April and Cheryl

Cool Beans Coffee & Ice Cream


April Dullum and Cheryl Grady

At the heart of many great businesses are great partnerships. Some famous ones include Ben and Jerry, Hewlett and Packard, and the McDonald brothers. Partners are helpful for many reasons. For one, they often have complementary skills. For example, one person may come up with creative designs, products, or services and the other ensures that supplies arrive on time and the bills get paid. Other advantages are that a partner can provide support when the other is in need or give one the confidence needed to pursue a lofty goal.

Finding the right partner was just what April Dullum and Cheryl Grady needed to open Cool Beans Coffee and Ice Cream in Elko, Nevada. Both had individually aspired to open a coffee shop but it wasn’t until a mutual friend recognized their shared dream and introduced them to each other that they committed to pursuing their goal. From their first meeting in August of 2011, it was evident that the two made good partners. As April recalls, “I called her up. We met that night for dinner. We had very similar ideas and things that we wanted to do so we went for it from there.” Nine months later in June of 2012, Cool Beans Coffee and Ice Cream opened for business.

During the nine months between their initial meeting and opening the business, April and Cheryl took advantage of another successful partnership. The pair needed help getting funding for their business. April was aware of the Nevada SBDC’s Elko office from having studied business at Great Basin College. They met with advisor who reviewed their business plan and recognized that they would be great candidates for funding through the Rural Nevada Development Corporation.

The Rural Nevada Development Corporation (RNDC), headquartered in Ely, Nevada is a non-profit organization that provides loans to small businesses in Nevada’s fifteen rural counties, the rural portions of Washoe and Clark counties, as well as Nevada’s 27 Native American tribes. The RNDC works closely with the Nevada SBDC to issue the $7 million in funding it has obtained since forming in 1992.

The partnership between the RNDC and the Nevada SBDC paid off for April and Cheryl. With a loan from the RNDC in hand, they knew their dream of opening Cool Beans Coffee and Ice Cream would become a reality. They chose a location right off of Interstate 80 that attracts travelers and caters to mine workers who stop in for a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito on their way to work. As a graduate of the American Barista and Coffee School, April trains all of their employees in the methods she learned there. The superior knowledge of their baristas and the fact that all of their beans are high-quality, organic, and fair trade make for what Cheryl calls one of the best cups of espresso in town.

Cool Beans Coffee and Ice Cream currently has three employees and plans to hire more this summer. They will need additional employees in order to staff their planned mobile unit and the increased amount of outside events they hope to attend in their second year of business. The pair has been especially happy with the way they have been received in their community. They attribute this to the effort they put in to excellent customer service and maintaining a really fun atmosphere in their shop.

When asked how important their partnership has been to the success of their business, both April and Cheryl agree that it was crucial. Cheryl elaborates, “We both brought a lot of things into it that the other one might not have had. We both had a lot of different connections to people that were able to help us get it going. It’s very nice now to have another person to lean on. So far we have worked very well together and it’s been a really great experience for both of us.”

For more information on Cool Beans Coffee and Ice Cream, follow them on facebook at facebook.com/CoolBeansCoffeeIceCream. For more information on the Rural Nevada Development Corporation visit their website at RNDCNV.org For more information on how the Nevada SBDC can help you start your business visit us at NevadaSBDC.org or call (775) 784-1717.