Park City’s Hugo Coffee Roasters gets a boost with Stacy’s Rise Project grant

Hugo Coffee Roasters, founded by Claudia McMullin, above, is one of 15 female-owned businesses chosen for the 2020 Stacy’s Rise Project, a grant and mentorship program facilitated by Frito-Lay. The 15 businesses were selected out of 1,600 applications. One of the reasons Hugo was selected for the project is because McMullin donates 10% of profits to animal rescue.
Park Record file photo

Hugo Coffee Roasters is getting a $10,000 boost because its business model of selling hot and cold brewed beverages while donating 10% of profits to animal rescue organizations caught the attention of Stacy’s Rise Project.

Stacy’s Rise is a grant and mentorship program facilitated by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, that is designed to support female-founded and owned small businesses across the nation that have a social impact.

Hugo is one of 15 businesses that the project selected from 1,600 applications because of owner Claudia McMullin’s dedication to saving dogs, said Jessica Spaulding, Frito-Lay senior director of marketing.

“Claudia is such an amazing person and her energy is so impressive,” Spaulding said. “Her commitment to social impact and the donations she makes to animal rescue was one of the biggest drivers to select her as a winner. We’re super excited to have her as part of the program.”

It’s a confidence booster in a time when women-owned small businesses need to get all the confidence boost they can…” Claudia McMullin, Hugo Coffee Roasters founder and owner

As a member of the Stacy’s Rise class of 2020, McMullin receives a $10,000 business grant and one-on-one mentorships for four months with Frito-Lay/PepsiCo executives, according to Spaulding.

“We match winners to women in the industry according to their level of business level and expertise,” she said. “We also give our ad space to them, so they will receive professional advertising services and their media dollars.”

In addition, the winners gain exclusive access to professional webinars that cover topics such as venture capital funding, operations, marketing and self care.

“It’s a holistic program for women in particular who wear different hats beyond the businesses they have founded and are running,” Spaulding said. “Through this program, we form a family with these women, and we are excited to have winners from last year who participate as mentors or presenters in the webinars this year.”

McMullin couldn’t believe she was one of the recipients.

“I’m a loser compared to these people,” she said. “These other 14 finalists are doing things like helping raise farmers out of poverty in Columbia, and I’m saving dogs.”

Still, McMullin is honored to be included in the group.

“These women are so impressive, and it means the world to me to be recognized for my company, the vision of my company and the impact that I hope my company will eventually have,” she said. “It’s a confidence booster in a time when women-owned small businesses need to get all the confidence boost they can.”

McMullin has already been meeting with her mentors once a week via Zoom.

“They’ve helped me come up with a presentation to possibly get Hugo products distributed through a large supermarket chain,” she said. “The other thing I asked for help with is a pitch deck for potential investor capital down the road.”

A pitch deck is a presentation business owners reveal to potential investors, McMullin said.

“I didn’t know anything about this before,” she said. “I’m a lawyer for God’s sake.”

Frito-Lay/PepsiCo founded Stacy’s Rise Project in 2017 in partnership with Stacy Madison, founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips, which she eventually sold to Frito-Lay, according to Spaulding.

“It’s about connecting thousands of women to each other, and since its genesis we’ve invested more than $600,000 in female-founded businesses,” she said. “In addition to the dollar donation, which is really important, it’s also about the community we develop online through a partnership with Hello Alice.”

Hello Allice is a nonprofit online forum founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore that helps women find resources and sustainable opportunities for their businesses.

“Through this partnership, we want to help raise the community of the female founders themselves,” Spaulding said.

This year 1,600 female business owners in the food and beverage industry applied for the grant, which is four times more than last year, Spaulding said.

“This year we knew we wanted to make sure we stepped things up given the current challenges faced by small-business owners due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

The project also expanded the winner pool to 15 instead of five, Spaulding said.

“This is something that was important to us,” she said. “Before COVID, female founders received only 2.8 percent of venture capital funding, which made the need even more critical this year.”

Spaulding is also happy with how diverse the winners are this year.

“Thirty-three percent are women of color, and women of color only receive 0.2 percent of VC funding,” she said. “In addition, 13 percent of the class identify as part of the LGBTQ community, and it was important that we support those who are underrepresented in the communities.”

Later this year, to further support of Black female founders, Stacy’s Rise Project will fund an additional $150,000 in business grants in part of its Hello Alice partnership, to an additional 15 Black female business owners who will be announced in September, Spaulding said.

“All of these women and their businesses have been dramatically attacked by COVID-19, and being a female business owner is hard enough on a good day,” she said. “We have been inspired by either the pivots or innovation these women have birthed during one of the most challenging times in all of our personal and professional lives.”


Scene Happenings: Sept. 23 – Sept. 28

Saturday morning nature walks are held at 8:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Swaner EcoCenter. The cost is $10 per person and $5 for local residents.

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