5 Reasons to Apply to Ski Lift Pitch 2019

Applications for Ski Lift Pitch close January 11 @ 11:59pm MST. Don’t let your early-stage company miss out on this incredible opportunity to meet some of the best investors around at an event like no other!

Need a reason to apply? We have five!

  1. Connections. Ski Lift Pitch offers the opportunity to meet and make meaningful connections with investors from around the country who represent over $100m in deployable capital. You’ll be pitching your startup on the lifts at Taos Ski Valley. A discussion on a chair lift is special for a number of reasons including, a) the fresh air: adrenaline and forward momentum makes for memorable conversations; b) the full attention of the person you’re talking to since they can’t look at their phone (too cold to take off gloves and don’t want to drop it); and, c) a shared experience making a more memorable connection, meaning the investor you’re pitching is way more likely to be willing to help you out with connections and intros and advice in the future.
  2. Cash. A shot at the grand prize, $10K of capital (non-dilutive!) for your startup. Cash is pretty much everyone’s favorite.
  3. Networking. You’ll not only meet investors during the pitches; you’ll have a chance to spend the rest of the day skiing with them and other startup founders. You’ll get to know folks who can open doors, help you with intros, and provide valuable advice.
  4. Taos Ski Valley. A chance to spend a full day outdoors, skiing beautiful Taos Ski Valley–an amazing New Mexico experience. Startup founders work really hard and we don’t always take care of ourselves as well as we should. An active day of skiing is good for the body, mind and soul, especially for those of us who are overworked entrepreneurs. This year, we’ll also be hosting a panel with four Taos companies who have each innovated in their space and are putting this region on the startup map!
  5. Attention. You’ll be part of a unique experience and there’s always the potential to be included in some of the Ski Lift Pitch media coverage. Did you know that the ABQid Ski Lift Pitch has been covered by NPR not just once, but two separate times? See you at Taos Ski Valley!

So, should you apply?

If you’re actively seeking venture funding, have a startup with meaningful validation and traction for an innovative value proposition, and are ready to have productive conversations with investors, YES, YOU SHOULD APPLY. Just note that one of your team members needs to be able to ski or snowboard; and heads up, Taos is known for its steepness! The first round of pitching is done on the ski lifts. If your company makes the final round, a non-skiing member can then do the pitch from the stage.

2018 in Review, and 5 Lessons Learned

In 2018, our fourth year as an accelerator, we set an ambitious goal to try several new programs to make an even bigger impact. Our goal: Help early-stage businesses with high-growth potential access the knowledge, resources, and connections they need to succeed. As we approach year’s end we’re excited to review those programs and share our learnings.

Our Year in Review

  1. Ski Lift Pitch 2018. 15 investor judges connected with 15 competitively-selected startups. One of those startups was a New Mexico company who went on to receive a $300k investment from a judge met at the event. Psst: Apps & tickets for 2019 now open!
  2. NM Tech Wolves Den. We mentored seven student entrepreneurs in Crownpoint and Las Vegas on the art and science of pitching a business. The students we coached won first and second place in the competition, taking home $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.
  3. projectY Lean Startup Bootcamp. Teaming up with projectY, we helped nine entrepreneurs in Los Alamos use the lean startup methodology to refine their core hypothesis, test it in the real world, and come out the other side with a stronger value proposition and direction for their efforts.
  4. Sandia Labs Pitch Competition. We helped 14 Sandians learn to build a business pitch around their cutting edge technology. We used a rigorous 2-month training and coaching process that culminated in a packed pitch event at the Lobo Rainforest Building. The winner of the event is working on technology that would make DNA sequencing orders of magnitude faster and cheaper. He has continued to refine the concept through UNM Innovation Academy’s iCore program.
  5. Balloon Pitch 2018. Our first-ever Balloon Pitch event brought $150m in deployable investment capital into New Mexico in the form of investor judges who interacted with seven New Mexico-based startups on the move–the winner even got an awesome balloon ride in the Mass Ascension!
  6. Hyperspace Challenge. Our partnership with Air Force Research Lab New Mexico resulted in ten of the top geospatial data analytics startups in the country investing three days in Albuquerque to conduct immersive customer discovery with defense community members with important problems to solve, from infrastructure assessment to mobility.
  7. Office Hours. We began holding open office hours in July and since then, have met with 64 members of the entrepreneurial community looking for advice, connections, funding, and everything in between. (Join us at Office Hours on January 9, 3-5pm @ WESST to kick off the New Year right!)
  8. ActivateNM. Our first software and software-enabled cohort consisted of five companies who presented their pitch on December 7 to a packed crowd at WESST Enterprise Center. The cohort continues to meet and make amazing progress on their businesses as we continue this hybrid accelerator/incubator program.

5 Learnings for the ABQ Entrepreneurial Community

  1. Mentors rule. The Albuquerque entrepreneurial community continues to gain momentum. The number of mentors who came forward, ready to plug-in, was amazing; from the 30+ local experts leaders who took part in Hyperspace Challenge, to the guest facilitators and mentors of ActivateNM, we have amazing wealth in the mentor community in Albuquerque. Our job going into 2019 will be to grow our matchmaking capacity and increase the number of mentors involved at different stages of our programming.
  2. Focus is important. We chose to focus on data analytics for Hyperspace Challenge and software for ActivateNM. We made those choices strategically based on a number of factors, and we recognize that by doing so we are saying “no” to certain companies as much as we’re saying “yes” to companies working in those areas. Our goal is not to make a one-size-fits-all program, but to design the best program that makes the biggest difference for the companies who participate. We saw first-hand in our ActivateNM program that because all companies were working on software, the cohort-to-cohort interaction value was multiplied compared to previous general cohorts. We’ll continue to pursue focused programs, balanced by the fact that we run events that welcome all types of startups and investors (for example, a food company won Balloon Pitch!).
  3. Albuquerque continues to rise. Since 2016, startup (and associated investment) activity has been on the rise, and we’ve definitely seen this first hand with a growing number of applications to our programming. There are more active VC firms in New Mexico than there were three years ago, and more firms from out of state are spending more time in New Mexico. Both are great news and support each other, and events like Ski Lift Pitch, Sandia Labs Pitch, and Balloon Pitch are excellent opportunities to get VCs from in- and out-of-state to check out New Mexico.
  4. You manage what you measure. For all of the above programs, we gathered qualitative and quantitative data from participants about what worked and what didn’t. We strive to be a learning organization and use both success and failure to constantly improve what we’re doing to drive better outcomes. Our improved measurement sophistication from 2017 led to better outcomes in programs for 2018. Being open to this constant learning keeps us humble and striving toward excellence.
  5. It’s all about community. There’s no one program or activity that makes the difference in growing startup activity in New Mexico. What does make the difference is relationships. That’s why we rely heavily on our partners (AFRL, Sandia Labs, WESST, NM Tech, and more) and make referrals to our peers (Creative Startups, SVEDC, Innovate ABQ, other Catalyst Fund recipients, and more) all the time. You can boil all of our programming, events, and training to a simple concept: creating a culture in which good things happen, and the right connections can be made across the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

We’re excited as ever to be helping this community grow, one successful startup at a time. A happy holidays from the entire ABQid team!

Inaugural Hyperspace Challenge Successfully Brings Defense Community and Startups Together in Albuquerque

Inaugural Hyperspace Challenge Successfully Brings Defense Community and Startups Together in Albuquerque


In April 2018, AFRL New Mexico and ABQid began working together on Hyperspace Challenge. This one-of-a-kind program accelerates innovation for our defense community by exposing defense users to tech startups’ cutting edge capabilities. It also provides meaningful customer discovery opportunities for participating startups that they couldn’t get anywhere else. Hyperspace Challenge also promotes Albuquerque and New Mexico as a hub of technological innovation by bringing together successful startups and defense innovators in Albuquerque. This benefits our community’s long-term economic prosperity!

The inaugural Hyperspace Challenge program culminated with Hyper Accelerator Week, November 13-16, 2018. This multi-day event, hosted in Albuquerque’s Lobo Rainforest Building, convened 10 of our country’s top geospatial data analytics startups and a group of defense innovators to explore how startups’ capabilities could address 5 carefully-defined challenges in the defense community.

The 10 startups invited to attend Hyper Accelerator Week were selected after participating in a month-long webinar series in September 2018. The series helped startups learn firsthand from defense innovators about their technological obstacles. Startups then submitted proposals describing how their capabilities could address one or more of those problems. A team of tech, business, and defense experts evaluated these proposals using a rigorous rubric and helped select the 10 finalists.

During Hyper Accelerator Week, the 10 finalist startups met face-to-face with the defense innovators from the webinar series in intensive breakout sessions designed to give startups and defense innovators the opportunity to figure out how startups’ capabilities could be used to address specific defense community needs.

On the evening of November 15, startups took their learnings from the breakout sessions and pitched their solutions in a state-of-the-art Pitch Competition. A panel of three judges, including Matt Fetrow (AFRL New Mexico), Carlos Romero (NM Tech) and Bill Hartman (Ion Linac Systems) evaluated the startups’ pitches using a comprehensive rubric. CrowdAI (1st place), Enview (2nd place), and NOVI LLC (3rd place) received high scores and were awarded $25K, $15K and $10K, respectively, to expedite follow-on activities related to establishing acquisition or contracting opportunities with the Department of Defense.

We would like to congratulate the 10 startups who joined us in Albuquerque. We’d like to thank all of the defense innovators and business and tech experts who gave their time to Hyper Accelerator Week. The success of this event would not have been possible without their support.

We look forward to the next iteration of this program and to accelerating innovation for the defense community; to offering startups incredible customer discovery opportunities; and to promoting our city and state as a hub of technological innovation! To stay up-to-date on the launch of the 2019 Hyperspace Challenge program, follow us on social media on Facebook and Twitter. If you have any questions, please contact us at contact@hyperspacechallenge.com.