Mark Saavedra, Airport Barbershop

Mark Saavedra came to the small business world via happenstance. He was working at a market and learning to cut hair when his teacher suggested he take over the Truckstop Barbershop. He was unsure, but when friends and family who knew his talent and skills urged him on, his vision for himself changed. Instead of renting a hair station, he went straight to renting an established barber business.

Lena’s Soul Food, Faces of Entrepreneurship Winner

Lena’s Soul Food has become a pillar in its community of East Oakland. Not only does owner Calvin Andrews employ dozens of people, including formerly incarcerated folks, but he also gives back by giving away unsold food to locals in need, many of whom are unhoused.

Angel Garcia, AG Machining

Incorporated in 1999, AG Machining started as a two-person machine shop that did only milling. Now, it is a thriving family-owned manufacturer with 105 employees and a long list of machining capabilities. In 2009, owner Angel Garcia considered moving the operation to Mexico to cut costs.

Tim Obert & Clint Potter, Seven Stills Brewery

Seven Stills Brewery began as a bootstrapped business in a garage, making whiskeys from craft beers. Tim Obert and Clint Potter, who became friends at UC Santa Cruz, started brewing and distilling for fun at Clint’s parents’ house in Novato. 

Karim Kaderali, Santa Barbara Axxess

Santa Barbara Axxess was founded by Karim Kaderali and a friend in Santa Barbara, California in 1999. By creating an upscale local Membership Program that was unique and trackable, they figured out how to bring local businesses the right local customers. Shortly after launch, they received a startup loan from WEV to print the physical books for their members.

Don & Jake McPeck, Mess Hall Canteen

Don McPeck started his business with only an idea. His gourmet food truck, Mess Hall Canteen, got started thanks to The Food Network. An appearance on the show Food Truck Faceoff gave Mess Hall Canteen a vehicle — in more ways than one.

Pancho Kachingwe, The Hatch

Pancho Kachingwe founded The Hatch Oakland Bar & Restaurant in 2014 to cater to a booming downtown Oakland. “Everything was self-funded,” he recalls. “It was myself doing the cooking, bartending, cleaning, shopping, everything.” But the business grew fast, and by year two, he had 18 employees.

Matt Maxwell, BoltAbout

The idea to start BoltAbout came to Matt Maxwell in November 2015, when he was frustrated by public transportation options. He found the perfect alternative in the form of electric bikes. In April 2016, he decided to turn this passion into a business by launching a pilot program to lease a small fleet of e-bikes on a monthly basis. The feedback he received from his customers, largely Cal Poly SLO students, was extremely positive. Through simple word of mouth, his waiting list to lease an e-bike grew to several hundred names. In June of that year, BoltAbout joined the Summer Accelerator Program at the Cal Poly CIE SLO HotHouse, at which point they became SBDC Clients.

Donald Jacko Sr., DAD Services

DAD Services of Oakland, California is a janitorial company that specializes in providing top-notch commercial cleaning for San Francisco Bay Area businesses. The company was established in 1998 by Donald Jacko Sr., a native Oakland resident, and has always been a minority-owned, family-run business. DAD Services serves a diverse group of clients including medical institutions, investigative services, and security companies at their various locations. As part of his business philosophy, DAD Services aims to employ disadvantaged people, particularly formerly incarcerated individuals.