Small businesses comprise over 99% of the companies in America and, before COVID-19, they provided nearly half the jobs in the country. Small business is one of the most trusted institutions in American society today (67%), far outstripping big business in measures of public trust (25%, Gallup, 2018). Small businesses and their entrepreneurial founders exemplify the values associated with the American Dream: they believe in free enterprise and the strength of their own vision, they work hard despite obstacles and, ultimately, their success lifts up not only themselves and their families, but those around them. Small businesses are our “Main Street”, the heart and soul of our urban neighborhoods and small towns, and their owners are often the first to respond to community needs, challenges and crises. At the same time, small businesses have been among those hardest hit by the coronavirus, with 60% of small businesses closing their doors, many permanently. Black-owned small businesses have been particularly devastated, with nearly half closing by the end of April 2020 (Forbes). The purpose of Start Small, Dream BIG is to celebrate the courage, vision and tenacity of small business owners of all kinds and to highlight their contribution to our communities and the American Dream.
S2, Ep 12: Accolade
“It's the responsibility of capitalism to not just build great businesses, but to have positive impacts on the communities that we work in.”
At 23-years-old, Rajeev Singh co-founded the leading global travel and expense management firm, Concur. After 20 years working at and scaling the business, Rajeev left in search of a new endeavor that would give him a greater sense of impact and mission. Rajeev’s new venture, Accolade, seeks to reinvent how employees use their benefits and healthcare resources. In an often messy and confusing healthcare system, Rajeev’s mission is to personalize accessibility and drastically improve the experience of healthcare users.
Rajeev shares his experience with local volunteering and campaign opportunities like All In Seattle, which launched early in the pandemic and encouraged business owners to put their unused business expenses back into the community. On this week’s episode of Start Small, Dream BIG, tune in to learn about Rajeev’s entrepreneurial drive and why he sees company culture and bringing a positive impact to the community as essential factors to building a successful business.
S2, Ep 11: Street Art
“We knew we wanted to create a company that would provide not only economic opportunity for the women we were serving but also all the wraparound support so that it would help them transition to a life of independence.”
Rebel Nell is a jewelry company on a mission. Co-founder Amy Peterson started the social enterprise as a means to support women transitioning out of homelessness and domestic violence in Detroit. By providing work experience, housing support, financial training and educational opportunities, Amy and her company help women successfully enter the workforce - and make beautiful, one-of-a-kind jewelry in the process.
Hear how Amy was inspired to create the business on a run through Detroit’s local street art scene, the challenges of starting a social enterprise rather than a conventional non-profit or for-profit business and how the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program helped Amy grow Rebel Nell while keeping their mission central to their work on this week’s episode.
S2, Ep 10: GXA
“She [my mother] really wanted for me to understand the value of hard work and the value of a dollar, and she instilled that in me at a very young age. At the age of 12, my mother gave me her checkbook and told me to balance it every two weeks when she got paid. So, that really was the first beginning step of my financial education.”
On a flight to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, Alicia Makaye and her husband came up with an idea for a new business on the back of a paper napkin. They sought to build a business while fulfilling their commitment to their community and missionary work. After saving Alicia's income for a year, the couple launched GXA, an IT services company that builds technical infrastructure for other small businesses in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Now, with support from organizations like Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, GXA has been named one of the Most Inspiring Companies in Texas and one of the fastest-growing IT companies in the country.
In this episode of Start Small, Dream BIG, learn more about Alicia’s educational journey, including her time in the Air Force, the financial lessons she received from her mother and where she hopes to take GXA from here.
S2, Ep9: Powerful
“One thing that is super important in marketing is making sure that, once you have a value proposition, you activate that image in every consumer touchpoint. If you think about packaging, the messaging, the product, the website, the brochures, everything has to talk to that specific segment with that specific value proposition.”
Throughout his years in the corporate world, Carlos Ramirez helped numerous organizations rethink their marketing strategy to engage new clients and reinvigorate their brands. Always looking for a new marketing challenge, Carlos found one in the yogurt aisle of the grocery store, where he noticed the lack of products marketed towards fitness enthusiasts. Determined to create the Under Armor of yogurt, Carlos launched a high protein yogurt branded with dark colors as the first product of his new organization, Powerful Foods. Today, Powerful Foods sells a full product lineup in nearly 10,000 grocery and specialty stores in the United States and across the world.
This week, listen to a new episode of Start Small, Dream BIG to learn about Carlos’s journey from Venezuela to the United States, his early entrepreneurial endeavors and the support he has found from Endeavor Miami and their network of entrepreneurs.
S2, Ep 8: Building with Consciousness
“The American Dream to me is very simple. America owes me nothing but the opportunity to participate in a free enterprise. That is the American Dream.”
Former Marine Andy Williams knew that he wanted to bring the problem-solving mentality he developed in the armed forces into his work as a civilian. Andy found his new challenge in affordable housing and creating employment opportunities for other veterans who often are left out of the job market. His company, Rehab Warriors, teaches veterans a new skill set in home building and rehabbing, making them more employable while increasing affordable housing in lower- to moderate-income communities.
On today’s episode of Start Small, Dream BIG learn about Andy’s decision to create a for-profit rather than a non-profit company to empower veterans in the workforce and increase their economic mobility, and how Rehab Warriors’ B-Corp certification holds them to a higher standard of operation.
S2, Ep 7: Lola
“The snacks that they had at the food pantries were not as nutritious as I would've liked, and they also contained things that my children were allergic to. And so, I started thinking about what would help satiate my husband's appetite, but would also taste good to my children. After speaking with my aunts, I came up with a recipe for a granola bar that was packed with really delicious ingredients, but that was nutritiously dense.”
As a mother of five, Mary Molina began making granola bars when her family was confronted with economic hardship and had to rely on food assistance programs and food pantries. Faced with the need to provide her children with affordable, healthy and nutritious snacks, Mary began experimenting in her own kitchen, eventually perfecting her granola bar recipes. Gradually, Mary’s snacks gained fame in her neighborhood, and with the support of local small business groups and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, she was able to build her company, named Lola Snacks after her daughter, into a successful brand. Today, Lola Snacks is distributed by national retailers, like Walmart, and gives back by supporting organizations that fight hunger and local food banks to support kids who depend on food assistance.
Tune in to this week’s episode of Start Small, Dream BIG to learn about Mary’s experiences as a successful entrepreneur who had her share of challenges and how she keeps her family involved in Lola Snacks even as the company has grown far beyond her home kitchen.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Kerry does a great job of letting her guests tell their fascinating backstories and their on going evolutions as true American dreamers and achievers. More, please.