Creating a Powerful Brand
Snowy Elk Coffee Co. is a specialty coffee roastery in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Their branded organic, high-altitude roasts are inspired by Wyoming adventure and the outdoors. Owners Scott and Julie Gondzar believe that when you brew Snowy Elk Coffee, you are sharing a collective passion for the rugged outdoors, a curiosity for new adventures, and an appreciation of nature.
The Gondzars took the entrepreneurial leap in 2018, looking to brand several roasts that exhibit distinct flavor profiles. Scott used his microbiology knowledge and experience as a craft brewer to seize the opportunity to master the art and science of specialty coffee roasting. To move from the farmer’s market to a brick-and-mortar storefront, the two met with Wyoming SBDC Network Regional Director John Privette. Privette was able to help them develop a business plan and prepare a pitch to successfully receive debt-financing.
Business continued to go well for Snowy Elk Coffee. In 2019, the Gondzars again worked with the Wyoming SBDC Network to look at expanding their business. Privette was able to help the pair with cash flow and financial projections to obtain further financing. In 2020, Snowy Elk Coffee Co. expanded into their new roastery which can accommodate the new equipment they obtained in order to keep up with increased demand.
Pivoting During the Pandemic
When COVID-19 hit Wyoming, Snowy Elk Coffee’s wholesale channels saw a serious decline. On top of that, the Gondzars’ growing company was impacted by shipping delays from their suppliers and a shortage of their own shipping materials. However, the pair were able to adapt and find success through other channels.
The Gondzars attended several sessions of the Wyoming SBDC Network’s weekly virtual town meetings to learn about issues facing entrepreneurs during the pandemic such as getting their business online and taking advantage of state and federal programs available to assist Wyoming businesses affected by COVID-19. Privette also reached out to the business owners to make sure they were taking advantage of these resources. Pivoting their business strategy paid off for Snowy Elk Coffee and they were able to increase their online sales significantly during the pandemic. With the addition of some new large distributors, the pounds of coffee roasted and packaged each month greatly exceeds pre-COVID production.
Planning for the Future
As 2020 progressed, Snowy Elk Coffee’s wholesale channel began to return to normal levels and their e-commerce sales continued to grow. However, the Gondzars aren’t done yet, and have been working closely with the Wyoming SBDC Network to grow their market even more through exporting. Privette, also the Wyoming SBDC Network’s international trade expert, has been assisting the Gondzars with every step of the exporting process, including getting them in touch with the Wyoming trade office in Taiwan.
“Scott and Julie represent the Wyoming entrepreneur grit and spirit to launch a coffee roastery and grind through the challenges of building a business that makes meaning in every cup they sell,” says Privette.
- Business Plan Development
- Financial Assessment
- Cash Flow Projections
- Obtaining Financing
- COVID-19 Assistance
- Real Estate
- Business Taxes
- International Trade
- 2nd Stage Business Strategies