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Success Stories

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 got a first hand view of what open ended activities, questions, and projects can produce in kids,” explains Vinnie. That is what got her thinking about a home delivered, craft/project box targeted at kids ages 3-11yr.

Vinnie launched The Happy Trunk in August 2012, with the intent of inspiring creativity and curiosity in children. She offered busy parents a packaged convenient solution. Vinnie hired a professional PR firm to help her promote the website and timed the promotion effort with the approaching Christmas season. Her subscription model gave her the ability to cash flow her inventory and the orders began building rapidly. To help her keep her ideas fresh, she assembled a team of informal consultants (teachers, a child psychologist and some moms) to help her brain storm ideas for themes and open ended gender neutral crafts and projects. Her crafts and projects are all taken for a test drive by a group of kids to ensure they are box worthy. By enabling customers to provide feedback on her website, she has received valuable customer insights that have helped her continue to refine box themes and content over time. Her revenues tripled in 2013, and she is anticipating solid growth in 2014. She now employs two part time moms to assemble her “trunks” which are shipped across the US. Recently she added on online store to sell individual craft boxes for birthday party favors or “rainy day” fun.

Vinnie sees the Boulder County SBDC in partnership with the Longmont Economic Gardening Program (LEGI) as being instrumental in her success. She met with SBDC consultants early on and after her launch, she enrolled in the Leading Edge Class. Vinnie says that, “The Leading Edge class gave me a good perspective on my business and business financing. The Leading Edge consultants helped me with financing, forecasting, pricing and accounting. I discovered the amazing breadth of consultants that the Boulder County SBDC has to offer and was able to network with other businesses.” Through the LEGI program, Vinnie received market data and analysis that helped her with forecasting and developing her market strategies. She also took advantage of almost all of the LEGI sponsored SBDC classes from “Start Up Essentials” and “Social Media Marketing” to QuickBooks classes.

“I am so grateful for all the help that I received through the SBDC and the LEGI program that I want to find ways to give back,” says Ms. Bhushan. Vinnie has a lot of business wisdom to share, so look forward to hearing more from her on a future SBDC -facilitated panel. We celebrate with Vinnie that to date, The Happy Trunk has been featured on both The Today Show and Good Morning America and we all look forward to more great things to come for The Happy Trunk!

Black Swift Technologies

Boulder-based company Black Swift Technologies was founded by three PhD students from the University of Colorado. The three men were inspired to start the company from their work in the field during their studies. At CU, they learned how to chase storms and collect data using old military equipment, which is relatively complicated to use. They set out to simplify the process with unmanned aircraft systems and Black Swift Technologies was born. Although they are

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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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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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Plains To Peaks Chocolate

Plains to Peak Chocolate Company is run by Sunni Sylvester and her husband Jeff. The two did not always have aspirations to make their own chocolate, but like many businesses today, a simple passion and idea can be all it takes to start something great. The direction of your business career can be random, and that is exactly what happened with Sunni and Jeff. “We started randomly. I would buy chocolate, look at the ingredients,

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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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Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs

Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs is a small business that is founded, run and owned by Norah Charles, an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. What makes Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs unique is that Norah works primarily with patients over 70 years old. Norah treats senior clients with a host of difficulties, including chronic pain, depression, and isolation. In addition to her acupuncture, Norah uses over 300 Chinese herbs for distinct wellness purposes. Starting a business is not

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