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Buttercup’s proprietor chose home to serve up business

Thu, Jan 5, 2012

One on One

Lexie Spiranac, 23, grew up in Monument and went to college at Stanford University in California. When she decided to start her own business, she wanted to move home to Colorado Springs to do it.

While in college, she became a big fan of the state’s many yogurt shops and was surprised that the fad had not hit Colorado Springs yet.

So, she dived head-first into business ownership with partner Josh Mitchell and opened Buttercup’s Frozen Yogurt downtown at the corner of Tejon Street and Colorado Avenue.

What drove you to open a frozen yogurt business as your first major career move after college?

Because I graduated early in December of 2010, I had some time to think about what I wanted to do. I was debating between taking a position in New York or doing something entrepreneurial when my dad encouraged me to follow my dream of creating a company from scratch. Co-owner Josh Mitchell was about to graduate from Colorado State in June with a degree in economics and a minor in business administration and had not yet decided on a career path. Our knowledge base and skill sets complement each other perfectly, so I asked him if he would like to join me and here we are.

Why did you decide to come back to Colorado Springs to start your business?

I have lived in Colorado my whole life and although I absolutely adore New York, I really wanted to bring something special to my hometown. Josh and I talked and realized that although the traditional approach to entrepreneurship is to work a few years for experience and then start a company, we would get much more out of doing everything ourselves from start to finish — which is another reason why we didn’t want to be franchisees. Buttercup’s is ours; it is something we created, we could design each aspect to fit our vision. Where else would we be able to say that we learned how to do a full business plan, taxes, accounting, management, and human resources in less than a year? It is kind of like getting a real life MBA.

What was your experience with getting a business off the ground here?

Although it has definitely been a lot of hard work, both Josh and I understand the importance of asking for advice and developing a great network, thus making the process a relatively smooth one. We’ve definitely had moments of stress and panic. However, the chamber of commerce has been extremely helpful in getting us connected to resources and local vendors, and the City of Colorado Springs has been great to work with in terms of assisting with paperwork. For us, the hardest part was construction. We worked with two wonderful companies — Tom Hoover and Mike Whitely from Oz Architects and Allen Dill from Daystar Building Company — who did an amazing job, but since none of us have worked on a yogurt shop before, it took much longer than we anticipated. We ended up with an incredible, truly unique space, but it wasn’t easy getting there!

Why did you choose to open downtown?

Once Josh and I knew that the U.S. Olympic Committee building was an option, we were too excited about joining downtown to consider anywhere else. The downtown area has grown so much in the past few years that we wanted to be a part of the boom. It’s also a very tight community which was really important to us. We never wanted to be just another business. We wanted to be a part of a family.

What challenges or advantages do you feel young professionals have in Colorado Springs?

Young people definitely have a different perspective than our predecessors, which I see as advantageous. It is a huge asset that we are the first generation to fully grow up in the information age. Not only do we know how to use online resources extremely efficiently for everything from research to networking, but we truly understand the benefits of having a strong online presence. We’ve grown up in a time where we can create communities far and wide, with people all over the world, and I think that sense of being able to reach out via technology to the unknown, not having fear to interact in a virtual space, is very powerful.

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