The Blog

BLOG: Pitch Night at Breckenridge Startup Weekend

By Sarah L. Knapp

The sixth Startup Weekend Breck began Friday at the Breckenridge Backstage Theater. Around 60 people filled the theater chatting and drinking fresh Breckenridge Brewery IPA. As the official start time approached, an energy started shooting through the crowd as the presenters grabbed another drink or coolly meandered into the theater.

As the lights went down, the Startup Weekend facilitator, Jeremy Kennell, opened the night’s activities with a collective icebreaker as attendees turned left and right to introduce themselves. Next up, Jeremy led a creativity warm-up called the “Half Baked Idea.” It began as the audience yelled out nouns and adjectives that combined to form potential product ideas including “Fuzzy Brick,” “Fast House” and “Sticky Mountain.” Groups spread out to form sales pitches for these products and then presented them, with creative concepts ranging from width changing skis to smart, driverless cars. Now, the entrepreneurial minds were starting to fire in force.

The teams are working diligently at ELEVATE Breck for Startup Weekend Breck.

The pitches for the night were varied, each with their own inspiration and excitement. The ideas ranged from online communities to iPhone apps to traditional brick and mortar businesses. These pitches focused both on serving the Breckenridge community and on reaching international ubiquity. Each brought a story from a local visionary intent on solving a problem (many that they themselves had experienced). The night wrapped up with voting and team creation for a weekend full of brainstorming, ideating, and building. The teams are working all weekend to bring their ideas to life at ELEVATE Breck.

Come join on Sunday night  (Nov. 12) at the Breckenridge Theatre to hear the final pitches and start thinking up your own future venture.

BLOG: Meet Emily

Meet Emily Schmutz. She’s a photographer, singer, hiker, yogi and ELEVATE member. Emily is also the owner of two businesses – Keeping Composure Photography + Summit Mountain Weddings. Learn why yoga and focus have been vital to Emily’s success at work and in life.

What do you do?,, 720.560.1611

I am a lady boss of two separate (+ related) businesses in Summit County; I am a photographer and I also curate small, intimate weddings + destination elopements. I share a beautiful studio at the base of Copper Mountain with my boyfriend, Pepper the pup and Shai kitty. We’re a pretty tight-knit group! When I’m not at my desk or photographing, I like to sing with the Summit Choral Society, hike with the boy + pup, be on the lake any chance I get, explore new places in + near Summit and yoga. Lots of yoga.

What’s your goal for this year?

My biggest goal for the coming year is to really hone in on the branding of my newer elopement planning business and narrow the focus of the business.

Why did you move to Summit County?

I have been here for seven years this June, and love it more every day! I moved here from St. Louis, MO for a change of scenery and lifestyle, and the general awe I find for the mountains that now surround me every day. (I decided to move here just two days after visiting, and held true to it!)

What motivates you?

Working for myself is a huge motivator. Everything I do (in work and out of work) affects my businesses and my lifestyle. It has helped me become much more aware of where I spend my energy.

What’s your biggest challenge?

I face two big challenges every day: 1) Prioritizing and managing my time to be the most efficient I can be is tough. Time is the most valuable thing we have, and every day I challenge myself to focus and work hard so that I can be more present outside of work. 2) Learning not to compare myself and my businesses to anybody else. It’s so much harder than it seems, and I have to remind myself daily that my path is my own and nobody else’s.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Carnefix Photography

My little mountain family. I want to spend as much time with my fur babies and my partner-in-crime/best friend every single day. Oh, and the mountains and ever-changing weather and light is also a huge plus!

What’s your WHY in work and life?

Creating + sharing joy. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing my clients just had the most amazing hour or two after starting off shy and timid in front of the camera. Trying new things + leaving the comfort zone – that’s what it’s all about!

How do you manage setbacks and challenges?

Yoga! Haha – really, though. Coming to my mat grounds me and clears away all of the “noise” surrounding a challenging obstacle. My focus and motivation after yoga is unparalleled.

Why work at ELEVATE or any coworking space? 

The social aspect of working in a coworking space is really appealing. My home office is within our studio, and as much as I enjoy working there, sometimes it gets a little small. Getting out of my normal workspace helps me focus, too.

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

It’s a secret… 😉 But if I must share something, it would be finding time for myself, whether that means yoga, a rare pedicure or a solo road trip. Me time + quiet time is my secret weapon.

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs?

Don’t compare yourself to others in your field, but watch what works and what doesn’t. Do your best every day, and realize that every day your best might not be the same.

Favorite outdoor spot?

In the middle of Lake Dillon on a kayak or scull. You see a whole new Summit County from Lake Dillon!

What are your favorite podcasts, quotes or books?

Jess Lively’s podcasts are awesome! Favorite book: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.


Photo credit for featured photo:  Carnefix Photography

Summit Innovation Week : April 5-9

Calling all entrepreneurs and innovators. Join us for Summit Innovation Week April 5-9 where we’re celebrating our pioneering spirit and innovation in Summit County. See below for a listing of other events.

Badass Businesses Pitch Night

6 local companies and startups who are going through our first-ever Badass Business Bootcamp will pitch at ELEVATE.


COILSx: In the Mountains

Colorado Outdoor Industry Leadership Summit


Startup Weekend Breck – Outdoor Innovation

Pitch an idea, join a team and launch a business or venture in 54 hours (or come on Friday and Sunday nights to hear and cheer on the pitches)

Friday ski/ride meetup at ELEVATE Breck

  • Friday, April 7
  • 6:30 am Dawn Patrol followed by a 9 am lift-accessed ski/ride meetup
  • Meet Coach Joe at ELEVATE Breck

Join us! Badass Biz Bootcamp Pitch Night April 5th

Support Summit County’s badass entrepreneurs – launching their startup daydreams at Pitch Night on Wednesday, April 5th at 5:30 p.m. at ELEVATE Frisco (711 Granite Street.) 

Six businesses have finished the gauntlet of ELEVATE’s (first ever!) Badass Biz Bootcamp, a five-week new business workshop for startup companies. In other words, they are business-tested, financially-savvy and ready to successfully launch at Pitch Night.

For five weeks, each business has worked with a mentor in ELEVATE’s network of successful entrepreneurs and has been workshopping their business plan. However, for many of these businesses, Pitch Night is the culmination of months (even years) of hard work and the relentless pursuit of their entrepreneurial dream.

Join us for Pitch Night – a special edition of our Pitches & Pints series – where entrepreneurs will debut their businesses to the world. Then, “cheers” the Biz Bootcamp teams over a pint at Backcountry Brewery. This is the perfect opportunity to network with local startup leaders. Who knows? You could get in on the ground floor of an exciting, profitable venture.

At Pitch Night, you will hear business proposals from:

1. Our Green Nation – Leya Nicolait
A one-of-a-kind digital site and marketplace with hundreds of expertly curated articles and products for your green lifestyle.

2. Bark & Wag – Polly ReQua
(A Start-up Weekend Favorite!)
Get customized dog collars for man’s best friend. Perfect for your next fundraising event!

3. Cozey 7 – Jill Winckler and Tony Tomassetti
Unique Toddler jumpers perfect for hitting the trail with your little one. Perfect baby present! Colorado-made.

4. My Food Fox – Jaime Harmon, Jason Ardell, Conor Gilsenan and Phil Chambless
(A Start-up Weekend Favorite!)
Luxury Vacation Home Meal Delivery. Have your vacation home’s refrigerator stocked with ready-to-eat, gourmet meals when you arrive.

5. Center for Hope, Healing and Enhancement- Cynthia Behr
Cynthia is opening a revitalizing brain business featuring neurofeedback therapy – which has benefits that range from meditiative to recovery after a brain injury.

6. Power Joy Now – Wendy Nakajima
Wendy is a digital marketing consultant (with 10+ years of experience) who is helping creative business owners sell more on Etsy, Shopify and Amazon with strategy sessions, coaching and workshops.

So c’mon down to ELEVATE for Pitch Night and help support Summit County’s latest crop of entrepreneurs, making their dreams come true. We will see you afterwards at Backcountry Brewery to celebrate their business launches!

BLOG: Meet Wendy

Meet Wendy. She’s the founder and digital marketing coach behind Power Joy Marketing. Wendy’s passion is empowering entrepreneurs with in-person workshops and strategy sessions. We sat down with Wendy to talk about launching a business, joining the ELEVATE team as our Community Cultivator and Manager, and advice for entrepreneurs trying to get their marketing message to connect with customers.

What do you do for work, life and play?

Wendy Nakajima is a digital marketing and business coach for entrepreneurs.

As a digital marketing coach, I get to live my love everyday. Most of all, I use my 10+ years of experience in advertising, eCommerce and journalism to help businesses articulate their story into powerful marketing. You can also find me in the kitchen, writing about new restaurants, or planning my next adventure.

What’s your vision or goal for the next year?

I want my Power Joy marketing workshops and 1×1 strategy sessions to empower each entrepreneur and small business. Together, we will create strong brands, impactful marketing and joyful results.

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

I am lucky to call both Summit and Denver my home. In 2017, new business opportunities and love beckoned me to the mountains. My beautiful mountain commute is perfect for catching-up on podcasts.

What motivates you?

Sparking creativity. Helping others. High-fives. Productive days. Traveling.

Wendy and her dog Lilly explore Colorado.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Lengthy “To-do” lists. Therefore, I try to strategically re-evaluate and prioritize multiple times a day.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Literally, my dog Lilly. With a paw and a whine, she wants to get the day started NOW. I try to match her morning enthusiasm.

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

Creating a balanced, joyful life for myself and everyone I work with. Sharing entrepreneurs’ business stories through powerful marketing that attracts customers, closes sales and breaks thru the media clutter.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

Deep breaths. An adaptable and strategic plan.

Remembering, the power within me is greater than any obstacle before me.

Why work at a coworking space?

Swap ideas with co-workers who “get it.” You are on the same life page.

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

Black sand beach yoga in Hawaii.

Avocados on everything, yoga, lots of water and BEING BOSS podcasts.

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs or remote workers or innovators? 

Do what you love and outsource what drains you. Most importantly, partner with people who share your vision but have different strengths.

Name your fears. Write them down. Create a plan. Make your plan routine everyday. Be flexible when others are freaking out.

Favorite trail or outdoor/indoor spot to be?

Seeing the mountains reflect in the lake at the Dillon Marina.





BLOG: Meet Dan

Dan Russell is a high-powered, ambitious visionary who founded Kiss Ventures, a digital marketing agency focused on product launches. He recently moved to Summit County to snowboard, mountain bike and grow his company.

Find out more about Dan, why he joined ELEVATE Breck and his passion for using technology to improve humanity.

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

I run the vision and high-level ops for my business and love to spend time outdoors. I’ve taken up snowboarding this season (been a skier my whole life but already love boarding more 🙂 and mountain biking in the warmer months.

What’s your vision/goal for the next year?

Double revenue each quarter. We crossed the 6-figure mark in 2016 so we’re ramping up sales and team-growing initiatives. The whole company is virtual so I’m also really focused on building a strong team culture.

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

Loved the area and the community. Been here for about 3 months

What motivates you?

Using technology to improve humanity. I have an exponential technology-focused philanthropic community that I manage on Facebook that was borne out of a think tank I ran in NYC in partnership with the Xprize foundation. All of the operations of my company are aimed at sending a portion of our financial profits to that community

What’s your biggest challenge?

Systematically measuring and improving my performance as a leader

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

So many things. Coffee, for one. More philosophically, the challenge of growing a team and scaling the business

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

I’m on this earth to leverage emerging technology to improve humanity. That means starting and scaling multiple technology businesses that have humanitarianism built into their operational DNA

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

Getting out of my own head through meditation and sports, then returning with a fresh set of eyes and ab abundance mindset

Why work at a coworking space?


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

I’m a visionary so I naturally gravitate to conversations (or unconsciously push conversations toward) peoples’ life purpose and how they’re achieving it. I have a “mechanical” mindset as well, so I’m great at putting processes/plans behind large and ridiculous visions.






BLOG: Meet Chris

Meet Chris. He’s a snowboarder, full stack developer, skateboarder, sky diver and ELEVATE member. We sat down to talk to Chris about his work, his goals and his insights for other mountain town folks who are trying to balance work with riding and getting outdoors.

What do you do for work, life and play?

Full Stack developer and snowboarder.

What’s your vision or goal for the next year?

Mastering remote work while exploring with new mountain adventure friends.

Why did you move to Summit? How long have you been here?

I grew up skiing copper & Frisco was always my mountain home base.

What motivates you?

Responsibly pushing mental & physical limits.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Staying social & actually completing my side projects!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A finely tuned plan & a hot cup of coffee.

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

Great work invests back into yourself, with compounding interest.

How do you manage setbacks or obstacles?

There is no wrong decision, just the next decision.

Why work at a coworking space?

To avoid ‘sweatpants productivity’ levels.

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

I love to fly 🙂

What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs or remote workers or innovators?

Always stick to an adaptable plan.

Favorite trail or outdoor/indoor spot to be?

The rocky Frisco hills overlooking Dillon.


NEWS: Join our Team. We’re Hiring

If you want to shape the future of Summit County, support entrepreneurs and help launch and grow businesses here in the Rocky Mountains, this is the job for you.

Apply here:

Our ELEVATE coSPACE team believes that there’s a better – more elevated – way to work, live and play. Our community of innovators, creative leaders and badass business owners is growing and we need someone to help Cultivate and Grow it.

We’re hiring a part-time Coworking Community Cultivator and Manager and are looking for someone who is:  

  • Curious. Insatiably so. If you ask questions and want to understand why, why and why? Let’s talk.
  • An entrepreneur and go-getter. If you prefer to roll up your sleeves and dig in vs. cheer from the sidelines, this is the gig for you.
  • Fun. We like to work hard and play harder here. We need someone who lives and works that way.
  • A storyteller and isn’t bashful in telling the ELEVATE story. If you can write a newsletter, get off-the-charts engagement on social media and can make sale after sale, keep reading.
  • Tech savvy. We need someone who can wrangle a website, navigate our member management software and can dazzle a room with their AV prowess and skills.
  • An early adopter. Do you know the trends before the media does? We want someone who can spot the trends but know which new topics will work for our membership and community vs. chasing every shiny new object.
  • A listener and a connector. You can talk to anyone and connect with them. Beyond that, you want to introduce them to six new people because you know the world will be a better place because of these connections.
  • Not afraid to fail. You need to take risks and try new things here.

We need your help to provide support to our community of innovators, change agents and badass business owners and to help continue to grow it.

You’ll be helping with:

  • Member cultivation and growth
  • Operations and day-to-day management
  • Sales and marketing
  • Event bookings, sales, set up and follow up

You’ll be a critical part of our strong brand and community. Be part of our tribe and help ELEVATE be the hub of innovation, creativity and tech in the Rocky Mountains.

Contact if you’re interested and fit the bill. Or apply online.

Timeline: ASAP

Part-Time Contract Position

$12.50/hour (with a LOT of room to grow your role, shape your position and increase the moolah)

If you invest in us, as a startup. We’ll invest in you with training on the job, free coffee and the opportunity to increase your pay and your role in the company.

BLOG: Get Unstuck in Business

Everyone faces burn out or hits a wall or just loses motivation. Trust me. I know. I’m stuck. Entrepreneurship is damn hard sometimes. And this is one of those times.

Everyone wants to talk about the sunny, bright side of entrepreneurship and business ownership. But, what we do when we’re stuck is even more important than what we do when we achieve a major milestone.

So, as we get ready to celebrate a major milestone – ELEVATE Frisco’s 2-Year Anniversary (mark your calendar for our soiree on Oct. 19) – I had a revelation. I’m not as motivated as I could be or should be. I’m stuck.

I need to “get going” but how?

Here’s what I’m doing right now to get my motivation mojo back. (and huge thanks to everyone for your support and, for those entrepreneurs who shared their stories and tips with me):

  1. Admit that you’re stuck and seek support and help
    • I didn’t realize how stuck I was until I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Intrepid Entrepreneur, and Kristen (the host) bravely shared her story of being stuck and then how she slowly got herself unstuck. (Thanks Kristen)
  2. Revisit your why (aka your purpose) to reset yourself
    • I recently re-watched the Simon Sinek TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” or as it’s become known “Start with Why” to help me re-focus on my purpose and mission. Then, I wrote my purpose and mission in my notebook so I see it every day.
    • Maybe you need to pivot or change directions entirely. That’s okay. Do it now and do it quickly.
  3. Feel gratitude for where you are (mired in muck) and what you’re learning now even if they’re painful lessons
    • Yeah. This one sounds much easier than it really is. But, trust me – try it. Figure out what you’re supposed to learn from your current situation and be grateful for the lessons and insights. With an “attitude of gratitude, things don’t just look better — they really do get better.”
  4. Dig into where you’re stuck, ask questions to yourself, to your team, to others to help pinpoint:
    1. the limiting belief that’s holding you back
    2. and then the habits that are keeping you stuck
  5. Dig deep to change that limiting belief.
    • This is a tough one to change, but it’s critical. Otherwise, it truly does become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    • A business coach can help tremendously with this one. I’m still working through this one.
  6. Commit to getting rid of at least one habit that was holding you back and to trying a new approach or tactic
    • I’m still working on this one.
  7. Keep track of everything and hold yourself accountable. Or, better yet, find an accountability buddy to help you (or business coach)
  8. Celebrate the small wins and small steps forward

As I said, I’m still working through this process but am grateful for the support and for my community. If you’re going through a similar situation, reach out. We’d love to help, support and guide you – and, as always, would love to learn from you, too.

Speaking of which, here are a few more articles and resources:


Here’s to a new day! Make it count.

BLOG: Pitches and Pints Event

You asked for it. We listened.

That’s why we created a new monthly event at ELEVATE Frisco – Pitches and Pints. You said you wanted an event where you could pitch an idea, business or prototype and get feedback. So, that’s what we helped to create.

This is an event for entrepreneurs, innovators, developers, software engineers, business owners, wanna-be business owners, investors, marketers, community leaders and anyone else who’s interested in supporting the entrepreneurial community in Summit County, Colorado.

Join us every last Wednesday of the month for the Pitches and Pints event. We’ll kick off the event at 5:30 pm with one to three pitches. Each pitch will have a time limit of 5-10 minutes and feedback will be limited to 5-10 minutes. Then, we’ll take a break, head over to the Backcountry Brewery for some pints and continue the discussions and conversations there.

If you’d like to pitch or have questions or suggestions, email us:

RSVP for the next Pitch event at ELEVATE Frisco on Sept. 28. Or, find the whole schedule at our meetup group.