Nelson Carmichael presents his business plan for Nelson Colorado to the judges of the 2013 Business Plan Competition hosted by Colorado Mountain College and Yampa Valley SCORE.

Photo by John F. Russell

Nelson Carmichael presents his business plan for Nelson Colorado to the judges of the 2013 Business Plan Competition hosted by Colorado Mountain College and Yampa Valley SCORE.

Nelson Carmichael wins Steamboat Business Plan Competition with performance outerwear line

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— 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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Comments

rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

Way to go Nelson!! Congratulations!! I could learn much from your lesson. I was gonna be rich within two months, for the last twenty years. To this day. Maybe it's time for more numbers -- ie, a plan -- and less coding -- that project will NEVER end. 'Til they widen the road, so the money truck can make the turn. Code is my escape, and it's time for reality.

I've got your skis, that you won a World Cup with (one of the pairs anyway) in '91 or so; Rossignol 4M's; your mom had to beat me up to pay off the balance. One day they will become a wall decoration, in the den or garage, I've got a Rossi ad with you and Melanie Pellanick to go with it... but the "Nelson" in magic marker, on the back side of the R on both skis, has faded with time and use. I retired them years ago, but they still turn on a dime -- just look where you want to go, they're there. You trained them well.

Anyway, now I know where to find you, so you can touch up my (your) skis, once I dig them out of storage. We can compare other notes too, like business plans, and I know a bunch of your high-school friends. Congrats again!! I'm inspired.

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Tom Wither 1 year, 1 month ago

Congratulations Nelson! Can't think of anyone more deserving that you for this award. Can't wait to see your finished product our and about. TW

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Bret Marx 1 year, 1 month ago

Let me get this straight. The City of Steamboat Springs sponsors this event, dontates $15,000, then pays Mr. Carmichael $10,000 of it! What am I missing here? City takes tax payer money and contributes it to a private sector start up business? I hope they made some profit sharing deal of some sort. What is the city of Steamboat Springs getting out of paying Mr. Carmichael $10,000? Makes me think I should start up a business and get the city to financially back me. There is no money to give city workers a raise but there is $15,000 to donate to this "entrepreneurship?" Hopefully Mr. Carmichael gives everyone on city council some free schwag for there generous donation. I know, I know i'm sure this was a different budget but how frustrating it must be to see the city doling out $15,000 in one shot for prize money if you are a city employee begging for a cost of living raise.

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Jim Kelley 1 year, 1 month ago

While I don't agree with the amount given, I do believe that such a "donation" should actually be classified as an investment in the local economy. If the esteemed Mr. Carmichael follows through on his plan, he may be so successful that his company can hire several or maybe many employees which would serve to provided a more vibrant local economy. Such a scenario would then see more revenue come into the city coffers which in turn could provide a more stable base for city employees to receive raises. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the basis for successful local economies, not government. But government can help and encourage. This program seems like a good display of local government and local business synergy which may serve both well.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

I hate to waffle on an issue, but Bret raises a good point. I had failed to consider that this is taxpayer money being diverted to back a startup -- and a gift too, not even a loan. As I swim through my own spreadsheets, I realize that, central to the theme, is that my investors see a return on their money. Ain't no free lunches. Any time I've got, I'm going to put into improving my product, not chasing charity. When Plan A isn't working, I wash dishes. This damn Business Plan is largely a distraction from my work. I don't chase these stupid prizes, just like I never ran for class office, because as I have related before, I place far more value in production than talk. Nelson won the popularity contest. This race was won before it was run.

Not that I'm blaming you, Nelson -- get it where you can!!

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

Since the city has been so kind, I hope Nelson has the good taste to set up shop here, rather than outsourcing it to China like BAP does. Sewing machines can't be that hard to learn.

And here the city was wise to go with Nelson's plan; at least he can base it here... in my own case, when and if I ever need help other than sales -- and maybe there too -- I doubt I'll find it in this town.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah, it's sour grapes. I'm just not in The Club.

PS Pilot -- Tell Google I just answer "no" to whatever stupid question they ask today to read this content -- that seems to make it disappear fastest -- and in the case of multiple questions, I just keep clicking anything, 'til they go away. I'm sure my behavior is not unique, making those surveys virtually useless, except for setting up a two-way communication with my computer. From whence they have access to who-knows-what -- root files anyway -- browsing history, favorites, cookies, stored logins and passwords -- truly scary stuff, especially if you've heard of the NSA -- and if I had anything to hide, I would be somewhat concerned. Paranoid? You bet.

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john bailey 1 year, 1 month ago

I was bringing people to town to spend money , wheres my share of the lodging tax? now that's not charity that's my reward for bringing sucke.....er ah people with money to spend. Rhys , you too with the Google xit? I look for the stupidest reply...... jeezzus make it stop. but then the paper was only 28 pages yesterday, dinosaur........what a read.~;0)

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

John -- My plan is to just bring the money, and the fine folks can stay where they are. Hula that!!

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Stuart Orzach 1 year, 1 month ago

Could this newspaper do some actual reporting instead of a fluff piece on Mr. Carmichael?

Some questions the reporter should have asked:

Why is this appropriate use of taxpayers' money?

If the City donated the $15000 in prize money, what did the other sponsor, Wells Fargo, donate?

Who are Mr. Carmichael's business partners? Just exactly who is entitled to compete for, and receive, this "prize"?

Why is "the viability of the plan" worth only 15% of the score? Mr. Rudasics' comment leaves the impression that this was merely an academic exercise in writing and presenting business plans.

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John St Pierre 1 year, 1 month ago

I would suspect that they 10K is the "equity" required by Wells Fargo to make a loan.... which makes it all the more wrong..... By "gifting" the money it can be considered the borrower's equity... Wells get to use the loan on their balance sheet to meet their local community reinvestment act requirements and the press of do good!! sweet for everyone except the taxpayers.. who got what again?????

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah, I don't see you throwing your money into somebody's pie-in-the-sky ideas, and you can see what the taxpayers think of backing them with their money.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

If you "invest" it like the City does, I love your terms.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

Entrepreneur: One who talks a lot about making money.

I've got about 15,000 numbers my Dad hand-nurtured and fine-tuned for 30 years, and two spreadsheets about 5 feet wide, hand-written. When I had the idea to automate it in 1992, that's all I had to start. Five versions later, it is still a work in progress.

The original inspiration was NOT to make money (fortunately) but to save the art, because it would die with Dad. I got the idea watching Northern Exposure.

So I'm not an entrepreneur. I haven't got time for the games and contests. I'm just trying to get it out there, and any potential investors will see a handsome return on their money.

Hey, I've got something for YOUR umbrella.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

Who backed you, Mark? How much inherited or borrowed money did you put into your business? And how much did you earn yourself? GIVE ME A BREAK. You're riding somebody else's wave. I've washed dishes and dug ditches for 20 years, because I didn't have any sweethearts to make me successful. I don't know what kind of family money got you where you are -- wherever that is -- but I'd bet dollars to donuts you didn't earn it yourself. You ride a mighty high horse, for somebody who probably inherited whatever you've got. I want to hear about all the hard labor that got you where you are, and I'm not holding my breath.

Your comments take on a nasty personal tone I find offensive. Nobody said "urinating" until you did, and nobody has since; I think you're splashing it on yourself.

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rhys jones 1 year, 1 month ago

"assumptions"... "don't appear to have ever started a business nor been self employed"... John? You've been there. I know I have... "Never a worry or concern except for when do I get paid next" Stuart? Bret? Jim? That one of you?

Not being in a position to refute your claims, I will congratulate you on your successful endeavor, and admit that I actually like your work. I think I sense a return of some sense of civility in your latest response, a start at least. That too is appreciated. Take out the venom. Don't be a hater.

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Bret Marx 1 year, 1 month ago

You should consider heeding some of your own advice Mr. Ruckman. You sir are also assuming people on here have not worked hard, been self employed or started there own businesses WITHOUT a hand out from the City of Steamboat Springs. Livin' hate free in '13!

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Stuart Orzach 1 year, 1 month ago

I sure wish people used this forum to comment on the content of the article (or letter, as the case may be), and directed their comments to the person who wrote the article. If they did, then we might see wider participation. There are thousands of intelligent people reading this every day. I don't blame them for not wanting to risk subjecting themselves to verbal abuse.

These pissing matches, and all this self-revelation should be private.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 1 month ago

I think the fundamental flaw with this program is that it assumes there are no private investors willing to invest in good ideas with a solid business plan.

A lesson from my time in Silicon Valley is that a company willing to take the time to seek government subsidies is a troubled company that is otherwise unable to attract private investors.

What is the track record of this contest? Who won it last year?

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