Published: June 8, 2022 By

attendees and instructors from the 2022 Demystifying Native Entrepreneurship Workshop in Southwest Colorado

In the beautiful foothills of southwestern Colorado, just shy of the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests, lies the community of Ignacio, home to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. This awe-inspiring area holds more than just the beauty of its land. It harbors the resilience, dedication, and ingenuity of its people.

From Modular Homes to Internet Transaction Machines (ITMs), the people of Ignacio and the surrounding areas address community needs and provide for themselves and their families. It is with the greatest honor that the Southern Ute Tribe and Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Boulder hosted year two of the Demystifying Native Entrepreneurship Workshop at Sky Ute Casino last month.

Nearly 20 Native and rural participants joined together for this two-day workshop to learn from Erick Mueller and Eric Burno, entrepreneurs and award-winning professors at the Leeds School of Business. The workshop focused on sowing the framework for developing sought-after products and services, strategies to increase sales, funding opportunities, and how to avoid entrepreneurial pitfalls. Rural entrepreneurs and Native entrepreneurs from the Southern Ute Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute, and the Navajo Nation came together to build their networks and help their communities thrive.

Erick Mueller shared

"I was inspired by the amazing collaboration amongst the entire southwest Colorado community that included Native and local entrepreneurs sharing ideas and moving innovations forward. I can't wait to learn of the success of these entrepreneurs and local leaders!"

These inspiring entrepreneurs came with a focus on growth for their communities, their businesses, and themselves. Kayla Toledo, a brilliant student at Fort Lewis College, used the workshop to develop her bilingual childcare service. She plans to use her skills as a bilingualist to help children in her community develop better language and cognitive skills. A Southern Ute Native, Holly Begay worked to further develop Towering House Soapery, where she produces beautiful handcrafted artisan soaps that shares the authenticity of her Native work.

The next stage of Demystifying Entrepreneurship Workshop Series, StartUp to ScaleUp, will return to Ignacio in the Spring of 2023. Join us next year to learn how second-stage small businesses and organizations can transition past the startup phase and into what’s next. Receive updates about next year's workshop.

Thank you to all our our amazing partners: Southern Ute Tribe, La Plata Economic Development Alliance, Fort Lewis College Center for Innovation, Small Business Development Center, and 1st Southwest Community Fund.

About Demystifying Entrepreneurship

This series of workshops is put on in partnership with the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and is available in every major rural region in Colorado. The next Demystifying Workshop, StartUp to ScaleUp, will be in Sterling, Colorado, July 22 to 23. To register for this event, check out the website.

And to learn about all locations, visit our Demystifying Entrepreneurship: Rural Colorado Workshop Series website.

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