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Anna Sladek

From Lakes to Mountains

Lake and Company is a socially conscious magazine, carefully curated with a give-back message that supports adventure, innovation, conservation, and community built around lake culture. It has multiple complementary brick-and-mortar retail locations in Colorado and Minnesota selling outdoor clothing and gear. Northwest SBDC was able to help two clients through its work with the company. 

Early in 2023, founder Megan Kellin decided it was time to pare down the physical locations and devote more time to scaling the magazine. An exit strategy specialist with Northwest SBDC was there to offer support. Through a series of consulting sessions Megan learned how to understand the value of her business within each retail location. For the Steamboat Springs location, the end result was a successful sale to a new owner.

That new owner, Anna Sladek, had separately sought Northwest SBDC assistance with the goal of deciding if the purchase of an existing storefront was the right choice for her. 

SBDC consulting sessions provided guidance on establishing the business under her ownership, as well as strategic planning and expansion. Additionally, Anna attended Startup to Scaleup, an intensive two-day event presented by the Northwest SBDC in partnership with CU Boulder and the Leeds School of Business. 

She says, “The consultant from SBDC was invaluable to helping me understand whether or not this was a good business decision and a viable business to invest in. They also helped me refine my business plan so that I can really hone in on the aspects that will drive the business to success.”

The “new” company has recently undergone a rebranding to shift focus from lake culture to mountain life with the name Mountain and Company. Anna is currently updating the store by bringing in Colorado brands as well as creating partnerships with local guides to offer additional resources to customers.

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EcoPoint staff working in the field

EcoPoint

Founded in Rifle in 2017, EcoPoint is a technologically advanced environmental firm specializing in geographic mapping and analysis for large- and small-scale projects. The company employs GIS specialists, botanists, soil scientists, and biologists to complete projects on behalf of a client base consisting of public land users like Oil and Gas, hard rock mines, renewable energy, and right of way in addition to private landholders. All of whom need to meet reporting requirements and restoration compliance.

Owners Kirsten and Michael Clancy first approached Northwest SBDC hoping to improve the company’s financial processes and workforce strategies after experiencing 1200% growth over five years which had finally outpaced their current abilities. At the time, EcoPoint had 15 employees and exponential demand. They were also interested in how to better brand the company to help it advance its position and reputation in the overall marketplace and launch a new revenue stream.

Through working with multiple consultants, EcoPoint achieved three goals important to its operations. The company developed and implemented a budget and expense review process to effectively manage and control its expenses over several departments and project managers, ensured employees remained motivated and engaged throughout the implementation of the new processes, and created a new position within the company to execute new marketing and brand strategies.

Additionally, Kirsten and Michael became familiar with critical employment laws to support an active employment scenario. The company also attended an SBDC Network event connecting environmental companies and government agencies.

About her experience, Kirsten said, “As a quickly growing company, EcoPoint has benefited immensely from the tools and consulting offered through the SBDC. From scaling strategies to onboarding procedures to department budgeting, the SBDC provided time and consideration to our individual needs.”

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Amber Barbella

Diversion Designers

Diversion Designers, an environmental sustainability consultancy firm specializing in diverting solid waste from landfills, was founded in 2021 by Eagle County local Amber Barbella. The company implements sustainable waste systems for large public events as well as identifies and solves weaknesses within waste systems, saving businesses money while helping preserve the environment throughout the state of Colorado. 

In only two years, over 150,000 pounds of recyclable and compost waste has been diverted from landfills, contamination to the recycling stream has been minimized, and thousands of pounds of fresh food has been diverted for donation.

In 2023, Diversion Designers sought to submit a bid to a City of Denver project reimplementing reusable serviceware after the need for single use during the height of the pandemic. After COVID restrictions were eased, many restaurants and other food service businesses continued to utilize consumables and the program was being initiated to reduce and control unnecessary waste. 

This is when the company approached Northwest SBDC. A consultant discussed the company’s goals and two different experts reviewed the preliminary bid – the first government contract the company had ever pursued. After learning about government procurement and working with the consultant to refine the submission, Diversion Designers was successful in winning its largest contract to date.

“I probably wouldn’t have applied without the SBDC’s help, and they really boosted my confidence,” Amber said.

Recently Amber has reengaged the SBDC for direction in obtaining a women-owned certification in order to bid on more government contracts that will positively impact both the ecosystem and business communities of Colorado.

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Interior of South + West Provisions retail location

South + West Provisions

Mother and daughter team, Rachael and Jordin Bullock are obsessed with the art of conversation, living on mountain time, and introducing their Southern Charm to the Fraser Valley. Growing out of a prior, small online gift box business featuring local products from their first love, Georgia (South), and new home state, Colorado (West), they formed a new partnership in 2023 and opened the doors to a brick-and-mortar bistro and wine bar in Winter Park.

Their first months saw huge interest which led to rapid growth. Starting strong, Northwest SBDC consulted on legally establishing the business, cash flow and bookkeeping, startup capital, zoning, insurance, and a host of other topics. This new business startup created three jobs and retained an additional three at opening. 

South + West Provisions offers a gourmet cafe experience with locally-sourced meats and cheeses, catering opportunities, grab-and-go options, bespoke charcuterie, fun workshops, and a space for local community events. Unique, hand-picked gift boxes are still available, joined by gifts and lifestyle apparel.

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Dr. Susan Hansen

The Essential Project

Believing the traditional clinic model was missing a big section of the population, Dr. Susan Hansen created The Essential Project in late 2020 during the pandemic. The company’s mission is to deliver health and wellness services to communities across rural Eagle County through an innovative mobile care approach. Providing soft tissue therapy, therapeutic exercise, and chiropractic care, The Essential Project makes quality care accessible.

Through her work with the Northwest SBDC, Dr. Hansen completed her business plan and funding projections, and devised marketing which targeted employers in the region in order to bring healthcare services to essential employees on-site; the very people for whom the business is named. She’s an ardent supporter of the five-year Demystifying Entrepreneurship Rural Colorado Workshop Series facilitated by Northwest SBDC in partnership with CU Boulder and the Leeds School of Business, attending three years in a row.

Beginning with pop-up clinics early on, the Essential Project always had the goal of creating a mobile clinic van and it was finally achieved in 2023. Dr. Hansen’s new goal is to further spread this kind of health equity by opening chapters nationwide. The Northwest SBDC will continue to be there offering support and resources.

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