SCAPE: Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs


Towns need more than just a space to encourage entrepreneurship. That is where the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE) comes in. SCAPE is one of many rural business accelerators helping to grow small businesses, which are responsible for most net job growth in the US. SCAPE connects local start-ups with investors and mentors in the region, and has a vested interest in seeing them succeed.  

A business accelerator is a program that helps new and start-up businesses develop by providing mentorship, office space, training, and funding in exchange for a stake in the company. To join SCAPE, start-ups apply for spots in the accelerator and go through an intensive interview process to vet their business ideas. Participants get full workspaces with DurangoSpace, start-up funding, mentors to assist in business development, and an intense 6-month curriculum. The program teaches all the ins and outs of start-ups and small-businesses covering things like finance, marketing, business models, and product development. This is an intentional way to develop a small-business and start-up community in small towns. DurangoSpace also likes to be involved because they can generate new tenants!

“To create jobs you need to create businesses, not compete for relocations of large employers. Sure, there are larger employers in Durango, but trying to attract them away from other regions with incentives is expensive and creates a zero-sum mindset for neighboring towns. It is much more reliable and resilient to build your own economy” (Jasper Welch, co-founder of DurangoSpace, SCAPE mentor, former mayor of Durango).

Only 3 years old, SCAPE has already graduated 10 businesses and has 5 more in its current class. These businesses have reportedly raised $3,000,000 in funding from private investors, and created 36 jobs for the area. Start-ups range from foods to robotics, networking and online marketplaces. They partner with local banks and regional development organizations, and have a host of 16 mentors available to provide consulting and expertise to the start-ups. Their website summarizes their program goals as “designed to meet SCAPE’s vision to create more high growth, job creating ventures by fully preparing them to be ‘market and investor ready’, increasing their chances to be successful growing companies in Southwest Colorado”. Programs like these are instrumental in helping to create new businesses by engaging with prospective entrepreneurs to turn ideas into real businesses. This attracts investment and creates a network of individuals who support each other in making local-businesses. The program’s founders and mentors are seasoned business professionals. They created SCAPE because they want an active retirement in Durango and want to see Durango’s economy succeed.

Minnesota’s Arrowhead region also has no shortage of business veterans, and business development services like the Entrepreneur Fund. In addition to programmatically generating diversified groups of small-businesses, an accelerator like SCAPE would give older professionals a mentoring outlet and a good reason to spend more time living on the Range, also the Entrepreneur Fund would have a program to reliably invest in.

For more information and assistance on business innovation programs, check out the International Business Innovation Association.

If this organization’s mission and ideas are of interest, look no further for their contact information:

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DurangoSpace      SCAPE      Leadership La Plata

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