Meet the Team

West Slope Startup Week is an event organized by local entrepreneurs for the rural Colorado business community. These outstanding volunteers continue to make sure WSSW happens annually since 2019. Contact us if you’re interested in serving as an event volunteer.

Lead Organizer: Kayleen Cohen

Kayleen Cohen is the founder of Mtn. Dog Media, a digital marketing agency based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Kayleen has been involved with West Slope Startup Week since its inception in 2019.

Advisory Committee; Taylor Grande

Taylor Grande has been involved with West Slope Startup Week since its inception in 2019, helping to coordinate the Mentor Office Hours, Hometown Events, free dorm lodging program, and more. Taylor is currently the acting Executive Director of Startup Colorado, an organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs throughout rural Colorado with access to resources including education, funding, mentorship, and more. Taylor is also mother to a 6 month old baby boy, 12 chickens, and a dog named Rio on her 15-acre homestead just outside of downtown Durango.

Founder, Advisory Committee: Brian Watson

Brian Watson and his wife Bonnie own Alt Space; a multi-location rural coworking brand. Brian is a Colorado native who is passionate about entrepreneurship and rural ecosystem building.

Advisory Committee: Jamie Finney

Jamie is a Cofounder and Partner at the Greater Colorado Venture Fund, a seed-stage venture fund that invest in rural Colorado startups.  He also cofounded Kokopelli Capital and served as Western Regional Director for Startup Colorado.  He now lives in his hometown of Durango.

Founder, Advisory Committee: Bryan Wachs

Bryan is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder/CEO of and co-founder of the OutdoorRecCo-op and, amongst others. He has led or consulted for 36 companies in his career, and believes rural entrepreneurship can reinvigorate our communities. Bryan is a co-founder of WSSW as an expression of this belief in community.

Celeste Herron: Program Lead

Celeste Herron is a brand architect, strategist, and founder at Northern Crown Media, who helps business owners and startup founders confidently launch and profitably scale their companies, products, and services through brand positioning, messaging, and design.

She is also a founder and facilitator at Female Founders WestCO, a community for women building companies on the Western Slope of Colorado.

Advisory Committee, FUN! Track Captain: Lexi Van Roekel

Lexi has a dynamic background in business; she’s partnered with entrepreneurs to help with marketing, business development, community building, education, and acquisitions. She loves connecting with a wide variety of people, learning, and making connections between community members.

Advisory Committee: Chris Weaver

Chris brings over a decade of event planning experience to the WSSW team, specializing in technology and logistics. He works directly with vendors, talent, and coordinators from initial concept to program execution.

Kiki Hooton: Event Coordinator for the Greater Colorado Pitch Series

Kiki is the coordinator for the Center for Innovation in Durango, a co-working, private office, and event space for supporting entrepreneurs as part of Fort Lewis College. She started helping with West Slope Startup Week in 2021 and is now the coordinator for the Greater Colorado Pitch Series, the kickoff event for WSSW. She loves being a connector in the community in every way possible, from running a networking group in town to organizing kickball leagues.

Devan Knapp: Makers Track Captain

Devan Knapp is a letterpress printer and designer with a focus on community-centered design.  She is continuously seeking new opportunities to help her community grow and spread more creativity. When not designing you can find her running the bakery at her local coffee shop or out in the desert exploring the canyons. 

Communications Track Captain: Britain Garza

Britain is the Community Relations Manager for the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. He works closely with community leaders to keep conversations and connections strong with the goal of enhancing the economic vitality of Colorado’s Grand Valley. He has previous marketing and communications experience across many industries including non-profits, medical device, sports management, real estate, and homebuilding.

Veda Gerasimek: People Track Captain

Veda is the (unofficial) Chief “Inno-Veda” Officer at Inno-Veda Marketing Agency. Just kidding. She is a Marketing Associate at Founder Institute, a network for turning ideas into fundable startups, and startups into global businesses. She studies Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Colorado Mesa University, where she founded the Maverick I.D.E.A. Society – a club for “idea people.” Her passion lies in redefining university innovation centers, helping others develop big ideas, and (someday) opening a stand-up comedy club.

Design Lead, Advisory Committee: TJ Smith

TJ is a full-time creative facilitating ideas that unify art, design, nature and experience. He partners with those seeking the power of creative thought to build visual languages for their brands, causes and experiences.

Advisory Committee: Spencer Ingram

Spencer has worked around the world supporting dynamic brands, schools, and startups at pival moments of change. His first company now helps hundreds of students each year to enter high growth tech jobs. He lives in Grand Junction.

Capital Track Captain; Kirstie McPherson

Kirstie is a serial entrepreneur, behavioral economist, and an economic development professional. She owns multiple businesses including 518 Wine Bar, The Find, Co., Edeveco, and the Behavioral Economics Co. along with working for the state office of Just Transition, she lives and works in Craig, CO. where she thrives on creating spaces and places that build community. 

Tech Track Captain: Spencer Herms

Spencer is the Senior Manager of Cloud Development at Aspen Technologies located in Grand Junction, CO. He has been managing teams for 10 years and has been leading software development teams for 5 years. Spencer is also a board member of the Colorado Mesa University Computer Science and Cybersecurity Industry Advisory Committee. Outside of work, he enjoys skiing, gardening, hiking, disc golfing, camping and exploring Western Colorado with his spouse and their dog Juniper.


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