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Success Stories

AOW Handmade

Annie Oakley Waterman is an entrepreneur and owner of AOW Handmade. AOW Handmade, founded in 2015, is a unique business that connects artisan enterprisers from all over the developing world to buyers in the United States. Whether it is textiles, silver, brass, paper maché or other materials, Annie seeks out socially responsible producers and helps them to sell their products to the western world. Annie’s favorite places to find her goods are in Mexico and Nepal, but she has loved every place she has been. Annie’s primary focus is sourcing ethically made products.

Like many entrepreneurs, in order to establish her business, Annie found a small niche and worked off of a need. Annie recognized the growing demand for artisan made products, and also that there was no real platform to connect them. There are a lot of companies that work with wholesalers, but Annie saw none working with small-scale producers on a one on one basis. Thus, she decided to seek out unique artisans, and expedite the sourcing process.

Starting AOW was certainly not easy. According to Annie, “I’ve created something that no one has really done before, which is difficult and scary because there is no real business model for it.” Annie first reached out to the Boulder SBDC in April of 2015. She signed up for the Boulder SBDC’s Business Bootcamp workshop, then accessed SBDC consultants. At the time she was struggling with pricing, as she had to cater to the needs of the clients, and thus create unique proposals for each one. According to Annie in regards to the workshop and consulting, “it really helped me with the breakdown of pricing, and how to manage my case by case situation. The consultant was great at offering different ideas, and reminding me that I need different avenues and streams of income. Having a bouncing board to process my ideas with was vital.”

Annie’s biggest challenge has been finding her target market. Annie explained to us, “large retail chains cannot fit me into their business, and it is tricky to find right priced products. My target is medium sized wholesalers.” Although her job is tough, Annie remains ambitious. She explained, “My goal is to get at least one or two retainer clients for stability, but the smaller ones are adding up.”

Annie is currently meeting her goals in regard to capital inflow. She understands that the nature of her business is volatile, as demand is constantly fluctuating, but is taking her challenges in stride. Annie explained, “You never quite know what the projects will be but that’s what keeps them exciting.” It is this inspiring spirit that has helped spur her success.

Annie has also just achieved a consulting position with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for an artisan project helping refugees to gain market access. Annie, and AOW Handmade have a promising future, and the Boulder SBDC is happy to be part of her journey.

Bookcliff Vinyards

“We like drinking wine!” was the simple and honest reason that Ulla Merz and her husband John Garlich decided to open a winery and vineyard. “We started collecting wine in the 1970’s and grew grapes in our backyard. In 1994 we took grape growing and wine making classes and bought a vineyard in an area of Palisade called the Vinelands. That’s where we planted our first grapes in 1996. Bookcliff Vineyards was launched in 1999

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Art Parts Creative Reuse Center

The nonprofit world can be difficult to enter, so when Denise Perreault was in the beginning stages of starting her own nonprofit, Art Parts, she looked to the Boulder Small Business Development Center for guidance. The SBDC helped Denise and her co-founders figure out the most crucial aspects of their new business. “In our four-year founding and planning phase, the most daunting task was setting a realistic budget, as we had no experience there. The

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Stratom

Stratom Inc., founded by Mark Gordon in 2001, is a Boulder-based unmanned robotics engineering and manufacturing firm. Stratom provides integrated solutions and products to government and commercial clients around the globe. Prior to founding Stratom, Mark worked in Sr. Management for various high tech companies. There he witnessed the volatility of the high tech industry and its move to outsource many of its products and services to foreign markets. Mark decided that he wanted to

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InDevR

InDevR is a small, privately held biotechnology company in Boulder, CO. Founded in 2003, by Dr. Kathy Rowlen, Dr. John Birks and Dr. Laura Kuck, InDevR employs a highly motivated team of individuals dedicated to the development and commercialization of innovative technologies that will help fill gaps in the current paradigm for virus-related diagnostics. InDevR develops advanced life science instrumentation and assays for analysis of viruses and other microorganisms. Their goal is to revolutionize microbiological

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Boulder’s Best Organics

Sure, visitors to Boulder enjoy the Flatirons, the creek path, and the Pearl Street Mall. But they also enjoy Chocolove dark chocolate, Justin’s peanut butter, and Pangea lotion. Locally made products define the unique character of Boulder just as much as the town’s natural setting. This inspired Arron Mansika to form the company Boulder’s Best Organics. Boulder’s Best Organics creates gift collections of the finest organic items exclusively from Boulder based companies. Mansika chose to

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Brewmented

We brew what we teach and we teach what we brew — and we’re gonna have fun. — Bill Campbell, Brewmented Oftentimes, a good business opportunity can be found by looking at an established industry in new and unique ways. For Bill Campbell and partner, Vlad Aleksiev, Brewmented was a solution to converting craft beer drinkers and wine/mead/cider affectionados to home brewers and winemakers. A home brewer since the 1970’s, Bill Campbell has watched the

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