Celebrating startups

A full weekend of mentorship, plus Chico Factory Outlet opens and Wander expands

Chico is home to many diverse businesses, and I think it’s fair to say that’s due in large part to the charm of this fair city. One of the first things I was told upon moving here back in 2006 was that I was going to fall in love with this town and never want to leave. It happens to a lot of people. And sure enough, though I did leave for a while, it wasn’t long before the magnetic pull of Chico beckoned my return.

I have the pleasure of working for the CN&R in a job that I love. But, as we all know, jobs aren’t all that easy to find around here. Enter the entrepreneur. Starting a business from scratch is no simple task. But clearly we have a lot of very successful people in our midst who did just that. And they had to start somewhere.

So, who has a million-dollar idea? Who’s seen the show Shark Tank? That’s sort of how I’m envisioning the “pitches” portion of Chico Startup Weekend (Friday-Sunday, March 24-26), though I’m sure the judges, local business owners and educators, will be a bit kinder. The focus of the event, hosted by Chicostart and held at Build.com’s offices, is encouraging people with great ideas and offering mentorship and guidance in how to make them reality. And the best pitches get to work throughout the weekend in teams to develop their startups.

For more info and to buy tickets, go to tinyurl.com/chicostartup.

Grand opening Some of Chico’s coolest businesses are hidden behind closed doors. The Rofu factory is one of those. Rofu manufactures bags for Chrome Industries, whose mission is “rooted in urban bike culture.” Basically, the San Francisco-based company makes hip, durable bags, apparel and footwear—right here in Chico. And on Saturday (March 25), Rofu is opening a store, dubbed Chico Factory Outlet, next to the factory. The festivities promise to be fun—live music, food, drinks and a raffle—and there will be plenty of discounts to be had. Check it out: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 2145 Park Ave., Ste. 2.

Moving on up It’s especially cool to watch a local business grow. Perhaps one of the most visible examples of that is a move or expansion. Wander is doing both. The mobile food truck with a fantastical circus theme is preparing to have its own permanent spot, at 818 Salem St. I noticed the newly painted building and contacted owner/chef Dane Walston, who informed me that his plan is to use the space as both a meeting location for catering clients and storage for his overstock of equipment (he cooks out of Cafe Coda). “Additionally, I have converted a portion of the warehouse floor, behind the roll-up door, into a dining/seating area to host private and pop-up events while serving out of my truck street side.” Sounds rad! Stay tuned for updates.

Big day I mentioned a few weeks ago that Chico’s three Dutch Bros. locations would be donating proceeds from sales on March 9, World Kidney Day, to the National Kidney Foundation. Turns out, according to a press release, donations equaled $9,000. Way to drink your coffee for a cause, Chico!