In the vast landscape of Alaska, Zeynep Kilic, an accredited scholar and award-winning documentarian turned restaurateur, and her creative brother, Cemal Engin Kilic, dreamed of a culinary venture. The entrepreneurial pair reimagined Anchorage's only Turkish-inspired restaurant to embrace a welcoming cultural atmosphere and fresh, made-to-order Turkish dishes, battling permits and bureaucracy. With their combined efforts, Engin's boldness and Zeynep's meticulousness helped them overcome various obstacles, such as obtaining loans, renovating their establishment, and mastering culinary skills. United by a shared passion for food, created a thriving business. Zeynep and Engin craft a delectable success, tantalizing Alaskan taste buds and proving that determination can manifest dreams.
"Ian was incredibly patient and kind in educating us throughout the process, and he also connected us to KeyBank to expedite our small business loan process. Alaska SBDC resources were instrumental in our planning."
Leaning into their complementary strengths and the pivotal assistance of Alaska SBDC Business Advisor Ian Grant streamlined their journey, facilitating a smooth small business loan process. Collaborative spirits and lessons learned along the way fortified their success. As they venture into new culinary horizons, Zeynep and Engin craft a legacy, proving that the right mix of passion, collaboration, and strategic partnerships can turn a dream into a thriving Alaskan culinary haven.
Captain John Melino of Melino's Marine Services conquered Southeast Alaska's challenges, mastering vessels amid treacherous waters. The company's genesis in 2011 followed incidents like rescuing a sailboat hit by a whale, revealing a marine assistance gap. From distress calls to Alaska's unique demands, they adapted, growing into the region's premier maritime service. Melino's Marine Services expanded from towing to remote logistics, embodying a community-centric vision. Collaborating with the Alaska SBDC, they secured financing for expansion. Melino's advice to entrepreneurs emphasizes perseverance and strategic planning. Future plans involve a high-speed landing craft showcasing ongoing determination in Alaska's waters.
"We talked a lot, made model projections, and talked with several banks and reps. He [Ian Grant] got me organized bookkeeping-wise and guided us through this process of EXPANDING the small business we are today."
Melino's Marine Services navigated challenges by diversifying its offerings. Responding to distress calls, it evolved from marine towing to remote logistics, water taxis, and TV production support. Captain Melino's adaptability and expertise, honed through diverse experiences, enabled the company to fill a commercial void in marine assistance. Collaborating with the Alaska SBDC facilitated strategic planning and financing, fueling their expansion. The company's commitment to community and collaboration, coupled with a "Yeah, we can do that" attitude, transformed it into Southeast Alaska's premier marine service provider. Future solutions involve innovation in constructing a specialized high-speed landing craft.
Inspired by her fishing roots, Sara Erickson faced the challenge of transforming discarded fish skins into premium pet treats. Turning to the Alaska SBDC in 2016, she collaborated with Business Advisor Cliff Cochran to navigate the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship. Funding secured, AlaSkins, LLC emerged in Kenai, making history with wild-caught fish skin treats. Amidst pandemic challenges, SBDC support anchored AlaSkins, guiding them to a new facility by the Kenai River. Sara's dedication and Cliff's guidance propelled AlaSkins to accolades, proving that innovative ideas can flourish, even from the depths of discarded possibilities.
"Cliff was so helpful in breaking down my monthly costs and showing me the sales goals I need to set each month, as well as showing me where I can cut costs. Very thankful for his assistance and glad he is close by for further assistance as I need it."
Using a financial model with her Business Advisor's guidance on a startup budget steered Sara Erickson with clarity. With the Alaska SBDC's support, AlaSkins secured funding to launch. They transformed discarded fish skins into premium pet treats, making history as the first to do so from wild-caught fish skins. Transitioning to Soldotna, Alaska, SBDC's collaborative efforts ensured a seamless move. Together, they navigated logistics, propelling AlaSkins toward new horizons by the Kenai River.
AlaSkins, a trailblazer in the pet treat industry, achieved unprecedented success as the first to manufacture premium treats from wild-caught fish skins. Guided by the Alaska SBDC, they secured funding and established a startup budget, weathering the challenges of COVID-19 with continued support. With SBDC assistance, the transition to a new facility by the scenic Kenai River was seamless. Recognition followed, earning them prestigious awards such as Manufacturer of the Year and Small Business of the Year. AlaSkins expanded its offerings, including cat treats and canned halibut, and there is the exciting prospect of introducing human snacking treats to their innovative product line.