Jonathan Dautrich began working with the OCIE SBDC Network team in July 2021 when he connected with the network and shared that he was looking to start an escape room business. At the time, he had obtained his EIN, conducted initial market research, and drafted a partial business plan. His most significant need was direction and advice on how to find the right location, as he was entirely new to the leasing process and opening a storefront. In addition, Jonathan sought guidance on hiring, market research, permits, and accessing capital.
"None of my close friends or family are entrepreneurs, so starting a brick-and-mortar business was uncharted territory for me. I learned about SBDC from a couple channels, including a certificate I saw hanging on the wall at Chocolate Bash in Tustin! Having SBDC consultants with real experience starting and running businesses there to bounce ideas off of provided me with invaluable peace of mind. The planning resources, referrals to professionals, and general advice I got from my SBDC consultants have also been hugely helpful in getting this business off the ground. I’m looking forward to making Intrepid a fun creative outlet, both for me and my staff. I’d love for Intrepid to be a financial success, but I also want my team to enjoy the process of getting us there. We’re starting designs for our third escape room at our Tustin location, with plans for a fourth and maybe even a fifth down the road!"
Through one-on-one assistance, Jonathan worked with a coordinated team of OCIE SBDC consultants. He received assistance on business plan development, leasing, and build-out phase, financial analysis and projections, employee hiring, and business launch.
Linda Weidner was committed to filling a void in the services and opportunities available in her community. Linda’s son has autism, and as a parent of a child who is differently abled, Linda saw a pronounced need for a safe and friendly environment that facilitated fitness for individuals of all abilities.
Linda opened a brick-and-mortar gym at the beginning of COVID-19 and stayed open. However, following the pandemic, Linda needed assistance with her lease and ongoing landlord issues. She also sought help with cash flow concerns and financial projections.
"I worked with the SBDC prior to starting my business and after. I appreciated the fact that I could work with experienced business leaders without a high cost attached to it. I needed guidance in every aspect of running a business and received that from the SBDC. I recommend the SBDC to everyone I talk to whether they are thinking of starting a business or currently own a business. I am so grateful for the advice and the time Craig spent with me as well as other mentors in the program. I think the programs you offer are amazing!"
The OCIE SBDC team provided Linda with a financial analysis and further supported Linda’s most urgent concerns by reviewing the client’s lease agreement and proposals and counterproposals exchanged with the landlord. The OCIE SBDC consultants identified critical areas of concern that needed to be addressed with the landlord. They assisted Linda in gaining a clearer picture of her financials as she worked to pay off past-due rent. The team helped the client create a spreadsheet that tracked monthly expenditures in a complete and accurate report, positioning the client to access capital.
Ariana Mendoza is a young entrepreneur following in the footsteps of her dad — she always knew she wanted to be a successful entrepreneur. When her dad fell ill and could not continue managing the family business, Ariana decided to take a risk and re-envision the family business. The company now specializes in door frames and hardware installation in the private and public sector.
In 2021, she landed her first contract. At the time, she was afraid to fail but she listened to advice from people who’d been there before her. Ariana’s story is one of determination and perseverance, which she exhibited tremendously to assist her family.
After Ariana landed few projects with the Department of Veteran Affairs, she knew contract requirements would undoubtably present challenges. Ariana first connected with the OCIE SBDC through the network’s Contracting 101 training program.
Ariana Mendoza connected with OCIE SBDC Consultant Jackie Guilfucci in January 2023. Ariana sought guidance regarding Project Labor Agreement (PLA), certified payroll, and prevailing wage on state-funded projects. After reviewing the associated requirements, several potential challenges resulting from non-compliance were identified. Ariana and Jackie have been meeting periodically to revise the certified payroll process, addressing how to assign employee designation and rates.
Jackie advised Ariana to open an account on The Blue Book Construction Network, which is free of charge for construction companies, and LinkedIn. Both platforms benefit entrepreneurs by providing access to high-skill trainings in areas such as construction management and by positioning account holders to submit proposals to the state of California.
Jackie also guided which certifications would benefit Ariana’s business and helped Ariana obtain the identified certifications.
As a result of the services provided by the OCIE SBDC Network, Ariana obtained several certifications, including Women-Owned Small Business, Small Business, and HUBZone. Since obtaining these certifications, Ariana has secured additional contracts with Sundt Construction and Talion Construction, yielding an increase in sales of more than $1.3M.