Felipe's 109

Felipe Velasquez, right,  owner of Felipe's 109 and Clip Joint Barbershop, talks with Wes Bergmann, host of the docu-series "The Blox," an online reality TV show where entrepreneurs compete.

The glow of Felipe Velasquez's phone reflected off his face as he scrolled through Facebook. He wasn't looking for anything in particular until an ad caught his eye. Click. And down the rabbit hole he went.

Velasquez, owner of Felipe's 109, a Colorado Springs restaurant known for its taco burgers, followed an ad promoting the chance to be featured on the second season of the online, reality TV show "The Blox." The docu-series features a group of more than 20 entrepreneurs as they vie for the chance to be dubbed the best startup business through a series of challenges and games. The winner receives business assistance.

"That experience was the best experience that I ever had as a small business or as the entrepreneur," Velasquez said. "If I didn't apply to that reality show ... my business would not be where it's at right now."

Velasquez started running his food truck in 2020. While he was expanding to his business to a brick and mortar location at 3008 S. Academy Blvd., near the corner of Academy and Hancock Expressway, he applied to "The Blox." The journey of applying for the show, being chosen among hundreds of thousands of applicants and competing taught him lessons more valuable than any business schooling he could have received, Velasquez said.

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"It took all of me to learn these things," Velasquez said.

The show's experience led Velasquez to grow his social media presence, gain publicity and boost his business from two workers (his wife and sister) to 12 employees. Velasquez said he grew his gross revenue from three to four times more than before he joined the show.

"It showed me that customers are not just customers, but other human beings," Velasquez said. "And they would like more than just the value of your business, but relatability, vulnerability and knowing your story and your life."

Velasquez said he is in the planning stages of expanding Felipe's 109 to a second location. 

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But his entrepreneurial spirit doesn't stop there. In January, Velasquez bought a barbershop, Clip Joint Barbershop, at 3304 Austin Bluffs Parkway; he plans a second or perhaps even third location for that business, too.

Velasquez is also trying to get his own nonprofit off the ground. The nonprofit would be an extension of his barbershop, with a mobile service that would provide haircuts to special-needs children and their parents at home.

"I have two special-needs kids," Velasquez said. "I have Georgiana and I have Leo. And that's why we bought the barbershop was for Leo, because it was so hard for us to get a haircut."

Leo is 6 and Georgiana is almost 2. Leo was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome that causes microcephaly and severe developmental and neurological delays. He also suffered a brain injury at birth that left him with cerebral palsy and vision impairment. Georgiana was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Velasquez said.

With the mobile barbershop, Velasquez said the barber would be able to provide haircut services tailored to each child's needs.

From tacos and burgers to scissors and shavers, Velasquez said The Blox gave him a boost he would never have had otherwise.

"Not every opportunity will be the right one, but I would say apply to all and the one that is supposed to come — you take that," Velasquez said. "You just never know when you (will) get the next one. I just took my shot and there it was."

Velasquez was not allowed to say if he won "The Blox" or not, but encourages people to watch the show. The first episode of season two of "The Blox" was released July 12 and can be viewed on Facebook Watch, Google Play, iTunes or The Blox app. 

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