Business Plan Competition evaluates plans from 8 competitors |

Business Plan Competition evaluates plans from 8 competitors

Michael Schrantz
Caroline Lalive presents her vision for Inspired Life Network
John F. Russell

— By Tuesday afternoon, eight individuals or groups had gone before the judges in the 2013 Business Plan Competition hosted by Colorado Mountain College and Yampa Valley SCORE. The competition is sponsored by the city of Steamboat Springs and Wells Fargo Bank, and the city is contributing $15,000 in prize money. The winner walks away with $10,000, and second place will get $5,000. Each of the competitors spent an hour in front of the judges, and their plans are listed below:

Inspired Life Network

Hal Levin, Caroline Lalive and Sarah Coleman

The Inspired Life Network would facilitate women’s empowerment seminars in the Steamboat area and worldwide. Caroline Lalive wrote in an email that the idea came out of her own personal experience traveling and working with women.

“We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and the beauty is to use community to draw upon those and improve,” she wrote.

The seminars would target women ages 30 to 70. Lalive wrote that marketing is the biggest need now.

“Our hope to use the (prize) money to create a solid avenue for marketing throughout the entire country and build a strong case for our seminars,” she wrote.

Nelson Colorado

Nelson Carmichael

Nelson Colorado is a line of performance outerwear for skiing and snowboarding designed in Steamboat.

“The idea is to utilize the latest in design, fabric, insulation, trim and manufacturing to produce top quality apparel, market directly to the end user and save consumers roughly half the price of comparable products,” Carmichael wrote.

Carmichael designed a line of outerwear called 1080 about ten years ago, he wrote, and has been curious about more effective ways to produce and market performance outerwear since. The prize money would be used to develop new sample pieces.

Mount Zirkel Powder Yurts

Dustin Eldridge

Mount Zirkel Powder Yurts would use yurts off Seedhouse Road in North Routt County for a guided backcountry ski and snowboard operation.

Dustin Eldridge wrote that the idea came about after taking a class at Colorado Mountain College that focused on the business of ski guiding. The target would be backcountry skiers and riders from across Colorado.

“The prize money would be used to increase my personal capital by increasing my backcountry experience and fund educational and promotional activities,” Eldridge wrote.

Dinnerz Ready

Clare Tarcha

Dinnerz Ready is a meal-preparation and assembly business that would allow customers to assemble meals from prepared ingredients then take them home to cook when needed.

“The idea came about as a solution for active, busy people who don’t want to spend time when they get home figuring out what to eat for dinner or spend their time shopping, preparing, cooking and cleaning up,” Clare Tarcha wrote.

The target market will include busy Steamboat residents, college students, visitors and those who need to save money on meals. It also could appeal to singles, seniors and small and large families, Tarcha wrote.

Tarcha helped start a similar program at Concordia Lutheran Church that she was involved with for 1 1/2 years.

“If we won the prize money, we would use it to help pay down our debt and free up capital while we are getting established,” she wrote. “We would also use it to advertise in order to get exposure as a new business startup. When we were established, we would then use some of the capital to purchase additional equipment.”

Next Level Performance

Anya Salzgeber

Next Level Performance would be a sport psychology and performance psychology practice to help athletes, performers and organizations reach their full potential in sport or work, according to Anya Salzgeber.

“This is a new idea as I just got back from grad school and an internship, and think it’s something this area can really utilize, being such an active community,” she wrote.

Salzgeber wrote that she’d use the prize money for marketing materials, supplies for sessions and save the rest for future expenses.

Apex Architecture

Brian Adams

Apex Architecture is an architecture firm that specializes in churches, schools and single-family homes. It is equipped with the latest architectural software and has developed a program called Design for Good to help build buildings that are safe and healthy for those who’d otherwise be unable to afford it.

“I’ve actually been studying since college to someday be able to own an architectural firm of my own,” Brian Adams wrote.

Apex Architecture would work with clients in the Yampa Valley and from the Front Range.

“The prize money would go a long ways to be able to develop our brand through various marketing avenues, including magazine advertising and postcard mailers,” he wrote.

Blue Ibex Travel

Andrea Mahaffey

Blue Ibex Travel specializes in custom travel as well as scheduled trips. It can be challenging to sift through travel options when planning unique experiences abroad, according to Andrea Mahaffey, and Blue Ibex Travel is designed to fill a gap.

“Most of the trips that the company provides are outsourced to the best specialist available,” Mahaffey wrote. “My primary purpose is to apply my knowledge to helping make that connection between a guest’s needs and what travel companies can provide.”

Blue Ibex Travel’s typical market would be travelers ages 35 to 65 who have a household income of more than $100,000 per year and have at least a college education.

Most of the prize money would be devoted to marketing, she wrote, and the remainder would cover items needed for daily operations.

Sleeping Giant Solutions

Mark Traum and Joann Compton

Sleeping Giant Solutions is an industrial construction consultant firm that seeks to harness the talent available in Steamboat following the departure of TIC.

TIC is a heavy industrial contractor that was founded in Steamboat Springs in 1974 but is in the process of transferring the last of its Steamboat positions to Denver.

Mark Traum wrote that Sleeping Giant Solutions will be a “one-stop shop for industrial contractors, engineers, owners and financial institutions to go to when they are in the need of expert advice in numerous aspects of construction.”

Since starting the firm in June, Traum wrote, the group has not employed any direct marketing but already has been approached by companies seeking its services.

“This success indicates the validity for our business model: That, in our construction industry, booms in the mining, oil/gas, power generation are emerging and the major companies/players are posturing themselves for the inevitable opportunities,” he wrote.

Sleeping Giant Solutions is a location-neutral business, Traum wrote, and plans to take advantage of the boom in that sector and the quality of life in Steamboat.

“The talent in this valley has yet to be tapped to fully realize its potential,” he wrote.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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