DaLe Llama Bike Tours

Tony Martin’s business is to go downhill – fast!  His business, DaLe Llama Bike Tours (DLBT), is trending uphill, but their passion is to take people down hills and mountain sides.  DaLe is a play on words for a Spanish phrase meaning “let it rip,” and “go for it.”  Tony leads mountain bike tours to Ecuador for big descents as they ride downhill and single track.  DLBT’s purpose is to shred sick trails, stimulate local economy and share culture.

Last November Tony returned from South America as he mountain biked through Bolivia, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador for a year and a half.  Towards the end of his trip he was offered a guide position with a touring company and led two trips himself.  He came back inspired and motivated to begin his own touring business.

A friend of his recommended he contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort Lewis College (FLC) to learn how to get his business going.  Tony emailed SBDC’s Hannah Birdsong and set up an appointment with regional director Mary Shepherd.  “I met with Mary for an hour and a half.  She told me how to put a business plan together and about the process of establishing a business.  Mary was super knowledgeable.  She used to be involved in public relations and marketing for an outdoor company and offered great ideas for me to connect with others.  Mary also explained the choices I had to set up my business as an S-Corp or LLC.  An S-Corp has greater tax advantages but comes with more red tape and costs several thousand dollars to maintain.  However, she indicated if I submitted a 2553 form I can allow myself to be taxed as an S-Corp without having the specifics or paying out thousands of dollars.”  Tony also met with an SBDC advisor for financial matters.  He taught Tony how to organize the monetary side of business, highlighting topics such as cash flow and balance sheets.  “SBDC advisors also helped me learn what my hidden costs were going to be.”

As Tony worked on his business plan, he entered the FLC ‘Hawk Tank’ contest.  The Hawk Tank is a contest for FLC students and recent alumni to pitch their business in front of a board of judges.  A winner from each group (student and alumni) would be chosen for having the best business idea based on a detailed business plan and presentation.  The winner would be awarded a five-thousand-dollar prize.  “I worked on my business plan for six weeks, thirty to forty hours a week.  I saw Hannah several times.  She reviewed my business plan outline and rough drafts.  Hannah also talked to me about social media.  She’s a boss!  I created two accounts for my business using Facebook and Instagram with her help.  Mary and Hannah also let me practice my presentation in front of them.  Everything came together for me the day of the Hawk Tank presentation.”  Tony’s plan and presentation earned him first place amongst all alumni contestants on April 6th, winning five thousand dollars!  All his invested time and effort and paid off.  “I have a totally different perspective after meeting with SBDC.”

Tony led his first trip to Ecuador in May and has two more tours booked this coming month.  Tony summarized, “SBDC is the most properly allocated money the government has taken out.  You can go in anytime and talk with them for free.  They have tons of experience.  Mary and Hannah are super knowledgeable.  They helped me all along the way.  Overall, they are really good people.  All of the SBDC advisors are knowledgeable and helpful.  I totally recommend them.  Five star!”  Tony concluded, “I give SBDC a huge shout out for making my business possible and clearing a cloud of confusion from me for not knowing what needed to be done.”

MUNIRevs

by Malia Durbano As the Finance Director for Mountain Village in Telluride, Erin Neer saw gaps in the government accounting system that she thought she could fix. “Technology in government systems hasn’t evolved as quickly as it had in the private sector,” she deduced. Neer believed she could provide these services best from the vantage point of an entrepreneur, so she started her own business, headquartered in Dolores, CO. As the previous owner of Anytime

Read More »
Durango Lawns: Keeping Durango Green

Some people adore yard work. Others prefer to leave their lawn care to the experts, so they have the freedom to go play. It is on this principle that Durango Lawns was founded. Although he is an electrician by trade, Pat Cass spent many of his early years working in lawn maintenance. He enjoys working outdoors and staying physically active, and for years, he dreamed of starting his own lawn company. Finally in 2019, he

Read More »
Southwest Farm Fresh Co-Op: Where Do You Go When It’s Time to Grow?

What do you do when you are ready to grow or change your business model but aren’t exactly sure how? This is the question that Laurie Hall found herself asking in 2019. As one of the founding members of Southwest Farm Fresh (SWFF), she had seen the cooperative grow and change over the years. However, five years after its founding, the business was about to make a dramatic shift by going online. In 2014, Southwest

Read More »
Bountiful Ridge Farms

Rick Goodall is a second-generation farmer in Arriola, CO, whose family grew apples and raised livestock. He married Gerrie twenty-two years ago. That’s when Gerrie was first introduced to farming. While expecting their second child, Gerrie chose to stay at home to raise the children, but the tradeoff was the loss of a second income. Gerrie considered her options and decided to plant a garden. Her first harvest was plentiful, yet it yielded a tremendous

Read More »
Pilates Connection

By Malia Durbano Kim Moriyama opened the Pilates Connection in 2002. She envisions her business as a vehicle to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives and is so grateful for the instructors who work with her that are passionate about doing that. In 2013, Kim met with advisor Joe Bishop who, “Was an awesome sounding board and helped me with revisioning to make the studio vital and dynamic.” She implemented the ideas they came

Read More »
Higher Grounds

By Malia Durbano Nicki Alley, owner of Higher Grounds Coffee in Pagosa Springs was “really excited” when she won First Place for the business plan she wrote after attending the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs training. Although her coffee house, bakery and gift shop had been open since 2004, she wanted “a refresher and to update the business plan”. She will be celebrating her 10th anniversary on August 16th & 17th. The eclectic shop features scarves,

Read More »