Daniels grad helps digital display company make its mark at ski resorts
Less than a year after earning his Professional MBA at Daniels College of Business, Nick Haggard has helped land his employer, Alpine Media Technology, on Colorado Inno’s list of 20 Startups to Watch in 2020.
The honor is just another in a series of wins for Centennial, Colorado-based Alpine Media Technology, for which Haggard (MBA 2019) began consulting during a Daniels independent research study course. In that effort, he was guided by Lowell Valencia-Miller, assistant teaching professor of management.
“Nick really did all the work—I just helped him think through his ideas and refine his presentation,” Valencia-Miller said.
Alpine Media’s co-founders were so impressed by his sales plan and process recommendations that they offered him a job as sales director before he graduated in June 2019.
Alpine Media creates and manages digital display platforms to help ski resorts better communicate with their customers by providing real-time information. Their premier platform, LiftDigital, is a patented technology for gondolas and chair lifts that communicates key information to skiers and riders on small digital displays. During an average eight-minute ride, the displays include up-to-date news on mountain and weather conditions, traffic on major highways, resort events, accidents, run closures, safety tips and more.
Combining the business acumen he gleaned from Daniels with his love for skiing has proven to be a fruitful career step for Haggard, who now lives in Steamboat Springs to help continue building the company’s reach.
“We really feel we’re past the startup stage,” he said. “We’ve already done our first round of funding, and we’re seeing a five-time growth in revenues over the past two years. It’s pretty awesome. As a skier, I can tell the story to our audience and to our advertising partners.”
The company’s digital displays are now at 10 ski resorts across the country, with plans to increase that number to 10 more this ski season. Included in that group are Colorado’s Winter Park, Telluride and Steamboat ski resorts. The company has partnered with Denver-based Alterra Mountain Company, owner of both Winter Park and Steamboat as well as 12 other resorts across the country. Haggard says Alpine Media plans to expand its reach to all of Alterra’s resorts and is in talks with others.
The displays are available on 104 chairs at Winter Park, each equipped with six screens for passengers. At other resorts, the company’s 50-to-55-inch digital displays are placed inside lodges and food courts as well as at ticket counters, welcome centers and other high-traffic areas.
“People spend so much money on ski trips—we want them to have valuable, hands-on information that will better their experience on the mountain,” Haggard said. “For example, they don’t have to take their family on a top-to-bottom mogul run or to the top of the mountain when it’s 20 degrees below zero with 30-mile-per-hour wind gusts if they don’t want to.”
In the summer, the displays switch to information about hiking and biking trails and other seasonal events. While the resorts update their own mountain information for the screens, Alpine Media provides real-time updates from other sources such as the Colorado Department of Transportation and Dark Sky weather. In a small bottom corner of the screen, the display rotates advertisements for various brands, ranging from outdoor to health care clients.
“We moved to an ad-supported model so as not to increase ticket costs for skiers and riders,” Haggard said.
He praises the multitude of skills he acquired during Daniels’ two-year PMBA program—ranging from understanding financial statements to developing business growth strategies—all of which he has put to use as Alpine Media’s sales director.