Small Business

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Denver officials are working to legalize children's lemonade stands after police shut down a neighborhood stand earlier this year for lacking the proper city permits.

Matt Bloom/KUNC

Bradley Cheetham was about to deliver his fourth or fifth presentation in one month. He’d given so many, he said, he’d nearly lost track.

Pacing back and forth in the hallway outside the Colorado School of Mines classroom, where a crowd of space industry bigwigs awaited him, he shared a few words about life as an entrepreneur.

“Honestly, entrepreneurship is a really hard job,” he said, laughing. “Space is a really hard job. Doing them together does not make either easier.”

Matt Bloom/KUNC

When the first nine-month closure came in 2016, Christine Williams was prepared. She tightened the budget of her roadside coffee shop, Jamoka Joe’s, and stuck it out.

But then came something she wasn’t expecting – U.S. Highway 34 closed again in 2017. The traffic flow slowed to a trickle for the second year in a row.

Matt Bloom / KUNC

As he walked through the front door of his new 14,000 square foot lab in Wellington, Emek Blair couldn’t help but remember the Craigslist chair.

In 2015, he and the staff of his nutritional supplement company, Valimenta, were moving into the business’ first office space in Fort Collins. The group was dealing with the onslaught of challenges most startups undergo: Money was tight, space was limited and they needed office supplies.

When The Alpaca Bubble Burst, Breeders Paid The Price

Oct 19, 2015
Following in the footsteps of ostriches, chinchillas and Dutch tulips, alpacas represent the latest in a long line of speculative agricultural bubbles.
Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

Known for their calm temperaments and soft fleece, alpacas looked like the next hot thing to backyard farmers. The market was frenetic, with some top of the line animals selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the bubble burst, leaving thousands of alpaca breeders with near-worthless herds. Today, craigslist posts across the country advertise “herd liquidations” and going out of business deals on alpacas, some selling for as low as a dollar.

It’s just one more chapter in a long line of agricultural speculative bubbles that have roped in investors throughout history, throwing money at everything from emus to chinchillas to Berkshire pigs to Dutch tulips, only to find themselves in financial ruin after it bursts.

Boulder and New York-based translation company VerbalizeIt beat out 14 other competitors to win Colorado State University's second annual Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge business pitch competition.

"We've brought together the best of translation technology with the quality of human translation to create the world's most accessible and scaleable human translation platform," co-founder Kunal Sarda said while making his first pitch in a TED-talk style presentation to a panel of judges.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harverst Public Media

A windy and wide-open state, Wyoming is better known for ranching and energy than farming. It won’t be mistaken for the fruit and vegetable bounty of California’s central valley. In fact, it has the fewest number of vegetable farms of any state ﹘ there are more acres of vegetables growing in Alaska than in Wyoming.

The demand for local food, and some entrepreneurial ingenuity, are starting to change that though. Increasingly, vertical gardens are popping up to feed Wyoming’s desire for local produce, creeping into one of the last frontiers for the local food movement.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Drive through the outskirts of Pueblo, Colorado, and you'll see the remnants of a steel economy -- giant, empty brick buildings with towering smokestacks and parking lots with crumbling asphalt.

The southern Colorado town has a well-known industrial history -- its nickname, Steel City, says it all. But since 1982, when the steel market crashed, the area's economy has been more precarious, tied to the ebbs and flows of manufacturing industries like the Vestas windmill facility. Pueblo's third largest employer, after the school district and an area medical center, is Walmart, which isn't exactly full of high-wage jobs.

Now, there's a new industry in town, marijuana growing and processing. Whether you're a construction worker, a realtor, or a businessman looking to invest in the marijuana economy, chances are you believe your region's economic fortune is turning -- because of weed.

Grace Hood / KUNC

Etsy, the website where people can buy and sell handmade goods, is rumored to be planning an initial public offering. The company won’t comment. The Internet has made crafting a lucrative business — and it’s not just for selling goods. Lately, a growing number of crafters are willing to pay to learn new skills.

For help, they’re turning to companies like CreativeBug or the Denver-based company Craftsy.

Grace Hood / KUNC

From BBQ joints to ice cream parlors, more small businesses changed hands in 2014 compared to any time in recent memory. It’s a trend many business brokers were expecting.

According to, which tracks small business transaction data across the United States, 2014 saw small business sales increase 6 percent. The numbers are important because they can be viewed as an indicator of economic recovery across Colorado and the U.S.