UM Blackstone LaunchPad Startups Participate in National Training Camp

October 26, 2017

MISSOULA – Two University of Montana Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurs, along with other top college entrepreneurs from around the world, visited New York City for the Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp on Oct. 17-18.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation selected George Gaines, founder of Chilton Skis, and Kyle Pucko, co-founder of GeoFli, to attend the two-day training camp with workshops and mentoring from Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network and top venture capitalists.

Two students from each campus Blackstone LaunchPad program worldwide attended this first joint training camp held by Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars.

During the camp, experts spoke on specific topics related to entrepreneurship, and Techstars mentors held sessions with the entrepreneurs. Gaines, a forest and conservation sciences doctoral student at UM, was among seven student finalists who pitched their startups for an award of $15,000 during Demo Day.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for exposure, networking, learning and kicking it in Manhattan for a few days,” Gaines said.

Chilton Skis, founded by Gaines, is a Missoula-based, all-mountain ski manufacturer. While many skis are made using environmentally unsustainable methods, Chilton Skis are made from salvaged and sustainably harvested woods and modern composite materials. Gaines took third place in the 2016 John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge, Montana’s only statewide startup competition for higher education students. To learn more about Chilton skis, go to

GeoFli – developed by Pucko, a UM alumnus, and UM IT web services manager Nick Shontz – is a cloud-based service that allows clients to easily personalize website content based on visitor location and create individualized user experiences. Pucko took third place in the 2015 John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge at UM with his GeoFli pitch. For more information on GeoFli, visit

 “This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase two of Montana’s startups – one that puts an innovative, sustainable twist on our love of the outdoors and the other highlighting our emerging status as a high-tech hub,” said Paul Gladen, UM Blackstone LaunchPad director, who also attended the training camp.

Blackstone LaunchPad is an entrepreneurial program located on 20 campuses globally and accessible to more than 500,000 students. Blackstone LaunchPad at UM offers free assistance for students, alumni, faculty and staff in turning their ideas, skills and passions into real-world businesses and nonprofit organizations through individualized coaching and venture creation support.           

For those wanting to learn more about Blackstone LaunchPad’s programs or events, email Jenny Lind, Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA member at Blackstone LaunchPad UM, at

Contact: Paul Gladen, director, Blackstone LaunchPad at UM, 406-243-5723,