Young Entrepreneur Takes Advantage of Small Business Resources
by Amanda Kuhnert
Last spring Cayden Theberge was contemplating his next business venture when he enrolled in Greg Hughes’ business planning seminar at Vermont Technical College. Theberge, age 21, owns a 68-acre farm in Sheldon, Vermont, where he manages 75 head of beef cattle and a growing herd of dairy cows. His company, Theberge Meats, sells locally grown beef to retailers and distributors throughout the country.
Theberge has taken several business courses at the college since graduating from high school in 2017, but Hughes’ class was his favorite. Unlike many would-be entrepreneurs, Theberge was able to apply the concepts and tools taught in class to his growing business. He credits Hughes with helping him develop finance skills and learning how to identify market segments for future growth.
From the classroom to the real world
Through the class Theberge met Sarah Kearns, an advisor with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). Kearns works with college students throughout the state as they transition from education to entrepreneurship. Hughes invited Kearns to teach a few segments of the seminar. Afterwards, she took on a handful of Hughes’ students as clients; Theberge was one of these students. “Cayden is a great example of a bright, ambitious young business person who understands the Vermont landscape and sees a market for his product both in-state and beyond Vermont’s borders,” says Kearns.
Theberge completed Hughes’ seminar in May 2019 and, as a result, was able to negotiate the purchase of Mother Hubbard’s Bakery, Deli, and Country Store in St. Albans, where he now sells his meat and leases space to a bakery and deli.
“I still bounce some ideas and thoughts off of the VtSBDC” Theberge said. He also attends VtSBDC-sponsored events, including the entrepreneurship club at the University of Vermont, where he has the opportunity to share his story and “get other ideas to continually improve my business,” he said.
The VtSBDC and Vermont State Colleges
SBDCs around the country are hosted by institutions of higher education. VtSBDC has operated in partnership with the Vermont State Colleges since the center’s inception in 1992. “As part of that relationship, Greg Hughes has been our liaison with Vermont Technical College for all 27 years,” explains Linda Rossi, State Director of VtSBDC. “He shares VtSBDC business planning templates and financial projection tools with his business students.”
“I was actually able to write an entire business plan on the store through the class at Vermont Tech and brought it directly to the bank where I received my loan,” Theberge said.
“This synergy between student, professor, and VtSBDC advisor is what allows students like Theberge, who are willing to put in the time and effort, to achieve their goals,” Rossi said.