Welcome to the SCORE Small Business Success Blog, where small business experts and mentors share tips, discuss trends, and provide advice on a wide range of topics affecting entrepreneurs in every industry.
The stories behind this year’s four winners of our Black Entrepreneur Pitch Event highlight the resiliency and creativity of small businesses in a time when so many small businesses were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is a good thing that Mark Dozier has an air of calm and confidence about him. For 20+ years, he has helped businesses plan and prepare for all types of crises from mass casualties to cyberattacks. Building on this experience and expertise, Mark founded his own ‘continuity of operations’ company in 2012, Critical Path Solutions, which has primarily worked with government clients.
The shortage of Certified Nurse Assistants pre-dates the pandemic, but it was the pandemic that stirred public health physician and technology entrepreneur Dr. Charlene Brown to tackle the issue. With the aging Baby Boomer generation, the problem would grow only more acute.
The Restroom Kit started out as a practical solution for Bill Massey. In his travels around Washington, DC and elsewhere with his young family, he often encountered public restrooms missing essential supplies. So, Bill created small packets of bathroom necessities to take along with them – toilet paper, hand-fashioned toilet seat covers and wipes. That was back in 1997. Now, some 24 years and multiple prototypes later, Bill and his business partner and wife Sonia have turned that simple family solution into a small business success.
Necessity is truly the mother of invention. Libra Riley was trying to hang a full-length gown in her clothes closet so its hem would not touch the floor. Seeing a drycleaner’s metal hanger nearby, she was suddenly struck with the idea of “swooping up” the bottom half of the dress over the metal hangar and then clipping the two hangers together. Libra knew she had something here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced its 6th Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition that includes a new component to spur investment in underrepresented communities within the innovation economy. The 2021 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst programs will recognize the nation’s most innovative organizations that use inclusive approaches to support entrepreneurs in research and development (R&D). New to this year’s competition: Two competition tracks will run simultaneously, totaling over $5 million in cash prizes.
Olivia Morgan has had a lifelong passion for building physical models. She started her career as the model shop manager for ZGF Architects. Her experience there led her to start Model Space her own architectural model building business in 2016, serving architects, contractors, engineers, and product designers. Business was good and then the pandemic hit. As clients tightened their budgets and projects dried up, Olivia pivoted Model Space to provide new services and give back to the local medical community.
The CornerBazar, an immersive shopping experience, was designed by SCORE DC client Marissa Sams and Nya Laemayhu as a way to launch FOUND, an evolving collection of curated apparel, home goods and one-of-kind objects.
Johnny Landers and Anaïs Ortiz were visiting Yosemite for the first time and staying at Curry Village Lodge in the park. After a day’s adventure, they settled down to play a board game. But, after sifting through the available options, they could not find one that was simple, fun, and playable by all. Instead, they brainstormed a word game that was not based on points or speed, but rather rewarded creative strategies and thoughtful word-making. Then, after being further inspired by a beautiful West Hollywood sunset of pinks, yellows and blues, Johnny and Anaïs concocted the idea for Candygrams, the word game that they always wanted to play.
Loren Vasquez had been an artist her whole life and has spent her career making art for other people and companies, including Disney! She wanted to create art for herself and started designing quirky enamel pins through her start-up business Rose & Roo.
SCORE DC mentor Ann Lim, her client Madelle Kangha and SCORE itself were featured in the 10/28 Washington Post Magazine article The Risks and Rewards of the Covid Career Makeover.
Connie Inukai loved to dine out with her friends, but, at age 68, she had trouble reading the small print on menus and bills in dimly lit restaurants. She was not alone in this challenge; people over 55 experience a decline in vision making reading in darker settings difficult. There had to be a better solution, she thought, than passing reading glasses around the table or fumbling with the flashlight app on her smart phone. The idea for Tip ‘n Split was born, and, with no prior experience, Connie got to work in 2013. “[A]fter 40 years as a University instructor, I put away my teaching materials and launched my own product.”