Building Business with Wood Fired Ovens on Wheels
Often times people think that successful businesses sprout overnight. But Ajith Dharma, owner of Fire Within, can attest that this isn’t always the case. Ajith had a track record of being a successful entrepreneur before acquiring Fire Within in 2014; however, the journey wouldn’t have been the same without his resiliency.
With a production facility located in Fort Collins, Colorado, Fire Within is not just a mobile wood fired oven manufacturer. Ajith takes pride in the fact that his business has other arms as well including Wood Fired University, a complete business manual called “Rolling in the Dough”, and the Fire Within Community. All of these elements are centered around creating successful pizza-preneurs. In fact, Fire Within is the only manufacturer in the world that teaches oven owners how to build and run their business. They’ve graduated over 1,000 students worldwide through their university with a lean but mighty team of eight staff members.
Before purchasing Fire Within, Ajith had sold his previous company in 2013 and spent his time off diligently searching for his next business endeavor. He looked at over 80 companies until he found an enterprise that he could truly get behind. It wasn’t until 2018 that Fire Within become a profitable business. At that time, Ajith new it was time to expand. He had known about Colorado Lending Source through his previous entrepreneurial life and decided to inquire about financing. Through the Community Advantage loan program, Ajith was able to fund working capital and equipment that has ultimately allowed Fire Within to experience continued growth.
Discover more about Fire Within below...
In what ways does Fire Within have a positive impact on the community?
There are several elements of Fire Within that helps entrepreneurs run their business through education, community, and in-house workshops. We bring in world renowned bread makers to help push their skills to the next level. We also have unique partnerships with schools and universities to spread awareness about the intricacies of wood fired ovens.
Fire Within also allocates four scholarships to high school students and veterans in every university session. Additionally, we provide a veteran’s discount to armed forces.
Why are you passionate about Fire Within?
When I was researching my next business purchase, Fire Within had all of the elements that I valued, which include food, education, and supporting new entrepreneurs. We now have over 900 oven owners in all 50 states and even overseas. But aside from the business itself, our team comes first. I live by my philosophy of taking care of my people. Making sure that my employees are safe, can take care of their families, and live a comfortable life is a big part of Fire Within.
What were some challenges you encountered after acquiring Fire Within?
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely place. Family members and friends thought that because I was successful in my previous business that everything I touched would turn to gold. But the first four years were extremely challenging. We encountered cash flow issues, but I knew that building a profitable business takes time. Even though people think things come easy, you have to be resilient and humble.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
My advice is to surround yourself with people who can guide you and reach out to your local SCORE chapter for counsel. Find other successful entrepreneurs and allow them to mentor you. You’ll be surprised by how many people will come to help. Then once you're successful, pay it forward and mentor other business owners.
What was it like getting a loan from Colorado Lending Source?
Working with Colorado Lending Source was a truly special experience. In my business life, I have dealt with many organizations. I felt my experience with Colorado Lending Source was unique as each individual I dealt with was passionate about what they did. That’s a very rare quality in an organization. Anything that I needed, there was an immediate response. And I was the same way. I needed the loan, so I made sure my loan officers had all of the necessary paperwork quickly. And we closed my loan at a record speed.