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Success Stories

Branch Out Cider

The idea for Branch Out Cider, a community orchard that produces apple wine from neighborhood trees, began with one special apple tree. When Aaron Fodge and Matt Fater sat down to discuss their business and share their story, they were quick to point out the lush, flowering apple tree in their neighborhood that started it all. “The tree was loaded, so we made cider with it!” That was the first year. The next year they bought a press and collected apples from around the neighborhood. Their first batch made more cider than they could use, and neighbors started coming by. “We made a party out of it.” Then they noticed how many trees there were and that no one was doing anything with the apples.

After four years of making cider, last summer they decided to take a sample of how many local apple trees there are and devise a plan to bring them into use. “We wanted to do something with the forgotten apple trees.” They fine tuned their cider process and began to make apple wine. During this time, they also began to write a business plan and enlisted the help of the SBDC. “We needed validation that this will work. Tree owners are actually customers. We want to create a community orchard where people’s trees contribute to the orchard.”

Matt and Aaron worked on the business plan over the summer and used GIS to map local apple trees. In November 2011 they submitted an abstract to the Monfort College of Business’ Third Annual Entrepreneurial Challenge. They presented their business idea, developed a sales pitch, and submitted their business plan. “In that month of preparation, we met with Arnie Culver with the SBDC. Arnie critiqued the plan and gave us very valuable ideas to put into the plan.” A one-hour consult turned into an hour and forty minutes of brainstorming ideas, mostly focused on secondary services. “Arnie stuck around well past that hour. He gave us 4-5 solid ideas that we have since added into the business plan. He was a straight shooter and we knew that he would tell us if this wouldn’t work.” On March 8, 2012 Matt and Aaron competed in the Challenge against four other companies and won 2nd prize and $10,000 startup capital for Branch Out Cider. The SBDC will be reviewing their plan again, and Matt and Aaron plan to continue to work with the SBDC.

Matt and Aaron share the ethic of not wanting to see things go to waste. One of their goals is to use an urban environment to promote sustainable agriculture. Branch Out Cider’s passion for bringing the community together to create a fresh, local product is clear in the enthusiasm with which Matt and Aaron share their story. “It was fun to bring a new idea to the neighborhood and see how excited people got.”
They will be signing up trees this fall, with the first batch available next spring 2013. If you have an apple tree with some extra fruit and a story to tell, Branch Out Cider is the place for you!

Wordsmith Wood Shop

Loveland area couple Gib and Lisa Coalwell made a few wooden boxes decorated with sayings but a large order put a toll on their small laser engraver. The owners of Wordsmith Wood Shop needed to hire staff, get three more engravers and quickly learn manufacturing on a large scale. The couple blends handcrafted wood and engraved words to create heirloom boxes, bookmarks, recipe cards, coasters, magnets and cutting boards for their wholesale, retail and individual

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Trailcraft Cycles

When their son Elijah was three, Ginger and Brett Rosenbauer put him on a bike and he took off like a rocket. Elijah just turned seven when he got his first “real” bike, and it turned out to be heavy, and needing modification. So, it was in the hot tub of their west Fort Collins home that Ginger, a stay at home mom and Brett, an executive at the Fort Collins bike manufacturer Niner, decided

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Rodeo News

Siri Steven has a passion for life, a desire to educate, and a work ethic and determination that have made Rodeo News the successful, nationally recognized magazine it is today. “This is the culmination of all of the things I have learned in 40 years.” Good friends, life circumstances, and hard work brought Rodeo News into her life, and she has devoted herself to its success completely. After getting her start working on the publication

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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

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Blue Pine Construction

Blue Pine Construction is based in Wellington, and run by the husband and wife team of Mike and Lorilyn Bockelman. Their company does home  construction/remodeling, and a variety of outdoor “decking” projects, throughout Northern Colorado. Mike’s construction background, combined with Lorilyn’s retail management experience, makes for a productive combination. They have grown the business significantly over the last few years. Blue Pine Construction now has 10 full time employees, including a new production manager. Mike is a Air

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Rocky Mountain Westy

You don’t often see a growing business based on a product that hasn’t been made in almost 20 years, but twin brothers Mike and Greg LaBate built this at Rocky Mountain Westy (RMW). RMW designs, manufacturers, and sells camping and lifestyle parts to Volkswagen Vanagon “Westy” van enthusiasts and service centers worldwide. These products help the van owner upgrade or convert the Westy van, often to performance levels above the original factory model, such as

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