Published: March 19, 2024 By

Alejandro BrownAlejandro Brown (IntlAf’18) is the founder of I-70 Things, an outdoor media brand that started on Instagram (@i70things), and which now has more than 400,000 followers. The account serves as entertainment — showcasing the funny, unusual or sometimes wacky things people see while traveling along Colorado’s I-70 highway — in addition to providing safety-oriented content regarding the conditions of the road in real time. Brown also has been working on a passion project he co-founded called Slide Thru Sessions (@slidethrusessions), which aims to introduce people to winter sports who may not have had the opportunity otherwise. 

How did the idea for I-70 Things begin? When did you realize it had such huge potential?

I was stuck on I-70 with a buddy in 2019. It was like a lightbulb moment. I was taking pictures of things that I had seen like trucks jackknifing on the highway, cars stuck on the side of the road — and it hit me like, ‘Hey, I’m already taking these photos and sending them to my friends. I bet other people are seeing other things too.’ 

In the summer of 2020, COVID hit, so I had some free time. That’s when I really started putting effort into growing it [I-70 Things]. During the summer of 2020, when we had a bunch of wildfires here in Colorado, I started covering those too because I thought that since people were going up to the mountains, they should know about these types of happenings.

What are some of the strangest things you’ve seen on I-70 this year?

After doing this for many years, nothing surprises me anymore. I’d have to say some of the stranger ‘things’ that make you do a double take are the motorcycles being driven during a snowstorm and how people spend time during highway closures. After a while, closures can get to people’s sanity and seeing their creative ways to pass the time is always interesting.

What are the top things you think people need to know before traveling on the highway?

The main thing is understanding and abiding by the traction law. Driving through the Rocky Mountains, especially during the winter months, is no joke. Nature doesn’t discriminate, so being prepared and traveling safely are key. When we think of preparedness, it’s similar to insurance — you hope you never have to use it, but you’ll be glad you have it if you need it. Packing extra warm clothes, water or snacks can make spending time stuck on the highway more manageable. Lastly, pack your patience because nobody likes to be parked on a highway.

When you entered college in 2014, social media was very different than it is now. How do you feel now that you work full time in online content creation?

Just thinking about it makes me sound old, but it wasn’t really a thing that people sought out as much as they do now. There’s a pretty clear path nowadays if you want to start a business or become a content creator, but back then it never even crossed my mind. 

“When you’re dealing with many cultures and people in an international sense, empathy is really big.”

How has your background in international affairs helped you in your current work with social media?

When you’re dealing with many cultures and people in an international sense, empathy is really big. You have to be understanding and know that there are a lot of differences among people. People do business differently, and communicate differently. All these things are very present on social media and in business. People also say some pretty bad stuff sometimes on social media, and being understanding and empathetic is pretty important.

What does your day-to-day life look like now?

In the winter, it’s pretty packed with doing a bunch of mountain content for the page. So we’re either with brand partners or traveling to different resorts and covering events. My day-to-day consists of either being on the snow and shooting, creating content or answering a lot of emails. During the summer, we cover and work a lot of festivals and food and beverage events. 

Also, I spend a lot of time in the winter working on my passion project called “Slide Thru Sessions,” which I co-founded with my friend Quincy “Q” Shannon. It’s been really cool because by having such a big platform here in Colorado, I was able to utilize it for good. I love to snowboard and want other people to experience that as well. 

The program’s mission is to diversify the mountains by breaking the barriers to entry for expensive winter sports, like skiing or snowboarding. We allow those who have never tried the sport to try with us in a comfortable BIPOC setting as an adult. People sign up and we take our own full Bustang bus up to that month’s partner resort. We have our own gear space here in Denver where we let people rent everything they need for free. The goal is not to just have people slide on snow, but to educate them about the sport as well. The program is free, and anyone who joins can pay what they can if they’d like, but there’s no expectation of payment. 

How does I-70 Things make money? 

We have three revenue streams: advertising for other brands and events, hosting events and selling merchandise. Most partners reach out to me directly because they know about I-70 Things and are interested in working together. The capacity in which we collaborate depends on the partner but, for example, for a hotel partner in the mountains, we may stay up there and then create some content to use on a campaign on our own account and our partners’ social accounts. 

What is your favorite place off I-70?

Glenwood Canyon is really pretty. I also spend a lot of time at Copper Mountain as they’re a great partner and they host a lot of events at that mountain. So I would probably say Copper is my favorite.

Interview condensed and edited.

Photo courtesy Alejandro Brown