TELLURIDE — Take one-and-a-half bananas, some strawberries, a splash of apple juice, and some ice, and voila! A healthy and refreshing drink perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day.
But to this blend add a couple local teenage entrepreneurs astride an old bicycle covered in stickers that turns the blades of an electric blender and you’ve no longer got a mere strawberry-banana shake, but a “carbon-neutral” smoothie that’s good for you and the environment.
OK, so “carbon-reduced” might be a more accurate description of the 14-ounce, $4.75 drinks after figuring in the energy used to transport the fruit and make the ice used in them.
Nevertheless, it’s the use of the quirky and unexpected source of energy that friends Jackson Delves and Damon Huber, both 16, judge is the main draw to their bicycle- powered smoothie stand operating at the Oak Street Gondola Plaza on sunny farmer’s market Fridays and weekend afternoons.
“Everyone comes up when we’re making one; they’re just so blown away,” said Delves, who begins his final year of high school this fall.
While the inspiration for their idea could have come from some lofty ideal about saving the planet, it really just resulted from straightforward teenage pragmatism.
“We needed to make money somehow,” said Delves.
And, “We both ride bikes,” added Huber, a high school junior.
Their menu is admittedly limited with strawberry-banana the only flavor available at present, but as the two get their heads around running their own business there could be room for future expansion.
“We’ll add other fruits when we figure out this business better,” said Delves.
For now the two are still working out how they might draw more traffic to their operation, which so far has held strong appeal for both local and tourist families, they said.
Putting in the 30 to 60 seconds of cycling it takes to blend each drink has been, without a doubt, the most productive way yet.
“Lots of little kids come up and say ‘Oh, that’s so cool,” said Delves.
In addition to smoothies, Delves and Huber are also selling mostly organic, whole-food meal-replacement Pro Bars in Superfood Slam, a blend of açai berries, raspberries and dark chocolate, mocha-flavored Koka Moka, and almond butter, strawberry and blueberry Whole Berry Blast to complement their smoothies.
They cost $3 each and Superfood Slam wins hands down as their pick for favorite flavor.
“It looks the most delicious,” said Huber.
While they haven’t turned a profit yet, Delves and Huber said they are closing in on that goal.
“The farmers market brings out the most business,” said Delves. “We do pretty good for the days we actually sell stuff.”
But perhaps more importantly the experience has given the two an up-close-and-personal look at running a business as they consider what they may choose to do with their lives following graduation.
“We’ll see where this takes us,” said Delves.
“Business if definitely one path for us if we become successful, definitely.”
And it has taught them an invaluable skill.
“We’ve learned how to sell things,” said Huber.