Entrepreneurs / Small Business  February 6, 2015

Doughnut dreamer working way out of the hole

The expression “dollars to doughnuts” began as a betting term meaning “short odds.” Eric Keeney is betting he can turn his homemade doughnuts into dollars – and he thinks his odds of success are pretty sweet.

Keeney, 46, knows he can turn out tasty treats because he started out making them for his family. He’s never owned a retail business, but figures his 10 years working in marketing and design, along with another decade in television production, can give him an edge.

And so the dream of opening Fort Collins’ only 24-hour independent doughnut shop is taking shape. Keeney and a silent partner already have spent nearly $10,000 on a food cart, a trailer to haul it, a doughnut fryer and commercial kitchen mixer, taxes, licensing, insurance and rent on a kitchen space. What he needs now is $10,000 more to help defray the early costs and pay for ingredients and this year’s expenses. To raise it, he launched a $10,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

“With Indiegogo, I can still keep the money if I don’t meet my goal by Feb. 15,” he said. “I’ll be happy if I get half of it.”

He’ll be selling from his cart at New Belgium Brewing on Valentine’s Day, but that’s just the start. By next year he wants to open the “Donut Lodge” in Fort Collins. “My vision is comfort food in a comfort venue,” he said. “An old-school ski lodge, a sanctuary amid harsh conditions. Vintage skis and snowboards – and a fireplace.”

By 2020, Keeney said, he hopes to have a second shop – in the mountains, where a ski lodge belongs – as well as a delivery van, a trailer to sell from at larger events, and even some branded merchandise and sports teams.

Why sell indulgences such as “The Elvis” – a doughnut flavored with peanut, chocolate and banana – in health-conscious Northern Colorado?

“I’ve always heard the best ways to make money are sex, alcohol and sugar,” Keeney said. “I’m a family man, so the first one’s out. I worked at the Left Hand brewery in Longmont, so I did the alcohol business. Sugar’s what’s left.”

The expression “dollars to doughnuts” began as a betting term meaning “short odds.” Eric Keeney is betting he can turn his homemade doughnuts into dollars – and he thinks his odds of success are pretty sweet.

Keeney, 46, knows he can turn out tasty treats because he started out making them for his family. He’s never owned a retail business, but figures his 10 years working in marketing and design, along with another decade in television production, can give him an edge.

And so the dream of opening…

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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