Springboard for startups: New day planner, social club win Yampa Valley business plan competition

Kayleen Cohen, who owns Mtn. Dog Media, has created a new company that will create a day planner focused on mindfulness and work-life balance.
Kayleen Cohen/Courtesy photo

A day planner focused on mindfulness and work-life balance and a new co-working space with a social angle led the pack for the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center’s 2022 business plan competition.

“Having this capital from winning the business plan competition is going allow me to do all of the things that I want to do,” said Kayleen Cohen, owner of Mtn. Dog Media.

Cohen is following her passion to create a new daily planner with her most recent venture.

“I had known for months that it was coming, but then it just dawned on me one weekend and I was like, ‘Wait, your planner idea, Kayleen. This is your time. You could try to flesh out the concept and see if it’s viable, and see if you can get support for it,’” she said. “So I decided (to enter the contest) about 11 days before the deadline, and then just totally immersed myself in the business plan.”

She had never written a business plan at this level, but 28 pages later, Cohen had authored the winning idea.

Randy Rudasics, manager of the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center, said six participants took part in this year’s competition, and judging was based on a scoring rubric that evaluated the entrants’ written plans, presentations and the financial viability of their business ideas.

Judges for this competition were Carrie Requist, Laura Sankey and Greg Friedman. The business plans were submitted on or before Oct. 17, and the presentations were Nov. 10-11.

“This is a passion project of mine that I’ve wanted to get off the ground for a really long time,” said Cohen, who will continue with Mtn. Dog Media as well. “It’s a printed planner for entrepreneurs and other busy people that has a focus on mindfulness and work-life balance. It’s intentionally designed to help people just have a little bit more focus and intention throughout their day, and spark little moments of joy.”

Cohen said the $6,000 she won through the competition will help her move forward with a professional graphic designer, who’s going to work with Cohen to rebrand and overhaul the planner prototype. It will also allow her to step up the production quality, making the final edition a premium product with hardcover and wire-o binding.

The idea was just one of six presented for the competition. Other ideas included an application software business, a golf lab in Steamboat, a concierge service and a man who hopes to distill and sell his own sangria.

Co-founders of the Steamboat Social Club Tim Hickory, left, and Michael Britton stand outside the location where they plan to open a new co-work and event space. Hickory and Britton took second place in his year’s Community Business Plan competition put on by the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The second-place finishers, Michael Britton and Tim Hickory, are working to open the Steamboat Social Club at 1103 Lincoln Ave. inside the former Steamboat Whiskey Company building.

“We actually just took on the lease,” Britton said. “We’re transforming the back of the building into a co-working space with private conference rooms and phone booths and privacy pods, and then the front of the building we are transforming into a flexibility-event venue that could be used for parties, fundraisers, social gatherings.”

Britton said he and Hickory have some work ahead of them, but they feel like they have a pretty good plan and vision as they move forward. Hickory said the competition was a chance to test their business plan and make any necessary tweaks.

“We were aware of the business plan competition, and the businesses that had entered in the past, and the involvement with the Chamber and local business community,” Hickory said. “We figured that we were going to fit pretty well with what they were looking for in terms of new business startups that wanted to provide a service and filled a need in the community. We thought we had a pretty good chance of placing well.”

Like Cohen’s planner, the Steamboat Social Club is also in its early stages. Britton and Hickory have just started cleaning up the location, and they are optimistically hoping to open the doors in February.

“It gives us a boost of confidence,” Hickory said. “The judges are all well-respected members of the business community, so it was nice to get critical feedback from them during the process, and it gives us an opportunity to vet the business idea as a whole. I think that element of it was huge and gives us a good second check on what we’re trying to do here in town.”

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