It's February and that means every Utahn is doing their best snow dance to ensure there is plentiful powder for the skiing and snowboarding season! So far this year we have been blessed with some great days on the mountain which means people are not only getting their fitness on but that they are working up an appetite all day on the slopes! That is why we chose Liftie Bites as our February Small Business of the Month! Liftie Bites is a new, family-owned, small business located in Holladay, Utah. Having spent the past two years product testing, designing packaging and fine-tuning their business plan, Liftie Bites launched in December 2018 and is currently being sold around the Wasatch Front.
Just 150 calories and 5 grams of protein, Liftie Bites are a fruit and nut based energy bite packed with flavor. Sea salt caramel, dark chocolate and alpine yogurt are drizzled over the top or you can have them plain.
Liftie Bites was born out of founder Chris Templin's desire to create an energy bar for his active life that was better tasting, healthier and a more manageable size than most power bars on the market today. To find out more about Liftie Bites and why Chris decided to take on a Black Diamond level challenge of starting his own business, keep reading!
UMLF: Tell us about yourself Chris. What’s your background?
Chris: I am a 25-year employee of the Little Cottonwood Canyon, and I am raising my family in the shadow of the Wasatch mountains. I moved here in 1991 from Ohio, worked various lodging jobs until finding my way to the mid-mountain restaurant, Alpenglow for a few years. I then took a job at Alta Central in 1998, which is where I am currently employed. I married my Alta sweetheart, a former Kickstand and Alta Photo employee and have two children who are growing up loving first chairs on powder days.
UMLF: What made you want to start Liftie Bites? What inspired you?
Chris: Finding affordable, healthy snacks has always been important to me and I want to pass this along to my friends, family and community. I could never find a bar that was healthy and affordable that I could eat in a few bites while on the lift, so I made my own. These bars have become a huge hit with my friends, family and colleagues and I'm ready to take it to the next level and make them more widely available.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
Chris: There are so many! Finding commercial kitchen space, finding funding for a small start-up, learning on the fly about food packaging, regulations and requirements, building a website, and planning out cash flow. To overcome these, we really reached out to our networks (and our friends networks!) We met with a few small business owners, even if they weren't doing exactly the same things we were, it was really helpful to hear their issues and challenges. They all gave us things to think about. Our friend is a fantastic graphic designer, so we topped into her expertise. We also went to some of the local events hosted by the Chamber and other organizations that focused on local food businesses. The key is to look around, use your contacts and resources. Everyone was very willing to give advice and talk to us!
Funding in particular was one of the greatest challenges. When the UMFL was mentioned by our banker it was a no brainer to at least check in. And what do ya know we were approved! We really had to just rely on gut instincts that the product taste would speak for itself but funding the product packaging was a huge hurdle. Minimum orders for our foil wraps and point of purchase boxes were in the thousands. So needless to say we really just had to have confidence that our product WILL sell to cover our startup costs. If you’re starting a business, just remember you’re starting up something that nobody has ever even heard of. You have to get out of your comfort zone and tell the world about what you have. You have to be your own cheerleader. And just when you think you can sit down and relax, you’re back at it again. I get excited when new order comes in!
UMLF: Where can customers find your products?
Chris: Liftie Bites are sold at Alta Ski Area, Snowbird’s Cliff Sports and soon to be Brighton Ski Resort. Our online store is www.liftiebites.com We have free delivery along the Wasatch front and are always looking for more wholesale accounts. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
UMLF: What are some of your favorite runs in Utah?
Chris: Ski runs? Any run really at Alta. I particularly like storm skiing. I mean who doesn't! Summer runs? We like to get out on our favorite Wasatch front hikes. The classics like Red and White Pine Lakes in LCC. In BCC Lake Blanche and Desolation Lake.
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
The staff at UMLF have been incredibly supportive and helpful. It’s a great resource for small businesses in Utah and we couldn’t have launched without both the funding and the support we received from them.
To stay in touch with Liftie Bites: