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How to Fund Your Small Business by Riding a Ski Lift

Run by CNM Ingenuity and ABQid, the Ski Lift Pitch event allows small businesses to pitch well-funded investors while ascending the Taos Ski Valley slopes.
How to Fund Your Small Business by Riding a Ski Lift
Competitors and judges after riding the ski lift at Taos Ski Valley.

Feb 26, 2020

There’s the elevator pitch. And now, there’s the ski lift pitch, which happens once a year up at the world-class Taos Ski Valley. Run by ABQid—a CNM Ingenuity-owned entrepreneur support organization—the 2020 version happened last Thursday and it was a chance for small businesses with early customer validation, scalability, and high-growth potential to ride the lift with a series of different investors in an effort to sell those investors on their company idea.

“The whole event creates a really rich environment for startups that they otherwise would not have access to,” says T.J. Cook, the Executive Director of ABQid, powered by CNM Ingenuity.

This year’s Ski Lift Pitch featured six businesses from New Mexico and six from outside the state. On the investment side, there was over $100 million worth of capital represented by the investors. T.J. says the event is principally designed to create funding opportunities, but it’s also a way to showcase New Mexico as an emerging startup hub and showcase the beauty of the state to outside investors.

“There are a lot of myths about New Mexico, everyone thinks it’s just a desert,” T.J. says. “Many don’t know we also have a world-class ski resort.”

Photo of finalist Relativity6 pitching to the crowd.
Finalist Relativity6 pitches to the crowd.

After a first round of pitches on the lift, the investors narrowed the field to three finalists. Those three finalists presented again in a restaurant at the Valley, competing for a $10,000 first-prize check. Meanwhile, all the companies that were invited had a chance to mingle and develop relationships with the investors.

“The in-between time is actually really important,” T.J. says. “A couple years ago one of the companies that didn’t win the competition was actually able to leverage a connection it made at the event and received $300,000 in investment four months later.”

This year’s winner was Relativity6, a national startup that uses a proprietary algorithm to help large-scale companies prevent customer churn. More specifically, Relativity6 helps a company that has repeat customers identify which of those customers are mostly likely to fall off or not come back. Then, Relativity6 helps that company run a marketing campaign to increase retention.

“You can imagine how meaningful that is to companies with a significant customer base,” T.J. says.  

Another finalist was EveryDay Contacts, which is based in New Mexico. Their company helps optometrists and consumers connect in order for the consumers to buy premium-quality contacts at a more affordable price.

“It’s great for the optometrists because they don’t lose business to third parties, and it’s great for the customer because they get a lot of value,” T.J. says.  

While next year’s event is a way’s off, T.J. encourages interested businesses to get in touch and start thinking about their pitch. Applications for the 2021 event will open in the Fall, and questions can always be sent to info@abqid.com. 

Photo of Ski Lift Pitch founder Katie Rice with winner Ignacio Arrellano of Relativity6.
Ski Lift Pitch founder Katie Rice with winner Ignacio Arrellano of Relativity6.