Cohorts Announced for Second Round of SBA’s ScaleUp Initiative

On Tuesday, January 12, Your Management Team announced the participants for the second annual ScaleUp America program sponsored by the Small Business Administration. YMT is one of a select group of 15 businesses or organizations across the country to deploy the program that is designed to help small businesses take their operations to the next level.

Martin Golden, Columbus district director of the SBA, shared why these small, established businesses are so important.

“About 60 percent of jobs in the United States are created by small businesses, but of those jobs 92 percent are created by existing small businesses that are getting larger,” he says. “Ironically though, that’s the area that gets the least amount of attention and funding and has the weakest infrastructure to support that, and so we at the SBA want to do something about that.”

The ScaleUp America program provides targeted assistance to established business owners to help them overcome obstacles and grow their business. When these businesses succeed it’s not only creating more jobs, but driving the local economy. Golden says that when small businesses generate revenue, that money is more likely to stay in the local economy.

Martin also shared that these scaleup businesses have a positive outlook on where things are headed, revealed through a National Small Business Association 2015 mid-year economic report.

“The number of small business owners who said they plan to hire new employees in the coming 12 months has gone up from 23 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2015,” Golden says. “After completion of this program you’re going to be positioned to add your business to that 28 percent.”

Columbus restauranteur and successful entrepreneur Cameron Mitchell was also on hand to share his journey of growing from one restaurant to 48, and the bumps and triumphs along the way.

On the day Mitchell quit his job to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, “The first thing I did was write out my company culture and values,” he says.

Before a lease, before a menu, he decided what kind of restaurant company he wanted to build, and has been working at it ever since. That foundation was built around five questions, questions he thinks every business organization needs to ask itself.

1. What do you want to be?
2. Who are we?
3. What is our mission?
4. What is your role in this company?
5. What is our goal?

Mitchell wanted to build a strong backbone for his restaurant group so it could survive and thrive with or without him, 15 or 100 years down the road. His associates have become that backbone.

“Our associates come first,” Mitchell says.

While many restaurant groups would be inclined to say customers come first, Mitchell begs to differ. The associates are the face of the business and hold the customer experience in their hands. He believes that if he takes care of his people, the people will take care of the guests, and the guests take care of the company.

The restauranteur is often asked, what his secret is for hiring the best people.

“We get the same people everybody else gets…but the difference is how we treat our people and we treat them second to none,” Mitchell says.

The journey hasn’t been without its ups and downs, from recessions to bad decisions, but 2015 was the restaurant group’s best year ever, with 2016 on track to be another record year. Much of it comes from a place of doing whatever it takes to succeed and grow the business, and a simple goal always guides the way.

“One goal stays the same 24/7, 365, and that is to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today,” Mitchell says.

After Mitchell’s story of success, cohort members shared why they want to be a part of the ScaleUp program, hoping to find their own stories of success. From improving operational efficiencies, to creating consistency, to learning how to better support employees, all of the business owners are ready to take it to the next level.

The first cohort for 2016 represents a divers range of businesses, including:

  • – Curtis Clark, The Pension and Retirement Group LLC
  • – Eric Crawford, Final Touch Painting Services
  • – Kitt Doss, Samba Fresh LLC
  • – Noor Elqatto, NME Builders & Designers LLC
  • – Gerald Fitch, One Six Security, LLC.
  • – Alice Foeller, SiteInSight
  • – Brad Griffith, Buckeye Interactive 
  • – Roy Hodge, REH Systems Solutions, LLC 
  • – Michael Martin, PuroClean Certified Restoration Specialists
  • – Maria and Manny Mendoza, Manny Pools. LLC
  • – Margery Murphy, Acadia Lead Management Services
  • – Will Wark & Briana Tindall, Zone Personal Fitness
  • – David Tolford, David Tolford, LLC
  • – Richard Upton, J Gumbo
  • – Lorraine Walker, Silver Bridge Coffee Company, LLC 
  • – Catherine Zupan, Discover Publications 


The second all-female business owner cohort includes:

  • – Helen Colon, Ameriprise Financial
  • – Shakeba DuBose, The DuBose Law Firm, LLC
  • – Pamela Ellis, Compass Education Strategies
  • – Shellee Fisher, Shellee Fisher Photography & Design, LLC 
  • – Susan Fortner, Bowers PR 
  • – Jeanne Gokcen, FutureCom Technologies
  • – Margaret Hewitt, HLMS Sustainability Solutions
  • – Marta Hughes, Junk King
  • – Linda Kick, Our CupCakery
  • – Kelley Lewis, BungalowBranch, Ltd 
  • – Kelly Lybrook, LIZard Apparel & Promotions
  • – April Pollock & Brad Cullman, C-3 Group 
  • – Amy Szabo & Catherine Brennan, a&c grants and communications
  • – Portia Yiamouyiannis, Portia’s Creations LLC

YMT3The program has shown its success in taking businesses to the next level. Read the stories of some of the businesses that have been through the program here.

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