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Success Stories

Launch Pad Brewery

The end of an unexpectedly volatile 2020 is a great time to tell the success story about one of Aurora’s prized businesses.  David LeVesque spent about a decade perfecting his technique of home brewing with some help from The Brew Hut and visiting Colorado breweries.  The idea of opening a business location started ‘brewing’ about six years ago, and Launch Pad’s mission came together after working on the start-up’s financials over several meetings with an SBDC consultant.  A loan for working capital from Aurora’s Revolving Loan Fund also helped with the purchase of equipment, and Launch Pad Brewery was officially ‘launched’ in 2015.

The loan was quickly paid off thanks to success as a start-up.  The hard work and natural marketing prowess of Owner and Founder David Levesque, along with business partner,
Co-owner and Founder Henry Rusch, have made Launch Pad Brewery a favorite destination for locals, Buckley Air Force Base personnel and lovers of micro-brews.  Launch Pad has a unique military theme in both brews and décor.  Launch Pad is veteran-owned and operated.  Both business partners are Air Force veterans, and the staff is either active military or the spouse of a military veteran.

Expansion plans began with the help of SBA loans, through both Colorado Lending Source and Independent Bank, and a stepped-up marketing plan.  The brewery went from 2500 sq. ft. to 5800 sq. ft., increasing occupancy from 84 to 184.  They also expanded distribution to over 45 local bars and tap houses, necessarily pivoting during 2020 to reach more customers while social distancing, offering an online store for curbside and indoor pick up, as well as offering gift certificates.

The co-owners won the U.S. Small Business Administration Colorado Small Business Person of the Year Award at a soft presentation on March 27, 2020 and officially at a very small gathering on September 24, 2020 to receive the physical award at Launch Pad.  SBA’s Colorado District Director Frances Padilla, the District’s SBDC Coordinator David Benavides and Lead Lender Specialist Steve White were on hand to outline all the ways that Launch Pad has contributed to the business community with innovative outreach and consistent quality.  One of Launch Pad’s SBDC consultants, Chuck Hahn (retired), was there to not only speak highly of Launch Pad’s hard work, but to also receive the Small Business Advocate of the Year Award.

Henry Rusch has presented some of Launch Pad’s secrets of success as host to the SBA’s Veterans Small Business Week in 2018 and 2019, in conjunction with the Aurora-South Metro SBDC, the Aurora Chamber and the Veterans Outreach Center.  The educational panel has given a wealth of advice to veterans interested in growing their businesses.  The team at Launch Pad credits the SBDC, “We treasure the advice and working relationship with the SBDC.  The SBDC team, the City of Aurora and the SBA have been supportive of our business from the beginning, and we are truly grateful.”

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GradePower Learning

Robert and Olga Mead, the owners of GradePower Learning, started out with a vision to help build children’s confidence and self-esteem. They found an opportunity to do that not only through tutoring students, but also in teaching them how to learn. The LEADING EDGETM Strategic Planning Series was the perfect tool for Olga to test her business model. She graduated from LEADING EDGETM in 2015 and continued on as a client at the Aurora-South Metro

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Vintage Theatre Productions

Starting out 15 years ago in a basement as a touring theatre group for small audiences, Vintage Theatre has grown from that “tiny” beginning to currently reaching over 20,000 patrons each production season. “It has been amazing to see the growth,” beams Cr aig Bond, Founder. Since moving to Aurora in 2012 into an existing black box theater, Vintage immediately added a second more intimate theatre to augment the season’s offerings. Creating a greater draw

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Yumbana, LLC

To be declared a U.S.A. Taste Champion by the American Masters of Taste national judging panel, especially when the category is “Gluten Free” baked goods, is quite an accomplishment. Yumbana was selected as a winning product line in 2017 and, since its beginning in 2011, has been committed to making products that don’t require self-discipline to eat and enjoy. ‘Yum’ is in the name and comes from the owner Christopher Lehn’s first creation, a YUMmy

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Prieto’s Catering

Prieto’s Catering is an Aurora-based food truck selling authentic and delicious Mexican food.  Prieto’s serves a variety of tacos, including the famous birria tacos that everyone is excited about!  They also serve other popular Mexican dishes made fresh, such as tamales, tortas and burritos.  Fully aware that the business needs to be responsive to customer needs during the pandemic, they offer home delivery and pick up from 9AM to 3PM daily. As a family business

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Grandma’s Rockin’ Rolls

It was Laura Neilson’s grandmother who spent hours teaching her children and grandchildren how to bake – while sharing life lessons and family stories. Grandma and her sister-in-law sold cinnamon rolls ‘in town’ to help supplement the farming income. Can you image the commute on horseback during the depression in a Minnesota winter?! Laura had been making Grandma’s rolls and giving them as gifts and holiday treats for over 30 years. But as Laura’s career

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Trunk Nouveau | Squadron

Trunk Nouveau /t^nk/ ‘nju:’veo/ noun:  A curated monthly showing and sale from an independent maker who offers handcrafted wares.  Trunk Nouveau in Aurora started with a remarkable dream:  a busy aviation studio, industrial in nature, doused in the smell of engine oil and creativity.  In the back, a room with steam trunks and suitcases filled with forgotten treasures–the kind that people hold on to, handcrafted and meaningful. A trunk showroom was created at Aurora’s Stanley

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