CLIENT SUCCESS AND TESTIMONIALS
Polaris Marketing and Consulting, LLC
Polaris Marketing and Consulting, LLC. was founded in Burbank in 2016. The company’s Founder and CEO Jennifer White specializes in building strategic partnerships, business development, and marketing strategy implementation. In addition to managing Polaris Marketing & Consulting, Jennifer also consults with companies across the United States and donates her time to multiple charities. However, higher business costs occurred and her business suffered from a slow down due to the pandemic.
Jennifer was referred to Los Angeles MBDA Business Center‘s procurement manager, Mr. Andrew Barrera. Andrew has guided Jennifer on the procurement process including identifying her NAICS Codes, registering her business on the various Supplier Vendor Portals, reviewing progress made on NAICS & portal registrations, securing small business certifications, developing a capability statement, and browsing for contract opportunities. Andrew also recommended Jennifer reach out to her former clients and business networks to reintroduce her business and the services offered to generate new sales and to remain relevant and current.
In addition, Andrew introduced Jennifer to one of his clients Ms. Ogi Jiimen, the owner of Noyon, Inc, who operates a high-quality restaurant and catering business. Ogi is looking for a proposal writer to assist her with the submittal for a bid to LADWP providing restaurant and catering services to the City’s John Ferraro Building and the Pacific Stock Exchange. With Ogi’s professional catering experience and Jennifer’s marketing and business consulting expertise, they can collaborate to help Noyon to become a more competitive option among all contract bids.
Andrew was dedicated to assisting Jennifer and Ogi to review the request for proposal (RFP) and bid strategies, formatting the bid proposal, writing and establishing the cost and budget details, and preparing all required materials and proofs along with the application for a catering contract with LADWP.
In 2021, Jennifer received the notice of the contracts that she secured including the Incan Project Development for $24,000 per year, Dev Pipeline for $24,000 per year, International College of Professional Celebrants for $7,000, Jackie Lyles for $1,000. Jennifer will use these secured funds for extending her company’s cash runway.
Moreover, PACE nominated some of their clients including Jennifer to receive free enrollment for the OneLA Regional Marketplace Phase I procurement training program. Andrew tried to help Jennifer obtain a procurement training scholarship and more procurement training opportunities down the road.
Jennifer is very thankful for the helpful procurement guidance and support that Andrew provided. She expressed her heartfelt appreciation for Andrew, “Andrew has helped me so much and he has been phenomenal to work with. Our team is really grateful and my heart is full… a huge thank you to Andrew. You’re the best!” Do you want to be the next successful entrepreneur like Jennifer? Get the help you need from Los Angeles MBDA Business Center.
In the house of entertainment, Los Angeles-based PG Production provides video production services, such as onsite editing at an event or musical performance, social media advertising, to clients across the globe. Golenberg has over five years’ experience working/collaborating with high profile artists/brands. He creates content that is emotionally stirring.
“My biggest competitors are companies that already have an established base on social media as content creators, that produce content for large entertainment companies.” Golenberg said. With the help of the CA Dream Fund grant, he purchased a drone that will capture exciting moments from a brand-new perspective and visually impactful.
“I worked for a production company for many years and got many offers. So, I decided to start my own business as a freelancer.” he said. Golenberg didn’t have much formal business training in the past. He said that PACE is the first institution that provided formal trainings to him. Training video topics such as small business finance helps him a lot. He describes himself not a number person and the counselor guided him to prepare the financial projection.
Graduated from college with an English major, Golenberg said he always enjoys art and creating videos. In the past years, he has been working with different brands in different industries, such as casinos, restaurant, music festivals, wedding, constructions and real estate. He recently being invited and traveled overseas to cover some major music festivals.
Daisy’s Beauty Salon
Pico-Union/Westlake Business Source Center (BSC) assisted Olga Gomez, owner of Daisy’s Beauty Salon, successfully obtain City of Los Angeles’ Microenterprise Grant to help sustain her business.
Olga holds both a cosmetologist and barber license. After graduation from cosmetology school, she knew she wanted to start her own business. But without a license, and no experience, she only had the capacity to volunteer to wash hair at a beauty salon for 9 months to gain experience. As a 15-year-old immigrant from Guatemala, she was proud to be a self-made business owner that operated her business in South Los Angeles for over 20 years without any assistance. Then the unimaginable happened, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the economy, the Stay-at-Home Order mandated that all beauty salons close from March 9, 2020, to June 2021, a total of 16 months, or be forced to pay heavy fines. For the first time since she started the business, Olga needed to ask for help. She said “There was a point that I was in front of the business and asking myself if I should close the business. I didn’t want to close my business. I love my business.”
In August of 2021, her entrepreneur spirit prompted her to learn about publicity, which led her to be referred to Ivan Vazquez, Business/Loan Counselor at Pico-Union Westlake BSC. Ivan provided Olga with information on various COVID-19 disaster relief assistance and helped her apply for any programs she was eligible for, including the City of Los Angeles’ Microenterprise Grant Program.
“Ivan [BSC counselor] helped me so much. He was there when I needed him the most. Helping me complete the application allowed me to receive the funds to help pay for the commercial rent of my business. I’ve never needed to ask for assistance since I started the business.” As a result of the grant, the landlord considered Olga’s efforts, her 20-year tenancy, and agreed to accept the grant funds and the remaining balance as additional monthly small incremental payments until the business is current. Olga is grateful for the help she received from her counselor and was excited to learn about all that the LA Business Source Centers have to offer her business and plans to take full advantage of the staff expertise with available resources.
Pico-Union/Westlake BSC will continue to assist Olga with broadening her service offerings to include eyelash extensions, manicure/pedicure, and make-up service. She would also like to start a cosmetology school to assist immigrants who have the same passion for cosmetology. In addition, Olga plans to apply for the new LA-Optimized digital marketing program, Small Business Rental Assistance Program, and Legacy Business Program.
Daisy’s Beauty Salon is located in LA City Council District 9.
Nancy Ochoa’s journey started in December 2018 – after her mother and her mother’s best friend lost their jobs. They had always dreamed of having their own cleaning business together, and now, having lost their jobs, this created an opportunity to finally do that. After all, between the two of them, they have nearly 50 years of cleaning experience.
After discussing the idea of starting a new business with Nancy, she (Nancy) decided to join the new venture and the three of them became business partners. This was the inception of Reliable Housekeeper, a full – service eco – friendly janitorial company serving commercial and residential spaces.
Having little knowledge of how to start a business, the first year was rough, and they couldn’t make ends meet. Out of desperation, they took any job they could find and completely undercharged for their services, knowing that this did not make any financial sense.
They knew something had to change and started searching the web for help and advice. This is when they came across the SBA website. The SBA had a link to the PACE Women’s Business Center, and Nancy reached out to the Center and had an appointment the following day. Nancy said, “I was so fortunate to be paired with the WBC Director, Ms. Swann in July 2019; she helped guide me through the next steps and provided so many resources – which included working on our new logo and creating a professional business card and working on how to obtain customers.”
Our counseling sessions continue d throughout 2019. In 2021, their goal was to take their business to the next level. They decided to obtain their minority certifications and learn ed how to build their capability statement. They attend ed seminars that helped in all aspect s of building a business. Ms. Swann also pointed Nancy in the direction of industry professionals that helped them by providing quality professional advice to sustain their business.
Through their persistence, they were able to grow their business and increase their revenue by over 200%. They also made many necessary adjustments and even changed the structure of the business. In 2023, they expect their business will continue to expand, having secured their first major contract with PICO Union LA Neighborhood Initiative LANI, for $278,400 for the year with an option to extend.
Nancy said, “I was so fortunate to be paired with the WBC Director, Ms. Swann in July 2019; she helped guide me through the next steps and provided so many resources – which included working on our new logo and creating a professional business card and working on how to obtain customers.”
Silver Lake Psychology
Silver Lake Psychology is a general psychotherapy practice serving 3 locations on the East Side. We are a collective of experienced and talented professionals that work with non-emergency, non-severe mental health concerns.
I began my private practice as a psychologist in the same way that most therapists do. I found a single room and hung my shingle. Mine was above “The Kitchen” restaurant in Silver Lake. Not many people knew I was up there, but I was busy enough to cover the rent of my low-cost room.
David Rensin multi-best -selling author, had offered to co-write my first book, The Men of my Couch (Berkley books). This book was followed up by The Women on my Couch, and a column in the Huffington Post plus regular appearances on Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules.
The demand for my practice exploded. Rather than turn people away, I decided to take a leap and invest in a large office space. I decided to hire a couple of therapists and train them in my methods of working with sex and relationships. In just two years, Silver Lake Psychology had expanded to three locations and 18 therapists.
I had lived among the writers, artists and musicians of Silver Lake for years and wanted my practice to be affordable to the creative middle class. I decided to accept insurance, even learning how to do medical billing, and to offer sliding scale fees to ensure that Silver Lake Psychology didn’t turn away the actual residents of Silver Lake.
I wanted to offer a higher-quality therapy experience. I wanted seasoned therapists and I wanted to create a profitable business model that didn’t involve exploitation. To do this, I recruited talented, experienced therapists to work part-time, exchanging my high-volume of referrals for their expertise and paid them double what other large practices offered.
The staff, of mostly women, are trained in all the latest therapy technologies from neurobiological therapies (EMDR, Sensorimotor therapy) to art therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and depth therapies (Jungian, gestalt therapy). Our offerings expanded past my niche specialty of couple’s therapy and sex therapy to a range of expertise.
My mission was to stay attuned to the community and focus on providing services that match what they needed at a price point that works for the people who live there.
As my practice grew, my role changed from author to entrepreneur. Both are creative endeavors, but I was in foreign territory. I became mired in the non-glamorous parts of being a business owner –learning acronyms like ADP, ROI and EDD—and I lacked the skills for managing money or people. I was working 14-hour days, answering phones and emails, filing medical claims, negotiating deals on office spaces and training staff.
One year into our business boom, with 12 therapists and 2 offices, I was flat broke. I learned that growth doesn’t equal profit. Sunk by taxes, high overhead and no financial management skills, I sought out PACE Women’s Business Center in downtown LA, a non-profit organization that teaches business skills to female entrepreneurs. I joined their mentor program which connects retired business leaders with female entrepreneurs. With the help of Swann Do, Women’s Center Director and Robert McKim, retired business executive and PACE’s Mentor Coordinator; shortly after, I learned accounting skills and financial strategies that helped my business to become profitable while growing.
I’ve learned that the role of CEO is to focus on the big picture; to see the system as-a-whole, so I could create the most efficient, smooth and cost-effective flow rather than getting lost in the everyday small details.
I learned that hiring the right staff and paying them well pays off. I learned that staff need a combination of freedom and structure. I have also learned there needs to be a watchful eye on anyone managing the accounting. Not understanding and paying attention can lead to financial mismanagement.
I am please to say the practice is stable, with adequate resources, growing and we have practices in place for sustainable growth. We are ready for the next set of challenges and know we can count on PACE Women’s Business Center to help us.
Zitlalic Ley is the founder and CEO of Latina Nerds®, a company exclusively focused on professional logo design for businesses.
Besides being a former All-American athlete in college, a business owner and a true Latina Nerd, Zitlalic also has experience in start-ups, non-profits and government with expertise in business-growth initiatives and multicultural and innovative brand strategies.
Zitlalic previously worked for Square Inc., where she launched the first Square en Español initiative in Southern California, increasing the Hispanic user base by 25% nationwide. Zitlalic also worked in Silicon Valley at a smartwatch jewelry startup and was the National Coordinator for the Membership & Student Chapters of 11,000 Latino students at ALPFA. Further, Zitlalic worked with the NLBWA-LA’s executive team to implement technology solutions and innovation, and worked also as Director of Technology for RPAA.
In addition, Zitlalic worked for MALDEF in Washington D.C. to create opportunities for minorities to excel academically and increase government resources for low-income students.
Zitlalic came to the Women’s Business Center needing to learn how to better manage her business, price her services and bill her clients for her services. She needed a menu of her services and to create pricing strategies. Zitlalic met the WBC business director Ms. Swann Do who immediately helped her through this business growth phase with a focus on cash flow management. Swann kept her motivated for action steps and encouraged her to also find a balance between her business and non-business hours.
Zitlalic has since launched her third Latina Nerds® Tech + Business Workshop to empower Latina minds through technology and business, and to define Latina Nerd as an intelligent and success-driven Latina who’s passionate in technology and business.
Zitlalic has participated in a variety of leadership programs, such as the Global Leadership Program at Harvard Business School, Social Innovation Fellowship from Starting Bloc and Emerging Latina Leadership Program at NLBWA-LA.
Zitlalic, a native of Sinaloa, México, is a results-driven Latina who is very passionate about branding, technology and helping others and believes that a small group of passionate and talented people can make a difference in the world.
Ms. Ronni Mannis is the entrepreneur founder of SocialiSing LLC, a unique learning flex space to be located in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles. By obtaining a $50,000 SBA microloan loan for new space improvements, pre-launch marketing, and working capital, Ms. Mannis can now fulfill her dream of discovering and nurturing more young talent for a performing arts future.
Completing the transformation of a creative flex space into an inspiring atmosphere is a critical first impression to parents and talent seeking a performance career. This unique flex space will also be the home of obsesSing, retail we love, and dresSing, a small lovingly curated vintage performance clothing boutique for those cultivating their performance persona, and teaSing, for tea elixirs and healthy energy snacks.
SocialiSing is located in the Little Tokyo District of Downtown Los Angeles. Ms. Mannis is a passionate 17 year vocal performance coach with a 20+ year background in talent management. In January 2020, she knew she would need additional capital to see her business dream come true. After meeting with a banker from Bank of America, the banker referred Ms. Mannis to the PACE Business Development Center. The banker didn’t have a product that would fit Ronnis’ situation but knew that she would be in good hands with Business Counselor Manager Ms. Wai-Ling Chin.
Wai-Ling helped review Ronni’s business plan, her cash flow, and helped analyze her situation. She walked her through the entire process to obtain a $50,000 SBA loan. This allowed Ronni to secure a turn-key physical learning center location in the heart of the Little Tokyo District near the Downtown Los Angeles Historic Broadway District, a new hot-bed for performing arts venues. This small business loan will allow her to open a fully functional and inspiring creative space employing a staff of three (including herself) for young future talent to call a second home as they pursue their performance passions. We know her business will be a great success as the demand for creative art programs are on the rise!
From Mural Artist to Painting Contractor Ikuto England secured a $20,000 SBA Microloan for working capital. Ikuto has been in the painting industry for over 15 years, starting out as a mural painter at the various colleges in Los Angeles. He soon found himself painting commercial buildings on his many projects. In 2017, he decided it was time to start his own business, Aesthetix Painting. Like many contractors, Ikuto bootstrapped the business by using high-interest credit cards to finance his projects. In early 2019, Ikuto had the opportunity to bid on a contract with the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).
He knew he needed help and he was referred to Wai-Ling Chin, Business Counseling Manager under PACE. She helped analyze his business financials and realized he needed help. He had a substantial credit card balance that needed to be reduced to improve his credit score and debt ratio. Wai-Ling helped him apply for an SBA Microloan to be used as working capital. This type of loan allows Mr. England to have a fixed monthly payment at a reasonable interest rate. Wai-Ling worked with him throughout the entire loan process and he was approved in March 2019 for $20,000. Aesthetix Painting was subsequently awarded a contract with the LACCD to paint doors and jams on 6 campuses! The $20,000 working capital loan has help him complete the LACCD project. This contract also helped create 5 full-time jobs in Los Angeles.
Husband and wife Francois Blaignan and Sirinun Ploadpilew (a Thailand native and singing teacher very active in the Thai community of Los Angeles) obtained a $50,000 SBA Microloan to complete their studio build-out and refinance their high-interest debt. Since 2006, Francois and Sirinun have owned and operated Tinitus Inc. In addition to Sirinun’s lengthy experience as a Los Angeles voice coach, Francois contributes almost 30 years in the music industry, having worked in the sound department of different movies since the 1990s. Since 2000, Francois has developed an expertise in TV commercials contracting notably with well known companies such as Apple, Beats, Nike and Uber. Francois has also secured numerous feature film and music production projects. In 2002, Francois and Sirinun purchased their current building that housed four potential recording studios with two completed soon after purchase.
Due to the high interest credit card debt used to initially fund the partial completion of their recording studio renovations, it was difficult for the company to grow quickly. They knew they needed help to grow the revenue for Tinitus Inc. when Francois attended a PACE Access to Capital workshop and met with Bo Sivanunsakul, loan manager at the BusinessSource Central West Region in November 2018. Since then, Bo helped them with reviewing their business cash flow and financial statements. Bo made cash flow projections to show how much they would be able to afford and what financing options are available to them. Bo walked Francois and Sirinun through the entire loan process. Francois and Sirinun finalized the loan process in February 2019. With the additional capital, they have since completed the needed recording studio renovations. The savings from refinancing high interest debt and the increase in revenue from the additional studio space has made Tinitus Inc a strong business serving the Los Angeles entertainment industry!
Genessy Management and Development, LLC
Mrs. Genny Alberts with Phuong Le at her office in Los Angeles, CA.
Mrs. Genny Alberts is a Los Angeles businesswoman with a big heart for helping low income people in her communities. In 1989, Mrs. Genny Alberts started working with affordable housing, and in 2005, Genessy Management and Development LLC was formed to dedicate its services to the management of residential buildings for homeless, very low-income individuals and families. Currently, the company has 10 non-profits among its clients. Eighty percent (80%) of the management housing inventory is for low-income families
The business was doing very well under her son’s management. However, on August 21, 2015 he passed away in a fatal car accident. This moment nearly destroyed her life. She could not focus on the business, and the business began to slide downhill. She almost gave up the business, but she kept thinking of her purpose. She thought of all the low income clients who needed help from her, so she began to fix the business from the bottom up
Due to the tragedy, she had mounting account receivable which needed to be collected since last year. In November 2016, she needed money to pay her workers, so she borrowed $102,335 from a hard money lender at a very high interest rate pay with $670.00 on a daily basis for a term of 220 days adding up to $$20,100.00 per month. The total payment of the loan amounted to 45% interest . At this rate, it ate away all her revenue that she allocated for other critical business expenses.
As the high interest rates and payment mounted, Genny again thought of letting it go. Fortunately, she met Phuong Le, a loan counselor at the BusinessSource Center – Central West Region operated by PACE. Since 1993, PACE has provided technical assistance and access to capital to over 37,000 Los Angeles entrepreneurs and small businesses. She connected with Phuong at a meeting held at Pico Union Housing Corporation, a non-profit organization that helps low income people with housing services, empowers small business in the area and provides social and educational programs for the community to make them self-sufficient.
Phoung, found a suitable banker committed to serve the small business communities providing small business loans and as a result got their company a loan to stabilize the business and keep all employees and continue providing affordable housing for low income families. Mr. Phuong, helped her to work with PACE’s bank partner, First General Bank for a total small business loan of $650,000.
Since her business is getting back to track, she wants to expand her business to open a non-profit organization to serve the community better. She is being signed up for PACE’s mentoring business program, and schedule for a series of consultation meetings with Pace’s business specialist to guide her on how to augment the business to create more employment and offer more affordable housing to the community.
Genny again spends her time to support her beloved low-income tenants instead of retiring at her 70. Her organization has 23 full-time employees, and 40 part-time employees. She is looking to hire more soon!
Derek Nowicki, Founder of Knowiki Web Design
As a young man, Derek Nowicki joined the Navy when he realized that college wasn’t going to be an option. After the Navy, Derek took a job writing programs for the electronic controls in air conditioning systems. His ability to self-teach and his intense interest allowed him to expand my skill set to include web development. He made the decision to use my GI Bill money to go back to school and study computer science.
He contemplated about starting a business in September of 2015 after an internship at a robotics company ended. The business idea came to him that he could do web development in between semesters of school. He contacted the SBA and spoke to their veteran’s business specialist and he was referred to PACE. He met with Swann Do and within 3 months he founded Knowiki Web Design in January 2016. Knowiki Web Design offers custom website design and development services from small portfolio sites to big enterprise solutions. PACE has been instrumental in helping his business and the Entrepreneur Training Program (ETP) was essential to having a successful startup.
“The thought of owning a business was intimidating. It felt like a whole other world that I knew nothing about. What I liked most about the ETP was that the program takes you through the business plan step by step, and in the end you have an outline for your business plan. It was exciting when I got my first draft written and I went over it with Swann. I have also come to PACE for the free legal workshops, which have been immensely helpful in helping me understand how to write contracts for my business. This whole thing has big a huge learning experience for me. I think the biggest obstacle I’ve had in starting a business is overcoming the employee mentality, and starting to think like a business owner. It truly is a different mindset and lifestyle.”
Ms. Tessa Young is the owner and Founder of Prism DJs, a female DJ booking agency in Los Angeles. Tessa first began DJing in 2003 as a hobby and, by 2010, was working in the industry full-time. After attending an all-female DJ event in 2012, Ms. Young was inspired to start her own businesses which she launched in April 2015. Prism DJs immediately took off and she found herself in need of additional capital to support the hiring of new staff and the purchase of additional equipment and marketing materials. Tessa was referred to PACE BDC by a local organization. At PACE, she worked with her counselor, Steve Meng, to tighten up her business plan and apply for an SBA loan. Tessa says, “Steve made the process easy. He was knowledgeable and always responsive to my questions.”
In October 2015, Ms. Young obtained an SBA loan of $18,000. The additional capital has enabled her to grow her business, add more 2 DJs to her roster, and double her profits. Tessa shares, “I am looking forward to our future success and am forever grateful for PACE’s assistance with the SBA loan to help me make this happen!”
Prospect DB Inc
PACE Finance Corporation (PFC) assisted Sky Cassidy in securing a $100,000 SBA loan that will allow his marketing lead generationbusiness, Prospect DB Inc. DBA MountainTop Data, to purchase equipment, increase their sales staff, and expand their business. Mr. Cassidy started this business in 2005 and MountainTop Data was one of the earliest sources of original B2B marketing data. He was referred to us by a local bank partner and met with Phuong Le, a loan counselor for PFC . Since then Phuong has offered business counseling and helped review the cash flow statements for Mr. Cassidy. Mr. Cassidy was funded with a $100,000 loan in May 2018 that would let his company continue with their expansion. The assistance he received enables his firm eventually hire 17 employees throughout their expansion. They currently hired 3 full time staff allowing them to help small businesses understanding their business marketing data better to generate successful leads.
Sing Your Heart Out
Agnes Chu was born and raised in Taiwan and came to the United States at an early age. When she started singing at 2 years old, she knew she had found her passion. A single mother, Agnes once owned and operated Happy Kids Music, a music school in Woodland Hills where she taught music to children. Happy Kids Music was open from 2005-2008 and had over 150 students.
After that time, Agnes went on to work with Disney, Warner Brothers, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. She eventually came back to her love of teaching music to children. She came to PACE in the hopes of starting and eventually expanding her new business enterprise. She enrolled in the Entrepreneur Training Program in 2014 to pursue her mission to bring music out to the world through the production of music. Her business makes albums available online worldwide, creates tours and provides teaching opportunities as a guest teacher at different venues.
Agnes was accepted into PACE’s Get Paid to Save program, an Individual Development Account (IDA) program that awards matching funds to her savings. With the help of PACE, Agnes was able to save over $3,500 and move forward with a little money and get new materials for her startup business. The class has helped her realize how crucial time management is for her business. Her ultimate goal is to go on tour and share her music with the world. She currently has one record and is working toward a second record to be released in 2016.