New Program for 2022: Supporting New Mexico’s Entrepreneurs and Economy

Our next early-stage program will be held in collaboration with UNM Anderson and focus on opportunities in the outdoor economy. However, the program is open to all entrepreneurs exploring any startup ideas. A diverse economy is as essential as diverse entrepreneurs, and blending outdoor economy entrepreneurs with a variety of startup ideas will strengthen all involved.  

The five-week certificate program begins Saturday, January 29, 2022, and wraps up with an idea pitch on Saturday, February 26, 2022. The program includes Saturday morning workshops and Tuesday lunchtime guest presentations.

Record Investment Growth in Early-Stage Startups

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed by the Economic Innovation Group, about 1.4 million new startup applications were filed with the government through September 30, 2021. That’s compared with 1.14 million during the same period in 2020 and 987,000 in 2019.

Venture funding in 2021 broke records across the board, according to Crunchbase News, with investments last year up more than 10x what they were a decade earlier. “Early-stage funding in global startups notched $201 billion in 2021,” according to Crunchbase data. “That’s $100 billion more in funding than the year prior. Approximately $29.4 billion went to seed-stage startups, in particular.”

A booming startup market in the U.S. prompted an investment rush for ever-younger companies last year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Investors in 2021 pumped a record $93 billion into early-stage U.S. startups through December 15, triple the amount from five years before.

The Outdoor Recreation Economy

On November 9, 2021, The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released economic data for 2020 on outdoor recreation’s economic impact on the U.S. economy. Those numbers showed outdoor recreation generated $688 billion in economic output, comprised 3% of U.S. employees and created 4.3 million jobs. 

In addition, the BEA found that the outdoor recreation industry is growing rapidly. This is despite the impact of widespread public lands and business closures, suspended trips and travel, gathering restrictions, supply chain issues and more, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Outdoor recreation in New Mexico was a $2.3 billion industry in 2019 and $1.9 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division Director Axie Navas. Expectations are that the industry will be above 2019 when the 2021 numbers are released.

Early-Stage Program Description

No matter your startup idea, the time to begin is now!

We use Lean Startup and Lean Canvas concepts and tools to help you explore, iterate, and validate your idea. We start by identifying the actual problems faced by customers versus entrepreneurs’ perceptions of these problems. This is known as achieving a problem-solution fit.

We believe that business models must be built systematically with a customer-first approach that demonstrates traction, evidence that customers care about your idea. With this approach, entrepreneurs quickly learn that the business model, not the solution, is the product.

Participant Requirements

For a successful outcome, we have requirements for participants, including:

  • Attend every Saturday workshop and mentoring session (180 minutes per week)
  • Attend at least two of the four Tuesday lunchtime presentations (60 minutes each)
  • Complete weekly readings and assignments (estimated hours per week included in the syllabus)
  • Provide weekly updates to the certificate team, including your mentor


We have been privileged to work with many accomplished entrepreneurs in our early-stage program. Here are comments from participants in the fall 2021 cohort.

“The Santa Fe Innovates program helped to clarify my vision, business model and market. I was blown away by the experience of the cohort and the mentors. Great program!” – Alexandra Merlino, Bee Wild Outside

“The Early Momentum program run by Santa Fe Innovates provided expert insight into early-stage business planning, taking us through the lean canvas and traction modeling, and provided an excellent forum to review and validate the business model in a very focused way.  Excellent mentors, and advisors. Strongly recommended to anyone starting to think about their business model.” – Simon Woodruff, UHV3D

Registration and Program Information

Registration, Information on program deliverables, and the program schedule are available here.

Complete a simple application today!  

We will accept up to 15 entrepreneurs, and program registration will close on January 22, 2022. 

Kent Nutt

About Kent Nutt

Kent is a marketing and communications entrepreneur in high-tech and nonprofit industries. He’s a strategic thinker and hands-on implementer with experience building end-to-end, transformative marketing and communications programs for startups, Fortune 500 companies, growing nonprofits, and academia. Sectors included telecommunications, 3D printing, network software, semiconductors, web analytics, and scientific research.