Startup Woodstock 2023

Congrats to our 3 Finalists!

Join on us on February 15, 2023 at 6 pm at the Little Theater at 54 River Street in Woodstock

to support our three finalists as give their final pitches to the judges for a chance to win $30,000:

Farmer and the Bell

No Reservations VT

The Mill School

Startup Woodstock 2023 Judges

We thank our 2023 Startup Woodstock judges for giving their time and expertise to help support this important initiative!

Sam DiNatale

Sam is a familiar face around Woodstock as she is the owner of Mon Vert Cafe and she sees it as a community service as much as a business. The Woodstock native bought the cafe from the original owners in 2015, fulfilling her goal of running a cafe in the town where she grew up. Sam also serves on the WCSUUSD school board among other community activities.

Mary MacVey

A Woodstock resident of 20 years, Mary has been a volunteer in various nonprofit organizations and recognized as Volunteer of the Year 2017 by the Chamber of Commerce. For the past 12 years, her passion has been revitalizing the East End to promote commercial, residential and community development. Working with a team of volunteers, she has been instrumental in creating a riverfront vision and translating that concept to reality. The result is East End Park. This “Jungle to Jewel” transformation required building broad community and municipal support, as well as raising major money from government agencies, foundations, and individuals.

Norm Frates

Norm Frates has been a Mortgage Lender since 1991 and part of Mascoma Bank since 2013. He is a lifelong resident of Woodstock, Vermont, where he has devoted his time and energy to a number of community pursuits, including Woodstock Ski Runners, Woodstock Recreation Center, and the Woodstock Rotary Club. Norm is also the founder of Zack’s Place Enrichment Center in Woodstock, a center for people with special needs that serves the entire Upper Valley and beyond. He has served as President of the Board since its founding and helped grow the center from a small, five-person facility to an organization that currently provides free daily programming to more than 100 people.

Carolyn Kimbell

Carolyn Kimbell has started three successful businesses in Vermont: the Dressing Room in St. Albans, Pemberly Woods Garden Design in Pomfret, and Elevation Clothing in Woodstock. She is engaged in a fourth start up in the real estate space, renovating houses that are currently vacant and bringing them back online at affordable prices for working Vermonters. She is thinking about another startup as well, but isn't ready to hang that shingle just yet.  Carolyn first moved to Woodstock when she was 16. An alumnus of both WUHS and UVM, she has volunteered for many organizations and currently serves on the board of the Thompson Senior Center. 

Cliff Johnson

Cliff moved to Woodstock in 2021 with his family and feels lucky to be part of such a supportive community. Professionally he has helped many startups through pitch competitions and otherwise using the lessons he learned after being lucky enough to cofound Vacasa back in 2009. He currently serves as an executive at where he leads the New Construction division. He currently serves on the board for BarnArts locally and Maple Microdevelopment internationally.


The mission of Start Up Woodstock is to attract new business to our town. This is an open competition. We will award a grant of up to $30,000 to the successful applicant(s) to assist in the establishment of a new innovative business. This grant has been funded by way of $20,000 in generous private donations, and $10,000 from the Woodstock Economic Development


While the competition is open to anyone, the business must be based in Woodstock, and the judges will be favoring applications that include, among other criteria, at least some of the following attributes:

1. The proposal includes a comprehensive business plan that demonstrates the viability of the business.

2. The proposal demonstrates that the grant will be a meaningful catalyst to the establishment of the business.

3. The applicant(s) provide proof of having additional capital available.

4. The proposal provides a needed product or service that fills a gap in the current market or satisfies unmet demand.

5. The proposal will provide well-paying quality jobs or will create a financially viable owner operated business.

There will be an initial and final round of presentations all of which will be public. The individuals who have agreed to act as judges are all local residents who have substantial relevant business and community experience.

Update: Initial applications deadline has been extended to January 8, 2023. The judges will select a few finalists by January 15, 2023 who will then be asked to present at a public meeting on or about February 15, 2023. A final grant decision will be made public shortly thereafter.

Contact Cliff Johnson with any questions at - thank you for your interest and support!

Countdown to Inaugural Startup Woodstock Event on February 15, 2023!