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Helping small businesses grow and prosper

Larimer Small Business Development Center

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Welcome Renee Walkup to the Larimer SBDC!

We would like to welcome Renee Walkup as a new Instructor here at the Larimer SBDC. Renee bring us a wealth of knowledge and we are excited to have her on board!

Renee is a best-selling author, speaker, and business growth consultant. She founded SalesPEAK in 1996 after working in the corporate world for 17 years. Fortune 500’s and medium-sized businesses have relied on Renee’s advice to increase revenue and productivity.

Renee’s strengths are providing tactical steps to business leaders so that they can execute gaining more commitments, establish better business relationships, and deliver compelling presentations. Her clients include: Microsoft, Bayer, Check Point Software, Coca-Cola, The Better Business Bureau, and many others.

A recent resident of Ft. Collins in 2016, Renee is a SAGE advisor through Innosphere, participates as a City volunteer, and serves on the Economic Advisory Committee Board with the Ctiy.

When not working, her passion is creating 3D mosaics, gardening, and hiking all the trails she can, while enjoying the beauty of Colorado.

Equine Veterinary Services

Stephanie Brault’s passion is working with horses. Providing them with the highest quality veterinary care has been her profession since 1988. After more than 10 years of working in academic veterinary medicine at the University of California Davis and most recently at Colorado State University, Stephanie purchased a private veterinary business in July of this year.

While Stephanie is an expert in the field of veterinary medicine, she had no business experience prior to purchasing Equine Veterinary Services of Northern Colorado, PC. I attended the SBDC’s classes on business planning and cash flow. Donna Beaman helped me with cash flow projections during counseling sessions, Stephanie says of her work with the SBDC. The Business Planning for Success class and one-on-one counseling made it possible for Stephanie to secure her loan and purchase the business.

Stephanie’s advice to anyone looking to start or purchase a small business is to “learn as much as you can about the whole business and get opinions from a lot of people. Surround yourself with good advisers.” Stephanie has found these advisers at the SBDC and looks forward to taking more classes in the future to assist in the day-to-day management of Equine Veterinary Services of Northern Colorado, PC.

Green Ride

Ray Schofield and Bob Flynn created Green Ride in 2009 to bring an easy, local transportation option to the Fort Collins community. After leaving Shamrock in October 2008, where the two worked together, they began looking for a way to get involved in the community and deciding from a regulatory standpoint whether to be a taxi service, shuttle service, or something else. “We were looking to see where the gaps in transportation were.”

In just under a year, Ray and Bob hired 14 people, had one week of training, launched the website, and started as drivers to get Green Ride off and running. Green Ride started offering transit to and from Denver International Airport (DIA) in May 2009. “We offered service every other hour to start. Within the first month we had moved to hourly service.” Now Green Ride has 62 employees and 21 routes each direction to DIA with 200 daily rides to and from the airport. Green Ride also offers service to Laramie and Cheyenne every four hours.

With hi-tech corporate backgrounds and experience working for Fortune 500 companies such as Hewlett Packard, Agilent and Honeywell, Ray and Bob felt their work did not get them involved in the community. “Transportation touches everything. We get to work in the community and be involved. We have a sense of responsibility to the community and a passion to help people get where they need to be in an easy manner. It really connects us to the community and to people.” There is a great culture with the employees and customers at Green Ride. It is a culture of family with energy and curiosity. “We have a great mix of staff and great energy.”

Ray and Bob met Andrea Grant at a SBDC event in January 2009. At the time they were looking for funding and the SBDC became a key resource. “We have had help from many people at the SBDC. We talked about the business plan and SBDC staff reviewed the business plan to secure our loan. It is great to have this resource out there.” The business plan for Green Ride has led to much success for the company and won an award from Montfort College of Business in Greely.

Ray and Bob credit the SBDC for providing them the opportunity to meet great people to discuss their business with people who are local to Fort Collins. “Little conversations here and there developed into a great network of support.” A passion for helping people, an understanding of the playing field, and using local resources like the SBDC has helped Green Ride succeed and become a flourishing business in Fort Collins.

Green Ride takes the uncertainty away from travel to make the experience carefree and fun. “We really care about our customers and respect them and their time. We have a fantastic team. Green Ride’s biggest success has been putting 60 people to work in this economy. That is so rewarding.”

Pateros Creek Brewery

When Steve Jones of Pateros Creek Brewery began the journey to turn his passion for brewing beer into a business, he may not have predicted just how long that trip might take. Much like a raft trip down Pateros Creek – an early name for the Cache la Poudre River – the route from concept to selling beer had a few obstacles in store.

After trade marking a business name and announcing it, another local business expressed concern about possible confusion with a similar, long-used and unprotected name. Out of respect, Jones held a contest asking supporters for naming suggestions. A local craft beer drinker, Josh Ritter, submitted Pateros Creek

Jones drafted a business plan and took that to the SBDC. “They really opened my eyes – it was not what it needed to be” Jones notes. “It needed a lot more substance, especially when it came to my financial projections.”

Under the guidance of an SBDC counselor and the business plan writing class, Jones’ plan went from four pages to 24 through several rounds of revisions. “Our counselor really asked the tough questions. If you believe in your idea, he expects you to back it up. That really helped in creating the plan, and it was great preparation for talking to investors. I’m still amazed at how many businesses start without a plan.”

Despite the preparation and advice, raising the first round of capital was challenging. Jones found it hard to convince prospects that the numbers of beer lovers in northern Colorado would generate the demand needed to support the brewery; but as word got out about what he was up to, financing fell into place.

With the business plan complete, a new name in place, and investors on board, Jones purchased brewing equipment and leased space from another craft brewer and set up a contract brewing agreement. Initial efforts focused on the basics – creating great beer, selling kegs, building cash flow, and purchasing ingredients for the next batch to be brewed.

Meanwhile, Jones, his wife, Cathy, and dad, Bob, were scouting locations to open their own brewing facility and tasting room. They found a spot in Old Town Fort Collins in late 2010 that needed some TLC, and worked for six months to prepare the space for their June opening. “Our location, along College Avenue and near Old Town Square, is great. We really benefit from all the existing foot traffic in the area.”

Pateros Creek is seeing better than projected financial results, and is now ramping up its brewing volume. The Jones family, along with friends and investors, are selling kegs, growlers and pints of five different brews. They’re waiting on additional fermenting tanks to arrive, and looking forward to hiring full-time employees next year, expanding, and starting to can their beer. Pateros Creek beers can be found on 12 taps at nine area bars and restaurants, which also draws people to the tasting room.

“We just wanted to create a great place to go, hang out, and drink quality beer, and the SBDC helped us bring our vision to life.”

Little Bird Bakeshop

The Little Bird Bakeshop opened its doors on December 14, 2010 and since then has developed a loyal following. On any given morning, a passerby wandering through Old Town Square in Fort Collins can peer through the bakeshop’s inviting façade and watch customers sipping coffee and enjoying delicious chocolate croissants, chocolate walnut cookies, and other pastries. With its friendly atmosphere and fresh, creative confections, it will take only a glance before you walk through the door to see for yourself what all of the smiles are about. Once you do, you will find yourself a loyal follower as well.

Amy Marsh has always wanted to be a pastry chef. Her passion has carried her from a bakery in Boulder, to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Art in Vancouver, BC to New York City, and eventually home to Fort Collins. “Everything just fell into place,” she says of her return to Northern Colorado two years ago. “The location opened up and funding became available.” Amy’s passion is the creativity that she puts into her creations. “I get to create something every day. It doesn’t have to be the same thing. The spontaneity keeps it interesting. I love the creative aspect of it, it is my artistic outlet and people get to enjoy it.”

Amy first met with a counselor at the SBDC a year and a half ago when she was having difficulty with a name for her business. She had chosen a name and there was a conflict with another local business. “The SBDC helped. The counselor advised me not to open a business already struggling.” Amy took this advice and decided to cut her losses and find a different name. Amy credits the SBDC with contributing greatly to her success. “The name concept was very difficult to let go of.” As Amy was letting go and creating a new name, the issue was creating somewhat of a buzz and the Coloradoan wrote an article about it.

Since then, Amy has received positive feedback from customers on the name of her bakeshop and it has brought locals through her doors. “The outside, objective insight and encouragement” she received from the SBDC has been a key contributor to her success. Amy keeps up with the SBDC by reading SBDC monthly emails and publications. The counselor who assisted her through the name change decision has been into the bakeshop a few times. Once things settle down a bit Amy plans to take some of the SBDC classes.

Amy considers one of her most important successes to be the people who have chosen to be her staff at The Little Bird Bakeshop. “They really like being here and enjoy working with the customers.” Friendships have developed between staff and customers and in its one year of business The Little Bird Bakeshop has already found loyal fans. The Little Bird Bakeshop is not a traditional bakery. The menu is constantly evolving and Amy’s primary focus is on breakfast pastries. They bake two varieties of bread each day, and you’ll find the fresh bread available in the late afternoon, convenient if you want a loaf for dinner, rather than the early morning tradition of some bakeries. This is just one of many details that make The Little Bird Bakeshop unique. With the help of the SBDC, The Little bird Bakeshop has found its niche and brings sweetness and warmth as a welcome addition to Old Town.