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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:

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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Rain Boutique

Opening Rain Boutique, a shop featuring refreshingly wearable clothing with a sprinkling of unique gifts and housewares, took a lot of guidance. That was when Kristin Mouton turned to the Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for practical advice. “My counselor at SBDC really kept me going and gave me a lot of reassurance, even after I had been turned down by two banks for a business loan,” said Mouton. Mouton started with an

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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

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Daniël-James van den Berg and DJM Design

Daniël-James van den Berg and DJM Design have both come a long way over the years. Literally and figuratively. Born in South Africa, Daniël-James is a self-described Ginger, family man, Web Agency owner and newly naturalized U.S. Citizen with a double first name who enjoys doing freestyle breakdancing in his spare time.   We barely finished the tour of his Greeley office space when his wife, Joy, and their 16-month-old daughter, Zona, stopped by. “Joy keeps

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Colorado Coffee Company

Creating Community Through Coffee  Expanding a business during the difficulties that 2020 brought may seem impossible, but Colorado Coffee Company has managed to do that and more. The business has been a Northern Colorado staple for about 30 years, originally starting in the Foothills Mall in Fort Collins, but current owner Stacy Kliner has built a community around the established brand in the last five years as they’ve refocused in Loveland.  It was poised to be a great year

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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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