Published: Oct. 9, 2019 By

This article is part of a new series, Connecting Community and Classroom, where students will share stories from guest speakers in their entrepreneurship classes.

Jason zumBrunnen and Scott Kaplan, founders of Ratio Beerworks recently returned to CU Boulder after graduating almost 20 years ago. “It’s a bit strange” commented Scott as he walked into Leeds, “I never envisioned myself being the one to give a lecture. I was not the most stellar student when I was here, but I am deeply grateful for the skills and connections I developed here.” Jason and Scott met at CU through the punk rock music scene. After graduation, the accounting and chemical engineering majors developed their strong partnership while traveling the country on tours such as the Warped Tour.

Bringing people together

While telling their personal stories and the history of Ratio, it was clear that their passion for music, the arts, and the community led them to create a space focused on bringing people together authentically. Along with priding themselves on creating the best possible beer, they use their taproom to connect bands and musicians to the Denver community. They didn’t come up with this model, but they are using it in a profound way.

“Passion is important, you have to love what you do in order to see a new business through the ups and downs. But a flaming white passion for your business can be dangerous. You have to be able to see the whole picture and too much passion can lead you to make bad decisions,” Jason cautioned the class. 

Passion in business

Jason zumBrunnen ratio beerworksWhen they said not to be ruled by passion as a reason to start a business, it resonated with many in the room. It might seem like being an entrepreneur means being passionate about something to the point where you want to open a business around it, when really being an entrepreneur means being able to take something you love and incorporate it into a realistic business opportunity with feedback from others and flexibility in your plans.

Entrepreneurship is more than just the theory and skills taught in a classroom but a lifestyle of embracing opportunities and always learning.

Throughout their time in class, Jason and Scott were very open in describing the many ways they have made mistakes while building their business. Their message was clear: in entrepreneurship you will mess up, but you have the opportunity to learn and grow from those experiences. This honesty was refreshing to hear and deeply appreciated. 

Cheers, and thanks Jason and Scott!

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