Women Entrepreneurs

Tech startup looks to safeguard memories

Date
Wed, 2014-12-10 15:26

When Scarborough’s Kate St. Clair’s 7-year-old son entered hospice care, her friend Pamela Castrucci knew the family’s powerless feeling all too well, and was compelled to help them preserve his memory.

Three weeks later, after many sleepless nights, Castrucci had designed a prototype of what is now called Voice Kite, a cloud-based app for mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers that allows families to combine voices, photos and other memories of loved ones to be passed down to future generations. 

Marlene's Music: When a passion pays off

Date
Mon, 2014-12-15 15:10

Marlene Hutchinson has always been interested in music. As a child, she played piano and clarinet. Twelve years ago, the Laguna Hills mom decided to learn guitar as a New Year’s resolution.

Shortly after that resolution, Hutchinson “fell in love with the guitar.” Friends started asking her to show them a few things and eventually she started giving guitar lessens. Her passion quickly turned into a business, Marlene’s Music.

There is a wealth of information available on starting a business in Minnesota. This page is a place to start exploring that information. For some time, St. Paul SCORE has had a New Client Packet available for mentors to give to their clients. This is the current material for that packet.

Welcome to the information for Greater Twin Cities area small business owners and candidate owners who need an overview of how to start and run a business in Minnesota.  This is the background for you to deal with your SCORE mentor.  These PDF documents can be displayed or downloaded and printed.

About the Author

The St. Paul Chapter of SCORE, the Small Business Administration, the State of Minnesota and others have contributed to this material.

Dar's Dirty Dogs

After 25 years of working at a health insurance company, Darlene Donatiello decided to fulfill her dream of opening a pet grooming store. Darlene who graduated from a pet grooming school in the mid 80's says she got the idea to open a self-service dog wash shop from Facebook. 

Owner/Founder
Darlene Donatiello
My Location
Youngstown OH
United States
My Successes

Dar's Dirty Dogs is growing and partners with a local dog pound for events as well has offering a free wash for new owners to encourage dog donations. When the shop opened in May, two months later, the schedule was booked up until August.

How SCORE Helped

Darlene's mentors were able to assist her by reviewing her business plan and validating her idea and approach for Dar's Dirty Dogs. With her financing set in place, Darlene was able to develop an agenda and begin to complete tasks on her list quickly. "I wrote it down and checked things off as they were accomplished," says Darlene.

Trendy Trousseau

Trendy Trousseau (Trendy) was a small clothing business already established but at a crossroads for growth. It was maintaining at a small level, but needed to be nurtured to achieve the next level of success. With a business plan and mission in place, owner Summer Wise turned to SCORE to help equip her with the necessary tools needed to grow her business.

Website: sosotrendy.com

Owner/Founder
Summer Wise
My Location
Hermitage PA
United States
My Successes

Summer's mentors Frank Bordonaro and Art Lattanzi helped her to understand monthly and yearly goals along with what to expect for the second half of the year. Trendy was able to finish the year strong and the goals discussed and planned were "almost dead on". The following year, the fashion boutique growth was on par to the planned/predicted growth goals. Trendy is continually growing, its stylist program has expanded to four stylists and a second location has been added in the Canfield, Ohio area.

What's Great About My Mentor?

"I felt so blessed to have been able to work with such a great panel of men that helped me reach my goals and make my dream into a reality. I hope and pray that Trendy will keep growing in many different pathways and I will always thank SCORE for helping me have these opportunities," says Summer.

How SCORE Helped

SCORE helped Trendy put all the necessary steps in place to help with the growing process. This consisted of: calculating monthly goals, purchasing inventory along with purchasing the right amount of inventory to sustain seasonal goals.

Ask SCORE

          I’m confused about the rules for paying employees overtime. Can you explain them to me? 

         Should you be paying overtime to your employees? The answer is: it depends.

          Under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay overtime to most hourly employees who work more than 40 hours a week for businesses that take in more than $500,000 a year in revenue.

About the Author

          This column is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE, with nearly 70 current and former business executives available to provide free, confidential, one-on-one business mentoring and training workshops for area businesses. Call 603-666-7561 or visit merrimackvalley.score.org for information on mentoring, upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities. SCORE is a national, non-profit organization and a resource partner of the U. S. Small Business Administration. 

Boat Pittsburgh

Owner/Founder
Nicole Moga
My Location
James Sharp Landing (public boat launch)
Borough of Sharpsburg PA 15215
United States
Year Company Formed
2014
How SCORE Helped

What do you do when you have a passion for something and cannot find a local outlet?  Why, you create a business of course.  That is exactly what Nicole Moga did when she opened Boat Pittsburgh.  Nicole, an avid boater originally from Ohio, came to the Pittsburgh area to study Graphic Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.  She wanted to get back on the water, but could not find rental pontoon boats on any of our 3 Rivers; occasionally, she was able to rent from a private owner, but that did not satisfy her as a long term solution.    She realized if she had this need, others may as well.  Nicole had always been keeping her eyes open for a chance to run her own business, so she viewed this as a potential opportunity worthy of further exploration.  Need + Opportunity = Boat Pittsburgh.

The journey from concept to launch took about 2 years.  Nicole set out about 18 months prior to write the Business Plan for Boat Pittsburgh.  While doing research for writing an effective plan, Nicole found the local chapter of SCORE, an organization that provides free tools and resources for budding entrepreneurs.  Nicole worked with SCORE counselor Bob Grant whom she credits as an advocate, offering encouragement and feedback while being readily available to her to vet ideas and offer suggestions she didn’t even know to consider.

Bob recalls thinking favorably about Nicole’s concept for her start-up business.  “She had a background in boating, was very energetic, showed a lot of desire to succeed and was willing to do the work.  These attributes will serve her well”.  She did a good job researching the industry and the local market.  Bob’s most salient piece of advice with her business plan development was to expand on her background and passion.  “You are the business when you are a start-up” and banks need to understand who you are before they would be willing to lend financial support.  Bob, a former banker, also assisted Nicole with providing several resources including templates for developing financial projections and other business documents

Boat Pittsburgh has 2 Cypress Cay model pontoon boats, 22 feet long, outfitted with 60 horsepower motors, named “Thing One” and “Thing Two”.  The boats each seat  up to 10 (with 8 being optimal) in a comfortable, living-room like setting that is more social than some of the other watercraft on the rivers, allowing for sightseeing, fishing, sunbathing, picnicking and enjoying the company of others.    A renter needs to be 21 with a valid driver’s license; if born after 1/1/82, a Boating Safety Education Certificate is also required.   Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) are provided for each member of the boating party.  And just like on the road, it is illegal to drink and drive.

Nicole continues to refine her marketing efforts for Boat Pittsburgh.  She initially thought the 30-something, young urban professionals would be the first adopters of her innovative offering, but found this was not the group that would embrace her concept.  Rather, families and adult groups comprise the bulk of her rental market.  Hourly rentals or block of hours are available, with 4 hour increment rental being the most popular, particularly for families with children.  Nicole’s pricing strategy was developed in conjunction with an accountant who assisted her with the financial projections and helped determine a structure that would entice and incentivize a renter.

Some of the legal aspects of the boating business remain a challenge.  She received help from 2 attorneys on setting up policies and identifying practices that would minimize liability.  Another challenge was to find dock space with available slips that also had a public area where Boat Pittsburgh could transact the business aspects of renting their boats.  Most marinas in the area are Members Only with locked gates.  They initially looked at the Millvale area as there was a nice waterfront park; unfortunately, the Borough Council did not want power boats off the launch area.  With this setback, Nicole scrambled to find another area with a similar set-up.  She was able to find launch area in Sharpsburg, also on the Allegheny River, part of the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone (ARTEZ).  Boat Pittsburgh operates from a non-permanent structure there.  Renters can access the “Pittsburgh Pool” of 25 navigable river miles bound by three locks.

Nicole recognizes the challenges of running a seasonal business and the need for work/life balance, a lesson every new entrepreneur must learn.  As she stated “in my head I can work 7 days a week” but that isn’t realistic.  She also said she knew it would be a challenge, but “didn’t realize how big a challenge”.   To her credit, Nicole won’t let this challenge be her last.  She continually looks for opportunities to sustain her business.  “I’m willing to try anything that people will want.” 

About SCORE

For more information on the Pittsburgh SCORE chapter, a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration, please visit them at www.pittsburgh.score.org.   SCORE is a business counseling/mentoring organization providing free counseling, resources and advice to people who are in business or want to start a business. SCORE also provides free or low cost workshops on various business topics.  Volunteer counselors are experienced owners or managers of businesses that volunteer their time to help small businesses succeed.

 www.pittsburgh.score.org

 

Workshop Poster 1st. qtr. 2015

Considerations When Using Independent Contractors slides presented by Katie Marble at SCORE's November 2014 meeting.

About the Author

Katie Kiernan Marble

Marble Law Firm, PLLC

80 Palomino Lane

Suite 201

Bedford, NH  03110

Ask SCORE

          My brother-in-law has approached me about going into business with him in a home cleaning franchise. I’ve always heard one should never go into business with relatives. Is that true? 

About the Author

          This column is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE, with nearly 70 current and former business executives available to provide free, confidential, one-on-one business mentoring and training workshops for area businesses. Call 603-666-7561 or visit merrimackvalley.score.org for information on mentoring, upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities. SCORE is a national, non-profit organization and a resource partner of the U. S. Small Business Administration. 

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