A few years ago, Ty Soukup went on his first multi-day backpacking trip around the Maroon Bells 14ers in Colorado. But, his biggest challenge wasn’t the terrain – it was figuring out what to eat.
He couldn’t find any backpacking meal options that would fit with his Paleo diet. “I thought to myself, why isn’t someone making a backpacker meal that appeals to folks on alternative diets?” Soukup recalled. “It was in that moment that I pledged to do something about this for all others like me.”
A few months later, and after some market research, he launched Paleo Meals To Go with his mom, Dawn Anderson.
Soukup and Anderson began engaging in the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2014 to get their business going. Then, just three years later sold Paleo Meals To Go in December to Wild Zora Foods.
Their business got the jump start it needed after winning both the Peoples’ and Judges’ Choice awards at the Trout Tank Food Frenzy: Pitch Event.
“Winning Trout Tank gave our company a lot of good exposure to investors and boosted our confidence as a company,” Anderson said. “It also helped us establish the content for subsequent pitches we needed to make.”
Quickly following Trout Tank, Anderson enrolled in Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs. She won the class business plan competition and moved onto a state competition hosted by the statewide SBDC network. Along with building a strong business plan, Anderson developed relationships with entrepreneurs in the course.
“I enjoyed the camaraderie of visiting with other business owners who had the same struggles and who could offer helpful suggestions,” Anderson said.
While learning the technical concepts about running a business – from supply chain to cash flow statements – she also gained value through the “soft” information the facilitator provided. Anderson learned about balancing work and home life, how to de-stress, take care of herself and keep things in perspective: “Owning a business is a tough job and it can be very rewarding. But there must be a balance so we can continue to live, grow, love and share our lives with our families and friends.”
Since the sale, Anderson is working with them to ensure a smooth transition, learning about mergers and acquisitions, transitioning and all that comes with the process. “That’s what it’s all about – continuing to learn and grow,” Anderson advises.
Trout Tank and Leading Edge programs are both run three times a year at the Chamber and Denver Metro SBDC. Check out our calendar for upcoming programs!