Amid a pandemic, entrepreneurial students rise to the challenge
By Saebryn Peel (Jour’20)
Photos by Victor G. Lara (Art)
Andre Gruber and Rafaelo Infante load their bike baskets with freshly baked loaves of sourdough bread. By 8 a.m. they’re riding through the streets of Boulder—often up to 20 miles—to make deliveries.
Short for fermentation, the team’s small-scale bakery, Ferment, is a start-up enterprise that Ruber, an engineering major, and Infante, a strategic communication major, launched in the spring while most of the state was shut down.
“When everything went online, I realized I definitely have to do this now, something I have wanted to do for a while,” says Gruber, who became hooked on the ritual of fermentation and baking sourdough bread while studying in Copenhagen.
Once word got out and requests started rolling in, Gruber recruited Infante, who had returned to his family’s home in Basalt during the lockdown, to join him in launching a business. Over the coming weeks, they connected daily over FaceTime to bake bread and share tips.
As Gruber started taking orders and baking, Infante conducted market research and developed a marketing strategy focusing on Instagram and other digital platforms.
Gruber shapes dough
Infante takes out bread
Customers can now place orders online, which can be picked up or delivered at no charge within the city of Boulder, and can find recipes and photo galleries on the company’s blog.
“I realized there was a lot of potential and a lot of engagement online that could help it take off,” Infante says. “It took off on this amazing, great journey.”
Because the platform is so visual, Infante uses Instagram to showcase Ferment’s artisanal handmade sourdough loaves while highlighting the art of fermentation in a way that is less intimidating.
“We’re kind of reiterating the idea that if you want to try something like this yourself, then it’s not really that hard. Being in CMCI has reinforced the foundation in order for me to do well when it comes to social media.
- Rafaelo Infante