Entrepreneur Fund is an SBA Microloan intermediary headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota and an active member of the Friends of the SBA Microloan Program. The organization actively partners with entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses in Aitkin, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Stearns and Todd Counties in Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin. Since its founding in 1989, the Entrepreneur Fund has fueled more than 14,000 businesses with expert support and funded over $48 million in loans.
Duluth Coffee Company is one of those successful businesses that Entrepreneur Fund has helped expand from an idea to a bustling foray into the coffee business, and finally helping the business to become the outstanding and thriving coffee shop and distributor that it is today. Entrepreneur Fund shared information on their work with Duluth Coffee Company’s founder, Eric Faust. Entrepreneur Fund provided him with multiple SBA Microloans for capital and consulting on Financial Management, Strategic Business Planning, and more. In turn, Eric built a major wholesale brand in Minnesota and has gained statewide notoriety. He continues to grow his distribution, while maintaining a a strong value system, making it a priority to know where his beans coming from and providing for the coffee farmers.
See details Entrepreneur Fund shared on their work with Eric below.
Eric first approached Entrepreneur Fund to get support to get his business off the ground. He accessed startup financing to purchase a 3-kilogram coffee roaster and began roasting coffee beans in his garage.
After some experimentation with the coffee roasting process, Eric began selling his freshly roasted beans at local farmers markets and restaurants from the bed of his ’91 Ford F-150. However, his truck bed coffee was so successful that it became difficult to keep up with the demand from his customers. He wanted to expand his operation, but knew he would need help, both in terms of financing and on how to run a small business.
Entrepreneur Fund happily provided the technical assistance and support Eric would need to develop his skills and become a savvy entrepreneur. With assistance in business consulting, expansion financing and strategic business planning from the Entrepreneur Fund, Eric cultivated the company for growth and expansion. He opened Duluth Coffee Company’s retail storefront in October 2012 in the heart of downtown Duluth, quickly becoming an essential part of many morning commutes. As demand and brand awareness steadily grew, Eric replaced the 3-kilogram roaster with a 12-kilogram model, and the Duluth Coffee Company’s popularity continued to trend upward. Since then, the coffee house has expanded to include a large-scale 70-kilogram roaster in the Roasteria, which also serves wine, beer and cocktails, just down the street.
As business has grown, Eric has made it Duluth Coffee Company’s mission to “roast and craft coffee with integrity and intentionality.” He takes great pride in the ongoing relationships he’s developed with worldwide coffee cooperatives and farmers who work hard every day to provide high-quality coffee beans. Eric and his head roaster often travel to source new coffee beans and enjoy meeting with community members along the way. Their appreciation, according to Eric, makes it all worth it. While the Duluth Coffee Company provides Duluth with fresh coffee, drinks and a place to hang out, it’s more than that; Duluth Coffee Company has changed lives across the globe.
“We purchase some of the finest coffees in the world and pay some of the best prices in the world,” Eric explained. “When people drink Duluth Coffee, they are truly helping improve economies in worlds away.”
For more information on Entrepreneur Fund, visit their website at www.entrepreneurfund.org. Keep checking out our blog for more Microloan success stories in honor of National Small Business Week!