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Success Stories

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 in Boulder.

For almost ten years, Ulla and John built the business in four separate locations – the vineyard in Palisade, and in Boulder — the actual wine making process, a separate taste testing space for customers as well as a storage room. They have since consolidated the latter three into one area on the north edge of Boulder. In 2011, Ulla knew it was time to quit her full time job and give the winery her full attention.

In the beginning stages Ulla, sought the help of the SBDC where she took the Leading Edge Entrepreneurship Series, along with various financial and marketing workshops. Coming from the mindset of an engineer the wine making was the easy part, according to Ulla. It was the marketing the she couldn’t wrap her brain around. Ulla says the best part about working with the Boulder SBDC is that “Boulder business owners are very open and supportive and the Boulder SBDC really fosters that. I will use their resources again and again. They are either free or inexpensive; the classes are a good use of time and money.”

What’s success? “We get pride from the quality of our wine. We received a gold medal in the Los Angeles International wine competition with a score of 92/100 on the $30 and under wines (the $30 and over wine gold medalist scored 90/100.) This is what motivates us. We do large dinners here at the winery where a Boulder restaurant chef comes in and cooks a beautiful meal and it’s served with our wine. I know I’ve made a small difference in each person’s life who has attended.”

According to Ulla, “We are a good example that anyone can do it. If an engineer can create wine, you can do anything. Follow your dreams.”

Grasshaven Outdoor

The media has called her the “Martha Stewart of Camping” and it is a title she proudly wears. Dawn Bitz, founder and majority owner of Grasshaven Outdoor is in business to bring sophistication, style and comfort into our time outdoors through stylish outdoor camping equipment, unique RV housewares and general outdoor fun products. Grasshaven Outdoor also strives to deliver a wealth of great ideas and outdoor recipes. Dawn got her inspiration when, as a busy

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Happy Trunk

Who doesn’t like getting fun mail? The Happy Trunk is an ecommerce, subscription based company that delivers monthly “Smiles In A Box for Kids”. Vinnie Bhushan, owner, architect, and interior designer by trade, got her first inspiration for The Happy Trunk from her children. When they were in elementary school, she decided to volunteer as an Odyssey of the Mind Coach. “As an Odyssey of the Mind Coach at Flagstaff Academy in Longmont, CO, I

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Altitude Spirits

In 2004, Matthew Baris and his father conceived of an idea: to start an organic distillery here in Colorado. Colorado is renowned for its variety of large and small local breweries, so they knew they would see some success with a unique idea like theirs. However, neither family member came from an extensive background in business, so they looked to the Boulder Small Business Development Center to help get their idea off the ground. Matt

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Flight Deck Grill

One day, after leaving her full time job, Diann and her husband were at the Vance Brand airport in Longmont for flight class. She really just wanted to sit down at the end of the day and have some good food and cold drink. She realized that the Vance Brand Airport in Longmont, CO had a lot to offer except a restaurant. That desire and realization was the birth of The Flight Deck Grill. Over

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Ku Cha House of Tea

Originally from China, husband and wife entrepreneurial team, Qin Liu and Rong Pan graduated from the Leeds School of Business at Colorado University with the dream of starting their own company. The original business idea was from Qin’s Business Plan Preparation class while enrolled in CU. In 2005, they launched their business, drawing upon the 5000-year-old tradition of drinking tea. In 2007, Qin and Rong changed the company’s original name from “The Leaf – All

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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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