Armed only with icing and sprinkles, Ryan Marzec started a revolution.
Marzec, a CSU alumnus, opened Revolution Donuts last November, one month before receiving his business administration degree.
Getting any business rolling is tough, Marzec admits. But after a little hard work, the dough is on the rise.
“Your hardest working years are between college and establishing your career,” Marzec said. “We’re establishing something new and that really has endless possibilities in terms of growth potential.”
Marzec and his business partner, Michael Woodward, opened the shop after seeing that doughnut shops in Fort Collins were scarce. Originally from Memphis, Tenn. – a town they say is laden with doughnut shops – the two are hoping to attract the doughnut-deprived citizens of Fort Collins.
“We were trying to capture a lot of the old business from Daylight (Donuts),” Woodward said. “Customers looked away and found other places, but they’re steadily coming back now.”
“We were lucky to move into a place that used to be a donut shop,” Marzec added.
The shop’s off-the-beaten-track location near City Park, 1720 W. Mulberry St., and little advertisement have limited their customer base.
“It’s undiscovered,” Marzec said. “That’s the glory in it. It’s not mainstream or the same as everyone else.”
Marzec and Woodward’s business beginnings are right at home in Fort Collins, which was voted the nation’s top entrepreneurial region in 2005 by the Small Business Association and Edward Lowe Foundation.
That, complemented with an education from CSU’s business school – which was recently ranked 30th in the nation by Business Week – has prepared the two to overcome the hurdles of entrepreneurship.
As a student, Marzec thoroughly revised his donut plan through enrollment in the College of Business’ three-course entrepreneurship program. The intensive program is designed to give students a background of what to expect in business ownership, including an analysis of market opportunities and a finance plan.
The program “really helped me in thinking things all the way through and finding the underdeveloped areas of my plan,” Marzec said.
Dawn DeTienne, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship, said Marzec’s ambitions reflect a CSU education.
“Just taking one course can make a difference,” DeTienne said. “The program helps people decide if it’s really the career path for them.”
According to DeTienne, research shows that “students who start their own business earn about 25 percent more than students who go to work for someone else.”
Too often, though, amateur entrepreneurs are unprepared for the challenges to come, she said.
“The number one reason new ventures fail is because of undercapitalization,” DeTienne said. “People don’t start with enough money, and when they finally get to the point where they’re about to make it, they run out of money.”
This was almost the case for Marzec and Woodward, whose start-up costs were $9,000 more than expected.
“If you think you’re overestimating your costs, add another 25 percent on top of it, and you still won’t be close,” Marzec said.
Students who complete the program receive a certificate in entrepreneurship, a credential that makes business graduates more appealing in a job market.
“People are looking for a growing company that’s ambitious,” said Yolanda Sarason, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship who worked with Marzec during the program. “People don’t want to lend you money until you show experience.”
That experience goes hand-in-hand with ambition for Revolution’s owners, who are constantly learning as the business grows. The massive winter snowfall that left most stranded at home, for instance, was the perfect time for Marzec and Woodward to learn the craft of making doughnuts.
The doughnut duo now make 35 dozen donuts during the week and between 70-90 dozen on the weekends, all made from scratch the night before, and plan on one day expanding their image as a “single-serving snack provider”.
“In the realm of inexpensive food, doughnuts are one of the most reasonably priced snacks out there,” Marzec said. “You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg here to fill your belly here.”
Staff writer Jen Cintora can be reached at email@example.com.
Location: 1720 W. Mulberry St, near City Park
Phone number: (970) 472-1055
Hours: 6 AM – 1 PM (Sunday – Saturday), 8 PM – 2 AM (Sunday – Wednesday), 8 PM – 4 AM (Thursday – Saturday)