Vail Daily column: A grid connecting high-altitude entrepreneurs

Brad Bickerton
Valley Voices

Back in the spring, I wrote an article to start a conversation about business growth and the state of entrepreneurship in our mountain communities. A lot has happened since then — too much to digest in this article.

I would like to talk about one new initiative that has been started out of the BaseCamp co-working space (above Avon Loaded Joe’s). It is called 8150 — High Altitude Entrepreneurs. The simplest way to describe this group is to say that it loosely follows the Boulder Thesis, as written in Brad Feld’s “Startup Communities” book.

To those who have lived in a thriving entrepreneurial space, and those who just dream about it, it is evident that there is a lively entrepreneurial spirit up in the mountains. However, it seems to be an underground movement. For some reason, those of us who have the entrepreneurial mindset do not work to create our own unique version of the Boulder Thesis. Why? Honestly, I’m not sure why. Perhaps we do not believe we can maintain our priority of a mountain lifestyle with Front Range practices. I believe it is because the community is waiting for someone to take the first step, a person or group that is willing to put in effort because they believe in our communities’ ability to grow.

To take the first step, some folks have started 8150. There is not much to say right now. In three weeks, we have over a dozen people signed up, have had overall positive response, and have expanded to Summit County as well as Routt County. The current “getting to day one” step is to start a series of brown-bag lunches loosely organized for a midday, one-hour event along the lines of, one, speaker; two, pitch or need for advice; and three, discussion of other 8150 ideas and activities as well as crashing the Avon Westin Friday Afternoon Club.

Why have an entrepreneurs’ group? How is it different? There is much to discuss here; however, we have found that while the resources of the Vail Valley Partnership, Young Vail Professionals Association, Colorado Mountain College, and the various local government economic development efforts are great initiatives and local resources, they do not provide the type of community where entrepreneurs can live and thrive in our unique way.

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Hope is not a strategy — execution is. We are asking for some help executing. So this is a call to action.

8150 is asking for much from the community, but if you are interested in finding a way to grow personally, learn more about fundamental business skills, network with like-minded people (opposed to business card exchange) and/or find or help people to help start a business, feel free to subscribe to the website, tweet, Facebook, LinkedIn and chat about this concept while on a bike ride on the new Homestead trails or playing volleyball at Nottingham Park. We need you early adopters to help, and those of you who are late adopters to help anyway.

If you are interested in some more local happenings check out:

• Avon Town Council-Economic Development

• (my personal blog)

• Vail Leadership Institute, BaseCamp co-working space. Stop by and say hi. We are nice folk (most of us, anyway).

Stay well, High Altitude Entrepreneurs. Keep doing the good works and growing.

Brad Bickerton is an attorney who lives in Minturn, works in Avon and blogs at

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