Steep Pitch: SVC Students Propose a Business Plan on the Slopes in New Mexico


BENNINGTON >> On March 1 , Southern Vermont College (SVC) students in Business Professor Jeb Gorham's Applied Ventures class took their aspirations to new heights, this time up on a chairlift up a ski mountain in Taos, New Mexico. The students' business proposal was selected as a Top 10 submission out of approximately 70 applicants from all over the country to participate in the 2016 ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest at Taos Ski Valley.

ABQid is an Albuquerque-based organization which identifies and helps develop start-ups. The pitch event pairs start-up founders with venture capitalists and industry leaders on the mountain's chairlifts. Last year, the event hosted only New Mexico businesses; this year the request for submissions went nationwide.

Gorham, an Associate Professor in SVC's McCormick Division of Business, encouraged the students to send in a proposal earlier this semester and when they learned of their Top 10 selection, helped them secure funding to attend the event and decide who will pack ski gear. "Several students participated in the project, but only one student can ride the chairlift and pitch the idea," said Gorham.

The senior students: Walter Ramos (Yonkers, N.Y.), Maxwell Shaw (Hampton, N.H.), Jacob Schongar (Troy, N.Y.), James Tschinkel (Greenville, N.Y.) and Brian Veith (Burlington, Conn.) worked on the proposal following collaboration with strategic partner, Dylan Short, co-owner of Hop Hollar Farm in New York. Gorham couldn't share details of the pitch yet, other than to say that it's a unique business concept that he hopes will not only win votes but funding. "When these students arrived on campus four years ago, I never imagined that they would be pitching a business model at a national level," Gorham said. "This team has worked extremely hard to develop their project and our invitation as a Top 10 finalist to a professional contest with some of the best venture capitalist firms in the country is amazing."

Each start-up team gets three opportunities to pitch, and the venture capitalists will then vote on their favorites. Three finalists will then pitch to a full crowd inside the ski lodge. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this is the second year ABQid has run this unique event to support entrepreneurs with promising business ideas. Sponsors of the ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest include the New Mexico Tourism Department, Taos Ski Valley, Silicon Valley Bank, City of Albuquerque and more. For more information about ABQid's event, visit


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