With a few notable exceptions, entrepreneurs typically move to Park City after making their millions. Sacrificing one’s career—or succumbing to relentless commuting—is the price of living in a ski town. Not anymore, say PandoLabs (pandolabs.org) founders. Managing Director David Bieber and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Rick Lindquist believe innovators can have their powder days and ski them, too.
While Summit County’s decade-old attempt at a “tech center”—Kimball Junction’s brick-and-mortar approach to luring edgy businesses to town—hasn’t gained much traction beyond its anchor tenant (Skullcandy), nonprofit PandoLabs is taking a more organic approach. Its strategy is to make introductions between entrepreneurs who, hopefully, launch companies, raise capital, hire people, and spread the word about Park City.
Nearly 100 founding members—CEOs, investors, and executives, such as Jeramy Lund of Sorenson Impact Center, David Weinstein of Freshwater Advisors, and Linda Graves of Athletic Republic—are on board. And over PandoLabs’ six-year history, Utah startups such as Xmetryx, GiveGo, OutCode Software Development, Autonomy, and StealTix have taken advantage of its strategy sessions and curated introductions.
“We put everyone in a room together and let it happen,” says Lindquist, who during his PandoLabs residency cofounded GroupCurrent, a startup that provides a web app for managing member-based groups.
PandoLabs hosts regular workshops and monthly Entrepreneurs Execution Network events, which feature TED-style talks by innovators. Recently, Tyler Ploeger, an accountant-turned-founder, shared his story of launching the payroll technology company Everee. Leslie Goldman, cofounder of The Artemis Fund, a female-focused venture firm, discussed gender inequality in tech as well as the journey to relocate from Houston to Park City. And Bryan Christiansen, chief operating officer at Vivint Solar, introduced the PandoLabs community to his SWOT Analysis 2.0. The candid stories, practical ideas, and open discussions are intended to inspire and guide local entrepreneurs.
“I see so much opportunity,” says Bieber, who, in addition to running PandoLabs, cofounded GroupCurrent with Lindquist. “I love the people, the mentality, the nature, and the opportunity to work with our founders and turn Park City into the entrepreneurial ecosystem it can be.”
Bottom line: If your dream is to launch the next Skullcandy or Backcountry.com, PandoLabs might be the place to start.