A Veteran-Owned Candy Shop!
Are there overlapping characteristics between entrepreneurs and veterans? Absolutely! Steve Benavides is the perfect example of how one intermingles military experience with business ownership. After 27 years of active service, Steve was about to retire until he came across an opportunity to open a candy shop in Colorado Springs. Now the proud franchise owner of Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops, Steve uses his past experience and determination to run a unique and successful store that not only sells candy, but that also unites community.
Steve shared, “Entering the small business finance world to me was like a civilian entering the military for the first time. There is so much unknown territory with foreign acronyms and terminology that the process to obtain financing felt like a different language.” In order to overcome these obstacles, Steve obtained a certificate from the U.S. Small Business Administration Boots to Business program, which gives veterans, like Steve, access to business planning curriculums and other small business resources. After completing the program, the prospect for Steve to open Rocket Fizz as a first-time business owner felt much less daunting.
Steve’s compassion for people and community is apparent and sets Rocket Fizz apart from other candy shops. He uses Rocket Fizz as a catalyst to help make children and adults happy through impeccable customer service, a welcoming atmosphere, and cheerful employees. At times he will invite neighbors to stop by the store, just for the prospect of feeling like a kid again. He plays oldies music and has model aircrafts hanging from the ceiling, too. Steve wants to make sure that his customers leave with a smile, whether or not they purchase something. With this mentality, Rocket Fizz is on a sugar high with sales surpassing projections after the first six months.
In order to help make this success possible, Steve applied for a Small Business Administration 7(a) loan. There to help was David Brockway from 5Star Bank and Colorado Lending Source. The financing helped Steve pay off the interim loan that was initially used to finance the franchise putting him in a position to hire more employees in the future.