On Monday October 28th, First Southwest Community Fund and First Southwest Bank collaborated with Startup Colorado to host a Storytelling event in Pagosa Springs. “Behind the Business” featured Tabitha Zappone, founder of Alpine Medical for a fireside chat at Pagosa Lodge.
Community members from Pagosa Springs and Durango gathered to hear Tabitha’s story of why and how she decided to launch her own medical practice. As Anthony Poponi (Startup Colorado’s emcee) began the interview, one major theme became clear from the start - mentorship and support. Zappone described how the resources and support from entrepreneurship community champions such as Richard Lindblad (Small Business Development Center consultant) and our own Sherry Waner (Chief Development Officer at First Southwest Bank and First Southwest Community Fund), made a huge difference when she was launching her business. They helped her with the business model, figuring out how she would make a profit and sustain her business, and navigate the tricky world of medical insurance. They also provided her with encouragement, and helped build her confidence to enter the risky world of entrepreneurship.
“Tabitha’s dedication to providing quality healthcare to her community is inspiring,” said Sherry Waner, Chief Development Officer at First Southwest Bank and First Southwest Community Fund. “She is able to balance a patient-centered approach with the challenges of running a business in rural Colorado. Working with her and seeing how far she has brought her business has been a wonderful experience”
Tabitha also discussed why she decided to become an entrepreneur. After commuting to the San Luis valley and missing out on her family’s day to day life, she decided she needed to be in Pagosa Springs and serve her immediate community. Tabitha’s medical approach could be seen as somewhat unusual in today’s society– she puts wellness first, and uses hour-long appointments to get to know her patients to focus on preventative care. How does this affect her business model? Some could argue she is running herself out of business by focusing on preventing medical problems in her patients, however the numbers say otherwise. Tabitha was profitable after just 5 months of opening her clinic, compared to the national average of roughly two years for medical businesses. She has over 2000 clients, and this has been done primarily through word of mouth with little spent on marketing.
It is clear that Tabitha’s unique approach to her patients extends to her staff. Describing how her team has been a crucial part of her success, it is clear Tabitha highly values every member of her staff. She also practices what she preaches – she and her team do “Wellness Wednesdays” at Pagosa Rec Center pool to make sure they are personally prioritizing fitness and movement. With her team members in the audience glowing with pride, it is clear that the Alpine Medical culture is one of shared success and positivity.
After Tabitha shared her story, Anthony invited Stanley Lindstadt, Eastern Regional Director for Startup Colorado, Sherry Waner, and Cass Walker, Executive Director at First Southwest Community to the stage to share why their organizations are important for start-ups like Alpine Medical and how they support rural entrepreneurs.
“I was called into action to fill in for Taylor Grande, our Western Regional Director, who was unable to attend,” said Stan Linstadt from Startup Colorado. “The weather was daunting and the trip arduous but the warmth of the crowd and the compelling story Tabitha shared made it all worthwhile! The next day I was able to tour Pagosa Springs and I quickly understood why Taylor has been so excited about working with entrepreneurs in this beautiful community.”
Tabitha’s parting advice to anyone thinking about starting a business: there will be tribulations and use your resources. Having role models like Tabitha in our community is vital to a successful entrepreneurship and small business ecosystem. We hope her inspirational story will inspire others to take the first step to starting their dream business. If you’re interested in learning more from Tabitha, or using her services check out her website (www.alpinepagosa.com) or her upcoming Wellness Classes.
We were thrilled to also support two other FSWCF/FSWB businesses through this event. A big thank you to Pagosa Lodge for hosting our event in their beautiful new space (complete with an actual fire-place for our fire-side chat!) and Riff Raff Brewing for providing delicious snacks and beverages. Local News Network covered the event, so stay tuned for a full video on our Facebook Page if you missed it!
Websites can be viewed here:
Alpine Medical: www.alpinepagosa.com
Apline Medical Wellness Classes: http://alpinepagosa.com/wellness-program
Pagosa Lodge: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-pagosa-springs/best-western-pagosa-lodge/propertyCode.06188.html
Riff Raff Brewing: https://riffraffbrewing.com/
Local News Network: https://www.durangotv.com/
First Southwest Community Fund Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firstsoutwestcommunityfund