Tobias Hemmerling and Burke Blackman developed the Montjoux, LLC business plan over a period of almost two years while attending the University of Colorado MBA program. Its first incarnation, Aspen Ascent, proposed a helicopter skiing company based in Aspen, Colorado. This plan was eventually abandoned due to the near impossibility of gaining approval for such a business from local government and environmental agencies. The founders then re-wrote the plan, substituting snowcats for helicopters and choosing to operate near Vail, Colorado. The new plan, titled Colorado Ascent, won Second Place in the 1998 Bank One Business Plan Competition.
The environmental protests against Vail’s Category Three expansion during the winter of 1998/99 and the resulting arson on Vail mountain effectively eliminated all hope of obtaining a Forest Service permit for a new ski company in the proposed location. Unwilling to admit defeat, Hemmerling and Blackman spent their Christmas vacation researching other potential sites within the state. Through their network of personal contacts, they discovered that an existing snowcat operation in Steamboat Springs was for sale. During a period of two weeks, they surveyed the company’s terrain, met with the owners, negotiated and signed an option to purchase the company at the end of its 1998/99 operating season using funds that had not yet been raised.
The Montjoux, LLC business plan was designed to appeal to angel investors rather than venture capitalists. During the first five months of 1999, Hemmerling and Blackman contacted more than 200 potential investors. In the end, a single investor came forward to fund the entire deal. Hemmerling currently functions as Montjoux’s CEO, while Blackman has joined Colorado Venture Management, a local venture capital company.
Montjoux Business Plan (pdf file)