Utah’s Startup Ecosystem Gets Covered in TechCrunch and The New Yorker

All eyes are on Utah this winter — and not just for the fresh powder on our mountain tops.

In The New Yorker last month, we read about How Utah Became the Next Silicon Valley. Turns out that Utah has all the right ingredients to support a robust startup ecosystem and is emerging as a powerful contender in the national economy. According to The New Yorker, venture capitalists have invested surprising amounts in Utah companies since the mid-aughts. In fact, in the first half of last year, our state was the sixth most popular destination for venture-capital funding.

The New Yorker also ranked the metropolitan areas of Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden in the top 15 cities in the U.S. to be in the “super-sector” — a term used to describe a high concentration of today’s most innovative industries. The article states that much of the employment in Utah’s super-sector comes software companies that have offices here like Novell and Adobe, as well as eBay, E.M.C., and Edwards Lifesciences.

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Also this February, TechCrunch covered Utah’s largest startup and technology festival StartSLC, which drew more than 4,000 people in attendance. During the 3-day conference, there were a total of 66 breakout events ranging from drone flying classes to hackathons to a “Sharktank” pitch competition.

Both news articles attribute the increased draw to our state’s startup scene to Utah’s low cost of living, business-friendly policies (for instance, tax breaks and a light-rail system that connects the state’s biggest cities), strong relationships among local companies (Utah’s state and local governments), a relatively young and well-educated population (also one that is small, densely located, and tightly knit so its business people tend to get to know each other well), and strong STEM school programs (most notably, Brigham Young University).

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Following her coverage of StartSLC, TechCrunch writer Sarah Buhr covered the Salt Lake City based venture capital firm, University Venture Fund, which lets college students source and put together startup investment deals. 16 students, picked from 300 applicants, are currently in the program under the mentorship of two guiding partners. In the past 10 years, the fund has made 24 investments, 8 of which have had successful exits, including 4 companies that have gone public. Fund principal Peter Harris confirmed to TechCrunch that UVF is raising a 2nd round at $30-40 million from various banks and private equity investors. Notable limited partners in the first round include VC Tim Draper, Wells Fargo, and Morgan Stanley.

TechCrunch also mentions a few recent investments into our very own Summit Powder Mountain project, noting investors Richard Branson and Peter Thiel to further demonstrate the growing interest in Utah’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Turning on the Lifts: Powder Mountain is Officially Open for the Season

This week marks the official opening of Powder Mountain for the 2014-2015 season! We’ve installed a brand new quad chair, and expanded our adventure skiing experience, offering both back-country guided tours and now heli-skiing on a newly acquired lease of 7,000 acres, nearly doubling our total acreage of skiable terrain.

We’ve also garnered some great press leading into the ‘14-’15 season. Untouched powder stashes, natural terrain parks, and non-existent lift lines are just some of the reasons as to why the press hails PowMow as a top pick to visit this winter.

Men’s Journal called us the most underrated ski mountain in the United States, exclaiming “How Utah’s Powder Mountain Resort — with a whopping 500 inches of snow per season — continues to fly under the radar is a mystery.”

Outside Magazine then pointed out that “In-the-know skiers and snowboarders have been raving about the awesome and empty slopes for more than a decade… and yet it remains delightfully uncongested” in its The Big Empties column.

And most recently, The Telegraph referenced Powder Mountain as “a heaven for back-country skiers and boarders.” The UK publication goes on to highlight the mountain’s new ownership who is bringing “the next Aspen” to the Wasatch Front.

In addition to the uncrowded, powdery slopes, we’re also bringing world-class entertainment with a series of incredible events lined up for the upcoming season, including surprise musical performances, comedic acts, and all-star athletic competitions. Come decompress after Sundance with our first ever Powderdance, or if you’re looking for a bit of mischief, join us for The Ski Week, brought to you by our friends at The Yacht Week. We encourage you to join us for our closing weekend party, Powder Daze, complete with live music, barbecuing, and a pond skim.

The energy around Powder Mountain is at an all time high, so whether you’re interested in buying a season pass or you just want to sneak away for a few days to enjoy some untracked powder, anytime is a good time to pop out to the mountain and hit the slopes with us this winter.

Utah entrepreneurs receive over $700 million in venture capital on the Silicon Slopes

“When it comes to staggering sums of venture capital raised in 2014, there’s Utah, and then there’s everyone else.”

2014 was a big year in numbers when it comes to total venture capital raised by technology entrepreneurs in the state of Utah, as shown in a recent article published on Inc.com titled “Move Over, Silicon Valley: Utah Has Arrived“. Following the obvious centers of San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and New York City, the 75 mile stretch from Orem to Ogden, Utah has seen over $737 million dollars raised through 25 investment deals.

Successful technology companies noted in the article include Vivint, a $527 million business with more than 7,000 employees, Qualtrics, a maker of customer analytics software founded in 2002, which received $150 million in Series B funding in September, and Omniture, a web analytics and online marketing company that went public in 2006 and sold to Adobe for $1.8 billion in 2009.

Combining successful funding and exits with cheap office space and an emerging pool of talent, Utah is fast on its way to continued growth. The article describes how local universities are embracing entrepreneurship and engineering to become reliable feeder systems. For example, the University of Utah will open a new innovation hub in fall 2006, which includes a 20,000-square-foot garage for students “to attend events, build prototypes, enter competitions, launch their futures–or just hang out”.

Salt Lake City is what one national commercial real estate firm calls a “high-value” market, as “there’s a large pool of high-tech companies and employees in that market, and you have a relatively low cost of labor and of commercial office rent.” Lastly, the piece quotes CTO Theo Zourzouvillys, who says that “[Utahns are] the most awesome people I’ve ever met in my life.”

Move over Silicon Valley, the Silicon Slopes are here.

[Read the full article on Inc.com]

Summit Welcomes Two All Star Athletes to the Team

It is with great pleasure to announce the addition of two all star athletes to the Summit Team. Joining as Powder Mountain’s Director of Sports Marketing is Tim “Fuzzy” Hall, who spent 25 years as a professional BMX rider and competed in a total of nine X GAMES. And joining as Summit’s new Community Director is national champion skicrosser Langely McNeal, who has competed in the X GAMES 4 times over her stellar career.

Hall, who was born in Brigham City and learned to snowboard at Powder Mountain, says “This is a homecoming for me. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for PowMow. While I’ve had plenty of opportunities to work in other parts of the world, it’s one of the main reasons I’d never leave Utah. Seeing how passionate the new ownership group is about rethinking what is possible–not just in action sports, but in life–is inspiring.”

McNeal, who grew up just a few hours northwest of Powder Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho is also no stranger to the area. McNeal was the top ranked American female for the majority or her ski cross career and came incredibly close to competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics. While McNeal is retiring from the World Cup Ski Cross circuit, she will pursue professional skiing and is very excited to help facilitate exciting filming and snow projects on Powder Mountain this winter.

In between building a new mountain town and securing strategic partnerships, both Hall and McNeal will bring the world’s greatest athletes to ski and ride Powder Mountain this winter.

“I have a very fun job,” says McNeal. “I get to go out and find the most talented innovators, entrepreneurs and athletes and activists of our time, and get them excited about what we’re doing.”

[Image Credit for Standard Examiner: “Summit brings big talent and ambition to Powder.”]

Introducing The Summit Community Institute

EDEN, Utah (October 22nd, 2014) – Today marks the public launch of our nonprofit, the Summit Community Institute (SCI). This new platform serves in conjunction with our already strong social mission, allowing us to formally take action when problems arise that resonate strongly with our extended global community.

Founding co-directors Jill Miller and Kathy Roth-Douqet have been quietly working on the Community Institute for the past few months, and bring considerable experience to our organization. Jill Miller was previously Managing Director at the Sundance Institute, where she served nearly 20 years in various capacities. Kathy is a lawyer, former White House official and foundation executive. Kathy founded Blue Star Families, the largest military family focused organization where she has raised over $150 million for veteran and military family causes, working directly with the First Lady, the Joint Chiefs, and dozens of other foundations.

Last month, SCI presented a provocative session on the Vergara education reform case, which was won by the same lawyers who overturned same sex marriage bans at the US Supreme Court. The subject sparked considerable outrage, and led to an active promotion of Marshall Tuck as California Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is receiving considerable support from the Summit community.

Early in the coming year, we’ll gather innovators from within and outside the Summit community on Powder Mountain to explore the rollout of Social Bonds in partnership with the White House and the Sorenson Center for Global Impact Investing. Social Bond awareness in the US increased considerably when the inventor of the concept, Sir Ronald Cohen, presented his success with recidivism in the UK at Summit at Sea. The White House has since helped launch four state level pilot projects, including one in Utah.

Looking forward, we have exciting efforts in the works in food sustainability, women’s empowerment, and environmental conservation. If you want to join us on this journey to create lasting positive impact, please let us know! Contact one of our Summit Community Institute Founding Co-Directors, Jill Miller at jill@summit.co or Kathy Roth-Douquet at kathy@summit.co.

The Ski Week comes to Utah

The creators of the international event The Yacht Week have launched a new winter series called The Ski Week. For it’s first-ever event in the United States, The Ski Week will host a week-long gathering on Powder Mountain on March 16-22nd of 2015. “The Ski Week mixes like-minded people from all over the world,” said co-founder Erik Biorklund. “Friendships are forged, ideas shared and memories created.” Pre-sales have opened, and more information can be found at http://www.theskiweek.com/powder-mountain

New Lift at Powder Mountain

Powder Mountain’s 42-year-old Sundown lift is being removed this summer to make way for a brand new quad lift. The construction marks the first major update to the ski resort under Summit ownership, and is expected to be ready when the season opens this winter. The new lift is manufactured by Salt Lake City-based Skytrac, and will tote skiers to the top in just over 4 minutes. Specifications for the new lift list eight towers, a slope length of 1,944 feet, a 567-foot vertical climb, line speed of 450 feet per minute, and people-per-hour capacity of 1,500 to 2,100.

Marc Paulsen, who married into the ski resort’s founding family and once served as Powder Mountain marketing director, indicated he is pleased with Summit’s handling of the mountain to date. “They want make it available to more people,” Paulsen said. “But they also want to keep the quaintness. The new owners are not only assuring the family of that, but we’ve seen it as they’ve worked the mountain for over a year now. We’re happy with what they’re doing.”

[Full Article: www.standard.net/Recreation/2014/08/19/Sundown-Powder-Mountain-s-oldest-lift-is-getting-replaced.html]

Artist Residency Program Launches at Summit Powder Mountain

EDEN, Utah (August 1, 2014) — This summer saw the launch of Summits artist residency program, which hosted seven artists from around the globe to create work inspired by Powder Mountain. Coinciding with the development of the first Summit Powder Mountain home sites, each invited artist developed their own unique body of work interpreting the natural landscape while providing new perspectives on the land through public artwork and workshops. The residency program featured exciting collaborations with illustrator Cuba Scott and non-profit organization Conservation International; free-to-the-public workshops in Summits Valley Lodge held by Australian typographer Gemma OBrien; a series of Utah Native Mandalas created by graphic artist Matt W Moore; video and projection works by Cristopher Cichocki; time-based sculptures created by NY design studio Holstee; the development of a screenplay by Ghanaian Director Frances Bodomo; and musical performances from violinist and composer Michelle Ross. The artist residency program will continue to run seasonally at Powder Mountain.

Music in the Mountains Concert

EDEN, Utah (July 28, 2014) — Violinist Michelle Ross, along with a trio of classical musicians, performed a chamber concert on Powder Mountain on Saturday as part of the Music in the Mountains event series. More than 100 Weber County residents showed up for this free, inaugural event to hear the musicians, led by Ross, who hails from New York City and was trained by world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman for more than a decade. The concert, set outside amongst the wildflowers, provided the audience as well as the musicians with built-in ambience and inspiration. Prior to Saturday’s event Ross spent two weeks rehearsing and performing with her fellow musicians as part of Summit’s artist resident program, which has allowed her to understand the music she’s been studying for decades in new ways. “Classical music so deep that the older you get and the more times you hear it, the more you discover,” she said. “It’s like climbing a mountain that keeps growing. Every time you reach a new peak, you see even more.”

[Full Article: “Violinist and composer brings music to the mountains.”]

The summer concert series was an extension of Summit’s recent efforts to bring world-class content and performers to Ogden Valley, Weber County, and the state of Utah. This past winter featured complimentary talks and performances by poet Sekou Andrews, mountaineer Conrad Anker, and Bob Marley’s legendary reggae band, The Wailers.