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Success Stories

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.”

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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Babette’s Feast Catering & Bakery

What’s a CPA working as a health-care administrator to do for a second career? Follow his passion. What’s a nurse practitioner to do in her off hours? Dream up cake creations. Rudy Burns’s passion is to feed people, and his wife, Angi, has a creative side. While living in Arkansas, Rudy attended the Arkansas Culinary School in Little Rock. They consulted with a Small Business Development Center, where they were counseled to stay away from

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Beau & Belle Littles

The true measure of a successful product is: Does it solve a customer problem? As new, active parents, Paul and Rachelle Baron faced a common problem when trying to take their little one swimming. They wanted a high quality, reusable swim diaper that handled solid waste well, but there was nothing on the market that met their standards. “The problems we saw were that disposables were not good quality, didn’t contain solid waste well, and

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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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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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Avid Product Development

Consulting businesses are often lonely endeavors, constrained by the experience, capacity, and moxie of the owner. When opportunity knocks – in the guise of new technologies, more customers, or economic expansion – many consultants choke, not willing to do what’s necessary to grow. When Doug Collins, owner of Loveland’s Avid Product Development reached that point, it was the opportunities new 3D Printing technology offered that crystalized the dilemma. “I had a good clientele, a good

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