Recalling birth of BCBR and its unfolding path
Thirty years ago I was 28 and armed with a degree in journalism and several years of experience as a reporter and editor for small New England newspapers. I loved everything about the news business — coming up with ideas, meeting people and writing news stories, design and layout, and even ad sales. It was clear to me that Boulder — where technology and biotechnology businesses were popping up like spring crocuses — needed a business publication.
Did I have money? No. I worked half time in the City Attorney’s office until I could afford to support myself with the fledgling newspaper.
Investors? Well, my mom loaned me $500 at first, and then later when the publication started to grow I did find a mentor and investor from Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Report started as a simple roster of new businesses with contact names and phone numbers. It sold out every month at Eads News and Smoke Shop to B to B salespeople. People began suggesting columns and story ideas, so we slowly added news and readership.
In those days, young women weren’t publishing business news; it still primarily was a man’s world. I printed my childhood name, Zan Gripman, as publisher so that readers wouldn’t know my gender and perhaps jump to judgment.
BCBR was founded in the Broadway Building on the downtown Boulder mall, and I remember living in my office for three months when I was low on money. Mike Trent of Standard Office Supply was my first advertiser. We traded office furniture for ads and a little money. Mike had a wonderful sense of humor and became a good friend.
Donna Joy Newman wrote excellent articles for us. Danielle Kuper designed our first masthead.
Jeff Schott showed up. He had entrepreneurial drive, a great sense of humor and wanted to work in advertising sales. Ultimately, he changed the course of BCBR’s future. I had accepted an earnest payment on the sale of BCBR to the Colorado Daily, but Jeff came up with another buyer who paid a few thousand dollars more, and the Daily declined to match the higher offer.
The Daily Camera’s Business Plus insert was started once we appeared to be gaining a foothold in the print advertising market. I invited its first editor over to my office to get acquainted. He presented a yellow rose in friendship, then said that they would put us out of business. He actually did us a favor because we resolved to prove him wrong and worked even harder to be successful.
I loved researching and writing profiles of business people. Sina Simantov, Richard Foy, Hope Firkins and others were inspirations to me. I especially loved the special “history” editions that we published. I also loved the process every month of pasting up the newspaper on a light table, using melted wax and my own design ideas.
Two stories I wrote for BCBR still stand out for me. The first one I was proud of because we analyzed regional malls and were first to predict that the old Crossroads Mall would fail. The other story was an interview with a technology guru — it might have been Dale Hatfield, but I can’t remember for sure — who was very excited about a new invention. He waved around in the air an object that was about half the size of a shoebox and extolled its virtues throughout our interview. It was called a cell phone, and my interviewee insisted that within 15 years everyone would have one, just like everyone has a refrigerator. I was skeptical, but he had great foresight.
One of the gifts I received from the Business Report was making many friends and connections throughout Boulder County. Another was the lesson that, when you are out at the edge, magic happens: People walk into your life and help you, opportunities open up and the path unfolds. As a result, I believe that if you really want to do something and move toward your dream, the universe will make it possible. It happened to me and it can happen to anyone.
Best wishes to BCBR for the next 30 years.
Suzanne Pletcher is the founder of the Boulder County Business Report. She ran the business newspaper as publisher and editor from March 1982 to March 1986. She currently is director of communications at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project in Boulder.