Jim Deters admits that he sometimes refers to Gravity Haus as Galvanize, and to be fair, the two concepts are similar. Galvanize is a company Deters co-founded in 2011 as a hub for tech entrepreneurs. Gravity Haus, which Deters will debut in Breckenridge this month, also aims to be an epicenter, but for the outdoorsy set. The other big difference? Deters believes he’s learned enough from Galvanize’s failures to ensure that Gravity Haus succeeds.
A coding school, co-working space, and startup incubator, Galvanize has grown to eight locations around the country, raised more than $167 million in venture capital, and currently employs 336 people (on January 27, 2020, Galvanize sold for $165 million to Virginia-based K12 Inc.) As Galvanize took off, Deters didn’t hide his ambitions: In May 2017, he told the Denver Business Journal it could become “the people’s MIT.” Just four months later, however, trouble emerged when the company announced it would lay off 11 percent of its workforce. At the same time, the board of directors asked Deters to step down as CEO.
Since leaving Galvanize, where he’s still a shareholder, Deters has started a gym called Dryland Sports Co as well as Unravel Coffee, both in the Virginia Village neighborhood. Gravity Haus, though, is his return to big ideas. “What Galvanize was to democratizing access to skills,” Deters says, “Gravity Haus is to democratizing access to the Colorado lifestyle.”
Housed in the former Village at Breckenridge Hotel, Gravity Haus has a Dryland gym, an Unravel coffeeshop, a spa, a restaurant, gear storage and rentals, and a co-working space. Anyone can book one of the 60 rooms or order a latte at Unravel. But Gravity Haus also offers tiered memberships, such as the “Breck Haus,” which begins at $1,200 annually and provides lodging discounts, first tracks at Breckenridge Ski Resort, a dedicated ski locker, unlimited access to the co-working space, and other perks. It’s targeted to those who want—but can’t afford—a second home in the mountains.
Deters says he won’t push Gravity Haus to grow as fast as Galvanize did: He estimates Galvanize hired 300 people in 14 months—a pace he says damaged the company’s culture. (“We’ve been much more intentional with our hiring and our onboarding,” current Galvanize CEO Harsh Patel says, “and have charted down a path of growing in a way that I believe is sustainable and profitable.”)
This time, Deters is funding Gravity Haus with his own money and doesn’t intend to tap venture capital. “I’m not trying to chase some crazy goal other than to build something special,” he says. Still, Deters’ team is designing a second hotel for Winter Park, scheduled to open for the 2020-’21 season—so it’s unclear what, exactly, his speed limit is.