Published: Aug. 24, 2023 By

16 participants from Demystifying Entrepreneurship – StartUp to ScaleUp on August 11 and 12 standing together for a group photo[Ignacio, Colorado, August 17, 2023] The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Boulder hosted the third year of the multi-year entrepreneurial workshop series, “Demystifying Entrepreneurship – StartUp to ScaleUp” on August 11th - 12th, 2023.

Taught by award winning faculty members from CU’s Leeds School of Business, Erick Mueller and Eric Bruno, this year's program focused on the core elements of a startup, how to launch, and how to grow along with basics such as marketing and funding.

Throughout the weekend, a group of 15 local entrepreneurs and innovators from La Plata County and surrounding areas joined together at the Sky Ute Casino to learn and build community. The weekend was full of positivity and entrepreneurial spirit as the group explored their unique value propositions and runways for growth. The varied group was comprised of companies such as a tortilla burger restaurant, a linguistic preservation service, and a coffee roaster.

“Don’t underestimate your competition and understand your why,” one participant shared as their most valuable take away. Each participant felt they could gain something from every module in the workshop, with some carrying more significance based on the stage of their venture. One of the keystones of the workshop series is the creation of a cohort – the attendees gained a community of like-minded individuals with whom to brainstorm ideas, overcome challenges, and celebrate victories.

One participant, and panel member, Diane Millich ran her tortilla burger business through the workshop and also shared her journey to date with the cohort. A serendipitous moment also surfaced when Millich realized her mother’s artwork was displayed in the event space, demonstrating the significance of family legacy and the creative spirit in this community. Another participant workshopped her venture to preserve Native languages, further emphasizing the deep roots this cohort had to its culture and heritage.

In the last three years, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has collaborated with the University of Colorado Boulder and invited community members far and wide for the workshop. This year’s participants came from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Navajo Nation Tribe, Lakota Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, as well as local La Plata County. “This year’s cohort was amazing!” says Erick Mueller, Adjunct Professor and Executive Director of the Deming Center. “Not only did the cohort come together to push their ventures forward, but we had multiple meaningful moments among the cohort that took our relationships and the workshop that much deeper. We are looking forward to coming back again next year!”

Five people sitting around a round table with a sixth person standing talking to someone seat at the table“I really enjoyed being a part of this great rural Colorado workshop series for another successful year,” says Colton Black, Economic Development Manager at the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. “The level of expertise and years of real-world experience that Erick and Eric bring to these workshops as instructors is incredible. They make the learning fun too!  The smaller cohort size this year also really allowed the instructors the opportunity to provide more personalized attention to each aspiring business leader we had in attendance. It provided an elevated level of support and tailored advice that really seemed to help make things click and start coming together for each attendee and their different business ideas. It was a special thing to see!”

This series of workshops is put on in partnership with CU’s Leeds School of Business, Deming Center for Entrepreneurship and is available in every major rural region in Colorado. The next Demystifying Entrepreneurship Workshop is being offered in Telluride, Colorado on October 6th and 7th in collaboration with Telluride Venture Network. To register for this event, please visit:

And to learn about all locations, visit :

Many thanks to those who made this event possible.



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