Alumni Spotlight: Sandstorm Design

SandyMarsicoHeadshot-Sandstorm2016The Secret to Building Networks: Giving Selflessly & Soaking Up New Ideas

In 1998, Sandy Marsico’s parents got a call from their daughter: Sandy had just quit her job and was about to start her own business. She was 24 at the time. “I’m blessed with amazing parents who fully believe in me,” Sandy reflects. “When I called my parents and told them I quit my job, they said ‘good for you!’” Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Sandy was about to make her own mark in the world.

Sandy describes her business, Sandstorm, as a “brand experience” agency. "We do brand strategy, marketing strategy, analytics, web development, user experience... it’s kind of like a merger between digital marketing and user experience.”  

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Alumni Spotlight: Washington Business Group

Finding A Larger Purpose:
Revitalizing The Capital's Ward 8

Dinesh Sharma founded Washington Business Group in 1999 out of a sense of pride for his local city. He was inspired by big companies that had an outsized impact on their local community, like Boeing in Seattle, and felt that Washington, D.C., the most powerful city in the U.S., did not have a similar example of a corporation “born and raised” in the city. So he decided to be that business, and named the company after the city.

Washington Business Group, or WBG, provides construction management, real estate development, and project support services. Originally, Dinesh, in his words, “was all about business, money, power, and gold.” He secured a location for WBG a block and a half away from the White House and focused WBG’s efforts on government contracts. Over time, however, Dinesh began to feel like his business needed a larger purpose. Around 2004, he visited Ward 8. As he explained, “D.C. has a total of 8 wards, and Ward 8 was the largest and most deprived ward, with the highest poverty and highest unemployment – about 35% unemployment.” In 2007, he decided to move his business there.

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Alumni Spotlight: Hialeah Meter

strategySustainable Transition Plans:
Transforming a Mom and Pop Business

For years, the founder of Hialeah Meter Company had planned to pass down the business to a family member. It was a true “family business,” according to the founder’s daughter-in-law Lisa Senior. Lisa explained, “By age 70, he was already losing luster for growing a business, for doing anything in the business to change it. So there was a ten-year period where it was a mom-and-pop company. Everything [was] status quo.” Hialeah Meter had a successful business model, but Lisa was troubled by the lack of plans to grow the company.

In 2008, Lisa became the unlikely family member to take up the family mantle. “I really only wanted to be a mom,” Lisa recalls, despite her degree in business and marketing. But after she became the general manager, she felt a responsibility to her employees to transform the business: “Knowing that these people depended on my father-in-law, and now me, for their livelihood – that was my motivation.”

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Instructor Series: Hal Brown

Meet Hal Brown, an Interise instructor who has been teaching the SBA Emerging Leaders class in Austin, TX since 2015. Hal is the founder and CFO of Home Health Company.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am a Navy veteran and retiree with 23 years, 11 ½ months of military service. My wife (Shannon) and I founded Universal Nursing Services of Texas in 2005. I am a native of North Carolina, and I have enjoyed a full military career, and I am enjoying the challenges of business ownership and the experiences as an adjunct professor. After retirement, we decided to build a home and a business in the San Antonio, Texas area. We have raised two children together, Terrance (a Navy Submariner), and Olivia (gaining working experience).

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Alumni Spotlight: Maud Borup

When Christine Lantinen (2011 Emerging Leader participant) purchased Maud Borup in 2005, she took over an iconic business in the Twin Cities. Maud Borup had been a successful Minnesota-based boutique confections company with customers including the Queen of England. Her move to transform the company from being a business-to-consumer company to a business-to-business wholesaler was therefore particularly bold. Closing retail store locations in 2006 was one of the most difficult decisions she ever had to make. But her strategic move paid off: after implementing her growth plan and converting the business to wholesale, revenues increased from $100,000 to $2 million annually, and they continue to grow.

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Instructor Series: Lin O'Neill

Meet Lin O'Neill, an Interise Instructor who has been teaching the SBA Emerging Leaders class in Dallas, TX since 2009. Lin has been working with entrepreneurs for many years and she is passionate about helping them achieve and maximize their goals.

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