Lead Organizer:
Vanessa McCrann

Vanessa has been building community in Colorado for 7+ years and she’s thrilled to be at the helm for West Slope Startup Week. Her whole life has been leading to this moment.

Programming Lead:
Celeste Herron

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.

Marketing Lead:
Psyche Digital

The Durango-area Psyche Digital team (Kate Ishay, Kelsey Parks, Faye Zink, Megan Milstead, and Maggie Emerson) are over the moon to support the digital marketing and website management efforts for WSSW. With combined specializations in marketing and branding, startup operations, non-profits, and customer service, the Psyche Digital team brings their passion for West Slope businesses and entrepreneurs into every aspect of their Durango-based startup digital agency.

Tech Track Captain:
Justin Lewis

Justin Lewis builds digital public goods for governments, global health, and climate through TerraFrame and Bedrock Labs. He’s the founder of West Slope Technologists where he helps support a community of technologists to support their communities, organize events, and strengthen the network.

Toolbox Track Captain:
Matt Martensen

Matt is a passionate member of the Startup Colorado community and a proud Founder Coopetition graduate. He’s on a mission to get you the equity you deserve for your internet clicks, and, to do that, he’s organizing a consumer-owned web browser cooperative, called “User Cooperative.”

Fun! Track Captains:
Julie & Reet Singh

Julie and Reet are the cofounders of TripOutside. TripOutside specializes in booking outdoor adventures. Get the best local intel on human-powered outdoor adventures and book easily online, with expert outfitters and guides. TripOutside helps you spend less time online and more time outside. TripOutside is a Leave No Trace partner and a member of The Conservation Alliance.

Money Track Captain:
Spencer Ingram

Spencer has worked around the globe to provide access to capital to underserved markets. He currently works with Energize Colorado to bring smart funding to rural entrepreneurs.

Comms Track Captain:
Natalie Horner

Meet Natalie Horner, Brand Revitalizer and Owner of Peppered Labs. Natalie is dedicated to spicing up established B2B Brands for Builders and Makers. With a keen eye for strategy and an expertise in branding, she’s your go-to expert for unlocking real business impact across your marketing. She’s a Startup CO and SCAPE mentor and believes B2B doesn’t have to be bland.

People Track Captain:
Kirstie McPherson

Kirstie McPherson is a behavioral economist who works in transitioning coal communities throughout the state. McPherson also owns 518 Wine Bar, Blanco Cellars Wine and Whiskey Bar, and The Find, Co. along with numerous other commercial development projects.

Makers Track Captain:
Meghan Rauker

Raised in Idaho and now rooted in Colorado, Meghan is an active collaborator within local entrepreneurial ecosystems. Their extensive experience includes managing statewide programs, fundraising, and providing business advisement to entrepreneurs as they navigate the funding landscape, especially for creative industries.

Housing Captain:
Nora Gilbertson

As an avid traveler and long-time Summit County local, Nora saw a gap in the market between short-term and long term rentals. She created Stay Loci, a website connecting hosts and guests of furnished mid-term rentals with a desire to un-lock more options for temporary housing. We provide more opportunities for homeowners in an ever-changing real estate landscape and build a culture of guests who work, play and explore creating deeper connections to the communities they stay in.

Zero Waste Lead:
John Armstrong

I am passionate about sustainable systems and finding creative solutions that benefit the environment and people we serve. I founded B1 Energy as a solution for waste and renewable energy in rural communities by creating an advanced recycling facility powered by waste-organics.

Venues Lead:
Elizabeth Calagias

Elizabeth is a Fort Lewis College alumna, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Marketing and Graphic Design. She is excited to put both skill sets to work as the Business Manager at the Center for Innovation in Durango.


Every year WSSW is made possible by a kickass group of volunteers and community champions from across our beautiful Western Slope region, and 2024 is no different. We are currently scouting for amazing humans to fill the below volunteer roles. Co-leading encouraged, these are a tall glass of responsibility!

If you or someone you know is interested, please reach out to Lead Organizer Vanessa McCrann at to get involved.

West Slope Startup Week is powered by Startup Colorado, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders in 53 rural counties.


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