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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.”

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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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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ERC Insulation

ERC Insulation is a local, majority woman-owned and operated business based in Boulder, Colorado, serving Boulder, Denver, Jefferson, Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin Counties. The story surrounding the formation of ERC Insulation began in 2006, when Elton and Christine Randall formed Elton Construction and Design. Elton had difficulty finding a spray foam contractor for his jobs, so he sought a solution to this problem. Elton purchased a trailer with a spray foam reactor, which he could

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Sante Fe Coffee and Burrito Company

Arturo Maestas launched the Santa Fe Coffee and Burrito Company, in Longmont, CO, on April 11, 2011. Santa Fe Coffee and Burrito Company is a Spanish and Southwest restaurant with a diverse menu, featuring both Spanish and American style dishes. Arturo has relatives in Albuquerque, NM and sought to bring the ambiance of Santa Fe, NM, to Longmont, CO. Arturo remodeled the entire restaurant with the help of few family members and friends. The beautiful

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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

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