The New Ski Bum Is No Slacker


Original article published in 5280 Magazine by 

In 2002, University of Colorado Boulder graduate Aryn Schlichting moved to Vail with a group of 10 friends to do what ski bums do best: all play and no work. One by one, though, her pals moved to big cities in search of full-time jobs. Schlichting stayed. She landed a gig as an HR supervisor with Vail Resorts and—in 2015—founded, a job site aimed not just at the seasonal ski bum seeking temporary work but also midcareer professionals looking for roles as accountants and software developers. Schlichting’s career path may have sounded improbable 20 years ago, but nowadays, to her—and the 4,000 subscribers to her site—it’s as familiar as stepping into a pair of ski bindings.

In the past, when the call of a full-time career fell on the ski bum’s frostbitten ears, it meant selling out and working a desk job in Denver. But recently, entrepreneurial ski bums have latched on to a nationwide trend: the remote office. By 2020, 43 percent of the American workforce is expected to work on a freelance or remote basis, according to a study by software developer Intuit. This September’s Denver Startup Week even hosted a panel discussion on the topic called “The New Ski Bum: Re-inventing The Future Of Mountain Towns Through Rec, Tech, And Innovation.” The key to making it all work? Co-working spaces. Sharing office space isn’t a new concept, of course, but if anyone’s used to pooling resources, it’s the ski bum, who wouldn’t blink at splitting a 900-square-foot apartment with four roommates. Sharing desks and business contacts, then, is no problem.

Over the past five years, co-working hubs complete with skill-building workshops and networking events have sprung up in Summit, Eagle, and Pitkin counties. EVO3 Workspace in Frisco, which serves as the flagship location for CodeBeetle, offers coding workshops to aspiring developers. And this October, venture capitalist and Techstars co-founder Brad Feld invested $70,000 in Aspen Entrepreneurs (AE)—a co-working space that helps young entrepreneurs grow their ideas in the retail, hospitality, and service industries. AE co-founder Skippy Mesirow says that money will help AE guide more startups through its entrepreneur mentorship program. Mesirow himself stepped off the AE board in October to (hopefully) reclaim some ski days, but with startup projects flooding his inbox, that might be difficult. After all, he might be a ski bum, but when it comes to entrepreneurial work, Mesirow’s no slacker.

You Might Be A Ski Bum If:

‣ You drive a Subaru
‣ Your local bar has an 8:1 guy/girl ratio
‣ You have a college degree but eat like a five-year-old

In The Air

Things to discuss this month… while waiting for the Cherry Creek Mall Santa

‣ Your happy place. A study published by National Geographic in October named Boulder the happiest city in the country. It’s also the eighth richest. Connection?
‣ What makes a legend. The Nuggets will retire late ’80s triple-double master Lafayette “Fat” Lever’s jersey during a ceremony on December 2.
‣ Your lunch order at RiNo’s new Zeppelin Station food hall, opening this month. Banh mi from Vinh Xuong Bakery or poke from Aloha Poke Co.? (Answer: Both.)
‣ RTD’s New Year’s resolution to complete the N Line to Eastlake in 2019—instead of its original completion goal date in the first quarter of 2018. Thanks to construction, design, and approval delays, north metro Denverites will face another year of I-25 traffic.

Summit Schools partners with local business to offer new coding module


(Summit Daily 10/31/16)  By Kevin Fixler

A new collaboration between a local business and the Summit School District that could land future graduates careers as the next generation of software engineers in Silicon Valley, financial analysts on Wall Street or rocket scientists at NASA is quickly taking off.

This fall, Frisco and Summit Cove elementary schools devised a new computer-coding elective a year after the successful launch of a pilot club at Frisco for the tech-driven coursework. Today, through funding and support from the Education Foundation of the Summit and in connection with EVO3 Workspace in Frisco, area third, fourth and fifth graders are learning how to write in a whole new language: JavaScript.

For the founders of the program, filling this digital deficiency in instruction for grade schoolers was an obvious need.

“In Summit we’ve always thought of ourselves as the tourist industry for the skiers, and the service industry, and what we started to realize is that we can really make our teaching stronger and our kids more aware of what they can do with their education when we reach out and make community partnerships,” Peder Hansen, STEM coordinator and media specialist at Frisco Elementary, said. “We really wanted to get into coding because right now and in future job market, it acts as a tool to actually create things, and those skills can express other innovative ideas, too.”

STEM — the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math — has become a greater area of emphasis for the district under its Vision 2020 strategic plan to improve how students problem solve and think critically. Working with EVO3, a community office space geared toward the tech industry for remote workers, was a natural fit, with Hansen acting as a co-founder of its nonprofit arm for precisely such ventures.

Labeled the “500 kids in 500 days” coding project, with its goal of acquainting that number of local children to the subject in the next year and a half, the early results of the program are clear.

“We believe that coding has become a basic literacy, especially for children growing up in our digital age,” said Bonnie Ward, vice chair of the Education Foundation of the Summit and member of the Summit school board. “It is really amazing to see how the students tinker and test out the many possibilities for the apps they are learning to code. Excitement fills the room as they share their unique apps with each other.”

Using Bitsbox, a coding curriculum based out of Boulder and geared specifically toward children, students quickly learn the importance of proper spelling, typing and applications of math to design games centered around spy, zoo and dinosaur themes. Often the reward for successfully keying in the correct workbook data on the provided laptop is a playable game or app that brings feelings of accomplishment, as well as a smile.

And long term, that could very well mean some significant salaries, in addition to notable achievements in such fields as banking, manufacturing and health care, among others. According to Aaron Landau, founder and managing director at EVO3, the average JavaScript developer now makes an annual income of $92,000, and demand in those careers will remain high.

“Studies show that there will be 1,000,000 jobs in America in STEM that we won’t be able to fill because of the huge technology gap,” he said. “So starting kids young to figure out if they’re interested — and it’s so easy to introduce with all of these tools — is a way to address the deficiency in the school system.”

Helping overcome potential stigma of those who opt for an alternate path other than college — perhaps deciding on a trade school rather than attending a conventional university — is another element of the partnership. Whichever path an individual chooses, the hope is these kids do so with a unique approach and a different perspective, given their training.

“This is an opportunity to learn something not traditionally in school, so kids can become creative with problem solving and as great analyzers,” Hansen said. “And just learning how to code doesn’t really make sense unless you’re going to apply it. We want kids not to learn just to code, but to learn code as an expression of ideas and creating.”

Last year with the pilot club, Frisco second graders worked with actual clients. They spent time producing functioning prototypes before presenting them for everything from how to keep wildlife out of trash receptacles, improve signage for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and how the Frisco Adventure Park might add a new inner tube sliding hill.

“I couldn’t get over what it was forcing children to do with problem solving and getting confidence — the real-world application that coding was providing them,” Mike Rupert, Summit Cove’s STEM coordinator, said. “It was really rewarding work around certain issues and great for students to see what happens through hard work, collaborating with teammates and multiple kids putting eyes on the code.”

Summit Cove principal Crystal Miller agreed, and it wasn’t long before the school was bussing over fourth and fifth graders to EVO3 for an hour-long introductory lesson. Experts in the coding field have also held three supplementary sessions in October at the school, and now students are in the design phase until they exhibit their work at a final session in front of their families in mid-November.

Having already served about 200 kids in the district, EVO3 has also received inquiries from other elementaries in the district, including Dillon Valley, and is quickly nearing 80 percent of its target number for the “500 kids” project. Current projections show the collaboration may hit its mark in just six months. From there — be it the present-day or future technology, space or financial hubs of the United States and world — it’s anyone’s guess where it may take these skilled coding prodigies next.

For more information about the EVO3 Foundation, visit

Colorado Tech Tour Video Day 2

News, Video

Our #COTechTour day two recap video is here! Thank you to all of our day two regional hosts and sponsors for a great day! ? Today we are getting to know the #TechObsessed community in Grand Junction ⛰

Colorado Tech Tour Highlights Summit County STEM programs


Summit Daily 8/2/16 Elise Reuter
(Summit Daily 8/2/16 Elise Reuter)

On the screen, the car speeds along the road, narrowly avoiding a collision with a pixelated guardrail. The game on display, titled “spy racer,” is the result of 76 lines of code written by a 10-year-old.

Local Frisco Elementary student Eamonn Fallon developed the application using “Bitsbox,” an introduction to coding created by a Boulder startup company.

“My favorite part is just coding the apps and playing with the apps,” said seven-year-old Owen Fallon, who also took the five-week Intro to App Development course through Evo3 Workspace in Frisco.

Evo3 founder Aaron Landau presented the spy-themed pilot program before several tech-minded Coloradans. He touted the program as an opportunity to allow youngsters to enter the world of coding and app development — though to them, it’s all a game.

“This is a pretty simple app, but it allows kids to think critically about ‘How do I want to change this thing?’” Landau said. “It’s not just about playing the game; it’s about coding the game.”

The Colorado Tech Tour stopped in Summit County on Tuesday to spotlight local startups and educational opportunities at the heart of the Rockies. The Colorado Technology Association created the statewide event last year.

“Call us in 10 years, 15 years, and we’ll have a job for you,” Colorado Technology Association CEO Andrea Young said to the students, with a grin.

The Denver-based company focuses on advocacy and talent development, growing existing tech companies and sharing their impact on local economies.

“It’s us being able to get everyone’s stories on the map,” Young said. “We want to continue to tell Colorado’s story beyond what’s going on in Denver and the Front Range.”

A growing group of Summit County businesses, local leaders and nonprofits are pushing to diversify the local economy through tech.

“Traditionally, locals haven’t had a lot of choices when it comes to work,” Elevate Cospace co-founder Amy Kemp said. “Most people who move here work for resort or service industry, and it’s not a high-paying industry.”

Yet, she noted, more than 46 percent of Summit County residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“We are completely underemployed,” she said.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, for the fourth quarter of 2015, the top industries in Summit County were accommodation and food services (with an average weekly wage of $522); retail trade; public administration; arts, entertainment and recreation; and health care and social assistance.

Statewide, the picture is a little different, with health care and social assistance leading the pack, followed by retail trade, accommodation and food services, educational services as well as professional and technical services. The latter brings in an average weekly wage of $1,904 per week.

“The local economy is dominated by tourism and real estate — both volatile industries,” Landau said. “We know tech education is a great equalizer.”


For Landau, the key is getting kids comfortable with coding early. With this in mind, he is launching an initiative to teach 500 kids to code within 500 days. His goal is to bring 200 local students through the five-week Bitsbox class and introduce 300 kids to coding with a modified Hour of Code featuring similar curriculum.

“The pilot was so successful. We have kids and parents coming in, saying we want more,” he said. “We’re figuring out the next step.”

The courses, taught by volunteers through Evo3, will be open to Summit County students grades two to five. To help support this, Landau is launching the Evo3 Foundation, with the Education Foundation of the Summit serving as its fiscal agent as the new nonprofit awaits 501(c)(3) approval. The foundation will also serve as a resource to local nonprofits in need of technical assistance, from building a better website to other tasks.

“We think it’s really important to give back to this community that has done so much for us,” Landau added.

In the meantime, Keystone Science School is building on its Girls in STEM program, which launched in April 2015. The program features several workshops covering everything from design to physics to ecology.

Dave Miller, Keystone Science School director of education and program sustainability, said Girls in STEM was created around the need for more gender diversity within the tech industry. Two key pieces of the program include introducing mentors and teaching girls not to be afraid of “failure” when approaching difficult problems.

“We try to get more women excited about STEM and improve their confidence so they will take next step,” he said.

In the future, KSS will offer a tech retreat, challenging girls to answer questions through developing a website.

“I think every kid should be introduced to coding,” Kemp said. “At least giving them the option to learn about it is so critical.”



Two Frisco Elementary School students demonstrate their coding abilities in real time at EVO3 Workspace during Colorado Tech Tour.

Students-Working-EVO3-FriscoBy Fred Bauters

Take yourself back to 2nd grade, if you can. Memories of recess may come to mind, but how about diving into hard skills for a future career?

In the mountains, elementary students from 2nd to 5th grade are getting a head start thanks to a partnership between EVO3 Workspace, Boulder-based startup Bitsbox and Frisco Elementary School on a program to introduce JavaScript app development to 500 kids in 500 days. The joint effort wrapped up a pilot program two months ago. After receiving an incredible response from the kids and parents, EVO3 founder and managing director Aaron Landau is ready to show kids the many career opportunities that await.

“STEM programs out here aren’t like those in Denver,” said Landau. “It’s not as robust and a couple years behind. You can’t cut other classes to add coding, so we knew we had to do programming outside of school.”

Each student gets a booklet at the beginning of the five-week program to supplement classroom instruction and allows students to learn at their own pace. As they learn how to write code for a race car game – make an object, make a fill or make something explode – Landau says the kids are enthralled by the ability to create the world they’re playing within.

“Whenever we tell them the hour’s gone by, there’s this collective groan.”

That excitement culminates in a live demo with parents in the co-working space where students showcase what they’ve learned, with many of them having written as many as 100 lines of code for the race car app. Parents bounce around to different students to provide feedback and suggest in-game customizations – maybe use a boat instead of a car – that the students attempt to create. These are the building blocks of collaborative development down the road, and Landau doesn’t want the program to be the finish line.

“We try to see what they enjoy within it and push them to go after other programs,” he noted. “We want to help them get to the next step.”

He hopes parents will take up the cause after they see how invested and engaged their kids are. And not just boys, as the common perception may be. The program is focused on maintaining a 50/50 mix of boys and girls, and Landau has seen just as many girls eager to continue learning after the five weeks are up.

“The kids get to work alongside other developers in the co-working space and see that there are people living in their neighborhood doing this for a living,” he said. “They can’t believe they get to do something adults are doing.”

EVO3 Workspace Forms Non-Profit Focused on Education


Bitsbox_largeThe new EVO3 Foundation will provide tech education to the youth of Summit County and provide tech services to other non-profits in the area.

EVO3 Workspace, a unique coworking space in Frisco, Colorado dedicated to bringing tech to the mountains, is proud to announce its latest enterprise, EVO3 Foundation. The foundation is a newly formed non-profit organization that will focus on tech education for youth as well as fulfilling technology needs for other non-profits in Summit County.

“This is our way of giving back to the community we serve,” said founder, Aaron Landau. “The foundation is a truly authentic approach to creating lasting change in our community.”

EVO3 Foundation will design community initiatives based on three core themes – youth education, advancement of the tech industry and complimentary tech services.

Youth Education

The EVO3 Foundation will provide youth education through its 500 Students in 500 Days initiative. The 18-month program will teach children, ages 6 to 12, to code using curricula from Bitsbox. 200 students will undergo a five-week course on app development and another 300 will be given an hour of coding instruction. is a website created by ex-Google employees to teach their own children to code. On its website, Bitsbox explains, “Learning to program is just like learning any other language. The earlier you start, the easier it is.”

“Teaching kids about technology at an early age does more than prepare them for a career,” said Landau. “Teaching kids to program gives them the skills needed to create the technologies of the future. They will be responsible for the evolution of this industry.”

Advancement of the Tech Industry

EVO3 Foundation will work closely with the Colorado Technology Association to support initiatives that promote the advancement of the technology industry and highlight the ground-breaking work being done by tech companies in Summit County.

To further connect like-minded individuals, The Colorado Technology Association created the Colorado Tech Tour, a technology road trip which showcases the states most talented tech advocates. The tour will be rolling through Frisco on August 2nd to feature EVO3 Workspace.

Watch for more details about this exciting event.

Technology Services

See a need, fill a need. The EVO3 Foundation will connect non-profits organizations in Summit County with skillful volunteers who can fulfill their technology needs from setting up a network to designing a website.

“Each non-profit in Summit County is contributing to making this a better place to live and work,” said Landau. “We should do what we can to help each other and tech is what EVO does best.”

About EVO3 Workspace:

EVO3 Workspace is a coworking space in Frisco, Colorado dedicated to diversifying the local economy by bringing tech to the mountains. The meaning of the name EVO3 Workspace was derived from the word evolution and represents the growth and advancement of the tech industry. The three in EVO3 represents the introduction of technology as the third industry in the area. Mining was the dominant industry in the 1860’s and tourism about 100 years later. EVO3 Workspace is a leading provider of tech education and is committed to giving back to the communities in Summit County and beyond.

Inside the high-country coworking phenomenon


Coloradobiz Magazine 3/8/16
(Coloradobiz Magazine 3/8/16)

Coworking has snowballed in Colorado’s mountain towns.

Kicking off the trend, DurangoSpace opened in 2011 and now attracts a wide range of creatives, techies and other professionals.

Co-founder Jasper Welch says his motive isn’t as much profit as it is to buoy the local business community and catalyze entrepreneurialism. The downtown Durango location is “critical,” he adds.

Both locals and out-of-towners use DurangoSpace. “It’s kind of amazing who shows up,” says Welch. “We call it the ‘work anywhere platform.’”

And it’s spreading to historic downtowns statewide. In Frisco, Elevate CoSpace opened in 2014. A second Elevate location went live in Breckenridge in December 2015 after the openings of EVO3 Workspace in Frisco, River CoWorks in Basalt, and Proximity Space in Montrose earlier in the year.

High-speed Internet, ergonomic workstations, locally roasted coffee, and craft beer on tap are common perks.

Elevate founder Amy Kemp “was working out of coffee shops” before she transformed a former gallery into a coworking space with people like herself in mind.

Kemp saw Elevate as not only a means to get out of the coffee shop, but to help diversify the local economy. “We’re so tourism-based,” she says,” citing “incredible potential for Summit County to be a tech hub for the outdoor industry.”

Aaron Landau launched EVO3 Workspace in Frisco in April 2015 with similar motives. “People want to live and work in the mountains,” he says, but there’s a disconnect: Tourism and real estate dominate the economy, and affordability is always an issue. But jobs in IT services pay about $80,000 a year, according to InfoWorld data, more than twice the average for the tourism industry.

EVO3 has exceeded initial forecasts, and a coding school is launching its first eight-week course in April. Landau sees education as another tool for economic diversification, noting, “If you don’t want to be a liftie and you don’t want to work in tourism, maybe you can design websites.”

EVO3 is getting plenty of business from the Front Range. Beyond the half-day ski crowd, Uber Denver opened a satellite office at the Frisco space in November. Also available: a company pass, good for three transferable memberships on a given powder day. “This is a great way to attract and retain talent,” says Landau, adding, “Free beer doesn’t hurt.”

West of Vail Pass in Avon, BaseCamp opened in 2013. “Up here in Vail, we don’t get as many techies as Denver and Boulder, but they’re here,” says Director Doug Clayton. “There’s definitely a collaborative community. We all go skiing together.”

Clayton says it’s emerged as a new business hub for the valley, with 10 or 15 people coworking most days. “But some days are quiet, especially on good powder days,” he laughs. “There’s no one here.”

-Eric Peterson (

Summit County’s Startup Weekend ‘a crash course in entrepreneurship’


Summit Daily 12/1/15
(Summit Daily 12/1/15)

At a startup marathon event this past weekend in Frisco, several businesses were born.

“We launched six new businesses and ideas in one weekend,” said Amy Kemp, founder of Elevate coSpace, which co-hosted the event with Evo3 Workspace from Nov. 13-15. “It took a lot of work, intense focus and dedication for the teams to go from — in many cases, complete strangers — to highly functioning teams with a polished pitch deck and complete business plans in less than 55 hours.”

On day one, participants began pitching their ideas while absorbing concepts from others. Next, the group votes to pick the strongest concepts and then forms teams to develop them. Teams worked Friday, Saturday and all morning Sunday, finishing that night with the final pitches, from which a panel of judges selected the winners.

“We had 15 people pitch ideas on Friday night, six teams formed and hopefully we’ll have six businesses or nonprofits continue on,” Kemp said.

The Startup Weekend concept was created in 2007 by Andrew Hyde and was first held in Boulder. The model gained worldwide popularity and in January 2010 Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen took over ownership and registered the organization as a nonprofit.

“Our event was part of the Global Startup Battle this year, which means Summit County teams are competing against teams around the globe in the largest startup competition in the world,” Kemp said.


First place honors went to a new travel-related app called Native X, an itinerary-planning app using artificial intelligence. The creative team included Brenden Coleman, Bonnie Spalding and Patrick Mackintosh.

The second-place finisher, which also won crowd favorite, was Elite Altitude Performance. The business will offer high-altitude triathlon and cycling training camps led by elite athletes Nadiya Mitelman and Nick Frey.

Fish Conserve, a program that uses crowd-sourced data for fish and river conservation, took third place. The idea was the brainchild of Shamus Lahman who partnered with Katherine Roth to flesh out the concept.

All three teams are entered into the Global Startup Battle and will compete with other newly launched startups and businesses around the world.


Although Lahman said he walked into the Friday pitch session with only an idea, by taking part in the weekend he left with a business plan ready to launch.

“The best thing that happened is I got a team together,” he said.

The concept married Lahman’s love of fishing with his skills as a web developer, but he admitted his partner helped round out the equation.

“She is really good at working with nonprofits and helping write grant requests,” he explained.

As the only nonprofit venture of the event, Lahman explained the first step would involve sourcing local, state, national and corporate grants to help raise capital. So far the partners have identified about $50,000 from various sources they hope to apply for to begin the venture.

Admitting he would be lost trying to navigate the nonprofit grant world alone, Lahman said the networking potential at a startup weekend event is invaluable.

“You need an open mind,” he said. “Try to figure out where you can help with the business process and what kinds of strengths you bring,” he advised.

In Lahman’s case, he said having a vision was useful.

“I pitched my idea clearly and someone decided to help me out,” he said. “Now all those people are my network.”

Natiya Mitelman, who said her idea had been floating around for a year prior to the weekend, also stressed the importance of the event’s networking opportunities.

“I made a lot of connections,” she said. “I found a web developer I’m looking forward to working with. I feel the connections are the most important factor.”

Over the course of the three-day event, Mitelman met potential investors and three clients for the all-inclusive cycling and triathlon camps.

“It opened up a lot of doors,” she noted. “It’s kind of like going to the gym but you don’t go unless someone forces you.”

Long hours were the norm over the three-day event.

“During the weekend, everyday I stayed and worked with a team past midnight, and started at 8 the next morning,” Mitelman said.

Larry Sullivan, lead organizer for Summit County Startup Weekend, said what is accomplished in a short time must be seen to believed.

“It’s an intense weekend,” he said. “We had 15 ideas pitched on Friday night. From there, six teams were formed and in typical entrepreneurial style, things shifted and pivoted. It’s a crash course in entrepreneurship.”


Aaron Landau, founder of Evo3 Workspace, noted that nationally only 12 percent of teams would continue their business plan after the event.

“At our last Startup Weekend in April, we had a 100-percent continuation rate with all five teams continuing with their idea,” he said. “We’re hoping to buck the trend again and have most if not all of our six teams from our November Startup Weekend continue with their idea.”