The idea to launch Under the Sky Event Rental came to Rebecca Anderson when she told her seatmate on a flight to Denver about her wedding. She and husband Patrick had their intimate wedding under katas—Nordic tents that resemble Native American tepees. But, she had only seen them rented in her native United Kingdom.
“That planted the seed,” she said.
Back in the U.K., there are roughly 30 kata rental companies, up from just seven in 2007. When she inquired about distributing, she found out her company would be the first in the U.S.
“They’re just perfect for Colorado,” Anderson said. “They match the outdoor beauty.”
The Andersons decided they’d need help getting started. And, they’d be on a tight timeline in order to start renting the tents at the start of this year’s wedding season. They turned to the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (Denver SBDC).
“I thought if we were going to look into it we should write a business plan and see whether it was viable and give ourselves an instructor and some support,” Anderson said.
They got on track with Leading Edge, where they wrote their plan, and Loan Request Preview—a companion program led by Denver SBDC consultant Dale Clack that introduces a business and its owners to a large number of lenders. To date, the program has led to $2.1 million in loans awarded.
“I wasn’t positive we were going to get lending,” Anderson admitted. “I felt like it was kind of a longshot.”
They were floored when they heard back from four lenders right away and ultimately received a $110, 000 from Wells Fargo. Now, their tents are en route to Colorado, which will be their first market. They hope to expand to other areas in the next two to three years. Anderson says they wouldn’t be where they are today without the Denver SBDC.
“It made us accountable,” she said. “The consultants are a resource that I think every small business should know about.”