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Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery
This Larimer County small business success story comes from SBDC volunteers Brad Shannon, Shannon Marketing Communications, writer; and Coby Hughey, photographer.

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."