New Mexico Entrepreneurs Invited To Give Ski Lift Elevator Pitch For Chance At $10,000 Grand Prize


SANTA FE – A select few New Mexico entrepreneurs get the chance of a lifetime on a ski lift. These entrepreneurs will get 15 minutes riding up a chairlift at Taos Ski Valley to convince an investor that their idea is the next big thing. One start-up business owner will receive the grand prize of $10,000.

The elevator-pitch style contest, called the ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest (, is the first of its kind in New Mexico. Finalists in the ski lift portion will then compete “Shark Tank” style, resulting in one entrepreneur receiving $10,000 to invest in their new start-up.

“What New Mexico has to offer visitors dovetails perfectly into what New Mexico has to offer startups,” said Cabinet Secretary-Designate Rebecca Latham of the New Mexico Tourism Department. “The culture, the recreation, and the experiences all contribute to the quality of life that investors and entrepreneurs are searching for.” 

Today, the New Mexico Tourism Department announced they are partnering with Albuquerque-based, ABQid (, a local startup accelerator, on the event that promises to bring local, start up business owners together with investors and industry leaders in the unique contest format. Twelve qualifying New Mexican entrepreneurs will have the uninterrupted attention of a venture capital investor or industry leader to give their pitch while riding a ski lift Feb. 25 at Taos Ski Valley.

The event is expected to help build and strengthen the entrepreneurial community throughout New Mexico by creating more self-sustaining new businesses and jobs to the region.

“New Mexico is a great place to start and grow a business,” Marketing Director ABQid Kathleen Gardenswartz said. “Events like the ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest provides our participating companies with the resources they need to succeed and grow – including hands-on high level mentoring advice, practical business training and access to capital. This type of partnership brings in a high concentration of extremely successful investors to our state and helps our local economy accelerate.”

Each entrepreneur will have the opportunity to pitch to different VC judges on the three different chair lift rides. The VC judges will vote on their favorites, then three finalists will have the opportunity to pitch to a full crowd, including all of the VC judges, in a “Shark Tank” style environment.

As of today, the ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest list of confirmed VC judges includes:

  • Alan Webber, Fast Company Co-founding editor, Santa Fe;
  • Dalton Wright, Kickstart Seed Fund, Salt Lake City;
  • Bert Roberts, Sorenson Capital, Lehi, Utah;
  • Jeremiah Bitsui, Bitco Corporation, Los Angeles;
  • Prabhakar Reddy, Naja Ventures, Dallas;
  • Dani Hughes, Divine Capital Markets, New York City;
  • Gary Gaessler, Cloud Elements, Denver;
  • Josh Pierce, Camp Inc., Boulder;
  • Chris Stone, Acquia; former partner at Epic Ventures; former EVP at Novell;
  • Bill Bice, Verge Fund, Albuquerque;
  • Howie Diamond, Sparkart, San Francisco;
  • Katie Szczepaniak Rice, Epic Ventures, Albuquerque; and
  • Yasine Armstrong, Central New Mexico CC, Albuquerque.

The idea for the contest came from ABQid Board Member Katie Szczepaniak Rice, who first recognized the potential that Taos Ski Valley had to attract major investors to New Mexico.

“We hope to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet high caliber investors and industry leaders in an environment conducive to making a lasting connection,” she said. “I think most skiers and snowboarders will agree that the chair lift is a great setting for a conversation.”

Current ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest sponsors include New Mexico True, Taos Ski Valley, NewsCastic and Taos Mountain Energy Bar.

Startup founders have until midnight Feb. 11 to apply for the contest at All applicants should have some experience with either skiing or snowboarding. A promotional ABQid Ski Lift Pitch Contest video can be accessed at