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Press Releases

Telluride Venture Accelerator Announces Group of Winning Companies

Telluride Venture Accelerator, business incubator focused in the outdoor recreation, tourism, natural products, energy, water and education fields selects Hoggle Goggle, High Desert Farms,, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear for inaugural program.

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NEWS Release

Contact: Kelly Blake

Verde PR & Consulting


Telluride, Colorado – January 10, 2013Telluride Venture Accelerator(TVA) launched in Telluride, Colo., in 2012 as an initiative of the Telluride Foundation. TVA exists to further innovation and entrepreneurship for young, high-growth business ventures nationwide and today, the organization announces its inaugural group of participating companies.

TVA is the only business incubator focused in the outdoor recreation, tourism, natural products, health, energy, water and education fields. The winners include Hoggle Goggle, High Desert Farms,, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear.

“Our first round produced over 100 applications from across the United States and ten countries,” said Jesse Johnson, TVA Director and Telluride Foundation board member. “The caliber of our applicants was stronger than we were first expecting. Small businesses today face many challenges and our mentors are thrilled to guide these four companies to success.” Being founded in Telluride has infused the TVA with an amazingly talented and multi-faceted group of mentors that includes dozens of successful entrepreneurs and business people, including a board member from Whole Foods and Patagonia, the former CEO of, the founder of IZZE Beverages and the former marketing director for both Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd., and Burton Snowboards.

TVA broadcast its first offer last October, seeking to support emerging entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and young businesses. Applicants were competing to participate in TVA, for the chance to relocate to Telluride for six months and to receive intensive business mentoring; a co-working space at The Peaks Resort; a $30,000 investment (plus up to an additional $8,000 for travel and lodging); $100,000 in free services from companies like Microsoft and Amazon; access to two successful entrepreneurs-in-residence, and access to Telluride’s angel investment community. The companies selected ranged from start up concepts to a company approaching $500,000 in annual sales.

Hoggle Goggle, based in Telluride, Colorado, was founded by Lara Young, a local mom and outdoor enthusiast.She recruited two additional local moms with outdoor product experience, Candice Good and Michelle Kustes. The company creates ski and outdoor accessories with function and aesthetics that fill a void in the outdoor industry.

High Desert Farms, based in Dolores, Colorado, is a start-up natural and organic food company, offering consumers great-tasting healthy premium dried fruit snacks and is currently sourcing all of its fruit regionally from the Colorado Plateau.The company was founded by Bill Manning, COO, who has spent the last 13 years in southwest Colorado as an organic fruit grower and creating a variety of shelf stable food products under the High Desert Foods brand.

Another Colorado company,, is currently based out of Denver and is a new online travel marketplace dedicated to the discovery, review and booking of non-mainstream travel. Co-founders Sarah Fazendin, CEO, and Mallory Worthington, Director of Sales, have spent the past decade promoting “off the beaten path” travel experiences.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG), based in Maine, designs, manufactures, and sells ultra-light packs, tents and accessories using a high tech non-woven laminate called Cuben fiber. HMG sells its products through both direct (online) and wholesale channels. Founder, Mike St. Pierre’s experience and passion for outdoor sports led him to create products that are innovative, lightweight, durable, and perform well in the field. He believes that there are not so many uncomfortable conditions in nature as there is uncomfortable or inappropriate equipment.

For more information about the Telluride Venture Accelerator and when applications open again, please visit:

About The Telluride Foundation:

The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that provides year-round support for local organizations involved in arts, education, athletics, charitable causes, land conservation and other community-based efforts through technical assistance, education and grant making. As a grant maker, the Foundation awards grants to qualified applicants that serve the people living and working in the Telluride area for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life within the region. For more information on the Telluride Foundation, visit