Maximizing the economic potential of Colorado science and technology companies

SBDC TechSource

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!

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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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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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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Leenie’s Southern Cafe

Conversations, laughter, biscuits and homemade jam melt together at Leenies Southern Café. Established in January 2006, Mel Flores and Eileen Gilmore’s restaurant in Longmont, CO has become a destination for those looking for a classic Southern breakfast and lunch restaurant in Longmont. The dining area is blanketed in simple white tablecloths and is surrounded by shelves loaded with Leenies jams and dishes while local artisan artwork decorates the walls. The atmosphere is relaxed and the

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InDevR

InDevR is a small, privately held biotechnology company in Boulder, CO. Founded in 2003, by Dr. Kathy Rowlen, Dr. John Birks and Dr. Laura Kuck, InDevR employs a highly motivated team of individuals dedicated to the development and commercialization of innovative technologies that will help fill gaps in the current paradigm for virus-related diagnostics. InDevR develops advanced life science instrumentation and assays for analysis of viruses and other microorganisms. Their goal is to revolutionize microbiological

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