SUMMIT COUNTY—Local entrepreneur Sheri Paul is hoping Iggy the skier becomes familiar to tourists traveling to Colorado’s ski country. As the face of Paul’s new mobile application for smartphones and tablets, iResortApp.com, the cartoon Iggy provides travelers with “local-insider tips” and information on the best places to eat, stay and shop during their ski resort adventure.
“It’s everything in one place,” Paul said. “We tailored the app to what visitors are most interested in and will provide deals for exactly what they’re looking for.”
iResortApp.com, part of Paul and her business partner Graeme Johnston’s Resort App Worldwide, LLC, debuted recently in Summit County with a launch party and a float in the annual Ullr Fest parade in Breckenridge. Now a mobile website to generate feedback and perfect the format, iResortApp will launch as an app, downloadable for Droid and Apple within the next few months.
“The launch feels like a combination of senior prom, Christmas morning and the first day on the job,” she said. “It’s a celebratory feeling but it’s also realizing we have so much more work to do.”
CMC class helped turn dream into reality
After more than 25 years of experience in database marketing, including as senior vice president at Equifax Corporation, Paul knew her way around the corporate world – and had wanted to start a business for some time. But when it came to business structures, financial documents, funding and the legalities of running a business, she realized she needed assistance.
A Colorado Mountain College entrepreneurial operations class provided one of the stepping stones to get her business off the ground, she said.
CMC offers individual courses, a certificate of occupational proficiency and an associate degree in entrepreneurship. The associate degree can be applied toward a Bachelor of Arts in business administration.
The Entrepreneurial Operations class in Breckenridge is taught by Vince White-Petteruti, an adjunct instructor, who has a strong business and start-up background himself.
“This course provides a reality check,” said White-Petteruti, who has taught the class for six years. “Here are the skills you need to have for your business to be successful.”
During the class, students create a mission statement and business plan, run market analyses and finances, and research competitors. White-Petteruti brings in local business owners to provide real-world advice and facilitates feedback for each student’s business idea.
“It’s a self-review of why their business is going to be successful against the market they’re going into,” he said. “All restaurants say they are going to provide excellent service. Our program asks, ‘How is your business going to be different?’”
“It was a really structured way to write a business plan that I wouldn’t have had if I had done this on my own,” Paul said.
Free app transforms, personalizes resort experience
White-Petteruti said Paul’s resort app has a lot going for it because it focuses on a specific resort and tailors it to an “up-close and personal look.”
The application is divided into sections like play, rest, nosh, shop, rock, pamper and trek. Users can customize their accounts to get information that pertains to their interests. Paul said they plan to integrate email and text messaging into the app so, for example, if a user searches “pizza,” they’ll receive a coupon to a local pizza restaurant.
The app is free to users and is funded through local advertisers. iResortApp.com currently has 32 business advertisers on board, said Paul, and their goal is to reach over 150 advertisers per resort market.
Paul, a resident of Silverthorne for four years, launched the app with Johnston, a resident of Summit County for 28 years and owner of Snow Business, a souvenir provider for local businesses, as a way for tourists to find local businesses in a resort town quickly and easily.
Paul and Johnston have employed local college students from Summit County for day-to-day operations and contractors from Denver and Montana for coding and artwork.
Paul said they plan to expand to Eagle, Vail and Moab within the year and then on to Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Aspen, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park and, eventually, nationwide.
“It will keep changing and morphing from the feedback we receive from customers,” she said.
Between juggling a growing startup and reaching out to new markets, Paul said she hopes to continue to take CMC classes and has considered an Adobe Illustrator class so she can adeptly work with the business’s logos and artwork.