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Success Stories

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 a relatively new company, their team, now consisting of seven engineers, represents over 30 years of experience in complex unmanned aircraft systems. The company takes pride in their modular aircraft system that has been approved and used by NASA.

The Boulder Small Business Development Center had the pleasure of working with President and CEO, Jack Elston, in their Technology Ventures Series in 2016.

“We were a bunch of engineers who started a company, so there was a lot to be learned on the business side,” explained Elston. “We got an idea of what we should be looking at, what we weren’t looking at, and what we missed to get a better understanding of the business aspect. We also got a good network of people we could talk to.”

He found abundant value in the experience and relatability of the consultants and presenters who were brought into the program. “We immediately started chatting about the work we’d done and our frustrations of trying to find money to span the gap between the technology development and getting it to market, and we’ve had a pretty good relationship ever since,” remarked Elston.

The cohort aspect even brought him a valuable business partnership. Another company participating in the program was able to use Black Swift Technologies as a beta tester for one of their projects. Furthermore, Elston was also able to build a strong network of similar companies in the same startup space in the Boulder area.

Since the end of the program, Boulder SBDC has continued the relationship with Black Swift Technologies and has been able to provide consulting on additional business needs that have arisen since the conclusion of the program. Elston’s company is working on bettering their marketing plan based on client research they collected while working with the SBDC and consultants. They are also focusing more on business planning and working on allocating more money towards other areas. “We saw that there was a lot more value for us with focusing on retail. It’s a little too early to tell if that’s the right direction, but we’re excited about the potential,” concluded Elston.

The Boulder Small Business Development Center will be continuing their Technology Ventures Series in the future because of the success of companies like Black Swift Technologies.

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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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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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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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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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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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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