Crown Nine

Patrick Duggan Entrepreneur, Manufacturing, RetailLeave a Comment

Crown Nine

Kate Ellen owns Crown Nine, an Oakland, California-based boutique and art gallery that also handmakes custom jewelry. Kate, a former teacher and social worker, has always had a talent and passion for jewelry design, and launched her own business in 2011. Crown Nine is a fixture in the Old Oakland district, and often appears in the local press — and they’re a Yelp! darling.  Kate is also a member of Ethical Metalsmiths, an advocacy collective that promotes sustainable mining and metalwork. She initially came to our program a year and a half ago, looking to address some concerns around wholesaling, marketing, online sales growth, and how to become a more effective team leader. Our team partnered her with advisor Greg Flood, and they’ve made a lot of progress working together. Kate told us that in the last year, working with Greg has enabled her to pivot how she’s approached everything … Read More

Cupcakin’ Bakeshop

Patrick Duggan Entrepreneur, Food & BeverageLeave a Comment

Lila Owens cupcakin bakeshop

Lila Owens launched Cupcakin’ Bakeshop in her Berkeley, California home in 2007, and instantly became a darling among East Bay cupcake aficionados. Cupcakin’ began to grow and Lila relocated to a nearby brick-and-mortar storefront. Lila came to in search of support with scaling her operations efficiently to manage this growth, and to prepare the business for the future. Part of Lila’s plans include opening several locations — and she knew she would need defined processes that she could replicate at each new location.  We paired Lila with Robert Bonner, a business consultant and coach based in New Jersey who specializes in operations and process improvement. He and Lila have walked through the systems at Cupcakin’ and he’s provided advice on how to scale and streamline her operations while maximizing her budget. Robert and Lila work incredibly well together. Robert shared that Lila has always been coachable, is inquisitive, and hasn’t … Read More

Texas Microfiber

Patrick Duggan Entrepreneur, ManufacturingLeave a Comment

texas microfiber

Alisa O’Banion signed up with on a whim, despite previous negative experiences with business mentors both paid and free alike. .  Her expectations were tempered, but she gave it a shot. Alisa owns Texas Microfiber, a certified Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) that manufactures hygienic textiles for medical, automotive and janitorial use. She had recently launched a new online store hoping it would exponentially increase her sales, and she wasn’t quite sure which direction she should take her marketing efforts.  Alisa was paired with advisor Steven Spector, Worldwide Learning Strategy Manager at Xerox, as part of an effort to develop a strategy to ramp up her sales and refine her branding. Since beginning her work with Steven, Facebook page has grown to over 4,000 likes. While her branding strategy has been successful, working with Steven allowed Alisa to realize that she needed to diversify her customer base, so she began to look … Read More

Fit 4 Life NYC

Guest Writer Entrepreneur, OtherLeave a Comment

fit 4 life small business advice

With schools cutting back on recess and physical education classes, students around New York City were left without opportunities to be active and healthy. In addition, active play, character development, and healthy competition were starting to become less of a focus in most school-day and after-school physical activity programs. To address these challenges, Emil Ramnarine started Fit 4 Life NYC. Fit 4 Life NYC, a certified B Corporation and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alumni, strives to improve kids’ quality of life through sports, fitness, and health for all New Yorkers and works to combat childhood obesity especially in underserved communities. Emil Ramnarine started for Fit 4 Life NYC in 2003, and today he partners with schools and nonprofits throughout the city. Hiring from these same underserved communities, Fit 4 Life has grown to 7 full-time and 63 part-time trainers and staff members. When our team first paired Emil … Read More

Consultants for Children

Guest Writer EntrepreneurLeave a Comment

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Germaine Seufert is an entrepreneur and business owner at Consultants for Children located in Lakewood, Colorado. Consultants for Children is a company striving to meet the varying needs of children with autism and other developmental disabilities, and their families. For years, Germaine has worked extremely hard to become a Medicare provider, and was finally able to become one because of her persistence. As a result of becoming a certified Medicare provider, Germaine was able to get a contract with Kaiser, which meant that Consultants for Children would need to grow exponentially – and quickly. Germaine approached because she needed help with large scale hiring, creating health insurance packets, and understanding how to develop relocation packages for future employees. She also needed help with improving operations and marketing. With the needs of Germaine in mind, was able to match Consultants for Children with Maureen Dunne. Maureen lives in California … Read More

La Plazita Preschool

Patrick Duggan EntrepreneurLeave a Comment

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La Plazita preschool is a true Spanish Immersion preschool where kids learn or retain Spanish, and also become fully prepared for Kindergarten. La Plazita’s first location quickly became successful, but when it came time to expand to a second location with a more direct community focus in Fruitvale, she came to PCV for guidance. Working with PCV, La Plazita is converting jobs into careers — supporting their staff to enroll in college courses and validating their home-country degrees to ensure long-term success. UPDATE: Krystell wrote us to let us know that she’s opened her new site and things are going great. They now have a total of 17 employees working for them full time, and she has about 110 students enrolled across the schools. And she found out that La Plazita Preschool was one of 74 companies in California to receive a state tax credit from the Governors Office of Business … Read More

Get Fresh San Diego

Patrick Duggan Entrepreneur, Food & Beverage1 Comment

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Founded by entrepreneur Kim Neush, Get Fresh delivers fresh, healthy individually-packaged meals to homes or offices once per week in the San Diego, CA area. They make it easy for folks in offices or at jobs sites, seniors, and new parents to eat a healthy lunch or dinner despite a busy schedule. They source their produce from local, organic farms at peak season and are as socially responsible as possible by recycling, packaging in reusable containers and limiting waste. Kim’s business had been growing slowly but steadily, and when it came time for her to expand, she came to where we paired her with advisor Diana Mills from Union Bank. Kim had hoped to move into her own commercial kitchen – she shared a kitchen, and getting her own was the next major step in growing her company – but it seemed completely out of reach financially. Diana worked … Read More

Amara Beverages

Patrick Duggan Food & BeverageLeave a Comment

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Amara Beverages founder Greg Connolly was a multi-time entrepreneur, having founded and sold two software businesses in his life. His second software company developed shipping and warehouse software, and in developing it he worked a lot with beverage companies, there he learned what went in behind the scenes. Living a fitness lifestyle (and married to a physician) he was mortified to see what was going into energy drinks and sports drinks. That inspired him to start Amara, and create sports and energy drinks made only from fruits, berries, and natural ingredients. He started to carve out a new space in the sports drink category. Many people think traditional sports drinks are healthy, but they have some of the highest sugar, which is totally counterintuitive with people trying to get healthy and back into shape. All eyes are on sugar now as the major cause of obesity in America. Greg and … Read More

Swell Spaces

Patrick Duggan Interior DesignLeave a Comment

Swell Spaces designs commercial interiors in the San Francisco Bay Area that encourage creativity, play, and hard work. Swell Spaces founder Hannah Ruskin believes that every space should be functional, beautiful, and “leave you feeling inspired.” After finishing school, Hannah started collaborating with startups  and tech companies to create modern and functional office designs. Then, in 2011 she took the next step and started her own small company. While Swell Spaces had humble beginnings, but as the Bay Area economic and tech boom continued to take off in the late 2000’s, so did their business and client base. Needing advice on how to scale their design business to the next level, they came to Working closely with their advisor, Creative Director Carly Rose says their advisor “enabled us gain important insight into our cash flow, and to develop a sustainable bookkeeping system. Getting control of our finances meant we were able … Read More

Discount Glass and Mirror

Patrick Duggan Entrepreneur, Manufacturing

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Discount Glass and Mirror in San Diego was hit hard by the recession of 2008, and after a precipitous decline in orders and revenue, the company faced possible bankruptcy. Our advisors helped owner Anthony Bortz tighten his cost structure to reflect the slowdown, shift his marketing strategy to target high-opportunity market segments, and position the company for renewed growth. Today Discount Glass and Mirror has regained positive cash flow and is expanding its customer base again. The company is hiring new employees to build on its momentum going forward. Want to read about their full experience? Check out our parent nonprofit Pacific Community Ventures for an interview with owner and founder Anthony Bortz.