SBDC Template


See Who's Joining Us in 2019!

Monday, December 10, 2018

We are excited to introduce the new consultants who will be joining us in January, 2019! These consultants come to us with a wealth of knowledge from Marketing, Restauranteur, Partnership Relationship Management and much more. To see their full bios visit:

Craig McBreen

Fort Collins Marketing Specialist

Craig is the owner of McBreen Marketing, an integrated marketing firm that specializes in helping small businesses develop distinct, cohesive, and systematized marketing that brings results.

His mission is to help start-ups and small business owners craft an online presence that builds authority, increases brand awareness, and is built for long-term success. And he has over 20 years of experience leading teams of creative professionals.

Craig is also a certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant.

Jeff Jensen 

Fort Collins Business Consultant

Jeff has lived in Larimer County since 1974 and graduated from Larimer County Vo-Tech, Colorado State University and the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

Jeff specializes in strategic planning, (short and long term), new business and succession planning. He has built service and retail.
businesses  "Budgeting and P&L decision making is critical to success and I can aid with helping build or evaluate this for your business."

Jeff has been building new and turnaround business for nearly 35 years. His consulting has been built around small business (less than 50 employees) and political consulting.

John Verderame

Fort Collins Restaurant Consultant

John Verderame began his career earning a Bachelor's Degree in Business Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts. He successfully navigated the restaurant industry for almost twenty years in New York City in many high profile front and back-of-house roles. Verderame has helped develop and execute concepts, designed spaces, and expertly crafted food and beverage menus and wine lists. 

Verderame recently employs both his hospitality and education expertise as an Instructor at Front Range Community College in the Business and Hospitality Management department where he wears his chef whites instructing college students in culinary arts coursework, cost controls, purchasing, and management. Verderame's diverse and lengthy experience in the industry working with prestigious and elite Chefs and restaurateurs from concept to opening and expansion makes him a valuable mentor. His ability to hire, train and develop staff, and to teach management how to see what the guest sees creates a new standard of service for an unforgettable experience.

Rich Chiappe

Estes Park Marketing Specialist

Rich began his career in sales for large corporations transitioning to business development for multiple high tech startups before eventually building his own businesses. Most recently, he helped his business partners grow their aviation manufacturing business from $1M to over $5M in annual sales becoming the industry leader in their space.

After raising their three children, Rich and his wife moved to Estes Park where they now own and operate a very successful lodging business.

Rich holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Texas and loves helping fellow business owners create, stimulate and grow opportunities for their businesses.

Ben McConnell

Loveland Marketing Specialist

Ben McConnell is co-founder and CEO of Blue Parable, a Loveland based software start-up focused on bringing elegant, intuitive software solutions to businesses big and small.

In addition to running Blue Parable, Ben serves as Manager of Ecommerce and Digital Marketing for Cloz LLC, a Loveland based boutique retailer owned by his fiancée Anna Gutierrez and her mother Penne Sperry. Cloz operates two brick and mortar retail stores in downtown Loveland, each with an accompanying ecommerce site.

Ben has a passion for business architecture. He's well versed in a myriad of business analysis and modeling techniques that enable process centric design of business solutions. He loves sharing these tools with business leaders and helping them improve their existing products and services, or create new ones.

Ben's expertise includes software development, product management, project management, business architecture, process engineering, IT architecture, team management, service management, ecommerce, and digital marketing.

Small Business After Hours - Show me the Money!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Small Business After Hours - Show me the Money!

Thursday, October 25, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive;
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)

Are you seeking funding for your small business but are unsure of where to begin? With all the options available for small businesses today, it's normal to feel overwhelmed! The Larimer SBDC is bringing together several types of funding sources for you to ask questions and get answers.
In this unique event, we will have representatives from each of the categories above do a short introduction of their funding source. After this short introduction, there will be a speed-dating style format so you can determine the right source for you. Come prepared with your questions and get answers directly from the funding experts!

Our Moderator:

Mike O'Connell
SBDC Director

Mike earned a business degree from Pursue University, and worked in a variety of executive sales, marketing, and business-unit management positions. He purchased Mountain Woods Furniture (MWF), a leading national manufacturer of rustic hand-crafted furniture, and operated that business until its’ sale in December 2011. MWF’s products were sold through Cabela’s, national furniture e-tailers, furniture stores, and to resorts and lodges. He provided over 6,000 paychecks to American manufacturing workers during his ownership of MWF.

Our Panelists

Brittany Brown
1st National Bank

As a Sr. Advisor in Business Banking, Brittany has experience managing and advising a range of businesses. She has a focus for start-up companies and companies with 50 employees or less. She has a demonstrated history of working in the banking industry and believes in providing valuable customer service and being an accessible resource for her clients. She is skilled in portfolio management with emphasis on business and financial analysis. Brittany moved to Colorado in 2009 and enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her family outdoors in the beautiful Northern Colorado communities.

John Berkhausen
Cache Bank & Trust  

John Berkhausen has been a banker since 2007 and has been with Cache Bank & Trust since 2013.  He has served in multiple roles with Cache Bank & Trust and is currently Regional President overseeing all facets of the Larimer County Market including loans and deposits, cash management, credit, the market’s P&L, operations, human resources, and building management.  Within Cache Bank & Trust, John is a member of the Bank’s Executive Committee and Loan Committee.  

John grew up in Southern California, attended Boston College for his undergraduate studies, and graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with his Juris Doctorate and Masters of Business Administration.  John is an active member of the community sitting on the St. Joseph Catholic Church Finance Council, participating in the United Way of Larimer County Business Cares program, and working with the Next Generation of Bank Leaders Board of Directors for the Independent Bankers of Colorado.  He was a 2013 Coloradoan Featured Young Professional, a 2014 recipient of the BizWest 40 Under Forty Award, a past member of the United Way of Larimer County Board of Directors, and loves being outdoors in his spare time. Most importantly, John is the father of four daughters (yes, you read that right) and has been married to his wife Cristin for 13 years.

Lewis Hagler 
Colorado Enterprise Fund

As Director of Credit Quality, Lewis monitors portfolio and credit quality. He also manages our Northern Colorado lending activity including consulting with potential applicants about their business plans, performing credit analysis and loan underwriting, and providing ongoing business advisory services to borrowers. Prior to joining CEF in 1994, Lewis was the Director of the Small Business Development Center in Boulder. He is an entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience owning and operating a variety of successful business ventures with special knowledge of the restaurant and food service industry.

Gwen Bonilla

Gwendolyn Bonilla is a Regional Loan Officer for Accion in Colorado. She is a Colorado Native and for over seven years with Accion, has helped entrepreneurs across the state access loans to finance their existing and start-up businesses. Gwen graduated as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver. She is fluent in English and Spanish. When not at the office, you may find her and her husband taking advantage of Colorado’s awesome recreation centers and splash parks with their two young children, Makayla and Nathan, and chasing their yellow Labrador-mix puppies.

Paul Watkins
Guaranty Bank

Paul Watkins joined Guaranty Bank and Trust in 2015 with over 15 years of experience in the area of commercial lending.  As a commercial lender, Paul works with Colorado business owners, non-profits, municipalities and high net worth individuals to help them continue their path of financial success. Paul’s primary role at Guaranty Bank and Trust is to learn about his customer's goals, understand the most in-depth details about their business and assist them in securing commercial loans. Additionally, he educates his customers on Guaranty Bank and Trust's services that will help them meet both their short-term and long-term objectives through increased efficiencies, improved cash flow, and reduced risk. 

Paul has a deep passion for Northern Colorado, as a 5th generation Colorado native and graduate of UNC’s Monfort College of Business.

Ben Mozer
The Lyric Cinema

Ben Mozer was born and raised in Fort Collins.  He started The Lyric Cinema in 2007 and helped his wife, Elizabeth, start LoCo Food Distribution in 2011.  Ben will be survived by two sons, Bailey and Jack.

In 2017 Ben ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.  This helped The Lyric Cinema purchase (digital) projectors which were instrumental in keeping the doors open.

An Easy Way to Grow and Reach Your Market: Podcasting

Thursday, September 06, 2018

An Easy Way to Grow and Reach Your Market: Podcasting

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and effective way to educate, inspire, and serve more customers, podcasting just might be an excellent choice for you. Even though its been around for at least 15 years, podcasting is still in a state of steady growth. The latest numbers indicate that the number of listeners worldwide has reached almost 100 million. Interestingly, there are only just over 200,000 podcast creators currently active in the content arena. Compared to blogging and video creation, podcasting is still a relatively small competitive field.

I did my first podcast in 2008 on a website that I’d created for home recording beginners. Back then the process of producing and distributing the podcast was cumbersome and time consuming. There were a lot of steps between having an idea and people listening to me telling them the latest in the world of home recording equipment and techniques. Just setting up all the necessary accounts and distribution channels took several days. Luckily, those days are over.

What used to require thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, and a steep learning curve in technical ability can now be done with a smartphone and a free app called Anchor. With Anchor you can record, edit, interview guests, add music and sound effects, and with one click distribute your podcast to all the channels you need to reach. Anchor also allows you to announce your podcast episode releases to followers on Facebook and Twitter, and it allows you to embed your podcast episodes in html friendly email services and websites.

For those who would still like to attain the highest level of professional quality the news is equally encouraging. High quality recording technology has become available at a price that is affordable, and there is a wealth of free resources to learn how to use it. Services like SoundCloud and Pippa provide reliable audio hosting for a low monthly cost, and with a couple of hours of setup time, you can create a feed for your podcast that will be available alongside those of celebrity hosts like Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuck.

If you’d like to explore podcasting as an easy way to market and promote your business,  Larimer Small Business Development Center will be hosting a workshop, Podcasting Made Easy on Wednesday October 24, 2018 at 12PM. I’ll be sharing practical information on necessary equipment, planning, producing, and delivering your podcast with simplicity and ease. I’ll also provide a few templates that you can copy and use to streamline your production and distribution process.

The registration page for this workshop may be found HERE. Early registration is encouraged. Admission is FREE!

Franklin Taggart is a business consultant at the LBDC & the SBDC. Franklin’s specialty area is helping independent creative professionals build successful businesses.

Published by MaryAnn Huffines LBDC

Efficiency Works for Business

Friday, August 31, 2018

Lunch 'n Learn - Podcast Made Easy

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Podcasting Made Easy

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)

While some online media platforms have begun to slow in growth, podcasting continues to grow in both reach and scope, second only to online video. More people are listening to podcasts in their cars, offices, and homes than ever before.   Podcasting is an easy way to reach new markets, and to stay visible in those you have already cultivated. It is also a fantastic way to bring value to your audience through sharing your knowledge, inspiration and wisdom.

In this Lunch and Learn SBDC Consultant Franklin Taggart will take you through the steps to create and launch your own podcast. You will learn:

  • Necessary equipment and platforms. 
  • Formatting and production. 
  • Identifying and expanding your audience. 
       and more...

Franklin is an experienced podcast creator and producer.

Franklin Taggart
SBDC Consultant

Small Business After Hours - The Ins and Outs of Franchising

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Ins and Outs of Franchising

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)
Are you considering buying a franchise but do not know where to begin?  Come hear from our franchise panel from those that have been there and done that as they share their experience and expertise to educate you as you explore the amazing world of owning a franchise.

We'll cover topics such as:

                Why would you choose a franchise instead of building a business from the ground up?
                What are the essential personal and professional qualifications of owning a successful franchise?
                How do you find the ideal franchise?
                What are the costs involved in owning a franchise and can I obtain financing for a franchise?
                What are Franchise Disclosure Documents and Franchise Agreements?
                Can I replace my current income and how long will it take?

Our Panelists

 Jim McWilliams

Jim McWilliams graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor’s in Business. He worked for Goodyear in various positions for over 19 years. Positions included managing retail stores, Division Sales Training Manager supervising up to 20 retail stores and Franchise Business Manager. Jim owned up to four retail Goodyear Stores in Fort Collins, Loveland and Cheyenne during a 24 year period. He sold the business in October 2007. Also, during this period, Jim owned a Duds and Suds laundry mat franchise and Mail Boxes Etc. franchise.

 Charlie Morris

Charlie Morris has a Bachelor's Degree in Business.  He has worked in retail in various positions for the past 48 years.  Positions included managing retail stores, store design, fixture design and opening new stores. As VP of Retail Store Operations, he was responsible for 34 retail stores, which included personnel training, marketing, inventory purchasing, inventory management and distribution.   For the past 19 years, he has owned and operated a retail franchise "Learning Express Toys" in Fort Collins.  During these 19 years, he also served on the Franchise Advisory Council, Marketing Advisory Board, conducted cash flow and inventory management seminars at Learning Express Conventions.  He sold his business in July 2017. In addition, he has been a member of the Fort Collins Breakfast Rotary Club for the past 14 years, serving a variety of board positions including Community Service, PR and Membership.

 Thea Moeller

Thea Moeller, owner of Your Franchise Business, is a franchise consultant on a mission to match aspiring entrepreneurs with the best franchise option to exceed their goals.  She works with her clients from day one of dreaming to the actualization of their own business; providing research, education, resources, and support along the way.  Thea graduated from Cornell College, with bachelor’s degrees in Business & Economics, and Wellness.  After graduation, she spent over 10 years developing her knowledge in sales as a representative, specialist, trainer, and manager for large corporations.  Grateful for the experience, but dissatisfied with the growth limitations and having no work-life balance, she opened Your Franchise Business to help others seamlessly transition from employee to employer. 

Small Business After Hours - Your Art in the Digital Age, handling newest trends

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Your Art in the Digital Age

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm 

Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)

Are you looking to take your art into the digital age? 

Are you already digital, but looking to understand the latest trends, platforms, uses and ways artists are digitizing their work? 

If you are looking to communicate, sell and work online in some capacity as a creative in the 21st century this discussion and networking session is for you.  Hear from working creatives in the fields of photography, film, music, graphic design, digital art and web content creation about how they operate in a digital world, where they see growth opportunities and key takeaways on how to add this to your creative business model.

The session provides networking time as well as a panel discussion with audience participation.   
Our Panelists

Kyle James Hauser


The first year of Kyle James Hauser’s music career began auspiciously: he performed at CMJ, SXSW and the Toronto Int’l Film festivals; was a competitive finalist at Telluride Bluegrass and Rocky Mountain Folk festivals; and released his first record “Oh Oh” on sonaBLAST! Records. 

A graduate in Songwriting from Berklee College of Music, Kyle James Hauser went on to study banjo under Jayme Stone, Noam Pikelny, Chris Pandolfi and others. He’s been involved in over a dozen album releases over his career, and his album "You a Thousand Times" reached #1 on Colorado Public Radio a month after its 2014 release. His songs are featured in film and television including Judd Apatow’s The Big Sick, MTV's series 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom, Where Hope Grows and many more.

Kyle James Hauser’s performance credits include performances at the Kentucky Derby, and sharing the stage with Nathaniel Rateliff, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Head and the Heart, Brett Dennen, John Hiatt, David Grisman and more. Playing with Colorado band Rapidgrass 2014-2016, Hauser released two albums and toured internationally, most notably headlining La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France and winning 2015’s RockyGrass Competition. In 2015, Hauser also seized the opportunity to co-write a ballet with one of the country’s most highly-regarded regional ballet companies, the Louisville Ballet.

Hauser currently works in Artist Development at Bohemian Foundation’s groundbreaking incubator, The Music District. He’s been involved in music nonprofits Louisville Folk School (as co-founder), Think 360 Arts, Colorado Music Collective and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In addition to a private teaching practice he teaches songwriting at the Berklee College of Music and has given masterclasses at schools all over the country, including Oberlin Conservatory and Swallow Hill. 

Elias Martinez 

Elias Martinez is assistant vice president for brand strategy and creative director at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. At CSU he’s responsible for setting the institution’s overarching brand strategy and leading a cross disciplinary creative team dedicated to its realization. While at CSU, his team has helped cultivate a university culture that has led to record enrollment, fundraising, and community engagement – all signs of a strong brand.

Prior to CSU Elias was a creative director at Zeus Jones, a Minneapolis digital marketing and branding firm. At Zeus, he had the privilege of working with General Mills, Cheerios, Wheaties, Google, Nordstrom, Purina, Cheerios, Betty Crocker, and Nike. His work has been featured on ESPN, The Today Show, Deadspin, The Dieline, The Guardian, Bleacher Report, Esquire, Death and Taxes, and the front page of Reddit.

Ethan Bach

Ethan Bach is the founding CEO of Alt Ethos, founding E.D. of Denver Arts + Technology Advancement (DATA), an artist, and consultant.  Westword calls Ethan, “An entrepreneur with an eye on the future’s future.” Bach holds and MFA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and uses creative technology to foster deeper connections.

Andrew Schneider

Andrew has extensive experience in performing arts, marketing, film making, trends in arts and creative community building. Schneider co-founded and leads Create Places, an economic and workforce development nonprofit that provides support to increase creative and arts-related employment in Northern Colorado through initiatives like Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins, Artup Week Fort Collins, Open Streets, North Fort Neighborhood Connections, and others. The Downtown Artery, a 14,000-square-foot arts hub in downtown Fort Collins adopted Create Places nonprofit mission earlier this year and hired Andrew Schneider as managing director to lead the organization through the period of growth and transformation. Downtown Artery was recognized in 2018 by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts for outstanding partnerships and engagements with the arts — familiar territory for Schneider, who will also continues  to work in the nonprofit space outside of the Downtown Artery’s footprint.

MyBizColorado – Streamlining Business Startup

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The State of Colorado has just launched a new service to help emerging businesses open their doors with more ease and efficiency – MyBizColorado. This online tool is a single path to interact with multiple state agencies to help expedite the process of starting a new business.

Participating agencies and partners include: Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Revenue, Department of Regulatory Agencies, Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Governor’s Office of Information Technology, Secretary of State’s Office, Statewide Internet Portal Authority and Colorado Interactive, LLC.

What services are available through the MyBizColorado?

  • Register for a sales tax license
  • Register employees for wage withholding
  • Register employees for unemployment insurance
  • Resource library and tutorials on business requirements, as well as planning and developing a new business, and get information on necessary professional licenses.

*It is required that filers register businesses and trade names with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office before using MyBizColorado.

MaryAnn Huffines

Consultant Spotlight - Peggy Lyle

Friday, April 06, 2018

This month, we turn the Consultant Spotlight on Peggy Lyle, District Director for the Downtown Fort Collins Creative District. Peggy is always looking for new ways to advance the city of Ft. Collins and make an impact in the creative industry. 

A native of Santa Fe, Peggy is passionate about the arts and creative approaches to business and communications.  With 20+ years of event production, marketing, and programming for Downtown Fort Collins and The Rhythm Co., she’s aided musicians, performers, galleries, artists, non-profits, small businesses and events navigate promotion, audience cultivation, programming and business strategy. Highlight Projects/Boards: Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, FoCoMX, Colorado Brewers’ Festival, FC Gallery Walk, Downtown Fort Collins Creative District and TriMedia Film Festival.

Peggy is available for consulting at the Larimer SBDC on for an appointment, 970-498-9295.
5 Questions for Peggy Lyle:

1) What's new with you?  Spring has arrived and the creative juices are flowing.  With Artup Week Fort Collins just behind me I have launched head on into the next set of projects like FoCoMX 10th Annual festival, and the Downtown Fort Collins Creative District work plan.  As a matter of fact, we are producing an ART + LAW: Fort Collins workshop coming up Friday, April 13th, where artists and musicians can learn about the Colorado Attorney for the Arts program and get their arts' focused legal questions answered. It's always good to know you have a lawyer on your side. I certainly hope the creative business community comes out to join us on April 13th.    

2) Thoughts on the local creative environment for 2018?  I think that momentum is rising for creatives. They are embracing their power to be change agents and successful entrepreneurs while seeking a place at the table.  I continue to see creative entrepreneurs hunger for business education and resources and the quality of ideas ramping up each month.  It seems to me that perhaps younger generations are inspiring older ones to take their dreams seriously and with a new digital world more things seem possible.  That hunger is resulting in Fort Collins being a leader of the creative industry in Colorado and I am excited to continue to ride this wave! 

3) What do you enjoy most about consulting?   It sounds cliche, but I genuinely love helping and teaching people to succeed.  I love the little things like talking through a client's dilemma, sharing a new perspective, connection someone to a new resource and being a cheerleader for their dreams. 

4) Favorite creative networking spots in Ft. Collins?  The Music District programs, shows at the Carnegie Center for Creativity, The Downtown Artery any day, Hot Dish Monthly Art Nights and at shows (concerts and gallery shows).  Finally, just sitting on a patio in downtown Fort Collins, you see so many people allowing connections and ideas to pop up!   

5) One piece of advice for anyone looking to start or grow their creative business? Remember it's a "business" that requires a solid idea, lots of energy, a targeted customer and a competitive edge.  Creative businesses can be real and profitable without compromising your art! 

Find out more about Peggy Lyle and her work at Downtown Fort Collins Creative District

Art + Law: Fort Collins - April 13, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Join us for a full day of legal workshops for attorneys, creative professionals and arts organizations. Registration includes workshops, lunch, entertainment and networking. Colorado Attorneys for the Arts - CAFTA will share information about their program of pro-bono work for the arts and creative industry and share knowledge of Intellectual property and legal issues for creatives (as it relates to Music, Performing Arts, Visual & Design Arts and Literature) 

The workshop includes an interactive networking lunch and live entertainment! 

$15 pre-register/$20 at the door

Art + Law Registration