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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.”

Open Road Snacks

In January of 2007, Karen and Tim Bradley were looking for an opportunity to combine Tim’s expertise in consumer packaged goods, finance and operations with Karen’s background in graphic design, marketing and sales. That’s when they acquired Rocky Mountain Popcorn Company. “We work really well together and we wanted to use both sides of our collective brain,” Karen said. “With our experience in brand management, we recognized that, while Rocky Mountain Popcorn was proven in

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Fireside Production

“With resources like the Denver Metro Chamber and the Denver Metro SBDC – and a community of entrepreneurs and leaders who are so willing to share their insights – I have to admit, learning how to run a business has been one of my greatest joys.” Naomi Binkley, founder and managing partner of Fireside Production said. Naomi Binkley and Tom McDonald make their living telling others’ stories through video. They are committed to bringing creativity,

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C-21 Project

Keaunna Figgers, Denver’s newest fashionista, is raising awareness of Down syndrome and doing so in style through her company The C-21 Project, which refers to the extra 21st chromosome that she was born with. Born with Down syndrome, Figgers faced obstacles from the start – she had open-heart surgery at just 3 months old and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a very young age. Growing up with arthritis, Figgers would spend hours coloring in

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Rupp’s Drums

Rupp’s Drums serves the Denver community with a wide range of music merchandise from drums and apparel to lessons and rentals. Run by a team of experienced musicians, they certainly know their stuff! Learn more about this accomplished SBDC client and finalist for Small Business of the Year at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce 2022 Business Awards below. Rupp’s Drums began back in 1984 and was later purchased in 2018 by Alex Simpson, a

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MindCraft Makerspace

“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” — Reid Hoffman Entrepreneurs are passionate risk-takers who make an impact on our economy, and they‘ve made Colorado a top-five state for startup activity and for innovation. Entrepreneurs know it takes a lot more than an idea to make a business come to life. Brenda Lane is co-founder of MindCraft Makerspace knows just that. Lane has poured herself

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Wong Way Veg

When Lisa Wong stepped foot into the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center in 2011, her dream of starting a food truck in Denver was just that – a dream. Wong envisioned herself running a business that would marry her love for vegetarian food with her passion for building community. Two years later, her dream became a reality. But Wong’s dream didn’t come to life without hard work. In the fall of 2012, she enrolled

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