Steamboat Springs Nelson Carmichael said there wasn’t a lightning-strike moment. There wasn’t some sign or any type of cosmic event that told him to begin again.
But after first starting a performance outerwear company more than 10 years ago, Carmichael said he realized he needed to start it again after considering his business model in the current business landscape.
“Just talking more about it with some people helped,” said Carmichael, whose business involves selling the outerwear through an e-commerce sales model called Nelson Colorado. “I kept thinking, too, that no one else is doing this. I knew I could take this idea of making performance outdoor wear, producing it and selling it myself. I thought I really should do this.”
Carmichael’s business model and plan won him the 2013 Business Plan Competition hosted by Colorado Mountain College and Yampa Valley SCORE. The competition is sponsored by the city of Steamboat Springs and Wells Fargo Bank, with the city contributing $15,000 in prize money. For his idea, Carmichael earned a $10,000 prize to invest in his business.
Clare and Joel Tarcha placed second for their business, Dinnerz Ready, a retail location offering customers a place to assemble meals from pre-prepared ingredients with easy instructions. The couple received $5,000.
“First of all, (Carmichael) was very comprehensive in his plan,” said Randy Rudasics, manager of CMC’s Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center. “He covered all the key bases to bring something to market with a high chance of success. He knew his market and demographics. He has the design chops to create an intriguing process.”
Carmichael first had the idea in 1999 with a company called 1080. He did it through 2004 before moving on. He said he learned a lot from the first experience, including dealing with frustrations throughout the industry.
Finally last summer, after talking with business partners, he decided the model still was relevant and had the potential.
He began to work again on the business. He said he spent about three weeks preparing for the competition, which involved hourlong presentations and Q-and-A sessions with four judges.
The judges were business coach Chad James, retired Chief Financial Officer Steve Sehnert and SCORE volunteers and entrepreneurs Roger Good and Kemp Bohlen.
“There is 100 years of business experience there,” Rudasics said.
Competitors were scored on a format of 45 percent for the presentation of the plan, 40 percent for the written business plan and 15 percent for the viability of the plan.
Rudasics said Carmichael scored well in all three categories and was a clear-cut winner.
This was the event's second year and was designed to help get awareness out about SCORE programs and the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center. It also was designed to help give entrepreneurs a chance to get feedback on their business proposals.
“We wanted to offer incentive to write good business plans,” Rudasics said.
Carmichael said he will use the money to develop samples of the outerwear. He said he hopes to have the business up and running by next fall.
“I’m psyched to win,” he said. “But it was more valuable to have feedback and work with these people down the road.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham
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