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The Denver Metro Small Business Development Center
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Success Stories

Stephen and co-founder stand surrounded by microgreens. Stephen smiles holding two microgreens products.

Beyond Microgreens

Beyond Microgreens was founded with a clear mission in mind: to connect people with powerful plants and fill nutritional gaps in their diet. Although founder Stephen Cowan spent 10 years in software sales selling enterprise solutions, he felt that there was more he could do for others.

“My inspiration [for Beyond Microgreens] was a trip to the jungles of Peru,” Cowan said. There, he discovered the health and vitality of plants, and how connected the local communities were to their environment. This trip spurred a passion in Cowan to connect and educate others on the health benefits of plants.

It was this passion that led to the creation of Beyond Microgreens. Cowan describes himself as a “first-time entrepreneur,” and his business journey has had its ups and downs. For Cowan, one of the most challenging aspects is the loneliness that can accompany starting and running your own business, especially in the initial stages. However, Cowan says he’s also had the benefit of meeting one of the greatest teachers he’s ever had, and he’s made some of his best friends through this work. Meeting passionate people and learning along the way has taken his business acumen to a new level, “it’s basically my MBA,” said Cowan.

While there have been challenges, Cowan found success with Beyond Microgreens, winning the Social Impact Startup of Colorado award in 2021, and recently winning Trout Tank: Food Frenzy with the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

After attending classes at the Denver Metro SBDC, Cowan learned how to “simplify the business.” Some of his biggest takeaways have been scaling different parts of his business so that internal operations cover everything from cleaning, shipping, marketing and more. He now also also recognizes when to lean on partners and what his role entails. All these lessons have helped influence the future growth and development of Beyond Microgreens.

Cowan recently finished his second round of Trout Tank: Food Frenzy. He says he initially enrolled a second time because he was considering a new business path, but after exploring options and learning more about small business development, Cowan simplified Beyond Microgreens instead.

Looking to the future of Beyond Microgreens, Cowan says he’s excited about bringing on an integrator and co-founder to focus on internal operations, while Cowan can focus more externally. He also looks forward to having a more quantifiable impact environmentally and within individuals’ health.

A message that Cowan wishes to emphasize with the public is to eat more plants, and to understand the power and magic of photosynthesis. Plants eat light, and when you eat plants, you are filling yourself with that light, and he hopes to spread that.

BreakAway Meetings

BreakAway Meetings, the custom event package company, is adding fuel, focus and fun to every virtual event! Co-owners Kim and Angela began their careers working in hotel venues and events. When the Covid19 pandemic hit, the events world shifted to a virtual setting. This did not stop the innovative duo. They quickly adapted and decided to continue offering opportunities for individuals to connect with each other, this began BreakAway Meetings.

BreakAway Meetings creates customizable meeting and event packages for both hybrid and virtual attendees, offering a way for team members to connect with each other and build relationships. Kim and Angela have certainly faced their own set of challenges when starting BreakAway Meetings. The team noted “We have had so much to learn with creating our own business, so learning how to wear every hat in the business has been challenging. The SBDC has been a huge help with teaching us a lot of these new skills!” Because they offer completely customizable products, they quickly realized the attention to detail needed during the planning and logistics phases of their process.Throughout the challenges they have faced, the BreakAway Meetings team keeps customer relationships and quality products in mind. “We’re in the customer service industry and our goal is to take as much work out of our client’s hands as possible, letting them focus on the other pressing aspects of their job.” said Kim and Angela “We are always working to create a seamless process for our clients from start to finish!”  

Featured in The Denver Business Journal, 9News and a finalist in the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce 2022 Business Awards, this small business is no stranger to success. After seeing exceptional revenue growth at 700% in 2021, they are looking to the future in hopes of expanding their internal team and taking on funding opportunities. The team also noted their involvement with the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center and how its programming has both supported them and provided them valuable connections. “We have bi-weekly meetings with an SBDC consultant who provides an educated and non-biased opinion on anything that we’re working on and guides us in the right direction.” said BreakAway Meetings “Thanks to the SBDC, we feel much more comfortable running every aspect of our small business, and feel confident that when we encounter another challenge, we can get the help we need.”   

Learn more about this small business here: https://www.breakawaymeetings.com/ 

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 passionate artist with the goal to serve drummers around Colorado and bring the community together. He later recruited a talented team of individuals to uphold the mission of the company, that is, “To serve drummers from all backgrounds with integrity, exceptional product representation and a level of expertise that can only be provided by a team of passionate, experienced drummers.” With a vast selection of products and services, they uphold their promise to serve a diverse range of customers.

Like many small businesses, Rupp’s Drums must answer the question, why should I shop at a small business? In response, the Rupp’s Drums team emphasizes the nature of the products they sell and the quality of service they provide: “We believe in personalized customer service, expert product knowledge, no-strings-attached technical support, maintaining a physical retail location where customers can touch and hear our products, creating unforgettable memories for our customers, providing opportunities through global networking and operating with full transparency and honesty.”

With a passion for music, Rupp’s Drums aims to be a resource for the creative community in Denver.

You can find out more about Rupp’s Drums at https://www.ruppsdrums.com/.

 

Collective Counseling Solutions

Collective Counseling Solutions serves clients and therapists across 10 states, from Colorado to New York, by providing high-quality care to patients and being a resource for their network of therapists around the country. An SBDC client since 2018, Collective Counseling Solutions has shown exceptional growth since completing the Trout Tank Pitch Accelerator program and becoming a finalist for Start-Up of the Year at the 2022 Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Business Awards!

Founders Nicholas Mancini and Eric Hilborn got their start in community mental health organizations. The pair later took an interest in owning their own business and shifted their focus to creating an efficient experience for clients and therapists. Beginning in Denver, Colorado, Collective Counseling Solutions’ mission is to “make it simple and easy for you to connect with the skilled, licensed therapists who will accept your insurance and empathically guide you along your journey to healing and recovery.” Through the creation of their partnership and the challenges that come with starting a business, Nick and Eric recognized the value of connecting with their clients in a personal way through the support they provide. They are grateful to be doing the work that they love and enjoy seeing the positive effect it has on their community and those across the U.S.   

The start-up offers resources for those running their own private practice, taking on administrative duties to allow mental health clinicians to focus on providing the valuable services they care so much about. Those who join the collective receive support like “pro-bono start-up business coaching, billing and benefit verification services, and referral stream development.”

You can find out more about Collective Counseling Solutions at https://collectivecounselingsolutions.com.  

Transform Energy

Transform Energy utilizes a market-based approach to end poverty and climate change, creating micro franchises to generate green coal, a clean coal replacement.

Worldwide there are 1 billion people living on less than $3 a day in rural villages with very limited job prospects to improve their livelihood. They buy coal to use for cooking and heating which adds to environmental hazards. Transform Energy (TE) partners with local entrepreneurs to build simple kilns which they own to manufacture green coal and sell as a clean energy resource, which will directly impact poverty and climate change.

TE creates social entrepreneurship opportunities, where rural entrepreneurs own the kilns which produce green coal. As a direct replacement for traditional coal, our green coal is made entirely from renewable resources, like invasive mesquite trees. Produced and sold for profit, green coal will reduce carbon emissions while generating income for local villagers and profit for Transform Energy.

Following the mission and vision of Paul Polak, Transform Energy will transform climate change and help millions of people permanently escape poverty in the process. Paul’s business solution to poverty, which has been deployed for over 35 years now and empowers over 30 million people living on <$2/day to lift themselves out of poverty.

Transform Energy has successfully developed a radically decentralized energy option that uses selected species of biomass, effectively processed into green coal, to replace much of the current coal use without the negative impact on the climate. We use torrefaction, the science of converting biomass into a coal-like product, just like roasting coffee. This will make a profound impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that impact the climate.

The innovation is implementing the technology in thousands of distributed villages close to the biomass source. TE will create thousands of new job opportunities in the developing world where local entrepreneurs can own and operate the village kilns, making green coal infinitely sustainable and scalable into the future. This creation of new jobs will be in areas where poverty is deeply entrenched, effectively lifting millions more out of poverty.

For more information visit our website, www.transform-energy.com or email us at info@transform-energy.com.

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