• Saturday, December 16, 2017

MWBC Success Story: Leslie Frelow, Founder of Vino 301 Wine Concierge

Sometimes you must go through several attempts before you find your stride. Leslie Frelow, Managing Director of Vino 301 Wine Concierge, became an entrepreneur because she wanted to earn a living doing what she loved. She realized that she liked wine and loved educating people about wines, specifically Maryland wines. Therefore, she merged these interests, and founded Vino 301 Wines Concierge in January 2013. Prior to creating her business, Frelow worked as a project manager in the public sector, in telecommunications in the nonprofit arena, and as a wedding planner. These experiences were good, but they weren’t her passion. So, she made a career pivot, and accepted an internship with a wine business in October 2012. This internship laid the foundation, and in December 2012, Frelow developed her business concept and interviewed wine industry experts. Soon after, Frelow launched Vino 301 in January 2013; had her first wine tour in…

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MWBC Success Story: Kayye Storm, Founder of Law Illuminators, LLC

To be a successful entrepreneur, you must find your passion. For Kayye Storm, her desire to help youth in the community led her to start Law Illuminators, LLC in February of 2016. The goal of her business is to provide early legal education to tweens, teens, and young adults, especially in the African American community. Adolescence is a time of trial and error, and there are countless instances for teens to find trouble. Through early legal education, Storm hopes her company will liberate youth from a chain of consequences such as arrest, court proceedings, juvenile detention, or incarceration before they happen. In May of 2016, Storm sought assistance from the Maryland Women’s Business Center’s Bowie location to learn how to grow her business. Her first step was to meet with Senior Business Counselor Angie Duncanson. Immediately, she began exploring various business resources and learned about the importance of having a…

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Hetty Irmer

Silver Spring counseling service wins $5,000 in business-plan competition (via Washington Post) Hetty Irmer of Four Corners Counseling was awarded the grand prize in our StartRight! 2015 Women’s Business Plan Competition. “When I attended the Power Conference luncheon last year, and watched the StartRight! winners being announced, I thought to myself, ‘Hey, they are not much different than me—maybe I could enter the competition next year!’” said Irmer. Reflecting on her decision, Irmer added, “This process has provided a structured opportunity to learn new skills in a supportive environment, and has made me think about business in a new way.” Since winning our competition, Irmer has gone from a sole proprietor to having two associates, and will open her second office in Washington, DC in June 2016.    

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Maria Kardamaki Robertson

     Maria Kardamaki Robertson, founder of The Greek Table  received one-on-one business counseling at MWBC, and the volunteer counselor’s recommendation led to her finally obtaining funding: “I had been turned down by more than 10 banks, and was ready to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t because I received funding to take my business to the next level. MWBC creates an accepting environment where it’s okay to ask for help,” said Kardamaki Robertson.  Be inspired and watch Maria in the video below.  

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Kandi Morris

MWBC client, Kandi Morris, knows a thing or two about persistence. After entering our StartRight! Business Plan Competition two consecutive years without moving on, Morris considered giving up on her business, St8YourCase, which is a global online matchmaking service for clients who need legal services and attorneys who provide them. However, MWBC business counselor, Angie Duncanson, wouldn’t let her quit. Morris was hesitant to enter the StartRight! Competition for a third time, but she knew it was her final chance. She reached out to Duncanson late December 2014 to review judge feedback line by line, and their New Year’s Eve began with a four-hour session tightening financial statements in her business plan. In the end, persistence paid off–Morris claimed second place in our StartRight! 2015 Business Plan Competition, and the $2500 cash prize was just enough to build a prototype for her fully automated site, and finally accept subscriptions to…

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Anne Balduzzi

Former StartRight! Winner to Sponsor 2015 Competition Rockville, MD – Just 3 years ago, Anne Balduzzi entered her business plan in the 2012 StartRight! Business Plan Competition; today that startup, SameGrain, is sponsoring the same event. According to SameGrain founder Anne Balduzzi, winning the 2012 StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition not only served as a catalyst for bigger things to come but also validated an idea: expand online matching beyond dating and enable people to match with others that share multiple in-depth areas in common for multiple purposes. “I wanted anyone anywhere, whether in the same room or around the world, to be able to privately connect with the people they should meet in life,” commented SameGrain founder Anne Balduzzi. The StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition is an annual initiative supporting the mission of the Maryland Women’s Business Center’s to help people start and build successful woman-owned enterprises positioned for…

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Kellee James

Kellee James founded Mercaris in November 2012 with co-founder, Chris Duesing. Mercaris is a market data service and on-line trading exchange for organic and non-GMO agricultural commodities. Mercaris exists to serve the $35 billion organic food & agriculture sector. James first saw how different the conventional ag markets could be from the organic market during the Mad Cow disease scare over 10 years ago. She remembers watching conventional cattle prices tank overnight, while demand for organic beef rose substantially. This laid the foundation for Mercaris to become an objective, third-party to track prices for organic and non-GMO storable commodities like soybeans and corn. In 2013, James was awarded $5,000 as the grand prize winner of our StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition, and credits this as giving Mercaris the momentum to continue seeking funding opportunities and earned media. “Entering this competition was a great decision because early capital came at the…

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    “Material was clearly laid out and explained. The instructor was highly knowledgeable and gave practical, real-world examples to make it easier to understand, especially to the broad range of attendees.” 

    ----------------------------------------------- Robin Menge How to Write a Successful Business Plan Workshop attendee