Meet Andre Gruber, a senior studying Creative Technology & Design with a minor in Computer Science and the CEO of Ferment, an artisanal bakery in Boulder, CO, that emerged during the pandemic. Andre has an international background. He was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and has lived in Brussels, Belgium. He then moved to the states and started attending CU Boulder in 2017.
Two years before coming to college, Andre and his family took a ski trip and visited Boulder for the very first time. He was amazed by how beautiful and unique Boulder was. As a family full of skiers, they loved the city. His brother also attended CU Boulder and after visiting him, it was an easy choice for Andre.
Baking His Way Through COVID
In March 2020, just one week after the stay at home order was put in place, Andre started working on a sourdough starter. With some extra time on his hands, Andre began baking for himself and friends. With zero ideas for Ferment at this point, Andre was mainly intrigued by the science of baking bread and worked towards perfecting a recipe.
At the same time, Andre’s parents were anxious to get him home amidst the pandemic. The only way Andre could stay in Boulder would be if he got a job. The job market was definitely impacted negatively during the pandemic, so he struggled to find something. Andre didn't want to go back to Pennsylvania so he thought,
“Alright, I am just going to make my own job.”
Throughout his baking journey, Andre consistently documented the process over Instagram. Many of his friends and family began responding to his posts asking if they could purchase a loaf. This opportunity had never crossed Andre’s mind prior, so he was very interested. A few days later, he created the Instagram account, “Andre’s Bread” and decided to sell loaves and bike them over to people’s houses.
With some numbers in mind, Andre had to work out some feasible business strategies. His friend, Rafa, was also baking at home in Basalt, CO. The two would often facetime and bake together in the mornings although they lived a couple hours apart. They were soon-to-be roommates in the fall and were excited for the future.
Rafa is an Advertising and Marketing student at CU Boulder and wanted to bring his skills and knowledge to the table. He asked Andre to join and help out. Although it was fun doing this venture by himself, Andre was definitely excited to get his friend on board. Different from typical business partners, the two roommates are always thinking about their brand. Working out of their apartment on the Hill, the two launched Ferment on May 18th and the business has really taken off. Slowly, they are working their way towards getting their own bakery.
Check out this documentary on Ferment: https://vimeo.com/457107571
Check out their Instagram here: @fermentboulder
Check out their website: https://fermentboulder.com
Advice for Current Students
“One of the hardest parts of this was getting myself to make an Instagram account and to just go for it. We are taught that failure is bad, but it’s okay because we learn so much more from our mistakes. I think it is extremely important to stay strong and push through.”