12/10/15  •  Fort Collins

Tom Solley: Entrepreneurs embrace uncertainty

This is the story of four best friends. Well, six, really, if you count the two preschool-age girls who introduced their parents, who later became best friends and started Fort Collins’ Rebel Popcorn. Being friends came easy for the two families, who soon enjoyed more than just dinners and playdates together. Tim Solley and Geoff McQueen, both passionate about beer and food, had the idea to repurpose the barley that is normally wasted in the brewing process. Their wives, Heather McQueen and Elizabeth Solley, were looking for their own hobby to enjoy together, and the couples decided to figure out a way to repurpose the barley. Their first idea was to dry the barley grain into granola. The problem: The barley used after brewing beer is wet, and a shop vac can’t even dry it out (as Tim Solley found out one sticky, messy night in the garage). Finally, after making their girls a snack of popcorn, it hit them: caramel corn. They baked it with the grain from homebrewing, and it was a hit. So much so that they took it to farmers markets, sold it online, and eventually expanded into dozens of flavors and a Fort Collins-based business. From their first batch of wet granola to a popcorn company that sells products in more than 16 Northern Colorado locations, none of it was planned. And that serendipity is not lost on Tim Solley. “Embrace the uncertainty that life brings you,” he said. “What starts with two little girls just being friends brought us into a business which brought us into another business which brought us to loving this community.”

From the event: Foodie tales

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About the speaker

Tom Solley

Tom Solley is one of the founders of Rebel Popcorn in Fort Collins.

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