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Success Stories

Fernweh Hostel

Walking up to the Fernweh Inn & Hostel, you pass through a white picket fence into a well-kept yard with a random dog toy or two scattered about. The Fernweh immediately feels like home, which is exactly what owner and founder Kelsey Schwager envisioned. “My goal is to give guests an amazing experience so they’ll continue to stay at other hostels while traveling. The Fernweh provides a safe, clean and comfortable environment, which is what every traveler deserves.”

Since Kelsey was 19, she’s spent as much time as she can traveling around the states and abroad, staying primarily in hostels. When she speaks about her experiences traveling, her passion is evident. She firmly believes hostels are a wonderful alternative for budget conscious travelers, but there are misconceptions about what hostels are in the United States. This sparked her dream of opening her own hostel. She pursued degrees in business, recreation and tourism, and earned an internship at a hostel in Gunnison, Colorado. Her three month internship turned in to three years of employment, as she learned the ins and outs of managing a hostel. “I knew I wanted to pull people together for a diverse social experience in a constantly changing environment.”

A combination of opportunity and hard work allowed her to purchase the Sheldon House, a designated historic landmark, with an ideal location in Old Town Fort Collins. In July 2014 she moved in, and with the help of friends and family, began the process of converting the old bed and breakfast to Fort Collins’ first hostel. Her biggest challenge before opening in October 2014 was city zoning regulations, but with persistence she received the approval she needed to realize her dream.

After she began accepting guests, Kelsey made her way to the Larimer SBDC. “When I went in, I wasn’t even sure I was a ‘real’ business yet. They’ve given me a lot of confidence and their excitement for me is inspiring.” Through meetings with several SBDC consultants, she received assistance with accounting, marketing and background activities guests don’t see. “Sure, my guests see me cleaning and answering emails, but that’s only about 10% of what it actually takes. All the background stuff, the other 90%, is huge.”

Currently, her hostel provides amenities such as bikes for guests, full use of the kitchen, a common area complete with board games, movies, books, a piano and fireplace, and even a costume closet. “Since I have been open, I’ve surprised myself and created the space to draw exactly the crowd I wanted. It is inspiring me to dream even bigger and think of new ideas.” Showing off the outdoor space behind the hostel, she talks about the future of a food garden, hammocks and a fire pit for summer relaxation.

“I’ve spent years gaining experience in the field, and working with the SBDC this year has been crucial to my success. The assistance and affirmations I’ve received there makes me think, ‘As a small business, who wouldn’t want this help?’”

Hear more of Kelsey’s story at:

Clean Bees

Clean Bees Homekeepers Cleaning Up! When Katie Straubel moved from Florida to Colorado in 2001, she took a job doing house-cleaning to make ends meet.  Eight years later, she earned a history degree from CSU, while continuing to work in the cleaning industry. Today, she is the proud confident owner of Clean Bees, a Northern Colorado cleaning company with 35 employees and over $1M in annual sales! Katie says “I worked in the restaurant business,

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The Cooking Studio

Fifteen years ago, Trish O’Neill took her first cooking class and she was hooked! She began cooking inspired meals from scratch and it soon became her passion. Over the next 15 years she traveled for her career, all the while taking cooking classes as a hobby while on her travels. This cultivated the idea that would eventually bring Trish and her talent to Fort Collins to open The Cooking Studio, a place for amateur cooks,

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The Magic Bus Tours

Fort Collins has an amazing amount of things to see and do. No business, however, had offered a service as fun and forward thinking as Magic Bus Tours to create a unique and educational experience around the local activities. “When I first started visiting Fort Collins, I loved learning about the local history, lifestyles and culture, but I couldn’t find another bus-tour service in town,” said Michael Murphy, founder and visionary behind Magic Bus Tours.

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Java Raiz

Need a quick boost of healthy energy? Java Raiz can save your day. Made with organic Flame raisins grown in California and 100% Kona coffee from Hawaii, Java Raiz is a healthy treat you can take anywhere. The ingredients are simple, but extremely good for you. Organic Flame raisins are made from red grapes, which include more antioxidants than a typical (Thompson) raisin. Kona coffee beans are grown in volcanic soil, which provides many more

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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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Teaching Tree Early Childhood LC

Northern Colorado businesses are working hard to fill workforce needs. One of the main barriers is the availability and cost of child care, which can run as high as $16,000 annually for infant care. Teaching Tree, a nonprofit with facilities in Fort Collins and Loveland, has provided quality child care since 1970, with much of this care supporting low-moderate income families. Teaching Tree is undertaking an ambitious expansion that will double its child care capacity

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