Mentor Spotlight: Q+A with Len Metheny

Len Metheny is a key part of Telluride's mentor network. Get to know the man behind the name in this mentor interview. 

How did you come to Telluride?
What started out as a one month stay in the summer 6 years ago turned into an entire summer, which turned into a year.  

Six years later our kids are in school and and we are quite settled and happy with mountain-town life.

Describe your work background.
I left my corporate job when I was 24 to start my entrepreneurial journey.  

My first company was creating multi-media marketing presentations for college admissions offices that they would put on CD-ROM and mail to thousands of prospective students.  

That business turned into an Internet-based admissions and enrollment service in the mid 90’s called ApplyYourself.  

We raised venture capital, grew the business to serve over 700 college admission offices and I sold that business to a subsidiary of the Daily Mail in London in 2007.  

I have been involved with Internet technology start-up businesses ever since either as a founder, investor, advisor or for-hire exec.

Which industries are your strengths?
I can add most value to Internet tech businesses because of my 15+ years developing and running my own SaaS business. 

At the same time, one thing I’ve learned mentoring the many companies that have come through TVA is that there are many common threads to starting, developing and growing a business no matter the industry.    

What attracted you to participate with TVA?
I love the energy and stimulation that comes from working with young, energetic entrepreneurs.  

I have had several wonderful mentors throughout my career and now that I’m in a position to provide that kind of help, it’s important to share my lessons and experience to pay it forward.

How long have you participated with TVA?
I have been involved with TVA since its inception, seeing it get better and better each and every year.

Tell me about a highlight of your experience with TVA.
I have many highlights but to sum it up, they are almost all centered around seeing entrepreneurs get their first checks from investors.  

There is just something about those first checks that becomes so validating, and creates such hope and opportunity for the future.

What are you excited about for the coming year?
There have been some major changes going into this year with Thea Chase taking over regional activity and Marc Nager heading up the Accelerator.  

Anytime people take on new roles, there is so much opportunity.  Fresh look, outside ideas and new networks.  

I think the region as a whole is going to benefit greatly from these new opportunities.

What do you see for TVA in the next five years?
There is no shortage of accelerator programs these days, but what I really like about TVA is the unique positioning that it has.  

As millennials continue to learn that places like Telluride are viable alternatives to the traditional urban startup hubs, I think the brand will just get stronger and continue to attract even more top-notch companies.  

What are your personal goals in your involvement with TVA?
Simply to help facilitate the continued success of the program. 

What should new TVA teams ask you for help with?
It’s one thing to conceive a product idea; it is an entirely different thing to grow a company.  

That’s where I try to add value for startups.  

Whether it’s determining the market fit, how to capitalize a company, or how to find and hire the best talent, I (and all the mentors) am here to help entrepreneurs get started down a successful path to grow their companies.

People might be wary to bring their business to a small town like Telluride. What would you say to them?
If you are the kind of person that gets energy from the outdoors, then there is no better place to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit.  

There is a strong entrepreneurial element to this community with access to incredibly experienced and connected people. 

How does Telluride compare with other startup scenes you have experienced or been a part of?
Obviously we are smaller than those that I have been part of in the past (London, Washington DC, Bay Area) but not that is not necessarily a bad thing. 

In those larger urban environments, startups relied on other startups for help.  Here, you have an entire community behind you as an entrepreneur.  

The level and breadth of experience that the people have of Telluride is amazing.  This is not your normal mountain town, for sure.