When Justin Hoeft first created his JR Lucky Penny Lures, he was only ten years old. The lures were originally meant to catch bass, but he soon discovered that these lures attract a large variety of species. Each one is hand made and uses a flattened penny in place of a normal spinner blade. The lucky penny in the middle of the lure adds shine and motion in the water.
Fast forward to today: Justin, now 18, has worked hard to raise awareness about this unique product - selling them at the Kearney Archway and working with GROW Nebraska to sell in store and online. He has proved their marketability, and he recently delivered his first shipment to Cabela's in Omaha. Justin is looking forward to increasing his sales and potentially adding more people to his team.
Thanks to his partnership with GROW Nebraska, Justin was also able to promote his lures on NTV:
Watch the NTV Video about JR Lures >>
28425 128th Road
Kearney, Nebraska 68845
“We appreciate what you [GROW Nebraska] do for us, and the partnership is super important to Nature’s Coffee Kettle. We’re all about working with local people. Since we are right here in the heartland, it just makes it all the better for people to see that we, as Nature’s Coffee Kettle, supports what Nebraska is.” – Kennedy Hudstedt
9 years ago, the idea for Nature’s Coffee Kettle was born on a family roadtrip. Matt Hudstedt pitched his idea to a few contacts, but nobody bit. So he created it himself. Thanks to his experience in the printing and the flexible packaging industry, he was able to design his revolutionary brew-in-a-reusable-bag coffee to offer gourmet coffee at anytime. Friends and family tested it on hiking and hunting trips, and soon, they were ready to launch.
Kennedy, Matt’s daughter, took over marketing and realized what a challenge it was, despite getting lots of positive feedback at trade shows. Their unique selling point is clear though: they are not the clunky French press; this kettle can be folded, put in a bag, and brews multiple pots of fresh coffee without creating excessive waste. Raising awareness is their biggest current challenge, so they joined GROW Nebraska for online sales, store presence, visibility at the Nebraska State Fair, and marketing training.
Nature’s Coffee Kettle has created 2 jobs and expanded income for other employees. They have grown their business in Nebraska, and the Hudstedt’s hope to expand their reach in other states in the next few years. They are continuing to innovate and build awareness.
Nature’s Coffee Kettle
341 G Court
Omaha, NE 68127
"Through Pacha’s Raise the Bar campaign, we were able to give out hundreds of bars of soap to children in need at a local orphanage, as well as put on hand washing clinics educating them about the importance of hand washing with soap. Thanks!” - Abigail Vrbas, co-owner of Pacha Soap
If you walk into a Whole Foods, you'll see a variety of natural, wonderful products, but down the soap aisle, you'll find one of the best products there is: Pacha Soap. For every bar purchased, one is given to someone in need. And on top of that, proceeds are used to help underprivaleged entrepreneurs, including in other countries, to create their own sustainable soap shops and clean water projects! Learn More >>
Pacha Soap is a shining star in downtown Hastings, Nebraska. Andrew and Abigail Vrbas, both graduates of Hastings College, are constantly creating jobs as their sales grow, bolstering their community. Their success hasn't gone unnoticed either: Pacha Soap Co. was one of three Central Nebraska businesses awarded the 2016 3rd District Excellence in Economic Development Award by Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.
The Beverage Butler's Big Break on the Today Show
GROW Nebraska member The Beverage Butler was recently featured January 27, 2017 on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda. Steve Greenburg selected their innovative product for his segment about Super Bowl gadgets. Congratulations to Jan Fowler and Bonnie Young from The Beverage Butler! Whenever a member gets national promotion, GROW Nebraska works hard to spread the word.
From social media posts and store signage, to emails and website banners – the news of this awesome promotion was everywhere! Everyone who heard the news was excited to support this Nebraska business and their awesome opportunity. Beverage Butler was able to sell over 100 pieces through GROW Nebraska alone, as a result of this promotion. They sold even more pieces through their company website.
Beverage Butler has been an active, proud member of GROW Nebraska since 2010 and have been steadily growing through the years. They have taken advantage of many of GROW Nebraska’s benefits, including the UPC program.
"The Beverage Butler is so excited with the results of using GROW Nebraska's trial UPC program. They came up with a great idea to package our product in 2, 4, 6 and 10 packs each with a little better price structure. Our sales increased by 600% with this. We are grateful and very pleased.” - The Beverage Butler
"I started Ogallala Bay Rum because really I could never find Bay Rum that smelled like I thought it used to back in the barber shop. When I did, I figured I had to have other means of marketing and distribution in place, and the Internet simply eliminates most of the barriers to enter the market. I really don't think there's a single downside to utilizing business tools on the Internet. Honestly without it, our businesses really would not exist." - John Marquis, ownerWhat started as John Marquis' quest to find quality bay rum aftershave has become a successful, largely ecommerce-based business. Ogallala Bay Rum now offers aftershave, cologne, bath soaps, shaving soaps, dry skin balm, air freshener, dog shampoo, body lotion, and more! John makes some of the products and others are outsourced to small Nebraska manufacturers.
“As a tech start-up based in Nebraska, specifically rural Nebraska, we have experienced a lot of unforeseen circumstances. While we experience our fair share of challenges - including everything from expanding our dedicated team to educating our clients on our innovative solutions - our success has allowed us to overcome many of these situations. As with all of our clients, including our partnership with GROW Nebraska, we have learned to take a proactive, customized approach to solving digital marketing and IT challenges. No day is the same and that’s what makes it an adventure!” - Brent Comstock, owner and founder of bCom Solutions, LLC
When Brent Comstock started bCom Solutions, he was a teenager from Auburn who firmly believed that you can bring tech to rural communities. Now, after graduating college, he still believes this. Not only has he grown his business, he's giving back, helping to revitalize rural communities across the country.
One example is JumpstartLabs - a collaboration between BCom Solutions and Interface Web School to bring web development opportunities to rural and remote communities throughout the state. Read More >>
Another is the transformation of their downtown Auburn, Nebraska headquarters into the Rural Impact Hub. Thanks to partnerships with community organizations and Peru State College, the Rural Impact Hub brings people, organizations and companies in the community together to collaborate ways to strengthen and support rural America. Read More >>
bCom Solutions isn't stopping there. They've also expanded their staff and expertise to create political-focused services, and they've won awards, including a Pollie, for their efforts. Read More >>
Local Businesses Harness the Power of Amazon
JB’s Fat Boy, Lincoln, NE recently learned they have been selected by online eCommerce giant Amazon to become an official Amazon.com vendor. Erin Malzer, Chief Marketing Officer said, “While we’ve been selling for over a year on Amazon through GROW Nebraska, we are excited to now become an official Amazon vendor.” JB’s Fat Boy is a family-owned business whose products are currently available in 26 states. Amazon will be carrying all of JB’s Fat Boy natural and gluten-free BBQ rubs. Their products have been featured in GROW Nebraska’s Amazon store since its creation.
GROW Nebraska’s Amazon store also saw a huge success for member Grain Place Foods. After the Dr. Oz show featured a segment about hulled barley as a natural appetite suppressant, the sales started flooding in, with over 700 orders in February alone. Their success was be highlighted at GROW Nebraska’s annual MarkeTECH Conference on April 23, 2014 in Kearney because this conference focuses on harnessing marketing and technology to make a greater impact in the global marketplace.
Part of the GROW Nebraska eCommerce growth platform includes the opportunity for members to participate in online stores as a way to create additional national and international market access from any location in Nebraska. In 2013, over 88% of the sales in the GROW Nebraska online stores were from outside Nebraska, bringing new dollars into the local and regional economies while helping to strengthen Nebraska businesses. Currently, GROW Nebraska offers eCommerce through online stores with BuyNebraska.com, eBay and Amazon.
Based in Holbrook, GROW Nebraska’s mission is to maximize the state's entrepreneurial and small business spirit, create an economically viable and sustainable environment for entrepreneurs, and generate social awareness through promotion, marketing and education. Along with educational workshops and online seminars focused on topics such as marketing, financing and product development, GROW hosts year-round retail training centers in Kearney, Grand Island and Omaha. The three eCommerce stores at BuyNebraska.com, eBay and Amazon to provide Nebraskans with greater market access. To learn more about GROW Nebraska, its members, and how the program is advancing Nebraska’s economic role nationally and internationally, visit www.grownebraska.org.
JB's Fat Boy