Plains to Peak Chocolate Company

Baking a business from scratch

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Plains to Peak Chocolate Company is run by Sunni Sylvester and her husband Jeff. The two did not always have aspirations to make their own chocolate, but like many businesses today, a simple passion and idea can be all it takes to start something great.

“We started randomly. I would buy chocolate, look at the ingredients, and question the fillers in the chocolate. This led me to do some research and experimenting, and eventually I figured out how to make chocolate using the whole cacao bean,” said Sunni. “Now, we make our own bean to bar chocolate.”

A couple of years ago, when Plains to Peak was just an idea sprouting into action, Sunni decided to reach out to the Boulder SBDC. Sunni and Jeff did not have much of a business background when starting Plains to Peak. According to Sunni,
“I didn’t understand how to set up an LLC, how to pay taxes, or any of that stuff, so I reached out to the SBDC. In our first meeting, an SBDC consultant listened to our story and aspirations, and later that same evening sent me steps on how to establish an LLC, and how to register with the city and state. These clear steps were exactly what I needed.”

Sunni and Jeff proceeded to take both Startup Roadmap and Startup Essentials workshops through the SBDC, which Sunni described as “invaluable.” Sunni further explained “Since the workshops, we have reached out to one of your presenters several times asking for assistance with setting up the legal parts of the business. She has been very responsive, very supportive, and very helpful for us.”

As Plains to Peak Chocolate continued to develop, the two began thinking about the expansion process. The SBDC set Sunni up with a consultant to talk over any expansionary plans. Sunni reflects, “The consultant talked to us about scaling, getting investors, taking out loans, and what else expansion entailed. It gave us reassurance that we were on the right path and that being cautious and using income right now to save up for our business down the road was a good idea.”

A further step the SBDC took to help Plains to Peak was to connect Sunni and Jeff with other entrepreneurs in mid or post expansionary stages. According to Sunni, “This helped us talk about scaling, and potentially getting a commercial space. Hearing how other people expanded their businesses was huge for us.” Sunni continued, “Someday we could see ourselves teaming up with other small food producers and maybe share a space. We’re always having those conversations and keeping our eyes open for opportunities.”
Right now Sunni and Jeff sell their chocolate every Saturday at the Longmont farmers market. They have come a long way since their initial decision to start selling chocolate. They have invested in new production equipment and truly feel that they are experiencing success. They are constantly reevaluating their goals and remain very excited to grow their business and maintain their values.

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