-6139.

BLOG: Meet Kimberly

Meet Kimberly Swank. She’s a snowboarder, CPA, IRONMAN finisher, entrepreneur and ELEVATE member. To sum it up, she’s a numbers guru with a lot of letters following her name. Kimberly Headshot LinkedinCheck it out: Kimberly Swank, CPA, MBA, MSA. She’s also the founder of Swank Accounting, LLC, which all adds up to a financial whiz. And a financial win for her clients.

We sat down with Kimberly to find out more about her and how the startup world relates to competing in an IRONMAN or snowboarding at Breck.

What do you do (for work, life and play)?

Work and play are part of my business and life. If you’re a snowboarder or skier, we’ll most likely be conducting a business meeting or two on the slopes in the winter. (let me know if you want to schedule a “meeting” this winter)

Enjoying life while working is the Swank Accounting business model. Our motto is “Finance is Fun!”

I’m the proud Managing Principal/ Founder of Swank Accounting, LLC. As a full-service accounting firm, our customers are small businesses, high net worth investors and non-profit corporations. The services we provide are CFO Consulting, Accounting, Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation/ Strategy.  We’re based out of the new ELEVATE Breck location but we service all of Summit County, in addition to Eagle County, Boulder and Denver.

What’s your vision or goal for work this year?

Swank Accounting, LLC is more than a business to me. Each client is special with a different set of needs. I’m a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Masters in Business (MBA) and a Masters in Accounting (MSA) from Notre Dame coupled with 20 years of experience as a business owner and high-level corporate professional.

Our goal is to continue to grow in Summit County while providing a customized high level of service to our clients for their accounting and tax needs. Our knowledge and experience is what differentiates us from our competitors and enables us to provide a broad range of services from bookkeeping to accounting and from tax services to CFO level consulting.

Why did you move to Summit?

IMG_8052One word… Snowboarding. Winter snow sports are my passion. Living in Breckenridge, you quickly learn that your level of snowboarding will be ratcheted up a few notches. When I found myself joining my friends at 4:30am to hike or snowshoe up a mountain for fresh tracks, I soon realized the different level of athlete in the mountains. I was fascinated and loved coming home at 8:30am ready to work for the day while people were just heading onto the slopes.

At the end of last season, I bought an AT ski set-up and am determined to conquer the mountain … on skis, as well as my snowboard. Look out!

What’s your motivation?

My greatest motivation is “Living The Dream.” Several life events have made me realize that every day is special and should be lived. Breckenridge affords me this privilege. Where else can you go cycling for a 35-mile ride straight up a mountain in the morning and then go work for a full day?

What’s your biggest challenge?

An intense work ethic is my biggest challenge. It’s true. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll work the entire day and miss out on enjoying the mountains. I’m learning to work hard and play harder.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My client relationships, friends and my dog get me out of bed every morning. I have great people in my life. Working on surrounding yourself with people that work as a team and genuinely care about you is so uplifting and important. It’s what makes my life spectacular.

Last year, I had a client that was struggling to direct their business and had started to lose their focus. We’d meet every two weeks and go snowboarding. On the lift rides, we’d strategize and discuss business ideas. Recently I met with him and I was amazed at the turnaround. They had clearly defined their goals and were working to improve their business and financial objectives.

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

ELEVATE recently had a speaker/Author, Clark Vandeventer of the book, unWorking. As he was communicating the idea for his book, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. He is explaining my life.” It gave me a great reassurance that I am on the right path of my life.

Since I was 18 years old, I have been seeking the purpose and meaning in my life, my “WHY”. It is not until the last year I finally feel like my why has been found: Living a life with great people, being involved in exciting and interesting events and savoring a life with purpose and direction that adds value to other people’s lives.

How do you ELEVATE your business and your life?

Recently, I made the decision to rent dedicated space at the Breckenridge ELEVATE location. This decision has been a significant shift in my mentality and business. Being a part of this community that Amy Kemp has so expertly compiled has led to my sense of belonging and significance in Summit County. The connections and people that you meet through ELEVATE are a cut above the rest. ELEVATE attracts business owners with integrity, motivation, and a sincerity and friendliness that makes the space feel like you are coming home. I look forward to “going to work” every day.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

IMG_8501Setbacks and obstacles are just a delay to my end goal. I feel that every time something “goes wrong” this is a chance to learn what you are really made of and grow to be something better. Growth does not happen when everything goes well. Growth happens when obstacles are in your path.

Training for a half IRONMAN when you have never done a triathlon tends to bring many challenges you do not anticipate. It is at this point that you realize that strength of mind and purpose keeps you moving forward and attaining the goals you set. You may not get there the way you think. However, when you keep focused on your end goal, it is amazing how creative you can be.

I grew up on a beach in Florida and have been swimming since I was learning to walk. I thought for sure the swim would be the easiest part of the IRONMAN race. However, I was not prepared for the mental challenge of containing the race adrenaline coupled with not being able to see in the water, having to spot your course with minimal race markers, and getting boxed in a large group of swimmers. In a nutshell, I panicked. Finding that I could not put my face in the water without panicking I quickly realized I was going to backstroke the 1.2 miles. The guidance of one of the paddleboard officials keeping me on course allowed me to meet the cutoff time of the swim by 5 minutes. Perseverance and a sheer stubbornness to refuse to give up led to this success.

What’s your secret sauce or superhero power or secret weapon?

I can read minds.

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?

Never Give Up, Never Surrender. The life of an entrepreneur can have major ups and downs. Savor the ups and know the downs are short lived. It is also important to surround yourself with solid, positive, supportive friends and mentors. It can be lonely being an entrepreneur. Having people to bounce ideas off of and help with keeping you on track or even just to give you a pep talk can be the difference between succeeding or failing.

BLOG: Meet Jason

Meet Jason Rush. He’s a novelist, runner, snowboarder, software developer and ELEVATE member who organizes a monthly writer’s critique group.

We sat down with Jason to find out more about him. And asked him: what makes him tick, what are his goals, what’s his advice for other developers and to reveal his super power. Here are his answers.

What do you do (for work, life and play)? 

I’m a software developer at Panda Strike. We’re a consultancy, working in a number of different fields, with clients ranging from Disney to Weedmaps. I’m currently working on a couple of IoT (Internet of Things) projects, one for a company that does smartgrid energy software, where we have smart thermostats that let an electric utility reduce demand on the grid during peak times, and another for a company that makes street signs that a construction company or the Department of Transportation can change messages on remotely.

I’m also a writer with a focus on speculative fiction. I have one short story produced by the Pseudopod horror podcast and two other stories that I’m currently shopping around. Over the last three or so years, I’ve been focused on writing (and rewriting) a horror novel called Mad Maddie, which I hope to start pitching to agents and editors some time this summer.

Outside of that, I do all the regular stuff that brings people to Summit County: hiking, trailrunning, snowboarding, snowshoeing, anything to get me outside on a sunny day. 

What’s your vision/goal for this year?

My main goal for this year is to wrap up the editing phase on my novel and start the process of finding an agent. It’s a ridiculously long process, so I have no delusions of actually publishing this year, just getting the ball rolling.

Why did you move to Summit?

I spent about five years trying to convince my employer to let me telecommute, but they would never agree to it. Then one day, the company moved the office to downtown Denver, and my pleasant 10-minute commute turned into 45 minutes of stop-and-go traffic. As much as I liked my job and my team, I decided life was too short for a bad commute, and I started looking for a new job with the main goal of working remotely. After talking to an old friend at Panda Strike, I ended up landing a job there last summer, and with nothing tying me to a specific location, my wife and I decided to move where we’ve always wanted to live: the mountains. 

What gets you motivated (for work or for a life goal)?

I’m a pretty goal-oriented person, so I’ve found that I’m most likely to get things done if I focus on the short-term, and set concrete, attainable goals. With work, that means focusing on one feature at a time. With writing, one scene at a time. 

What’s your biggest challenge?

The flip-side of my answer to the “motivation” question: If I focus too much on the end-goal instead of short-term goals, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To feel like I’m not making any real progress. Some part of me has to always be focused on the end-goal to make sure the short-term goals are complimentary, so it involves a little self-deception: knowing what the final product is, but defining success in smaller buckets.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

 Working on cool stuff. Lately that’s meant working on IoT projects, which have a particularly cool real-world element that most software projects don’t. There is something very satisfying about running some code you just wrote and seeing the temperature change on a thermostat, or the message get updated on a traffic sign.

What’s your “WHY” in life or for work?

I love learning new things. With work, that might mean learning a new technology, figuring out a new algorithm, or solving some new problem. With writing, it might be figuring out some new character, how someone thinks, how they react to certain situations, etc. 

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles? 

I think the main reason I got into software development in the first place was because I loved problem-solving. Obstacles are just something to figure out, and it’s usually what makes my job fun. Pretty much every day, I run into something I have literally no idea how to do, and breaking that problem down, figuring it out, learning something new, that’s what keeps me going. 

What’s your secret sauce, secret weapon or superhero power?

I’m not sure this qualifies as a secret sauce, and is possibly even an anti-power, but I try really hard to balance work and life. I’ve worked 50+ hour jobs, and I’ve found that I generally get less done in a 10-hour work day than in an 8-hour work day due to fatigue and dissatisfaction. Again, this is starting to sound like an anti-power, but I think it’s pretty true for most people. And if I make sure I schedule time to write, to jog or hike, read a book, watch TV, and so on, then when I’m at work, I’m focused and I can plow through whatever is thrown my way. 

What’s your advice to other tech workers/remote workers?

Find a community. I think one of the biggest challenges in remote work is isolation. A coworking space like Elevate is a great way to recreate the good parts of working in an office (like water-cooler chats) without the bad parts (unnecessary meetings, etc).

But for a remote team, I think it’s also important to create community across the team. At Panda Strike, we try to get the team together in a Google Hangout once a week (“Panda Time!”) to chat about anything other than work. It lets us put faces to names and get to know each other a little more. It goes a long way toward making the group feel like a team. 

The Newbie Checklist – Our guide to moving to Summit County

You’ve decided it’s time for a change and the mountains are calling. Great! Welcome to Colorful Colorado and our amazing community of Summit County.

Before you hit the slopes or the park, there are a few things to know before going from newbie to full-fledged local. Here’s our guide on getting settled in, networking and finding the right trails to explore in Summit County.

Before you move:

Have a realistic expense report and budget. The cost of living is higher in mountain towns. Make sure you’ve saved up and have a cushion in case there are some extra unexpected expenses. You don’t want to get blindsided. It’s recommended to save for at least six months of expenses just in case.

Be prepared with a chunk of change upfront. The first month rent payment plus the last month rent payment plus a deposit is usually required to move in to a new place up here. Moving into a competitive housing market means higher upfront cost so be prepared to put down more upfront then usual. For example If your rent is $800 a month you’ll need $2,400 just to move in.

Your first “crash pad” in the county doesn’t need to be your last. Do your research and check out the towns, neighborhoods and options. Figure out what’s important to you. Would you rather be stumbling distance to the bars and restaurants and sacrifice your living space and a garage? If so, check out Breckenridge or Frisco. Do you prefer a backyard and a coveted garage? Look at Summit Cove or Willowbrook. Want a hassle-free condo or townhouse that’s affordable? Boreas Pass or Wildernest might be the right option. Or, are you seeking a family-friendly ‘hood where everyone knows your name? Wellington Neighborhood, Summit Cove or Peak One might be right up your alley.

Make sure to research the average price of homes, condos, apartments and townhouses. Got kids? You’ll definitely want to scope out the schools first. Looking to save a bunch? Check out the roommate options.

And, if you have a dog or cat, good luck. It can be a little more tricky. It’s not impossible to find a dog-friendly rental, but be prepared to pay a little more either for your security deposit or per month or both. There are a LOT of HOA’s that restrict or forbid pets in rental units so be sure to do your research. Once you and your four-legged friend are moved in, you’ll love it here and all of the trails, the Breck dog park and swims in the lakes and ponds.

If you’re ready for your own home sweet home, there are plenty – and we mean plenty – of agents who can help you buy a home. Do your research. Ask around. Shop around. We recommend Rick Eisenberg with CornerStone Real Estate. He knows the local market, hosts a networking meetup at ELEVATE every other week and is an all-around good guy. Check him out: (

Ideally you’ll want to have a job lined up before you move or make arrangements with your employer to work remotely. Or, maybe you’re looking to start a business or relocate your own business. Good for you.

If you’re job hunting, start early. Network and get some prospects before you even move. Check out these resources to help lock down a job:

The Colorado Workforce –
Temp Agency –
Vail Resorts –
Copper Mountain
And an independently owned job board

Networking at ELEVATE coworking spaces in either Frisco or Breck can lead to some not-yet-announced opportunities and job openings. So, check out our events and meetups: (

Decide if you need your car. Having a vehicle isn’t necessary but can be convenient getting around. Luckily Summit County has a free public bus system that makes getting around easy and free ( Download the app to have quick access on your smartphone.

If you do have a car be sure to register your car for Colorado within 90 days. Breckenridge Motor vehicle can take care of that for you ( Getting a drivers license is done at the Frisco Community Commons (

After you move here:

Now that you’ve moved in, got a job or relocated your business, it’s time for the fun. It’s time to get outside and explore all the things that makes Summit County great. First a fair warning, altitude sickness is real. Living at 9,000 feet above sea level will take a few days to acclimate. Be sure to hydrate accordingly and take it easy at first. And avoid drinking your favorite adult beverages for a few days until you’re in High Country shape. 

Winter Activities

If you’re a skier or snowboarder, make sure to buy your season pass before the prices go up in November. The Summit Local, Epic and Epic Local passes are some of the most popular passes sold by Vail Resorts. The top level, top-notch, most expensive Epic pass is around $800 preseason and gets you unlimited riding days at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, and Beaver Creek as well as access to all the other Vail Resorts owned mountains. Not a bad deal considering prime rates on weekends are $120+ a day at most of these resorts. Check out all the details here:

Looking for a more affordable option? Try the Vail Resorts’ Summit Local pass, the Arapahoe Basin-only pass or try Copper Mountain’s pass. Copper isn’t part of the Vail Resorts family, so their pricing tends to be a little bit lower and the crowds tend to be a lot thinner on weekends. Check ito out:

If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, try nordic skiing, skinning or snowshoeing for a slower paced adventure. There are nordic centers in Frisco, Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper. If you have your own gear, just strap on the skis or snowshoes and go explore!

We just touched a few of the many sports you can do out here. Check out this list of winter activities by GoBreck for more activities:

Summer activities

Many people come to Summit County for the winter activities and world class ski resorts but many locals will say that summertime is the best time to be in the High Rockies. Whether you’re into biking, fishing, rafting, hiking, or camping, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the warmer season here.

Hiking is the gateway to exploring new trails and sights without forking over hundreds if not thousands of dollars in new gear and equipment. You can experience steep mountaineering on Colorado’s famous 14er’s (or 13’ers) or find a family friendly hike with beautiful scenery everywhere you look.

Here are a few of our favorite hikes for beginner hikers:

  • Sapphire Point Overlook on Swan Mountain Road – A quick hike less than a mile with breathtaking views of the 10 mile range and Lake Dillon. This is a hike without any steep terrain and lots of parking. If you have friends and family who are not acclimated this is a good place to start. Check out more info here:
  • Old Lake Dillon – In the early mining times around 1800 the original town of Dillon was located under where Lake Dillon is today. Old Lake Dillon is high above and very easily overlooked if you have driven around Lake Dillon. On the Dam road, there’s a small trailhead with parking. The hike is only 1.7 miles and you will come across a small pond which hold Golden Trout. Fun fact, Old Lake Dillon is the only place outside of California to hold Golden Trout. Check out this hidden gem that many tourist and locals overlook:
  • Mt. Royal in Frisco – A steep hike but you can make it to the peak in an hour. At the top you are rewarded with a refreshing view of Lake Dillon and all of Summit County. The trailhead is right off of Main Street in Frisco so reward yourself with a refreshing beverage at one of the numerous bars and restaurants right in town after the descent. If you want to push yourself keep going up the trail to Mt. Victoria and Peak 1. A little more demanding and only recommended if you’re in good shape but this towering hike is very rewarding once you accomplish it. More info on Mt. Royal –

Finding a group of friends can be difficult when moving to a new city. We recommend coming to one of our ELEVATE coworking meetups to network with cool, smart, driven, fun locals and visitors. Sign up for our meetup group here:

Our last bit of advice is to respect nature and the community and you will receive respect back. Respect your fellow gaper because they help fuel our county when they’re traveling through even if they’re going 10 MPH below the speed limit. We are all here to experience the wonderful place called Summit County and we want to cherish it for future generations to come.