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SUCCESS STORIES

Big Sky Aerial Technology

In business, the sky is the limit for Big Sky Aerial Technology—literally. This start-up company captures high-resolution aerial images for use in precision agriculture, allowing farmers to analyze the health of their crops.

Founded in 2015 by Ron Lester and Jerred Lane, the idea to launch Big Sky Aerial Technology was inspired by the years Lester and Lane spent working with land and air-based remote sensing technologies in the Middle East.

“With some of the most amazing technologies being implemented for war, we wanted to take some of what we learned and work with it here at home,” Lester said.

But as the two started working on the business, they quickly realized that while they had plenty of experience on the technical side, they would need some help on the business side. That’s when they turned to Chamber affiliate the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center, where they enrolled in its LEADING EDGE business planning course.

“We can honestly say that in starting a business, we were lost in all the business formalities,” Lester said. While Lane and Lester have over 35 years of combined experience in aviation and engineering, when it came to actually starting the business and writing a business plan Lane says, “We had a long ways to go.”

“You have to have a solid product that you understand and is in demand within your market range,” Lane said. Lester and Lane are confident there is a demand for their product – which will both save the farmer money and reduce the amount of unnecessary chemicals into soils. Currently only five percent of farmers use this type of technology and interest in precision farming is continuing to build among the agriculture community. “Our customer base is out there,” Lane said. “[They’re] just waiting to have a system like ours that delivers a world-class product.”

Lane and Lester are in the process of laying out a well-defined business approach so they can “build a long-term sustainable business with a successful future,” Lester said. “While we are still encountering challenges along the way, with the help of the Denver SBDC we are able to overcome unexpected obstacles and continue on towards our goal of Big Sky Aerial Technology being a leader in the remote sensing industry.”

While taking the 11-week LEADING EDGE business planning course course, they purchased their first aircraft, fine-tuned their brand and market position and continued working on sensor design and software processing. They plan to start doing business this summer.

“The next few years are going to be very promising for us,” Lane said. “Precision farming is the way of the future and we intend to help it get there.”

Lori J Photography

Entrepreneurs are known for having to perform many different roles. Many struggle with the financial and accounting aspect of their business, while others have a hard time understanding the power of social media. For Lori Johnson, owner of Lori J Photography, she’s the first to admit that her nemesis is marketing. Lori J Photography provides a boutique photography service experience for Denver wedding photography, family portraits, and lifestyle headshots for entrepreneurs in Denver. The business

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Factotum Brewhouse

The concept of Factotum Brewhouse was first imagined when siblings Christopher and Laura Bruns met their other brother and sister for dinner. As it usually goes when the four congregate, several beers were consumed and before long the idea of a homebrewer-driven craft brewery began to materialize. No strangers to the craft beer scene, Christopher and Laura began racking their minds, trying to think of any brewery—local or otherwise—that truly focused on homebrewers. Was there

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Create Cooking School

Create Cooking School has actively engaged with the SBDC community for two years by taking advantage of Leading Edge, Trout Tank, financial classes and multiple consultants within the network. And now, owners Erasmo Casiano and Diego Coconati are on the brink of opening Create Cooking School in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver. Leading Edge played an important role in the growth of the company. Casiano learned that adapting and pivoting is beneficial to your business,

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Gel-Oh Dolly!

Do you want a fun, easy-to-use way to consume your favorite craft cocktails and deserts? That’s where Gel-Oh Dolly! comes in. Gel-Ol Dolly! is a grown-up twist on an old favorite. They provide a gourmet Jell-O shot mix for you to create your own fancy shot. For Dolly Fiedelman co-founder of Gel-Oh Dolly!, running her own company seemed natural coming from a family of entrepreneurs. The desire was always there – that’s why Fiedelman took

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Snooze

On any given morning, Snooze’s retro, 50’s-style space is jam-packed with people clamoring to get their names on a lengthy wait list. The draw? A stack of sweet potato or cinnamon roll pancakes, or what some have dubbed “the best breakfast burrito in the world.” A touch of upscale flair makes Snooze owner Jon Schlegel’s fare stand out among fellow bringers of breakfast and lunch. Offerings include “Vanilla Almond Oatmeal Brulée” or “Pork’s Benediction,” a

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Bridget’s Botanicals

The awareness of the connection between health and natural ingredients sustainable for the environment is increasingly popular. Between spin classes, yoga, fitness trackers, and Whole 30, overall health is top of mind. Through her study of human health, molecular biology, chemistry and ecological studies, Bridget Molloy became inspired to start Bridget’s Botanicals, a business designed to promote and educate others of the synergy between environmentally sustainable products and natural health products. Bridget’s Botanicals offers a

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