Gloria Henriquez moved from her home country to the United States in 1999 for better opportunities. Though she initially worked in nursing, her passion was in the food industry. After over a decade of working up to a general manager position at a fast food chain, family reasons caused her to relocate to Des Moines. When she first returned to nursing, Gloria soon realized how much she missed the connections formed through food. Inspired by two immigrant restaurant owners she began working for, Gloria felt compelled to start her restaurant fusing Andean cuisine. However, as an immigrant new to owning a business, she lacked the knowledge and network to get started.
"Personally, I only have words of gratitude for Mr. Víctor Oyervides and the SBDC, because through these programs aimed at small business entrepreneurs is that they make you feel that Iowa is the perfect place to start your business! Having these programs available for all types of people makes you feel that we are a small but diversified community and willing to invest in the community to continue growing and create new opportunities of jobs for both business owners and others in our community."
Seeking guidance, Gloria connected with SBDC business advisor Victor Oyervides at the Evelyn K. Davis Center. Using the Business Model Canvas methodology, Victor coached Gloria through the process of creating a business plan, asking her critical questions about her concept, products, suppliers, financials, and more. With his flexible bilingual guidance tailored to Gloria's context, Victor assisted Gloria in building a solid foundation of knowledge and making key contacts with established business owners essential for her launch
In an age where online shopping offers unparalleled convenience, local customers often overlook the opportunity to support businesses within their communities. Member Marketplace is not just addressing this trend; it's igniting a transformative wave of community economic development through the vast landscape of the internet.
In collaboration with organizations across the United States, Member Marketplace's platform catalyzes small businesses, enabling them to initiate or enhance their online presence through a shared marketplace explicitly designed for their community. By uniting these enterprises under a single e-commerce umbrella, the supporting organization can simultaneously amplify exposure for all small businesses. This unified approach not only streamlines the consumer experience but also fosters community solidarity and economic growth
In the initial two years of operation, Member Marketplace encountered challenges associated with an ineffective business model, leading them to seek assistance from the SBDC and statewide programs actively.
"I'm grateful for the resources that the SBDC has provided to us, and thankful the program exists for Iowa's businesses and startups."
In 2018, Cherie sought assistance from the Kirkwood SBDC Regional Director Scott Swenson. Scott served as an advisor and mentor, aiding in the business plan, Business Model Canvas, and securing financial support for early marketing. They collaborated with Jay Wickham from Northeast Iowa SBDC to develop financial projections, investor communication strategies, and a pitch deck. Based on advice from their network and advisors, Member Marketplace made a crucial decision to overhaul its business model, setting the stage for growth just before the onset of the pandemic. Despite the initial difficulties, this strategic shift proved pivotal and positioned Member Marketplace favorably.
Upon finalizing the IEDA contract for Shop Iowa, Cherie worked with the SBDC State Office to market it to small businesses nationwide. Lisa Shimkat, State Director, facilitated national connections, expanding Member Marketplace to several states. Member Marketplace has opened marketplaces with six additional statewide SBDC networks, including California, Nevada, Washington DC, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Member Marketplace has become a strong partner for SBDCs to provide a platform for small businesses to grow.
Jayson Ryner founded ReEnvision Ag to develop disruptive agricultural technology, improving efficiency, profitability, and environmental sustainability in row-crop farming. Having grown up on a farm himself, Jayson recognized the need for innovation to help small farms stay viable amidst persisting challenges. Though passionate about his planting solution called REAP, as an entrepreneur, Jayson faced hurdles in bringing his emerging agritech to market, including securing investments, making industry connections, and developing his initial business model.
"The North Iowa Area SBDC has been integral to getting ReEnvision Ag off the ground. My advisor, Brook Boehmler, helped me explore business grants and partnerships to advance my agritech ideas toward commercialization. By facilitating connections through the NIACC Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and Venture School, the SBDC gave me and other aspiring entrepreneurs the network and knowledge all startups need. I'm thrilled to have this support as I introduce my REAP technology to revolutionize sustainable row-crop planting."
To help launch ReEnvision Ag, Jayson leveraged the entrepreneurial programs of the NIACC Pappajohn Center and North Iowa Area SBDC. Advisor Brook Boehmler assisted Jayson in navigating steps to commercialize, including exploring grants and partnerships. Jayson attended the Venture School cohort, refining his business plan and connecting with mentor Spencer Stensrude of AgVentures Alliance. Ongoing support positions Jayson for the following milestones.
Initially, uncertain farming could sustain him, Jayson's vision is for ReEnvision Ag's REAP technology to revolutionize row-crop practices for environmental and profitability gains. Winning capital and recognition in the Venture School Launch Day pitch competition, Jayson assembled initial investors to bring his sustainable solution forward. Driven to help family farms thrive through innovation, Jayson exemplifies agripreneurship in reviving the industry from within while protecting the planet. The NIACC Pappajohn Center and SBDC stand poised to champion future strategizing.