From mushrooms to pack rafts, entrepreneurs pitch ideas to group of investors in Steamboat |

From mushrooms to pack rafts, entrepreneurs pitch ideas to group of investors in Steamboat

Reed Jones pitches her idea for a new e-commerce site that would allow children to sell their arts and crafts.
Scott Franz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Five Colorado entrepreneurs took the stage at the Chief Theater on Thursday to try to secure funding for their unique business ideas that ranged from mushroom growing to a new hotel concept in Silverthorne.

The entrepreneurs pitched to a crowd that was friendlier and less intimidating than the celebrity investors seen on shows such as Shark Tank.

It was all part of the second Steamboat Launch event that gives small businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to make funding pitches to investors.


This Telluride company is making it easy to send a handwritten greeting or thank you card using a smartphone or iPad.

The company has found a lot of success already being featured on Apple’s app store.

Customers use their touchpad to handwrite a card, and the card is printed and mailed within 24 hours.

“They can’t tell it came from an app,” Felt founder Tomer Alpert said.

The Pad

Lynne Parrish and Rob Baer are trying to bring a very unique lodging option to skiers and vacationers in Silverthorne.

Their idea is to create a $6.5 million hostel and hotel combo offering both dorm-room style rooms as well as private accommodations.

The couple told a crowd in Steamboat their idea would offer a middle-of-the-road lodging option that vacationers could afford and enjoy.

The couple closed on the land purchase for their new hostel last year, and they said they are on track to break ground on the 106-bed property this spring.

They envision guests being able to admire views of the Gore mountain range from rooftop hot tubs.

The design incorporates shipping containers as part of the building.

Kokopelli Packraft

Kelley Smith founded this inflatable raft company out of a garage in Denver.

Now, he’s looking to sell the pack rafts at all of the REI stores in America.

Smith said pack rafts weigh between 5 to 10 pounds and roll up into the size of a sleeping bag.

“Our product can get you where nowhere else can go,” Smith told the crowd.

His boats have been taken through the Grand Canyon and are rated to endure Class 3 rapids.

Innovative Ag

This Steamboat Springs-based company has been providing local eateries with tasty microgreens, but they want to think bigger.

The company’s goal is to produce 16,320 pounds per year of mushrooms and create a regional supply chain for the food.

The company founders showed off some of their recent mushrooms and have a concept of growing them in semi-trailers.

Event attendees got to taste the mushrooms on appetizers provided by Cuginos.


This Steamboat startup wants to unleash the creativity of teenagers and give them a taste of having a profitable business before they graduate high school.

“Kids make cool stuff, and they want to sell it,” founder Reed Jones told the crowd. “But they don’t know where to start.”

Jones said existing sites like eBay, Etsy and Amazon aren’t too kid friendly.

A Yolotta e-commerce site would allow children to sell their artwork and crafts with a little adult supervision.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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