Birch Boys Team Members
Garrett Kopp
Founder & President of Board of Directors, (518) 299-9620
While studying innovation & entrepreneurship at Clarkson University, Garrett embarked on an extended internship opportunity that allowed him to receive university credits while building the pre-existing startup he began as a teenager: Birch Boys Chaga LLC. During the internship, Garrett successfully raised $65,000 through business plan competitions, philanthropic grant programs, and crowd-funding campaigns. This funding fueled the development of Birch Boys Chaga Tea Bags; preceding a merger of Birch Boys Chaga LLC to Birch Boys, Inc. After ending his studies, Garrett returned to his hometown of Tupper Lake NY to build a custom physical manufacturing facility & sustainable wild harvesting operation. Beyond Garrett's entrepreneurial skills exists a more primitive sense of self characterized by self reliance & a sound relationship with the Mountainous Adirondack forests in which he lives. By leveraging his niche knowledge & broad experience in the bush, Garrett has developed the first company to feature a vertically-integrated supply chain of USA-origin wildcraft healing mushrooms.
Kaitlin Lawless
Sales Assistant, (518) 299-9620
Kaitlin considers herself a multipotentialite with a variety of skills that cover a broad array of topics. Her duties at Birch Boys include managing the day-to-day customer service as well as making sales. She takes pride in ensuring that our customer base feels supported and successful. Outside of the office Kaitlin engages in many hobbies including exotic pet keeping, gardening, permaculture, playing music and reading. Kaitlin dreams of the day she may return to the Adirondack Park, where she was born, to continue her favorite activities in the clean air with a sweet smell that you just can't find anywhere else.
Brian Baumer
Production & Fulfillment Specialist
Brian is originally from Penfield, New York and graduated from North Country community college in 2017 with a degree in wilderness recreation. During his time in college, Brian gained a deep appreciation for the Adirondacks and made it a goal to return one day. Having already known about the amazing properties and uses of Chaga, he jumped on the opportunity to work at Birch Boys when there was an opening available. He has since set up to live off grid in the hills near Tupper Lake and is very enthusiastic in helping fulfill Birch Boys goal of being objectively the best supplier of North American functional fungi.
Kim Carpenter
Production Manager
Kim has taken on an array of different work experiences throughout her career, leaving her ready to take on any task that she is assigned. Outside of work, Kim has always valued the pursuit of a natural lifestyle. Kim is a loving caregiver to her pets and values friends & family. For a self-described free spirit, Kim's work ethic and dependability are among her best qualities in her role at Birch Boys, Inc.
Maya Duncan-White
Chemistry Collaborator
Maya graduated from Clarkson University with B.S. Chemistry and Honors Program. Maya has extensive laboratory and research experience: Summer Undergraduate Research Internship (SULI) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Colorado School of Mines, and as a team leader in the lab of Dr. Richard Partch at Clarkson University. Maya also has experience as a chemistry teaching assistant and seminar peer educator at Clarkson University. My hobbies include traveling, flying, and long-distance hiking.
Melinda Little
Board Member
At one time in her life, Melinda Little thought she would retire to the Adirondacks. But for the last 21 years, she has lived here full time and you could hardly call her retired. Melinda grew up on Long Island, then earned a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Wellesley College and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. She worked in the nonprofit theater world for some time then, when she got the chance to work on a few feasibility studies, she grew interested in marketing. Today, Melinda is a serial entrepreneur. She has run a handful of her own businesses & was integral to the creation of Saranac Lake’s Community Store, writing the business plan and serving as president of the operation since the organization started raising money. Melinda is the Coordinator for Point Positive, Inc., an angel investor group that invest in early stage and startup companies, including Birch Boys, Inc.
Lee Keet
Board Member
Lee is CEO and Co-founder of Vanguard Atlantic Ltd., a Saranac Lake-based firm that has been making private equity investments in American and European high-technology companies since 1985. The firm's philosophy has been to look for situations where their funds could be leveraged by experience, talent, and a strategic approach to markets. Their specialty has been very early-stage funding of software-leveraged startups. Lee is on several Adirondack non-for-profit boards, including the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, and the Lake Colby Association. He was formerly on the Board of the Trudeau Institute and Lee and his wife, Nancy, live on Lake Colby in Harrietstown.
James Sonneborne
Board Member
With over 25 years of experience working as an expert litigator, arbitrator, mediator, and appellate lawyer in Central and Northern New York, Jim excels at solving complex legal problems for his clients, including individuals, businesses, organizations and government offices. Currently, a Member of the law firm, Bousquet Holstein PLLLC in Syracuse, NY, Jim operated his own law firm for over 20 years. He has been on the board of numerous charitable and professional organizations in the region and is currently a Board Member of the Adirondack Council and President of the Adirondack North Country Assn. Jim and his wife, Marcie, spend as much time as possible at their home in Saranac Lake.
Kip Testwuide
Board Member
Kip has enjoyed a 30-year career in investment banking, trade finance, risk management, and capital markets, with major financial institutions including Manufacturer's Hanover Trust, UBS Securities, and most recently as head of Fixed Income in the Americas for BNP Paribas. Kip is now active as an investor in and advisor to small start-up or early-stage companies. His most active advisory roles are with the sales organization of an early stage, software delivered, credit rating firm, Rapid Ratings International, and as a financial advisor to a start-up airline seat manufacturer, Molon Labe. Kip is involved at the board level or as a volunteer with several non-profit organizations including a nature sanctuary, and an organization dedicated to expanding financial literacy among our nation's young people. Kip and his wife, Julie (a professional photographer) split their time between Katonah, NY, and their home on Mirror Lake. They have three adult children. Kip enjoys skiing, fishing, hunting, and supporting the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Company Achievements & Recognitions
$25,000 Grant Recipient | Wallace Coulter Foundation - April 04, 2017
Second Place $10,000 Winner | Wake Forest University Retail and Health Innovation Challenge - November 12, 2016
Certificate of Appreciation | Adirondack Park Agency - March 15, 2019
Birch Boys, Inc. in the News!
"Garret Kopp is the 22-year-old founder and CEO of Birch Boys in the Adirondacks, where medicinal mushrooms like chaga, pictured, grow in abundance. Like many mushroom purveyors, 2020 was his best year of sales yet."
Medicinal Mushrooms are Having a Moment
Times Union - March 23, 2021
"Two Clarkson graduates living in Tupper Lake have applied for a patent on their method of extracting melanin from fungi. They are looking to become wholesale providers of the pigment, which is finding increased use in biotechnology."
Potential Pigment Patent Readies Birch Boys to Produce Melanin from Chaga Fungi
Adirondack Daily Enterprise - September 02, 2020
"He suddenly veers off the path mid-stride and heads directly for a white birch tree, its pale bark popping against the greens and browns of hemlocks and white pines."
The Chaga Hunter
Adirondack Life Magazine - October 04, 2018
"This week, Birch Boys took another step toward making Chaga a household name by opening a store on Park Street in downtown Tupper Lake"
Brewing a Taste for Chaga in Tupper Lake
North Country Public Radio - April 19, 2018
"Part of my rationale for attending Clarkson was because of its motto: defy convention. I was already doing that."
The Medicinal Mushroom Man
Clarkson University - March 31, 2017
Strategic Partners
Mentoring Angel Investors
After a referral from Clarkson University, founder Garrett Kopp attended multiple Point Positive pitch sessions. Birch Boys has since raised $300,000 in equity financing from Point Positive members, some of whom currently sit on the board of directors for Birch Boys, Inc. and maintain an active mentoring role.
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