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Sarah Hooper and Amanda Varnell

Chattanooga, TN

INDUSTRY: FOOD SERVICES
BUSINESS: DISH T’PASS
YEAR FOUNDED: 2012
PROGRAM: 2015 NEXT LEVEL CHATTANOOGA

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

Sarah Hooper and her business partner, Amanda Varnell, launched their catering company and cooking school in 2012 on a foundation of their shared “love for all things food.” The business quickly came to be known and loved in the community for fresh, made-from-scratch, delicious catering for events big and small. Sarah and Amanda’s hard work paid off in 2016 when the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Congress awarded Dish T’Pass an annual small business award, just weeks after the business first hit the $1 million revenues mark.

ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

“Sarah and I are all about relationships. The ability to form relationships with our clients and other small business continues to propel us.” says Amanda.

 

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Catherine Downey

ATLANTA, GA

INDUSTRY: MEDIA
BUSINESS: CATMEDIA
YEAR FOUNDED:1997
PROGRAM: 2014 STREETWISE ‘MBA’™

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

Catherine Downey founded CATVIDEO in 1997, building on her experience in television production and media and project management. As a single mom, she built a thriving business while also caring for her young family. Through years of hard work and sacrifice, the company thrived, and with her children grown, Catherine redoubled her efforts to meet the ever-changing needs of federal and commercial clients. In 2011 she changed the company name to CATMEDIA to reflect its expanding services. In 2014, Catherine participated in the StreetWise ‘MBA’™ program.

AWARD-WINNING GROWTH

What started as a one-person operation has now grown to 33 employees generating $17 million in revenue. A true innovator, Downey is named on several patent-pending training and communications technologies. Under her leadership, CATMEDIA was named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in America in 2014 and 2015, and in 2017 it was ranked fifth on Fortune’s 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Companies in the U.S. In 2016, Catherine won the Small Business Alliance’s prestigious Georgia Small Business Person of the Year award.

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Jerry Kennedy

Anadarko, OK

INDUSTRY: FOOD SERVICES
BUSINESS: DELAWARE NATION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (DNEDA)
YEAR FOUNDED: 2009
PROGRAM: SBA EMERGING LEADERS INITIATIVE, OKLAHOMA CITY, 2013
“When I joined DNEDA, I developed a plan that started with creating relationships. If we were going to create jobs, we needed to grow profitable businesses. Our small team needed help.”

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

The Delaware Nation launched the Delaware Nation Economic Development Authority (DNEDA) in 2009 with the goal of creating profitable businesses that would provide employment to Delaware tribe members and citizens of Anadarko, a city of 6,700 known as the “Indian Capital of the Nation.” The poverty rate among Native Americans in Anandarko, including the 1,500 members of the Delaware Nation, is over thirty percent. NDEDA faced a challenging start. When Jerry Kennedy was hired as CEO in 2011, DNEDA had only three employees, was losing money, and had made little progress toward the mission of fostering economic prosperity through entrepreneurial ventures.

CREATIVE GROWTH

DNEDA reached a turning point when Jerry enrolled in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program, which utilizes Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum. The program guided Kennedy and his colleagues through an analysis of their businesses and helped them inventory their resources. They formulated a three-year growth plan that involved an initial strategy of partnering with bigger, more successful businesses until they were ready to take on primary positions in new contracts, and eventually purchase one of their partner companies. “It was a tremendous help,” Kennedy says. “Without that guidance we would have gone down the wrong path.” Today, with $42 million in revenues and 300 employees, DNEDA is meeting its goal of providing local jobs and helping to bolster the regional economy. In its new three-year plan, the company aims to reach 100 million in revenues and 600 employees by diversifying relationships in new sectors.

 

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David Warner

Boston, MA

INDUSTRY: FOOD SERVICES
BUSINESS: CITY FEED AND SUPPLY
YEAR FOUNDED: 2000
PROGRAM: 2004 INTERISE BOSTON COHORT
“The idea for City Feed and Supply was inspired by the available space, and the neighborhood.”

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

David Warner and his wife, Kristine Cortese, opened City Feed and Supply in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston in the 1990s, a time of rapid change for that neighborhood. David and Kristine remembered the role of feed and supply stores from their childhoods in the Midwest and Southwest, not only in supplying provisions but as community hubs. In addition to the typical convenience store essentials of bread, milk, and coffee, the new store offered fresh, locally grown vegetables and healthy, natural, specialty and organic foods. The new business owners built strong relationships with local suppliers, hired a staff of 20 neighborhood residents, and encouraged customers to linger and to make suggestions about new products they’d like to see in the store.

GROWTH OPPORTUNITY

City Feed’s popularity grew steadily. David and Kristine knew they had the opportunity to grow, but neither of them had prior experience running a business. When David received an invitation to join the Interise StreetWise ‘MBA’™ program, he accepted enthusiastically. With the new knowledge and peer support her received, the second store, City Feed and Supply on Centre Street, opened in 2008. The new location is three times the size of the original store, with space for more local and regional products, an expanded café menu, and additional seating. The business also scaled up by adding catering and online shopping components. City Feed now employs over 40 people and has won numerous awards.

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Kate and Jason McCrea

Boston, MA

INDUSTRY: FOOD SERVICES
BUSINESS: McCrea's Candies
YEAR FOUNDED: 2009
PROGRAM: 2014 INTERISE BOSTON FOOD INDUSTRY
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and what this crew has accomplished.”
BUSINESS OVERVIEW
McCrea’s Candies was founded in 2009 by Jason McCrea, who was soon joined in the family business by his wife Kate. McCrea’s is a Boston-based candy company specializing in caramel. McCrea’s caramels are made from only real food ingredients, through an old-fashioned long cook process to maximize flavor—their Black Lava Sea Salt Caramel was awarded the prestigious Good Food Award in 2016. McCrae’s sells directly to customers, and wholesales to retailers across the country as well as to specialty food makers who use caramel as ingredients in their products. The company is located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, where the McCrea family also lives.

ROOTED IN COMMUNITY
For Jason and Kate, business and community are intertwined. “I think that’s part of our success, being able to be close by, being in our own community,” says Kate. The McCreas’ long-time neighbor, Head of Operations Jim LaFond-Lewis, rounds out the company’s leadership team, and most of their employees also live close by. The McCreas take their role as employers seriously. Some of their most valued employees began as high school students, and they describe the experience of workforce development as gratifying and humbling. “Give people a chance, communicate with them, have integrity with them, and they will do amazing things,” adds Jason. Through the Interise program, Jason and Kate were inspired to begin thinking seriously about a long-term plan to keep McCrea’s Candies running as a successful, community-oriented business in Hyde Park for many years to come.

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Jamil Brown

Somerset, NJ

INDUSTRY: SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
BUSINESS: HYBRIDGE LEARNING GROUP
YEAR FOUNDED: 2006
PROGRAM: 2016 EMERGING LEADERS NEWARK
“I’m encouraging the growth of the company but also looking at the individuals as well. What are their goals and how can their goals help the company and, in a sense, help them too.”
BUSINESS OVERVIEW
Hybridge Learning Group was started in 2006 as a way for Jamil Brown to pursue his passion for helping children with autism. Today, his business helps about over 100 children “in the areas of communication, social skills, and behavior management” across New Jersey. 15 percent of their work is done with schools, who look for additional support whether in the form of professional development or in-class support, while the other 85 percent is done in homes on a one-to-one basis. Jamil sees his business as supporting parents prepare their children to become fulfilled and productive members of society, children who have conditions that no parent is prepared for. Today, Hybridge Learning Group is powered by 12 full-time employees and 61 part-time employees. Hybridge has grown quickly, making almost $2M in revenues last year with plans over the next two years to open three additional locations.

LEARNING TO INNOVATE
For years, finding talent has been a significant barrier for Hybridge. “Because what we do is very technical, the skill set involved isn’t ubiquitous,” Jamil points out. “So there aren’t a lot of people who can do it.” This is a common problem among high skill employers like Hybridge. Especially in low- or moderate-income communities, it can be hard to find people with the certifications that the job demands. In 2015, however, Jamil found an innovative solution to his problem.

Because Hybridge makes most of its revenue through insurance coverage, there are still a large number of parents who do not have the necessary coverage to receive Hybridge’s service. Jamil realized he could take these children, who would not receive therapy otherwise, and support them by opening up a free to low-cost clinic, where some parents pay no more than 30 percent of the actual cost. This clinic gives uncertified employees the training they need to become certified, and provides children who are not covered by insurance with the care they otherwise would not get. Today, about 40 percent of his employees come from service in this clinic. This training clinic has not only solved Jamil’s hiring problem, but it also has been a huge asset to the community by providing free to low cost quality therapy to children who need it.

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