Tucker Robinson once worked as an archaeologist who brewed his own beer at home in his spare time. His affinity for making quality microbrews eventually led Tucker to pursue craft brewing as a profession. In 2013, he wrote an initial business plan with the goal of opening his own microbrewery in Cortez, CO.
Several years later as his business plan seemed close to completion, Tucker interned at his friend’s brew pub in Rochester, NY. He worked fourteen hour days, six days a week, for one month. He learned about the intricacies of running a beer establishment and using large scale brewing equipment. Tucker’s greatest take away was to provide quality in every aspect of business. “From the customer’s experience, to how employees are treated and throughout the brewing process. If you focus on quality, there is a better chance of business succeeding.”
When Tucker returned to Colorado, he attended a ‘Start Your Business Workshop,’ hosted by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The workshop introduced entrepreneurs to professionals who discussed topics regarding business planning, finance, legal structure and business registration. Tucker was impressed with the workshop’s content. He learned SBDC offered additional services to start ups. He called the SBDC office and asked to meet with someone to review his business plan. Joe Keck and Michael Rich were two advisors recommended to Tucker. Joe and Mike were impressed with the business plan, and the beer. Tucker said he met with them three times over the course of six months.
Both advisors assisted to streamline Tucker’s financial system with spreadsheet software. The program allows an entrepreneur to project costs over a long-term period, and offers structure through entering, accessing and reading financial data effectively. When Tucker input his financial data, for him, the hard numbers translated into a narrative and business plan dialogue. “How much business do I really want to do?” “What kind of growth can I predict?” “What does the tasting room look like?” These were clarifying questions for Tucker to specify what he wanted his business to look like.
Tucker did not have a location selected when he first contacted SBDC. He was advised to over budget for everything. Tucker later found and leased a post war era warehouse in August of 2016. The building needed a significant renovation. Tucker made an estimate to over budget by twenty percent. Plumbing and electrical utilities were brought in, property was rezoned and permits were eventually obtained. Seven months of renovation came to a completion in early 2017.
WildEdge Brewing Collective brewed its’ first batch of beer in February. The grand opening was April 12th, and WildEdge has warmly received locals and tourists ever since. Tucker presently has one full time employee. “I have been humbled by how excited people have been to my creation. I try to work with community groups, non-profits, and the Montezuma land conservancy. I made a special beer for them in which profits from that beer go to the conservancy. Great beer builds great community!”
Tucker recommends entrepreneurs use SBDC. “The insights I was given, and from someone who knows what they are doing, for free, one needs to be on point with direction. I was also impressed with how much time Mike and Joe spent with me. They offered great advice and their level of attention was exceptional. I know people with their own businesses who could benefit just by calling SBDC. Setting up my meetings took days, not weeks. In hindsight, I should have taken advantage of more of what SBDC offers.”