Patrick Mullane,
Washington, DC

Client has been working with Gadget Center for just over 6 months – since March 2012 - completing their Business Plan, a Marketing Plan, and developing a specific funding structure.  That structure includes a $100,000 personal equity investment, $450,000 private investor investment, and an $800,000 bank loan. The client submitted applications to two (2) banks – M & T Bank and Eagle Bank to request the same $800,000 loan with an SBA 7(a) Loan Guarantee.   While approved by both banks, the client elected to accept the offer from Eagle Bank based on the more rapid funding time-line.

With the funding accomplished, the client placed the order for the custom brewing system (approximately $650,000 single item investment).  And, with a 120 day lead time for the equipment (after placement of the order,) the client was anxious to ‘close’ on the loan at the earliest possible date.  At this time, client has secured a lease on a property at the eastern edge of Washington, D.C. and is awaiting the arrival of the brewing equipment.   That equipment is expected to be installed just prior to the end of the 2012 year.  The site selected offers the combination of affordable space, enough room for business expansion when the need arises, and for customer parking at the site to facilitate brewery tours.  Those tours are one part of their detailed marketing plan – to be fully implemented with the arrival of the equipment. 

Client has established numerous relationships over the past 2 or 3 years with existing pubs and bars within the D C metro area.  Client has received very favorable indications from most of those establishments to indicate a willingness to introduce their custom brews as soon as they are available.  In addition, client will be holding promotional ‘beer tasting’ events at those bars once the product is in the facility to more rapidly achieve a market acceptance for the special flavors. Consultant continues to work with the client to assist him with his business needs.

Submitted by: Kenneth Beckham

Andre Margutti,
AMEC Contracting
Washington, DC


Mr. Margutti is a client of DC Small Business Development Center at GADGET Center since April 2010. During this time, Andre has shown a keen interest on acquiring the business skills needed to sustain and grow his business through his commitment to the consulting process with over thirty-nine (39) hours of consulting with DC SBDC at GADGET Center.  Consulting comprised primarily of business planning and market analysis which included an analysis of SBDC Net market research that was provided.

Andre’s first experience in the construction industry was in 2003 when he began working at Akropolis Marble and Granite in Beltsville, MD as an office assistant. Due to his innate drive, within no time he learned how to operate the entire company from fabrication, field measurement, installation, company management to commercial sales. In commercial sales, Andre closed deals with companies such as Whiting Turner, ABDO Development, Bozzutto Construction, and many others.

In mid-2008, Akropolis Marble and Granite, like many other companies, went out business. This is when Andre decided to start AMEC Contracting and put to use all the knowledge and networks he built over the years working at Akropolis Marble and Granite. With limited capital, Andre made agreements with suppliers and subcontractors, and with just enough money to pay for the necessary legal documents and permits, Andre was left with $25.00 (the minimum amount required to open a business account). However, AMEC Contracting was born. During the first year working from his house, Andre was able to generate around $600,000. As a result, Andre decided to open an office in the District and applied for the licenses necessary to work in his field.

From 2009 to present, AMEC Contracting has almost doubled its sales and net income while experiencing close to 300% and over 250% growth in assets and equity respectively. Andre continues to analyze the industry, market and competition for growth opportunities and differentiates his business through exceptional customer service and a commitment to top notch fabrication and installation. From humble beginnings in an office in his living room, Andre now employs over 40 other people between in house workers and subcontractors, and continues to grow his business and serve as an inspiration to the business community.  Mr. Andre Margutti was nominated for Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Submitted by: Alisa Balwant

Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn
Bright Start Childcare, LLC
Washington, DC


Ms. Finn is a client of DC Small Business Development Center at GADGET Center since April 2012. During this time, Marcia has shown a keen interest on acquiring the business skills needed to sustain and grow her day care business through her participation in DC SBDC training events and consulting. She is currently receiving consulting on business planning, financing and marketing.

Marcia, with a background in pediatric nursing, saw an acute need for professional yet family oriented child care development services. As a result, in August 2002, she and her husband started Bright Start Childcare as a home-based business in the basement of their home in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Washington DC. Due to increasing demand for her outstanding daycare services and subsequent sales growth, Marcia transitioned to a retail space with thirty-two (32) children and fifteen (15) employees. The center is housed in a 4500 square feet building in a gentrified neighborhood in the Bright wood section of Georgia Avenue in Ward 4, northwest Washington DC.

Due to her exceptional customer service, attention to details, professionalism, training, high quality staff and unique teaching philosophies, the business continues to grow at a rapid pace requiring additional space. From 2009 to 2011, annual sales for Bright Start Childcare grew by almost 700%. Additionally, although the business experienced a loss in 2009, net income after taxes grew by $90,337 for that same period while total owners’ equity increased by over 800%. Similarly, total assets have increased by over 300% from 2009 to 2012. Although Marcia has been denied funding by several banks in the past, this year she was approved for over $1,200,000 in SBA lender financing to purchase the building in which her current daycare center is housed. This year she also invested over $155,000 of personal financing in the business. In 2013 she will also be starting a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) preschool for ages three to six years with a capacity of one hundred and fifteen (115) students off 16th street NW with 6700 square feet of additional space.

Ms. Finn understands the importance of regular professional development to continually improve her business and will be pursuing a Master’s in Education Administration at Trinity Washington University in Fall 2013. Her goals are to become a professional and highly qualified child educator that operates high quality child care developmental centers and preschools where children are active learners, and develop skills that are important to succeed in elementary school and in life.

Marcia also applies a creative approach to her daycare by creating an innovative learning space through the use of colors in each room to depict the mood of the environment (e.g. their infant room is orange to depict happiness while the toddler rooms are yellow to depict a sense of belonging). They also provide webcam access to parents for daily viewing of their children’s activities during business hours.

Ms. Finn also differentiates the business by ensuring a high quality staff through a rigorous recruiting, selection, hiring, training and retention process. In an industry in which employee turnover is extremely high, Ms. Finn has been able to retain the majority of her staff. She also has created a culture in which employees feel a sense of ownership and pride in the business which has allowed her to truly engage with employees to continually improve the business. The center is also differentiated by the professional yet intimate, loving and caring environment that she has created for the children and parents that attend her daycare. Achieved milestones, pictures of wow moments and activities are also sent to parents daily via their online curriculum. Bright Start Childcare has become a home away from home for their children with a low staff-child ratio, family atmosphere, dedicated staff and a stimulating and nurturing learning environment. The center also boasts a top notch Spanish immersion program.

Lastly, the center participates in various community initiatives such as holiday food drives for community food banks, Adopt-a-Family for the holiday, and discounted childcare rates to foster and military families. In an industry in which many successful daycare centers have traded quality for growth, Bright Start Childcare continues to grow while maintaining a competitive edge by providing personalized and family-oriented yet professional services. As a result, DC SBDC at GADGET Center fully supports Ms. Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn and believes that her business will continue to thrive.

Marcia was nominated for Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Submitted by: Alisa Balwant

Raleigh Fatoki
Golden Eye Recruiting Services
Washington, DC

Golden Eye Recruiting Services has been working with Gadget Center for the past five (5) months developing their Business Plan, establishing an intended business structure, and establishing contacts for fund raising.  The counselor has offered reviews of and additions to add to the business plan while the client was formulating the completed document.  Counselor has also guided the need for a PPM (Private Placement Memorandum) as a key part of their fund raising plans.  

Golden Eye Recruiting Services (GERS) has begun operations with the establishment of the Delaware Corporation formed by the 3 principal individuals – Raleigh Fatoki, Thomas Burell, and William Mannie.  They presented their completed Business Plan at a competition in Colorado Springs, Colo. in November (2012) where they won 2nd place in the competition – earning a $10,000 cash prize.  With this funding combined with a $10,000 equity infusion, they have: 1] formed the corporation in Delaware, 2] they have contracted for the creation of their operational web site, and 3] they have prepared a Private Placement Memorandum for the purpose of raising $100,000 from outside equity investors.  These funds will serve the operational expenses to establish initial operations and to hold the first “combines” – the athletic events - that will form the basis of their athlete analysis product to be sold to the clients.  While not producing a ‘new’ service for the clients (college athletic departments), they have created a unique and effective method of capturing and the data and then making that data available for the buyers (coaches at colleges who recruit athletes.)

The 3 principals are completing their final year of college at Howard University (May 2013.)  Each is working part time on their assigned duties of the company while balancing their college studies.  Following graduation, each individual plans to work full time in the operations to propel the business forward.  Strategic partnerships will be sought to accelerate the progress and to generate the revenue.

Submitted by: Kenneth Beckham

David Able
What’s Happening HQ  
Washington, DC

David Able has been working with Gadget Center for the past seven (7) months developing his Business Plan, establishing an intended business structure, and establishing contacts for fund raising.  The counselor has offered reviews of and additions to add to the business plan while the client was formulating the completed document.  Counselor has also sought out possible technology centers within the District who might offer funding and insights for the development of the web site.

What’s Happening HQ has been ‘launched’ by David Able, principal and web site creator for the business.  The operation is a web based ‘search site’ offering an all-inclusive web address on which to look for and find activities available in your city or geographical location.  Formed as an LLC within the District of Columbia, the business was officially launched in December (2012) with the site covering both Washington D C as well as Baltimore city area.  David is a web designer and code writer which has allowed him to reach this stage of business operation with just a $2,000 capital infusion (owner equity.)  Now, with the site up and operating, David will be able to present the ongoing operations to investors as he seeks to enter additional cities and to eventually cover the entire USA – where ever you are in the continental United States you could check activities within your location and know the up-to-date social opportunities available.  The categories of events range from hip-hop bands to training seminars to religious meetings (churches.)  It is planned to be the all-in-one site for any and every possible social activity listing.

Cross marketing and revenue sharing agreements have been reached with selected firms – the web coupon site Groupon as one example.  And as the traffic on the site increases, WHHQ will sell banner ads and premium position sites on the pages.  Additional funding will now be sought to expand the site to other cities and to fund both the marketing efforts and staff required to promote and manage the data.  Headquarters will remain in Washington D C with satellite offices to be established as needed.

Submitted by: Kenneth Beckham

Emika Embrack
Therapeutic Sessions  
Washington, DC

Emika Embrack has been working with Gadget Center for the past six (6) months developing his Business Plan, establishing an intended business structure, and establishing a general plan for the purchase of a building to serve the business.  The counselor has offered reviews of and additions to add to the business plan while the client was formulating the completed document.  Counselor has advised the client of some of the considerations for owning their building versus leasing space as an investment consideration for the client. 

Therapeutic Sessions has been opened by Emika Embrack, P.T (Physical Therapist.)  Having worked for a licensed P.T. for the past four (4) years (a time period required prior to obtaining your own independent P.T. license as well as the educational requirements) the principal has acquired his own P. T. license which has permitted him to open his own operation – Therapeutic Sessions.  The business is established as an S Corporation (filed in September 2012) in the District of Columbia.  Beginning with a $10,000 equity contribution from personal savings, the client has ‘opened’ and is now seeking to ‘expand’ further.  That expansion will involve a ‘new’ office to be acquired through leasing a space or perhaps the purchase of a building to be remodeled for the ‘office’ as required. 

The business of physical therapy is most often carried out by a larger corporation that provides the operating space for licensed individuals (both P.T.’s and P.T.A.’s - physical therapy assistants) who will work for the large firm.  The intent of Therapeutic Sessions is to offer the personalized service by a P.T. working directly with the client.  Although adding staff is an available option, the client believes the personal service of the principal individual will offer an advantage over the competitors.

Submitted by: Kenneth Beckham



Washington Post Article

Owning the building is an increasingly wise move for D.C. restaurants, analysts say

By Olga Khazan, Published:January 29  Shannon Boyle at her new shop, Uncle Chips on North Capital Street. ( Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan ) 

Shannon Boyle spends only a few hours whipping up a batch of her chocolate chip cookies, but it took her more than five years to start her bakery, Uncle Chip’s.

And when she finally unveiled the bright little cafe on North Capitol Street NW in early January, Boyle did so as an owner, not a renter — which some analysts say is an increasingly wise move for D.C. restaurateurs.

“I wanted do this slowly and to do it right,” Boyle said, “Failure rates are so high for restaurants, so I took a lot of time getting the real estate aspect figured out.”

Boyle spent years refining her recipe before starting Uncle Chip’s in 2007 as a mail-order business.

She was soon ready to open a storefront, but she would settle for nothing less than perfection in her lease.

“I walked away from about five leases when I thought people weren’t being fair,” she said.

In the tight D.C. rental market, she couldn’t find a contract that fit. The idea of a pricey K-Street lease petrified her because, while it would attract plenty of passersby, she said she would never be able to afford the rent if there was a slump. Because a shorter lease might come with rent hikes, she also wanted a term of 15 or 20 years — which few landlords could accommodate.

“The real estate in this market is so hot right now,” said Keith Sellars, senior vice president of the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership. “We do hear stories from time to time where people can’t keep up with the rent, so they have to close up shop.”

Boyle rented space in a bakery in Northwest Washington while she continued her search for a permanent location. One otherwise-promising building had no indoor plumbing, she said. One H Street landlord, she said, gave her the runaround for a year, then sold the property — to someone else.

While she was shopping for a spot, Boyle met with dozens of other business owners for advice. “Every business owner told me the biggest regret was not buying the building,” she said.

According to Sellars, buying has been catching on with restaurateurs as property values have risen.

But it’s not an easy feat to pull off.

“If you want a busy location, most of the retail isn’t for sale,” said Bob Miller, a senior vice president with Transwestern. “That said, every independent restaurateur should consider purchasing. The long-term value is undeniable.”

When she decided on the buying route, Boyle approached Mauricio Gaitan, an adviser at the D.C. Small Business Development Center. He helped her write a business plan and navigate the process of getting a Small Business Administration loan. She used much of it to buy and renovate 1514 North Capitol St. NW.

On Jan. 3, Boyle opened her storefront next to a barbershop and a hair salon. What the neighborhood lacks in foot traffic, Boyle makes up for in wholesale and mail-order sales.

Owning the building does have downsides, such as bearing full responsibility for repairs, Sellars said. Buying also costs more at the outset, which means buyers can’t open as many locations at once as renters sometimes can.

Miller says her investment might be a way to take care of not only her business, but herself, in the long run.

“After you are done running your restaurant, you can sell or lease it for far more money,” he said. “Either way, you can fund your retirement that way.”

AJK Enterprise, LLC
Antonio Kornegay

AJK Enterprise, LLC has earned a reputation as a superior hauling company with many
clients including Local and Federal Government agencies, contractors and local engineering firms.  In 2006, the company was established by its president, Antonio Kornegay with hopes to become the premier commercial excavation, hauling and disposal company in the greater Washington, DC Metropolitan area. 

With this goal in mind, in 2009, he contacted the DC-SBDC at the Anacostia Economic Development Center (AEDC) for assistance.  At that time he was working solely in the private sector, and annual sales were declining from $140,000 due to the decline in development projects in the private sector.  Mr. Kornegay and his counselor discussed every facet of his business and developed a strategy to expand his market to service the Local and Federal Governments and to secure financing to support operations and to purchase vehicles to handle his work load. 

Now two years later, AJK Enterprise, LLC can proudly say that annual sales have more than doubled to $285,000 ending year 2011. This growth is contributed to the effort that the owner and his DC-SBDC Counselor put into assuring that he obtained all (Local and Federal) minority and other business certifications, was aware of contracting opportunities and obtained the coverage necessary to compete for contracts. AJK Enterprise LLC became CBE, DDOT/WMATA DBE, SLMBE WSSC, Sec 3 DHCD, and MDOT DBE & MBE, SBR, VA UCP VDMBE /MWAA DBE & LDBE certified. Also the company is insured to $1million dollars in coverage and is bonded to $250,000.

Utilizing his status, the company has entered a mentor protégée agreement with Goldin and Stafford and has secured a hauling contract on the Yards Waterfront Project in the amount of $30,000, and is currently employed on the DC Convention Center Marriott project for a tentative 2 year term estimating $200,000.  Also the Company has secured contracts with Hardie Industries and Metro Earthworks as a hauling contractor for the Homeland Security Headquarters project on the St. Elizabeth’s West Campus, and a $250,000 hauling and excavation contract with MDOT for a project on the Maryland University’s Campus to name a few.

With an excellent plan and financials showing sizable contracts obtained, Antonio Kornegay was able to pay off two loans that he acquired with PNC Bank and to obtain a new microloan to expand his fleet with Latino Economic Development Center in the amount of $40,000.

Currently, the client and his DC-SBDC Counselor are working on further expansion: to obtain SBA 8(a) certification, and to secure a new loan to purchase three additional trucks/heavy equipment; a track loader, excavator and a trash truck to provide more excavation, waste management and providing roll off canisters.  Alongside the new vehicles, the company and counselor are working on client’s hiring strategy for existing work and anticipated contracts.

AJK Enterprise, LLC  and his counselor continues to make a distinction between the Company and its competitors with the provision of value added service, adequate financing and bonding, and equipment to not only be the regional LEADER, but the National and International LEADER of the hauling industry as well!

Submitted By:  Amanda Stephenson

Updated 9/29/2014 11:09:21 AM | BJohnson