Bulumu Granola LLC co-founder Brandon Bailey shows off a display of the company’s granola at a Whole Foods Market in Boulder. The product soon will be available at King Soopers and City Market stores. Jonathan Castner / for BizWest

Bulumu offers athletes granola that sits light

BOULDER — The last thing a triathlete needs is a stomach ache.

“I noticed that the granolas available to me sat heavy in my stomach and caused stomach aches during training,” said Jasmine Oeinck, referring to her days living at the Olympic Training Center.

Coming up with her own oil-free, lighter recipe kept her in the game and also opened the door to a new business. With her friend, Brandon Bailey, Oeinck co-founded Bulumu Granola LLC in 2011.

The company name carries back to the times when Oeinck trained around the world. She and her mother signed off on emails with “Buckle up, love you, miss you,” which was eventually shortened to Bulumu.

“Our mission is to inspire and support others in their pursuit of passions and an active, healthy lifestyle,” Oeinck said.

Oeinck and Bailey originally made the granola in their north Boulder apartment, put it in zip-lock bags and sold it out of the back of his car. Then they made the commitment to make it into a business.

“Jasmine tried to continue racing professionally in the early stages but found it too hard to grow the business and continue to compete on a high level as an athlete,” Bailey said. “This year she reached the tipping point and decided to focus on the business and no longer on racing.”

Today Bulumu produces about 30,000 pounds per production run, which lasts for a couple of months. It’s made and packaged in a cereal-production facility and distributed by United Natural Foods, Inc., an independent national distributor of natural, organic specialty foods.

“They service all major accounts like Whole Foods,” Bailey saidw. “That partnership has given us access to thousands of retailers.”

Current retail locations include Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Kansas, Idaho, California and Arizona.

“We’re in about 50 stores as well as moving into King Soopers and City Market next month,” Bailey said.

Rather than targeting professional athletes, Bulumu’s market focuses more on beginners, according to Bailey. “Most professionals have a nutrition plan set. We’re aimed at people who are running races like half marathons or shorter and who are there to have a good time.

“We support their new journey and are there to help them create new habits.”

Bailey credits the mentoring he and Oeinck got from a few of Boulder’s well-known entrepreneurs such as Justin Gold, founder of Justin’s, and David Sorley, formerly with Larabar.

“They helped us with our business plan, helped us understand this particular industry and helped us know how to break onto the shelves,” he said.

Both he and Oeinck agreed on the biggest challenge they’ve had in the business to date: building relationships.

“That means getting access to customers and capital and learning how to get people to want to work with you,” Bailey said.

He used their efforts to break into Whole Foods Market as an example.

“We had printed labels on our jet printer at home, stuck them on the bags, took them to Whole foods where we gave them samples, and told them we wanted to know if they’d sell something like this in their store.”

The relationships led to a positive reception at Whole Foods’ regional offices. What helped was backing up their pitch with names of buyers at the store level who already had said they’d carry the product.

Another challenge the co-owners overcame was realizing when it was time for them to get out of the kitchen. Getting someone else to make the granola freed them up to go out and get the sales.

The 23 percent profit Bulumu earned last year was reinvested in the business, and the company will run at a loss this year because of growth investment. “We’ll absorb 15 to 20 percent as an operating loss,” Bailey said, adding that sales growth in the company’s second year was 200 percent on unit sales.

With a $500 initial personal investment and friends and family pitching in to help keep the project growing, Bailey said the company should start making a profit next year.

Bulumu comes in three flavors in 11-ounce resealable pouches and sells for $5.49 to $6.49.

BOULDER — The last thing a triathlete needs is a stomach ache.

“I noticed that the granolas available to me sat heavy in my stomach and caused stomach aches during training,” said Jasmine Oeinck, referring to her days living at the Olympic Training Center.

Coming up with her own oil-free, lighter recipe kept her in the game and also opened the door to a new business. With her friend, Brandon Bailey, Oeinck co-founded Bulumu Granola LLC in 2011.

The company name carries back to the times when Oeinck trained around the world. She and her mother signed off on emails with “Buckle up, love you, miss you,” which was eventually shortened to Bulumu.

“Our mission is to inspire and support others in their pursuit of passions and an active, healthy lifestyle,” Oeinck said.

Oeinck and Bailey originally made the granola in their north Boulder apartment, put it in zip-lock bags and sold it out of the back of his car. Then they made the commitment to make it into a business.

“Jasmine tried to continue racing professionally in the early stages but found it too hard to grow the business and continue to compete on a high level as an athlete,” Bailey said. “This year she reached the tipping point and decided to focus on the business and no longer on racing.”

Today Bulumu produces about 30,000 pounds per production run, which lasts for a couple of months. It’s made and packaged in a cereal-production facility and distributed by United Natural Foods, Inc., an independent national distributor…