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Success Stories

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 Things Tea” to its now widely-recognized, “Ku Cha House of Tea,” which translates to “Bitter Tea” in Chinese. Since its inception, Ku Cha has grown tremendously, now with two brick and mortar locations, one in Fort Collins, and their flagship located on the iconic Pearl Street Mall. In just over a decade, with the help of a nominal SBA loan of $2,000, Ku Cha House of tea has grown from 3 employees and one location to 23 employees who support a large warehouse and two retail shops.

Ku Cha House of Tea has certainly seen steady growth, but as with most entrepreneurial endeavors, this success has not come without challenges. Shortly after the company formation, Qin and Rong discovered the myriad of business factors for which they were now responsible. Like most founders, they wanted to see their business succeed, and in order to do that, they needed to understand inventory management, sales analysis, marketing strategy and tactics, accounting and finance, real estate, and much more. Lead SBDC Consultant, Chuck Hunker once told them, “As a small business owner, we have to be good at so many things!” He was certainly right, but as Rong and Qin have discovered, there are people and organizations like Boulder SBDC who are there to help.

Boulder SBDC has continued to help Ku Cha House of tea refine their business and their brand. As Ku Cha now embarks on their next phase of growth, SBDC consultants are waiting in the wings to assist. Ku Cha’s three main goals for 2018 are: 1) Design and implement a franchise model 2) Promote tea education throughout the community and 3) Strengthen the Ku Cha House of tea brand.

When asked what has been the biggest takeaway from their work with the SBDC, Qin said, “Ms. Sharon King has been a tremendous source of help to Ku Cha’s growth. She has connected us with quite a few very good consultants who assisted with various aspects of business operations. She is an affectionate Ku Cha advocate.”

Rong went on to share, “As a business owner and influential leader, [Sharon King] has been very inspiring to me.”

Even in the midst of expansion, Qin and Rong remain connected to the mission of their business: to bring high quality, flavorful tea to their community. In doing so, they also impart to their customers a long-standing tradition of enjoying a beverage that is not only medicinal but also builds experiences among friends and family.

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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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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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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Whitehorse Heart

“Whitehorse Heart is a consulting company dedicated to reinvention and wellbeing from a business, career and physical standpoint. We help you put another oar in the water to make an effective Plan B or help you get a fresh perspective and new direction in your job or career search. If needed, we can guide you to shift your shape physically so that your outside image and your mind’s eye image merge”, says Teri Sanchez. “Since

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Icebox Knitting

Icebox Knitting is an outdoor lifestyle manufacturing company based out of Longmont. Icebox emerged from its parent company, Alpine knitting in 1993. Initially located on Seventh and Walnut street in Boulder, Icebox has been around for over two decades. Icebox Knitting has two core brand lines, Dohm and Xob. Dohm is a traditional yet vibrant textile brand, made from yarn imported from Italy. Xob’s line is sustainably created from upcycled materials. Initially, to create Xob’s

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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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