Caffe Gelato Succeeds With Encouragement From SCORE Mentor
Ryan German always had the makings of a small business owner. After his freshman year in college, he ran a successful student painters franchise. During summers, he and his brother worked a roadside fruit stand. He saved his money and studied business administration. About the time of his junior year, he decided his next business venture would be to make authentic gelato and sell it downtown. In late 1999 at the age of 22, Ryan contacted SCORE, where he was assigned to SCORE volunteer mentor Earl Norman, who was intrigued and excited about Ryan’s idea. Caffe Gelato opened in 2000 and now serves lunch, dinner and the Caffe’s specialty, homemade Italian ice cream known as gelato.
After being rejected by eight banks for a small business loan, Ryan’s work with Earl resulted in small business loan offers from two banks. With his parents as co-signers, Ryan settled on a small business loan in February 2000. Next, he and his family renovated an older building and opened the doors of his restaurant that April.
When asked why he chose this path, Ryan says being a small business owner is the only job he was going to do. Eventually he wants to be a large business owner. But the most difficult part of the job now is managing employees who are his age. His greatest joy is talking to happy customers and seeing everything come together. “It’s like completing a large puzzle. There’s a sense of accomplishment,” says Ryan.
Located just three blocks from Ryan's alma mater, the University of Delaware, Caffe Gelato is not a student hang-out, but targeted to working professionals. Like any good restaurant owner, Ryan says his goal is “to get customers in the door—make sure they are happy, and paying. Then, get them out and back again.”
Ryan says "my (SCORE mentor) Earl Norman is smart, has a professional background, and was very good with me. He helped expand my business plan with financial documents, such as a projected opening balance sheet, cash flow and income statements, and a sensitivity analysis."
Through Earl's help, Ryan fine-tuned his business plan and secured a location. Earl arranged for him to meet his contacts at two local banks, and each made Ryan an offer. A few months later, Ryan went back to SCORE for help with the artwork for his company logo. SCORE Counselor Beatrice Benson connected him to an artist with whom he is now working.