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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!

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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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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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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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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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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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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