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Consultant Spotlight - Sari Kimbell

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Each month we will be featuring one of our consultants in the Consultant Spotlight. This will be an opportunity for you to get to know a little more about our consultants and how special they are to the Larimer SBDC, our clients and the community. Along with a short background bio on each consultant, we will also ask each of them 5 Questions that pertain to their particular industry or experience. 

This month, we turn the spotlight on Sari Kimbell, Founder & CEO of Cultivate. Sari is one of our newest consultants and she specializes in the food and restaurant industry, as well as being a business owner herself.

Sari Kimbell brings over 20 years of experience in the food industry to the SBDC to work with food-related businesses including value-added product makers, growers and service-based establishments such as restaurants, food trucks and caterers looking to start or expand their business.  Her experience in farming, purchasing, wholesale, grocery retail, restaurant front and back of the house, starting her own food business and managing a commissary kitchen gives her an understand of the food industry as a whole. Sari is knowledgeable and experienced in supply chain management, licenses, certifications, profitability, retail and wholesale distribution, packaging, e-commerce, marketing, branding, and sales strategies. 
 
Sari has combined her passion for the food industry with her marketing, event planning and graphic design skills to create a unique niche for her own consulting company working with startups, established businesses and non-profits.  Her passion is working with food business start-ups, helping them navigate the business development cycle to launch successfully and business ready to grow and take their business to the next level.

5 Questions for Sari Kimbell:

1) What's new with you?  I am thrilled to be a key part of Fort Collins Startup Week as the content captain, in collaboration with the Northern Colorado Food Cluster, for the food track sessions.  I have been busy pulling together great panelists for session, fine-tuning my own presentation on growing a food business and organizing 10 food pop-ups throughout the week.   


2) Thoughts on the food/restaurant industry for 2018?  2018 will bring some big legislative changes for restaurants around food safety and food labeling changes for value-added food products.  Aside from this, the future is bright for food businesses.  Customers continue to want more transparency in their food whether it is local or non-processed, from scratch ingredients or menu options and they are willing to pay for it. Understanding your market and setting yourself apart with a defensibly unique stance is key to capturing sales in the food and restaurant industries.


3) What do you enjoy most about consulting?  It is so rewarding to see growth over time.  Some clients make leaps and bounds in weeks or months and some are on a slower timeline.  Neither is better or worse, it is forward progress that is important.  I love seeing many of my clients out in social settings, because food is social, and hearing the latest update.  We are so fortunate to have a thriving local food scene and I am honored to be a part of it.


4) Favorite restaurants in Ft. Collins?  Right now I am really loving Emporium in The Elizabeth Hotel.  I love that they have duck liver mousse and a lardon salad.  I lived in Paris for six months and the menu and decor bring me back to lazy afternoons spent in brasseries.  You also can't beat the view or cocktails after dinner upstairs in the Sunset Lounge with Mark Sloniker playing Jazz in the background.    


5) One piece of advice for anyone looking to start a new food/restaurant business? As I said before, know your target market inside and out and be able to defend your unique selling point.  If you are going to start a salsa company, which I don't recommend, it has to stand out as different enough that people just have to try in an over-saturated market.  Also, this is connected, people like to try new things in small doses, so help ease them into your unique product or menu by relating it to something they know. Don't afraid to step out of the norm a little bit, but no so much that it is way outside of people's comfort zones; only 10% of the population are early adopters and a food business will need more than that to make it.  For example, don’t start a restaurant with the craziest trend in Korean street food like edible insects.  Instead introduce one menu item that incorporates an element of that trend that is relateable. That said, when you can coax customers into trying something new, they LOVE to Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat and tell others about the great new cricket meatballs they just ate. Finding the balance is not an easy task, but it is achievable. 

Find out more about Sari Kimbell and her mission at Cultivate




Peggy Lyle - 2017 Consultant of the Year

Friday, January 05, 2018
Peggy Lyle receives the Consultant of the Year Award from Mike O'Connell, Larimer SBDC Director

Peggy Lyle was presented with the award for 2017 Consultant of the Year for the Larimer SBDC at an Innosphere event held in December.  She is the director of Downtown Fort Collins Creative District and is heavily involved with ArtUpWeek, which is a part of 2018 StartUpWeek Fort Collins.  Peggy started as an SBDC consultant about 1½ years ago as a creative consultant and she has been a huge asset to the SBDC and the creative clients she works with since that time.

The terminology used in the business world does not always resonate with creative entrepreneurs.  Peggy translates business strategy into language and actionable items the creative business owners can successfully implement.  She is especially good with helping creatives with their branding, marketing and promotion of their business.  Peggy is an adventurer, a connector and an idea creator.  And this essence of who Peggy is, engages her with her creative clients making a lasting impact.

In addition to the one-on-one consulting, Peggy is also our creative champion for helping organize, promote and implement our industry specific events for the creative community. She describes herself as passionate and energized to work on projects that benefit the larger community.
  
With her great energy, passion and dedication, there is no doubt that we will successfully and easily have several great, well-attended creative events in 2018. Thank you, Peggy, for who you are and everything you do!




The Cooking Studio

Friday, December 08, 2017


Owner, Trish O'Neill

Unleash Your Inner Chef!
Story & Photos courtesy Sharon Long and Trish O'Neill

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, corporate teams, kids, couples, and even aspiring bakers to learn, explore, and unleash their inner chef.

The idea would take a lot of preparation to bring into fruition. Trish approached the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2014 to learn about opening a small business. She spent countless hours of training and consulting before successfully launching her business in September 2015. 

“We have a lot of fun (at The Cooking Studio) with the kid’s programs, date nights, private parties, corporate events, team building and, cooking competitions”. The classes attract young professionals as well as empty-nesters and has become a very popular environment for everyone to learn new techniques while cooking different cuisines. The relaxed and comfortable environment helps all the students get to know one another.

“Sitting down to dinner in The Cooking Studio is amazing! We have students from all walks of life: ranchers, professors, entrepreneurs, physicians & nurses, scientists, poets, artists, Ph.D.’s, and even a magician and a Police Chief. With all these people coming together to eat a (delicious!) menu created by the Chef and cooked in class, you can just imagine how fantastic the conversations are. It’s an unparalleled experience. And we host classes for aspiring home cooks as young as 8 old all the way up to 90 years old. There is a place for everyone at the Cooking Studio!”

The Cooking Studio has a team of local professional chefs who teach the classes. These talented Chefs share tips and tricks from their restaurant and catering experiences, project manage the cooking, make sure all the recipes come out delicious and that all the cooking activities go smoothly. The typical class size is 12 but can go as high as 20 people.

There are a few rules The Cooking Studio enforces in the classes.

      1. All food is made from scratch.
      2. Everything must be delicious.
      3. No one is allowed to voice an opinion about what other people eat. There is no ‘normal’ way of eating and, in all our classes, we find a menu to fit all the students.

Trish keeps in contact with the SBDC on a regular basis to continue the progress on her business. Since opening in 2015, business is going strong with year over year revenues steadily increasing. In fact 2017 revenues are 60% over 2016! Working with the SBDC has helped keep Trish accountable on an ongoing basis and to be successful.

Want to know more about this culinary playground? Checkout the website at www.the-cooking-studio.com. Which class will help you unleash your inner chef?

Supporting Ft. Collins Small Business at Jessup Farm

Monday, November 27, 2017

Larimer SBDC director, Mike O'Connell, along with Ft. Collins Mayor, Wade Troxell and Frances Padilla, SBA Colorado District Director, paid a visit to a few local businesses as a show of support for Small Business Saturday.  His visit included stops at Bindle Coffee, HeyDey and Knapsack located in the Jessup Farm Artisan Village development in Southeast Ft. Collins. More information on these local businesses, as well as the many others in the Jessup Farm development, can be found on their website at Jessup Farm Artisan Village

Pictured (left to right): Mike O'Connell, Frances Padilla, Wade Troxell and Andrew Webb, Co-owner of Bindle Coffee

Pictured (left to right): Frances Padilla, Jennifer Little, Owner of HeyDey and Knapsack, Mike O'Connell and Wade Troxell.


Colorado Enterprise Fund Launches Veteran Loan Program - VALOR

Monday, November 06, 2017

CEF Launches Small Business Loan Program for Veterans – VALOR

The Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC) has received notification that the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is launching a new small business loan program for veterans. The loan program, created to support U.S. military veterans and Gold Star Families (surviving spouses and children of veterans) in Colorado, will officially launch on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2017.

Veteran Access Loan Opportunity Resource (VALOR) will provide discounted loan rates and extended terms for military veterans who are unable to secure financing through traditional banks. The VALOR loan program offers loan amounts up to $500,000 for working capital, equipment, inventory, property improvements, business purchases and purchases of commercial real estate. The program offers a loan rate that is discounted 2% from standard CEF rates with loan terms of up to 10 years and interest-only periods of up to six months.

One in 10 businesses are veteran-owned businesses, and those businesses employ six million workers, generating $1.2 trillion in annual receipts, according to the Small Business Administration, or SBA.

Previously, the SBA offered two loan programs that were created specifically for veteran-owned businesses: the Patriot Express Loan (which expired in 2013) and the SBA Veterans Advantage Loan Program (which expired in October 2014). It is exciting to see that CEF is introducing this new program during National Veterans Small Business Week (Oct. 30 through Nov. 3). Although CEF has not previously offered a formal program for military veterans and their families, over the past two decades, CEF has provided 30 loans to veterans in Colorado totaling $1.2 million. These loans have created 200 jobs and allowed for the retention of nearly 100 jobs statewide.

Those interested in applying for the VALOR loan program can apply online via the CEF website and/or can contact Mike Jensen, CEF senior loan officer and U.S. Army veteran, at mike@coloradoenterprisefund.org. CEF is a community partner of the Loveland Business Development Center. LBDC clients can schedule an appointment with Lewis Hagler, CEF director of credit, at the LBDC office on Wednesday afternoons.

The Loveland Business Development Center offers free business counseling and low cost workshops to Loveland residents and businesses.

 

About Colorado Enterprise Fund
Founded in 1976, Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) provides loans up to $500,000 to finance small businesses and startups unable to obtain funding through traditional banks. With a mission to accelerate community prosperity by financing and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, CEF has provided over $64 million in loans to more than 2,000 businesses to help create or retain over 17,000 jobs in the state. A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CEF is based in Denver with a satellite office in Fort Collins. CEF’s lending and consulting services are available statewide. For more information, visit: www.coloradoenterprisefund.org

O'Connell Speaking at National SBDC Conference

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mike O'Connell, Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Director, will be a presenter at the National SBDC conference in September, in Nashville Tennessee. Over 1400 small business development professionals attend this annual conference to sharpen their consulting skills, and learn about useful entrepreneurial resources. O'Connell will present “My Top Six Ways That Businesses Get Into Trouble”. This information was also featured in BizWest magazine’s May 2017 edition.

The Warehouse Business Accelerator Announces New Executive Director

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
The Warehouse Business Accelerator Announces New Executive Director
August 14, 2017

LOVELAND, CO – The Warehouse Business Accelerator, a public-private regionally supported economic development engine, has appointed Bryan Pederson as leader and Executive Director for the organization.
Pederson began his new role in early July and brings to the Acceler
ator more than 10 years of regional business and community development experience that includes former leadership of Thrivent Financial’s community engagement initiatives in Central California and formation of the Safe at Home program with Rebuilding Together Peninsula.
“Bryan as the Executive Director is the perfect fit in our city’s economic eco system as his passions and purpose is driving business development and community engagement. His servant leadership, networking capabilities, and positive attitude make him ideal for the position,” reported Jay Dokter, founder of the Warehouse.
"The Warehouse program is distinctly different from other business incubator programs because of the maturity of the companies it serves," Dokter said. "Companies enabled by The Warehouse are typically graduates from the incubator phase. They have a tested product and are ready to "scale up" to bring their product to market, generate revenue and hire employees."
“I look forward to serving and partnering with the area’s stage II companies in this capacity” remarks Bryan. “I am dedicated to this sector because it is a primary driver of economic growth and creator of jobs in our communities. The Warehouse Business Accelerator plays a key role in supporting and developing company capacity to improve this region’s quality of life.”
The Warehouse's primary funding source comes from the Loveland Business Partnership (LBP) with collaboration and support from the City of Loveland and other organizations. The Warehouse provides select incubator graduates and Stage II companies access to an integrated regional ecosystem. This includes expert advice, capital, supply chain partners, research resources, market connections, and physical resources for the purpose of accelerating their revenue growth, scale-up, and growth of primary jobs.

LBP Board Member, Douglas Rutledge, said “The Warehouse's founders have been working alongside many of the existing entrepreneurial support entities to build out a missing piece of the regional ecosystem in Northern Colorado. Collaboration, a regional footprint, local, state, international sources of capital and tech industry cluster development are all ingredients to The Warehouse's success.”

The Warehouse is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and is eligible to receive funding through sponsorship, in-kind donations, grants and government sources.

The Loveland Business Partnership (LBP) is an organization comprised of Loveland business leaders interested in promoting and supporting business growth and opportunity within the city that provides high quality employment opportunities for current and future citizens.

Spidertrax

Wednesday, August 02, 2017
Spidertrax Off-Road
Owner: Thom Kingston















Story written by: Shelley Widhalm
Photos Courtesy of Spidertrax

Thom Kingston helped start Loveland-based Spidertrax Off-Road not in a garage like some startups but in a fully equipped shop at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
In 1999, Kingston and his former partner and co-founder, Eddie Casanueva, initially snuck into the school after-hours to develop and manufacture parts for the off-road industry until they got official approval and could work during the daytime. “We were manufacturing all of our parts, using the tools of the university to pull it off,” said Kingston, who has a degree in mechanical engineering.

Kingston and Casanueva moved their fledgling operation to Longmont in 2001, bringing a few parts on pallets. They relocated the shop again in 2014 into an 8,000-square-foot building at 174 12th St., SE.

Spidertrax makes products for rock crawling, a motor sport involving driving over tough, rocky terrain. The company, which produces everything in-house, develops and manufactures drive trains, axles, hub units and knuckles, all for the front and rear of the off-road vehicle.

“When we competed in racing and rock crawling, 
you couldn’t get through a day of rock crawling without something breaking,” Kingston said. “It was what happened, because it was so extreme.”
Kingston, who has a staff of 16, takes the approach of looking for causes of failure to improve his product lines, regularly meeting with top off-road drivers at competitions. He doesn’t simply design on paper or use Computer-Aided Design but employs materials, workmanship, and engineering and design principles to transform what the machines can do.

His product lines impressed the producer of “Monster Trucks,” who called Kingston last year to request design specs for drive trains, axles and other parts to use in movie stunts, along with a large inventory of spares. Kingston didn’t hear from the producer after putting in his order, so when the movie came out, he decided to email him. With an apology, the producer said what Kingston had made at Spidertrax was of such high quality nothing broke.

 “It’s nice to be able to serve and over deliver, and I try to stay on my toes for that,” Kingston said.

To continue expanding his business, Kingston began working with Robert Coffey, a Loveland Business Development Center/Larimer Small Business Development Center financial specialist, in February 2016. Kingston, who had reached a point where he needed to generate more sales to grow his business, wanted to get ideas for improving his budgeting and financing.
“The key thing Thom wanted to focus on was a financial budget because there 
 seemed to be a lot of wasted resources, and forming a budget helps you develop discipline in operations,” Coffey said. “How does that financial data give you perspective on how your company is performing?” 

 Coffey helped give Kingston direction to improve his interpretation of the balance sheet and P&L statement financial data in making sound business decisions, he said. 

“It played a very key role at the exact right time,” Kingston said. “They have been absolutely phenomenal in taking the business to the next step.”

Trailcraft Cycles

Thursday, June 22, 2017
Family First, Business, Amazing!


















Trailcraft Cycles
Owners: Ginger and Brett Rosenbauer

Story written by: Lee Porter
Photography by: Lee Porter

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 to start Trailcraft, a bike company devoted to small ones—kids, and now, small adults.

Coming up with an idea is one thing, putting together a business is another. Brett took on the task of researching:
“I have a pretty good pulse on the market, so I feel like we saw a trend, maybe three years before it was ready, and we launched at the prime time,” he said.

Ginger set about the work of learning how to run a business. As a MSW social worker, her education didn’t help much, but when Public Service Credit Union recommended she seek help at the SBDC, she was delighted.

“I needed help with the accounting piece, with inventory and cash flow analysis,” Ginger said.
And I got it with Andrea (Grant). She’s been a great help.

“Andrea gave us a great set of spreadsheets that has had a profound effect—inventory management, cash flow analysis. This has been really helpful in going to the banks. It (made) us look really professional as a company to have all our ducks in a row. It’s meant we’ve been able to get good lending-- which has been super important to us.”

“We did a first small run of 50 frames and parts. We launched two ways, on Kickstarter and our website with Rocket Jones.” Ginger added.

“I think both Ginger and I saw this as an opportunity to create our own business that will work with our family. We can take Fridays off and go camping together. At Niner I was the original Fort Collins employee. It was a lot of work—70-80-hour weeks, so I’ve got an understanding of what it takes to start a company from the beginning,” Brett said.

“The key is that we captured a market that was emerging,” said Ginger. “We were able to see, like Niner in the 29-inch wheels, that the market timing was just right when we launched with TrailCraft. Now, the market is really taking notice.

“We’ve gone from focusing solely on little kids to 9-14 year olds with our 27” bike and now an even bigger bike designed for smaller women.”

“We have fun playful bikes for anyone who’s under 5”6’,” Brett said.

What would the Rosenbauers recommend for budding entrepreneurs? Go to the SBDC, Ginger says. “It is so amazing to me the level of professional advice and it’s free, it just blows my mind.”




Find Something New! Pop-Ups at Mesh

Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Find Something New is a Pop-up Event featuring the products of local artisans and entrepreneurs- makers, designers and developers alike.  

Mesh is located at 242 Linden Street in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins. We provide pop-up vendors with electricity,  water and restroom facilities. We require our vendors to provide their own tables and equipment. Times are subject to change but typically our pop-up's run from 12:00pm-9:00pm on Friday & 10:00am-4:00pm on Saturday. Mesh charges a booth rental fee per day based on the amount of sq. footage each vendor uses as well as a percentage of sales.

Upcoming Dates:

  • April 7th & 8th
  • May 5th & 6th
  • June 2nd & 3rd
If you are a vendor interested in participating, click here to apply!