We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Baumgart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before I moved to Colorado I took a year off to backpack across the globe. My husband and I visited 25 countries in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, and we fell in love with food tours! They quickly became my favorite way to explore a new city and learn about its local culture. We took food tours everywhere from Colombia to Ethiopia, Italy to Singapore. When we returned to the states and landed in Colorado, I knew that the food scene would be a major draw for me. I started by teaching cooking classes and opened food tours as an additional way to introduce visitors and locals to Denver’s amazing restaurants. At first, I thought it would be a part-time gig in the afternoons before my cooking classes, but the tours quickly became popular, and I started running them 7 days/week. Eventually, I shut down my cooking classes to focus completely on Delicious Denver Food Tours. I hired guides and grew from there.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
At Delicious Denver Food Tours, we offer Denver visitors and local foodies a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s best local restaurants. Our walking tours feature delicious local tastings, drink pairings and some fun Denver history to boot. What sets us apart is our team of passionate local tour guides who absolutely love showing off our city and taking guests to the best award-winning local spots. We love people and prioritize our guests’ experience over everything else. Like any startup, it wasn’t easy building my business. While I’ve experiences tremendous growth, curve balls like COVID hit us hard this past year, and we spent months closed down when we anticipated being our busiest. I had to lay off staff and put spending on hold just to stay in business and weather the storm. So far, the pandemic has been our biggest challenge, but I feel confident that business will return when travelers feel safe to explore and eat at restaurants again. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you have to doggedly think like your consumer. Too often entrepreneurs open businesses because of their passions alone. Obviously you have to be in love with your business, but you also have to have a deep understanding of what your consumer values, expects and needs. You can offer the best service or product in the world, but if it doesn’t align with your consumers’ needs, you’ll never do well. So I always urge new business owners to think exclusively about their consumers when branding, developing products/service, marketing, etc.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is literally what we do at Delicious Denver Food Tours! Recommending amazing local restaurants, hotels and attractions is a big favorite of mine. If my best friend was visiting, I’d have them stay at the Ramble Hotel in RiNo. We’d hit happy hour at the Denver Milk Market and dinner at Tavernetta by Union Station. We’d do brunch at Jelly Cafe or Denver Biscuit Company and sip a wine flight at Attimo Family Wines. I’d take her to check out the amazing street art behind the Denver Central Market, and we’d get Latin dim sum at Super Mega Bien. After a comedy show at ComedyWorks or Voodoo (now Rise Comedy Theater in the ballpark district), I’d take her for cocktails at Death and Co. Of course we’d do some hikes or a ski day in the mountains as well, because no visit to Colorado is complete without that! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My business wouldn’t function without my amazing team of food tour guides and the award-winning local restaurants we feature on our tours. I owe a great deal of thanks to every chef, owner, and GM that took a chance and said yes to being a part of our tours in those early days (when most looked at me like I was crazy and had never heard of a food tour before). I have also learned so much from books like the $100 Startup and podcasts like Side Hustle School and How I Built This. Its amazing to learn from other entrepreneurs!
Credit: Tim Gillies Photography