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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.”

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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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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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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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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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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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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