Podcasting from Fort Collins Colorado, this is the Startup FoCo Podcast episode 3. I am your host Vanessa Pagan, gearing up for the 2018 Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins.
In this pre-event episode, we have 8 guests who are from the Founders and Food communities of Fort Collins ranging the gamut from Human Resources to Catsup.
Interview Guests this episode and Sessions mentioned
McCabe Callahan https://www.linkedin.com/in/mccabecallahan/
Elizabeth Mozer https://www.locofooddistribution.com/about-us
Ben Mozer http://lyriccinema.com/
Doug Cannon https://www.linkedin.com/in/douglcannon/
Vanessa Pagan: Podcasting from Fort Collins, Colorado, this is Startup FoCo Podcast episode 3. I’m your host Vanessa Pagan gearing up for the 2018 Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins. In this pre-event episode, we have eight guests who range from founders and food communities of Fort Collins across the gamut from Human Resources to catsup.
Let’s get to the interviews.
I’m on the line with Shelley Polansky, who is the VP of marketing and outreach for the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming. Hi Shelly. You’ve got a session coming up on Thursday March 1st at 1:30 p.m.. And it’s called the five gestures of trust building a consumer centric business. Can you tell us a little bit about what you hope attendees get out of your session?
Shelley Polansky: Yeah, well really from BBB’s perspective we know that customer experience with a business can really make or break a company and since 2015 the BBB has been doing market research to identify really what it means to be a contemporary better business, and how companies can use core values to strengthen relationships with their customers and their prospects. And so our session during Fort Collins Startup Week will identify and share the results of this market research, and what those five gestures of trust are and how entrepreneurs really at any stage of their business creation can apply those principles to make sure that they’re building their foundation of their company built on trust ethics and integrity.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great on a larger scale for the entire, Fort Collins startup week event in general there’s going to be like 130 session. What would you hope someone attending and taking apart of the week? What do you hope they get from it?
Shelley Polansky: Yeah, I think there’s several things attendees can get we’re thrilled to be a sponsor for the third year in a row,. And we have sent several of our staff members to the past three years startup events and I think there’s always a takeaway someone can can get from the event. And like you said there’s over a hundred and thirty different sessions, and I think in looking at the lineup there’s something that could benefit everybody. Depending whatever stage of their entrepreneurial vision they’re at. So whether or not, maybe they’re still at that idea concept phase they’re sessions where people can go to learn more about how to maybe move that from concept phase to actually creating a business plan and look for investors or financing to help them bring their concept to life.
I think there’s sessions on the lineup for you know marketing and messaging and storytelling so if you’re at that stage in your company where maybe you’re trying to acquire more market share making sure you’re attending those sessions to get ideas on the newest and latest trends of all of those topics. So you know from our perspective the BBB’s mission of advancing marketplace trust we’re happy to see the wide variety of topics and classes and seminars that businesses, or those interested in starting a business can attend.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great and Shelley from your personal experience in working with the BBB, what would you share as a lesson learned that our audience can take away?
Shelley Polansky: Yeah, I think in any type of situation like a Startup Week I mean you’re going the session first of all I think it’s important that you identify narrow down maybe your focus and identify your top three goals for attending those sessions, and then following those sessions making sure you that you’re putting action plans to life. I think From BBB’s perspective, we know where a one hundred-year-old brand and our mission is to advance marketplace trust we feel that what we stand for is really that foundation for building a company from the ground up doing the right thing, using standards that make sense to both the business perspective and to their consumers, so you know what we try to encourage, and we will be encouraging during Startup Week is that businesses can adopt the BBB standards for trust. Which are eight simple principles can really set the standard of how to conduct business ethicly and honestly. So from our perspective we encourage like I said is that framework as they’re creating their company because that always set themselves apart from their competitors and really set the stage to help them be a long-term successful business built on ethics, trust, honesty and integrity.
Vanessa Pagan: That was a great answer thank you so much. So since you serve the larger Northern, Colorado and Wyoming areas could you share a little bit about your vision of the future looks like?
Shelley Polansky: Yeah, of business in general? Well BBB our office is honored to serve the community of Fort Collins first of all with the Startup Week and with the Fort Collins business community is definitely vibrant and we’re growing and I think there’s when we talk to businesses in the area there’s paying points with that growth. One being making sure that we have a workforce that’s able to fulfill or fill the jobs that are open with the business community here. So you know our vision for the communities that we serve including Fort Collins, from our mission perspective is that we’re all working towards being better businesses for their stakeholders, their employees, their customers and that vision long-term vision is that we increase trust in the marketplace. There is a recent study done by the Edelman Trust Barometer. It was just released for 2018 and really identified that consumer trust in business and all industries across the board is it really had an all-time low. So I would hope that the business community, with our help and other organizations helps out there that we are able to increase trust in the marketplace between that buyer and the seller
Vanessa Pagan: Wonderful thank you so much. That was a great answer Shelley. Are you going to be at any particular one of the evening mixers or luncheon events?
Shelley Polansky: We’ll definitely be at the VIP session and our speaking session and I believe there’s going to be the lightning pitch session on Friday so and we will have several of our staff members networking and attending a lot of the sessions so we encourage anyone coming to look out for us. We’ll have a name tag on that will clearly identify who we’re with and please introduce yourself to our staff would we’d love to get to know your.
Vanessa Pagan: Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you this has been great Shelley. I will see you face-to-face during Fort Collins Startup Week.
On the line with me is Nikki Larchar with Tina Todd of SimplyHR, which is simplyHRpartners.com. Is on two sessions during the Fort Collins Startup Week this year. The first is on Monday February 26 at 3 p.m.. Crazy Sh^* employees do and what you can do about it and on Tuesday February 27th at noon is 1099 workers how to minimize your risk and save money in the long run. Hello Nikki. Hello Tina.
Nikki Larchar: Hello, Vanessa. Thank you for the nice intro.
Vanessa Pagan: Absolutely, So you have two sessions about HR related activities that sound entertaining and engaging. What would you say is your goal for having the attendees come to your sessions? What do you hope they get out of it?
Nikki Larchar: Yeah, great question so I think first and foremost, I hope their cheeks are sore from laughing so much because we really want to make you know obviously our crazy sh.. people do our employees do, we’re going to have a lot of interesting scenarios, but we also want people to walk away with some knowledge about what they can do as employers. And then obviously for our 1099 that’s really talking about contractor versus employees. So we really want and hope that people walk away with an understanding of how we if we add workers to our business how that impacts our business operations, how we perform, and how we attract those individuals, so really excited, and I hope people walk away with some really good information, but then also some really good laughs along the way too.
Vanessa Pagan: Wonderful because you know a lot of people don’t know the difference between what it means like the classification of a contractor versus an employee, So I’m glad you’re going to be shedding some light on that.
Nikki Larchar: Yeah. We’re really excited.
Vanessa Pagan: Tina, what would you hope someone attending Startup Week gets, so there’s going to be a hundred thirty sessions, 100 speakers contributing and workshops and presentations during the week. What do you hope someone gets out of attending startup week in general?
Tina Todd: Right. So hopefully it will have many attendees taking advantage of all of the awesome resources that are occurring that week. I really hope that especially new entrepreneurs are inspired to take action and just get started on their ideas of plans even if they don’t feel like they’re 100% ready or prepared yet. I think that if there’s business owners were to wait until they’re completely ready we’d never get our projects off the ground. So hopefully by attending they’ll feel empowered and engaged inspired and should launch their concepts before somebody else does it passes them by.
Vanessa Pagan: Nikki, could you share with us one of your top lessons learned from your experience?
Nikki Larchar: Yeah you know there are so many lessons learned. Obviously as an entrepreneur, business owner, but I think probably my biggest lesson has been to ask questions. So when I first started my business I was really asking a lot of questions was trying to gobble up as much information as I possibly could and then there was this point of time where I felt like OK I’ve got this. You know I know how to do marketing now sorta kinda ish and I stopped asking those questions. So I think my biggest lesson learned now has been just to continue to ask questions to continue to reach out. Even if you think it’s a silly question or a dumb question. Although people always say there’s never a dumb question, right. So just making sure to keep asking those questions because that’s how we innovate and we create new ideas we expand our business can grow that’s probably my biggest lesson learned so far.
Vanessa Pagan: Wonderful. Tina, what would you share as a lesson learned?
Tina Todd: I guess as the entrepreneur and a business owner I’ve learned through the process of starting our business, well it is to take partners. There are so many ridiculously smart and innovative people and our communities so supportive of each other. I would recommend any new business owner to find partners who are supportive and enthusiastic, and I think both of them should hopefully find success in the relationship.
Vanessa Pagan: I want to ask my next question about what do you see as the future for Fort Collins? What would your vision look like first? If I’m actually like visualizing it.
Nikki Larchar: Like flying cars is definitely there, but of course I have no means of designing or putting together a flying car. Maybe somebody at the Bleak that’s part of their business plan. I got moving craft six, but all in all seriousness you know in Fort Collins, we have such a great community of small business owners and also a great community of individuals that are helping those organizations and our businesses grow and thrive. So really my vision for Fort Collins is to see that community just expand and obviously our small business community have more of us out there more a small business owners with it, so those resources like the Small Business Development Center, and the Larimer Workforce Center you know really having their input and their guidance on how we as business owners thrive. I think that’s all included in my flying car vision.
Vanessa Pagan: Your flying car vision is not far away. You know Elon Musk just put a car in space. So there is literally a car flying around orbiting Earth right now.
Nikki Larchar: Right! My husband’s like did you see the spaceman? Have you been watching it? I was like. Oh my gosh that’s perfect. That’s totally my vision.
Vanessa Pagan: Tina, as an entrepreneur in Fort Collins, can you share a little bit about the vision that you have for the future of the city and NoCO?
Tina Todd: Sure. Well, obviously Fort Collins is truly a growing pretty dramatically, so I hope that as we grow in numbers Fort Collins still continues to be a really collaborative and supportive community for businesses and entrepreneurs. We have so much to offer and as a small, sort of eclectic and innovative community through events like this. I really think we can maintain those common ties and that common vision. So hopefully keep that small-town feel while really pushing the invention and Innovation out of the individuals who are here.
Vanessa Pagan: Nikki, of all the people that you have come across in Fort Collins is there anyone that you would like to recognize for their hard work and making this community wonderful?
Nikki Larchar: Man, that is like the hardest question Vanessa because really there’s just so many people so instead of like an individual, I think I would probably want to shout out to a collective of people and that’s everybody that is the behind the house, the wheels the of the operation for things like Startup Week and all of the wonderful meetup groups that are out there the networking the training the presentations know alot of blood, sweat, tears I know that goes into organizing all of these events that help our community and our small business community connect and thrive, and so I think I would want to say a million thank yous to all the individuals that have a hand in that and help in those ways.
Vanessa Pagan: Awesome. That’s a wonderful shoutout. Tina, if there was someone that you could recognize for their hard work in the community who would you like to say hello to?
Tina Todd: Well so we haven’t worked with him directly but in speaking with around every business owner, entrepreneur, everyone in this city seems to be very inspired by McCabe Callahan, Community Funded. He’s clearly a strong and consistent thread throughout the community and has a huge impact on Northern Colorado as well as now communities across the US. So it’s really inspiration, and hopefully we can help recognize him every now, and then if he doesn’t get it enough from the community people working with across the country. It’s cool, that he’s from here and is doing so much.
Vanessa Pagan: You’ve answered all of our questions for the short interview. I feel like I know you now.
Nikki Larchar: That sounds good.
Tina Todd: Thank you Vanessa take care. Bye.
Vanessa Pagan: Hi, Chef Kent. Thanks for being on the line with me.
Chef Kent: Hello Vanessa.
Vanessa Pagan: You are a top caterer for the Fort Collins community and Northern Colorado, and I wanted to ask you your involvement with Startup Week this year. Chef Kent, what do you hope attendees get out of coming to Startup Week this year.
Chef Kent: I hope they get a great perspective of all the amazing businesses that exist and products that Fort Collins produces here that are actually making an impact on a global level. We work with a lot of great local ranches and farms and also the great producers of product and in many realms Fort Collins is leading the way just because of its ingenius creativity that exists in this magical place right now, and I’m hoping that they are able to share and meet and also get excited themselves about becoming involved.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great. There is a wonderful food track for Startup Week this year. I am glad that there is more interest in support around building up the food ecosystem in town. Chef Kent, can you share with us a little bit about actually could you share one piece of like a lesson learned that you think attendees would benefit knowing from from your experience and your history?
Chef Kent: From last year, we had just started as a new business, and then we were showcased at Startup Week, and it has perpetuated the growth of my company exponentially. The contacts that I made have turned into friendships and those friendships have assisted me and allowed me to continue to grow and I could have never I could have never done that on my own.
Startup Week was a big part of that.
Vanessa Pagan: I’m so glad you could share because yours is a story of one that has come to Startup Week and was able to flourish, and if you could tell us the name of your company or how we could find you?
Chef Kent: It’s Z Catering Staffing and Events and we’ve done just a lot of grassroots marketing and referrals, and now we’re getting to a stage where we’re working with reality marketing and Britilly Digital and then also BlueShoe Media. We’re going to film pretty soon. We are going to be if you look up on Z Catering Staffing and events and our website is the zevents.co is our website, but you can also follow me personally on Facebook at L as in the letter L. And Lima and then Kent K E N T and Cottle or on the Instagram at ZChefKent we get a lot of track in that way, and hopefully will be shooting a reality TV show pretty soon, so you’ll be able to see us that way too.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s awesome. I mean I know I love looking at pictures of food on Instagram. So thank you for letting me know how to find what you’re putting out there.
Chef Kent: Thank you, and we’re just really excited about what we do and we try to stay cutting edge. We do farm to fork all the way to molecular gastronomy so we love to take great food and serve it as it is we take the hard work the local farmers and ranchers of what they do, and then we also take that and reconstruct deconstruct food and create in ingenious ways working closely with the them and also with the Brewers the distillers, hemp company work with them.I’m a chef for them as well. It’s just fantastic and in NOCO itself, and then the food cluster here, the city. It’s just realities for children. There’s just so many great businesses and groups up here that we’re so happy to be a part of and support.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s wonderful. I’m really glad that you can share with us the success that you’ve had on the journey. Can you share a little bit about what you hope your vision is for the future of this area?
Chef Kent: We get to interact with so many people from the musicians to painters, sculptors, to the tech group, to the biosciences, the university, to nonprofits to the ranches and Farms we see great things for this area and especially Fort Collins. What’s happening right now. I really think Fort Collins is going to be recognized as a leading city in the world with its change and its motivation to to help people and to think of themselves happy encourage people to think of themselves not just locally but globally and I see a greater stronger Community coming and Startup Week is a great catalyst for that and a great place for. people to come together.
Vanessa Pagan: Awesome. Chef Kent you did great. This was a wonderful interview.
Chef Kent: Okay. Thank you Vanessa bye.
Vanessa Pagan: On the line with me today is Sari Kimbell, who is the founder of Cultivate Consulting, and she has a speaking session on Tuesday February 27th at 10 a.m.. called start or grow a profitable food business. She’s also a moderator for several of our food sessions during startup weel. And I want to say hello and welcome to Sari.
Sari Kimbell: Thank you. Thanks for having me here
Vanessa Pagan: Sari, what would you hope someone gets out of attending your session on starting a growing a profitable food business?
Sari Kimbell: Well, I think they can get a lot out of it. I’ve been sessions when the past that are just about like,so you want to start a food business that are really general, but we’re going to get into more specifics about what actually makes a great business model and a successful business model because I’m finding in my in my work that I do with food businesses is that they’re not asking the right questions they they’re just so passionate which I love them for their passion to share their food with the world, but it’s an expensive hobby. And so I really hope that that these food businesses and people in attendance can ask themselves some really tough questions, and we’ll get pretty specific on what is it that makes for a successful Food business so that they understand, maybe the challenges ahead and then can decide about something that they’re up for or or do they want to just stay where they’re at and have it be a hopefully a break-even hobby be competitive world in food business landscape, so I really hope people pome away with a greater sense of whether they want to continue and an excitement and inspiration to go forward.
Vanessa Pagan: Awesome, and this year at FoCo’s Startup Week. I’ve noticing that there is a lot on the food track in your moderating four panels during the week, yes.
Sari Kimbell: I am. So that’s in collaboration with the Northern, Colorado food cluster. So I work with them as well in addition to my own food consulting business. So we put together we kinda headed up the food track this year, and so putting together some other great sessions everything from like culinary 101 to teaching some of the people in Fort Collins that are just the best at what they do whether it’s coffee or being a chef in a restaurant or chocolate, cottage food. Just these people who are really passionate and are taking their craft to a whole new level. We’re also doing an awesome session called women who Brew taking women Brewers so everything from beer to cider distilleries coffee kombucha and talking with these women who are kind of trailblazers in this industry as women because we don’t typically see women in those areas. So kind of talking about their story how they got started and concealing some lessons from way for me to have a future of food trends and landscapes, so this is really about like it’s not just about what kind of food is coming into your living room your kitchen, but it’s about what are some of the opportunities where we see food and technology joining up and where is the opportunities to really take a hold of doing other kinds of businesses in the food world. Everything from quad kitchen to solving the delivery issue as well as those kind of just general food trends that we’re seeing.
Vanessa Pagan: Awesome and could you share with us. What could you share with us that would be one of your top lessons learned from your experience?
Sari Kimbell: Well, I definitely thought about this a lot, and ultimately it’s that we can’t go it alone. We just as an entrepreneur and whatever you’re doing whatever field you’re in you need a strong network of people around you, and you need not just not just the close people that are you maybe your advisors or partners, but you need a really broad network to be successful, and so I hope that that’s what Fort Collins Startup Week helps provide. My role I consider myself a connector. I’m always working with clients and saying like how can we get you hooked up with each other and with the right people that you need so they can kind of get outside of your little bubble and. have opportunities to grow bigger and really be successful as a Startup.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great and could you share with us what is your vision for the future of what Fort Collins looks like?
Sari Kimbell: Well, I’ll look at it through the lens of food. I actually have grown up in Fort Collins, so I’ve been here a long time. I’ve seen a lot of change. I left came back, so I have a wonderful visions for Fort Collins, but as far as the food system goes I see that we have a really great opportunity to really latch on and become an even more vibrant local food economy, but that were also utilizing the amazing local input that are around us. We’re very fortunate to have so much agriculture and growing in our area, and I don’t know that we are always taking advantage of that. So it’s really combining both the makers and the growers and that we’re supporting that local food system as a whole.
Vanessa Pagan: Sari. if there was someone you could recognize or group of people you could recognize for their hard work in making Fort Collins a great place who would that be?
Sari Kimbell: Well I do want to recognize if I can the growers and the makers like I said we have wonderful vibrant agriculture economy out there we have people you know growing. Growing our fruits and vegetables as well as raising our meat and eggs, and and then we have people who are just making amazing products out there and really trying to further local food and crafts food, so I just want to recognize all those people that are getting up every day and taking care of the chickens and making the food products that we love.
Vanessa Pagan: Excellent. We’re good.
Sari Kimbell: Thanks. Bye.
Vanessa Pagan: On the line right now we have Shane Anderson of Colorado Catsup. Hi Shane. You have a session Friday March 2nd at 2PM future tends in food industry. Can you talk a little bit about what you hope attendees get out of coming to your session?
Shane Anderson: Yes, a great question so one of the things I hope having been a person that sat in on a similar panel to this last year during this time is that when people arrive what I think when I reflect back of what I got out of it last year is that you know there’s a lot going on out there obviously with the acquisition of what Amazon did with Whole Foods. They saw a great need for value there, and I think what a lot of people are looking for right now. Is that niche something new something different. I mean even in if you look at our business as far as the catsup goes, and I just talked a little bit about that spelling, and how what’s old is new again.
I think people are searching for that and so when they sit on this Food Panel what I really hope people understand about it is that there’s a lot of technology that you need to implement I think today to survive. You know especially if you’re going to take on big corporate conglomerates like in our case you know Heinz, and you know obviously you can’t compete at that level, but how can you implement yourself as a small business by utilizing a lot in other aspects out there to follow those trends and find success.
Vanessa Pagan: That brings me to my next question so this year at Fort Collins Startup Week there’s a really great food track with lots of different speakers and workshops related to the food ecosystem that’s here in town. What would you hope someone gets out of coming to Startup week in general?
Shane Anderson: I just looked at the overall scope. I think Fort Collins has done a great job as far as like offering a lot of a la carte about any topic you want really is far as like whether you’re going there to learn about VC or you’re going there to learn about some different consulting or terminology or food.I think they’ve done a great job as offering all of that. I guess. I just all people. It still get back to have a plan obviously, but I’m a firm believer in like something that Mike Tyson said years ago that everybody has a plan until they get in the ring be punched in the face and in business you will get punched in the face, and if you’re so stringent on your plan that you’re not you don’t have the ability to pivot a little bit off of what maybe you thought you were going to do, then I don’t think you can survive. So I think when they go to Startup Week be great. Go ahead engage consume but also it can be overwhelming because like if you don’t apply some of that action or just take a few takeaways of how it’s going to work on your business and what you want. I think you’ll soon find yourself in this stage of where you’re just kind of complacent like you don’t know what to do next because you’re like oh, I went and I consumed all this information that was awesome it’s there. It’s available. but you gotta think you got to get back to the whole thing is that its action. You know you still got to go out and apply it, and so I would always say go there find the things that you want you really want out of that week that you feel like could benefit for your business and go there and no questions a dumb question be open ask questions engage, but then you know take away a few goals I would say you know like don’t make yourself 10 goals of everything you want to do because I found a lot of people make 10 goals. They only still accomplished two or three. So it’s like make yourself two or three goals and then go out and conquer. You know go out and apply those to your business off of what you learned from different sessions you might have sat on.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s awesome. I love the boxing reference because I don’t know if you’ve met Joe Buckner. He’s the founder of Beautifully Savage Boxing studio in town. He has a lot of the boxing metaphors for life, and we all plan and then yeah, we get punched in the face, and it’s like okay. It’s real now. Let’s keep moving forward here.
Shane Anderson: Yeah really. It’s totally true. I you know I see it doesn’t matter if it’s like a food related business, or just business in general what I see a lot of people do is that they’re always planning. They’re planning. They’re planning they’re planning, but it’s like at some point you still have moved off of that and go you got to go implement now, and it’s like you got to be in action. You got to be in motion and it’s like it’s easy to get caught up I think when you’re a small business, and you see somebody out there. You know I can do better than that well. Maybe you could but guess what, you still got to give them respect because they’re out there doing it, and you’re not right now. So it’s like you’ve got to get out there, and you still got to implement, so I’m never saying don’t have a plan, but I’m saying be flexible with that plan you know because you might learn things from startup week that you never knew existed that might help need a little faster for your business.
Vanessa Pagan: That is a wonderful piece of advice for everyone listening because the plan isn’t the end goal. It’s just it’s like the prelude to your masterpiece and it’s just setting the tone for what’s going to come.
Shane, if you could tell us a little bit about what you hope the future of Fort Collins look like what would you share as your vision?
Shane Anderson: Oh, man I have a big one. We, my partner, and I Matt Parker, who’s in this Catsup game with me now is you know we always sit back because we both work in a food manufacturing facility, a very large facility. That’s how we met each other. That’s how we found out our aspirations and our passion for sauces in general especially barbecue sauce. And we sit back in as you venture through starting a food business it can be there’s a lot of times that you’ll come across in your like my gosh like I wish there was a resource that would have told me this or that or you know that everything you do is kind of on your own to some degree and you get a lot of mixed messages when you’re trying to start it, and so there’s a lot of point along the railroad track where you like up I’m going to get off. I’m going to get out like in, but we just you just got to stay on the train. you got to ride it to the end of the line.
And so what I but we sit back a lot of the times and say when we look at our business, and how it transpired over this last 9 10 months from basically no product this time last year to being in four or five restaurants, and you know having gone through a couple Farmers Market sessions now Summers and winter and we sit back and we say man, if there was just one resource if you could really merge this good facility is great facility something like what we have where we work for this big manufacturer, but my kind of a micro-scale for all these food producers because I know there’s options you got commissary kitchens like what we operate out of and then you’ve got Co-packaging facilities, but there’s a reluctance I see on some people’s part to give up some of that control when their product when they want to go that route, so it’s like you can merge those two ideas in this quasi micro Factory that kind of was a One-Stop shop in a way where you got Consulting floor that was specific to the food related business of how to navigate you know the state laws and regulations and how to you know apply whether it’s social media, or you know Facebook Twitter all of that and then also like your resources because what we found a lot of times too, and we’re trying to source bottles or or even just raw materials like there’s so many moving parts and you can find that a lot of this consumes a lot of your time right.
And so it’s like if you had something that was like supportive of Fort Collins now it’s a huge undertaking obviously but in overhead, but I’ve see what some of these smaller producing food outfits like myself. We’re all out there kind of renting kitchen space and some of it at very high dollar amounts. I would say if you could kind of combined everybody into this one facilities one-stop-shop, and it was like a platform that was driven off of technology to where it was easy to schedule time and things of that nature, I think that would just like spurt that much more.
Especially awareness like a lot of this is about awareness that these products are even being made in your community because we got some people out there with great passion in this community. I mean it was a big reason we decided to go ahead and collaborate on our relish recently. You know what we knew that we could make relish there was no doubt in our minds, but it was like what we got another company that’s basically at the same stages where at they had started up. Why don’t we partner with her. She makes a great relish. It’s one way to kind of share our crowd with her crowd and pair our products together and in so it’s like I think that’s a big part because we’re all trying to fight for the same thing right and it’s like why not do it together, and I think that Fort Collins is doing a pretty good job of that like everybody’s pretty open as far as working together, but I think there’s just other aspects that are missing where you kind of just share a little bit tribal knowledge and some aspects like you’re sharing a little bit what you learned with the next person, but it’s like yeah, this was all just kind of encompassed in one thing it might make this easier and get us back to doing what we want to do best that’s actually making our products and getting them out there on the shelf stand in front of people.
Vanessa Pagan: This was great Shane.
Shane Anderson: Thank you so much for this time really appreciate it right.
Vanessa Pagan: Have a good one. I’ll talk to you soon
Curt Bear is the founder of Loco Think Tank. Curt, thank you so much for joining on the line. What do you hope people get from attending start-up week
Curt Bear: That’s a robust question. There’s so many things to get from it ranging from connections to topical expertise starting a business is a very complicated thing with a lot more things I didn’t know that I realized when I first started trying. Connecting with people that have been there done that some is probably the biggest thing that I think is the value here.
Vanessa Pagan: Awesome, and what about your session? What do you hope people will get out of attending your session?
Curt Bear: I’m a big advocate for peer advisory. In one of the structured lightly like our think tanks are or whether there’s a lot of structure to it, or if it’s totally self-managed. I think that we’re gonna provide some tools for the people that may not be ready to have a membership in LoCo, but to attach themselves to other people of influence in their lives to try to create kind of this this peer advisory recurring accountability place that you can trust people element. We’re going to provide a few tools to do that and some of the things that we’ve learned in the years that we’ve been running LoCo that work well in terms of both selecting who should be in a group as well as kind of learning how to process through questions in a way that is more than just a gab session.
Vanessa Pagan: Gotcha. So if I were if you were to break it down for us a peer review group is ?
Curt Bear: You know peer advisory is basically finding a group of people that will act as your board of directors and for whom you’ll also act at the board type role. It’s the sharing of things that you’ve learned. It’s the accountability that comes oftentimes in a small business only with trusted peers. The small business owner is often on an island and so peer advisory allows people to find that kind of trusted connection where an awareness of what’s going on in my business without adding like a formal board of directors because most small businesses are too small to really afford the expense and the organization of a significant board function in their lives.
Vanessa Pagan: Great, and if you had some advice for someone who was attending startup week for the first time what would you tell them?
Curt Bear: Reserve a lot of hours and go to as many sessions as make sense for you. I attended for the first time last year and set aside what I thought was quite a few hours, but then as I started seeing some of the other sessions and meeting some other people I was wishing that I would have set aside more time. I would say make startup week a big part of what you do that week regardless of how many you know you can bump some of the other projects and whatnot a little bit if you can so that you can make sure you don’t miss anything that you should have had because there’s a lot of content jammed into one week, and if you only hit 10 hours or six hours you’re going to miss a lot of what creates the overall value add.
Vanessa Pagan: Great Curt could you share with us a little bit about the vision that you see for the future, Fort Collins?
Curt Bear: You know I think Fort Collins continues to be a choice city nationally and make a lot of list because being introspective about what are we trying to create a lot of times cities are so focused on just growing you know growing the employment-based growing the industry out there attracting new businesses to it, but Fort Collins is really being thoughtful about who are those next industry sectors that are going to be beneficial a lot of value to mankind. How do we get from where we are from a cost-of-living versus income standpoint to something that the easier maybe for people to enter the marketplace attracting those people in terms of like city management and self investment through the CSU and bringing some of that research into commercialization I think that’s only going to grow is a great way to kind of help higher education become relevant and valuable faster than it might have in the times of yore and so I’m excited about you know the CSU Ventures and the Innosphere and those kinds of things and I think because of those kind of things the people that have the great ideas and a certain extent probably less or the people that have some capital to try to put into those great ideas will continue to kind of move toward Denver Boulder, Fort Collins, Northern Colorado to try to effectuate those ideas.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great, and if you could give recognition to someone who’s doing great things in the Fort Collins area who would you give a shoutout to?
Curt Bear: Elizabeth Mozer and Ben Mozer deserve a shared shout-out Elizabeth has LoCo food distribution and has served on the food cluster board and different things and her business really has empowered a lot of small manufacturing businesses and things like that to to be able to exist and scale without having to figure out how to distribute their product by themselves which is always a stumbling block. And Ben with the Lyric Cinema Cafe you know continues to speak into the intersection of culture and economy if you will and how to make this a livable city for the artists community and bringing really that true independent theater to a small town like Fort Collins is an impressive task. So those two are really continue to make impact beyond their years.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great. Thanks so much for sharing Alright Curt have a good day. Thanks.
Curt Bear: Thank you.
Vanessa Pagan: On the line with me today is Carl Dierschow, who is the Small Fish business coaching owner, and he is part of Mentor Monday for Fort Collins startup week. Hi Carl.
Carl Dierschow: Hey Vanessa. How you doing today.
Vanessa Pagan: I’m doing great. So you are on the Monday February 26th session at 1:30 called value of mentoring and being mentored. I’m really glad that there is a day to do mentoring for Startup attendees, but what would you say is your hope of what attendees would get out of it going to a mentoring session or learning about mentorship?
Carl Dierschow: Thanks for asking. I’ve done the mentoring thing for a few years now, and I find it this really interesting because a lot of the people that I talk to kind of figure that they struggle to get out there and be vulnerable with other folks because you’re supposed to have your act all together and figured out and you’re feeling just a little bit snowed under by all of this stuff lying around that you maybe understand and maybe don’t but you know to to open up in front of other people and say I haven’t got it all figured out yet can be really tough.
That’s where this one-on-one kind of conversation can be very valuable it’s what I do with my coaching, and this kind of mentoring session is quite similar you know it’s a place where you can open up and say let’s let’s struggle through this. Let’s puzzle through try to figure something out whether it’s what am I going to do with government compliance or uh hiring my first employee or oh my God. I I think I just had one of my suppliers cave on me other all kinds of things like that and so this is just very simple it’s a an opportunity for one-on-one conversation with somebody is going to take you seriously in listen and let’s see if we can figure something out.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great so often when you’re building a start-up, or you’re an entrepreneur and you have an idea you have that sense of isolation and loneliness yeah, and reaching out to a mentor and having someone to talk to it can remove the bottlenecks that you’re seeing.
Carl Dierschow: Yeah, you know that the way I describe it is that you can’t talk to your boss because you’re your own Boss and boss doesn’t listen to you. You can’t talk to your employees because you’re supposed to be the ones with the answer, and you can’t talk to your spouse because you don’t want him or her worrying about oh my God is this whole thing just going to fail on me, and you know what worried them with business concerns on top of family relationship.
Where do you turn? And very often where you turn is a best friend a mentor coach somebody who will listen and take you seriously and not beat you up for all the stuff that you haven’t figured out yet. Not the most people do that actually. I think people could be a lot more vulnerable than they typically are but I understand it. You know it’s hard to get up there in front of a bunch of people and the admit that you haven’t got it all figured out.
Vanessa Pagan: Yeah, we really like to see that honesty and authenticity. It’s hard. Oh absolutely. Yeah, it’s it’s what makes us relate to other people is by being honest about where we’re at.
Carl Dierschow: Yeah, but you know when you’re up there asking for half-a-million dollars maybe that’s not the time that you want to say that.
Vanessa Pagan: Maybe there’s a different way to say that. Yeah.
Carl, we’ve talked about mentoring in the value of mentorship. What do you hope attendees get out of participating this year?
Carl Dierschow: Well, you know I have found this to be such a valuable thing because people make connections with others often you’re getting new ideas and new approaches but heck if all you come away with is 10 other names of people who share some common concerns and have some experience that you don’t have and stuff like that that’s fabulous. And of course there’s all the the learning sessions, and so that’s a great place to get some new ideas to validate things that you’re testing in your own business and that’s great, but it tends to overload you a bit. There are so many sessions in there such high quality that it’s really hard to remember what you attended two days ago much less last week. You know you want to capture as much of that as you can but for me it’s been primarily about building relationships and building inspiration. You know like you said entrepreneurship can be very lonely journey sometimes. And so to be able to get re-inspired to say yes, I can really do this and I’ve got some new ideas. I’m going to explore and and make it happen and I got my energy back again. That’s tremendous thing for going off and doing a week of something like this.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great and could you share with us Carl something that you consider one of your personal lessons learned from your career.
Carl Dierschow: Oh my God. Hahaha well. I’m 62 so I’ve had a bit of a career when I reflect back on what the big learnings were it’s really about the importance of the people that I have had a chance to work with over many years the projects come and go the work tasks businesses come and go and get acquired. There’s all kinds of stuff like that, but what really is enduring is who is it that you have relationship with. Who have you helped along the way, and who has helped you and how have you been able to show gratitude for that. For me that even gets kind of to the purpose of life a bit. Let’s hope that what your legacy is how many people that you positively affected while you were here for the the few short years that you were able to be on this planet. That’s a bit philosophical, but that’s that’s kind of what I bring away from it.
Vanessa Pagan: That’s great because it leads me to my next question. What do you hope is the future for Fort Collins?
Carl Dierschow: In general my my hope is just that this continues as a vibrant community. One where people are a bit more creative and inspirational than average. You know we all have our concerns and the sense of community that we have something we’re sharing together and it matters. It’s not just a place we happen to live, but it’s something that has a life of its own, and we care about it. We we want to make that better. That’s kind of what uh I want Fort Collins to continue to be I think it does a pretty reasonable job at that right now but as we grow.
Vanessa Pagan: Wonderful, and if you could recognize someone for their hard work and effort that they’ve put into the Fort Collins community who would you want to recognize?
Carl Dierschow: So many people that are unknown you know I’ve had some wonderful people I worked with over the years person that comes to mind who is very timely Doug Cannon. I worked with him for a couple of years now, and he’s fighting some really severe medical issues right now, and I’m going to miss him after he’s gone and be keeping him on mind during startup week because that’s important to me to remember that people do have important things that they’re giving to the community in big and small ways and you know we’re all going to have to give that up at some time and move on to whatever comes after life. New Tech and LaunchNoCO just an amazing group of people
Vanessa Pagan: Wonderful. Thank you for actually bringing the larger philosophical reasons about why we are who we are not just as sense of a start-up or my great big idea, but who we are as human beings and the impact that we can have in our world.
Carl Dierschow: Yeah, I mean we have to remember that we are humans on a human journey, and it’s not just about doing a job and amassing amount of money and things like that. It’s no are we building something that’s going to be enduring. Are we going to build something that benefits humanity.
Vanessa Pagan: Thank you Carl. I will be in touch with you by e-mail, and I hope to see you face-to-face Mentor Monday,
Carl Dierschow: Right. You take care.
Vanessa Pagan: Thanks so much. Bye.
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