Category: Central

Springbok Analytics, Charlottesville

Springbok Analytics

Springing to muscle mastery

Received grants and investment capital, totaling over $1 million, as beta customers converted to sales

Springbok Analytics is at the leading edge of revolutionizing how the world views human muscle. To build the necessary infrastructure for the business to launch and assess the market opportunities nationally and internally, they turned to the Central Virginia SBDC.

Founded on technology invented by an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Virginia (UVA), Springbok Analytics developed a first-of-its-kind, AI-driven platform to visualize and analyze individual human muscles. “Our technology replaces the manual and subjective nature of reading and analyzing MRIs through a patented AI and machine-learning-based approach,” explains CEO Scott Magargee. “The result is a better-than-human analysis of musculature that helps health experts make more informed decisions about individual care.” 

These dynamic visualization options give groundbreaking insight to support strength-and-conditioning coaches and trainers, surgeons, physical therapists, and researchers. An extremely valuable tool, it can reduce the risk of injury, guide personalized physical therapy and rehabilitation, and optimize performance. “Our singular goal is to give people previously unavailable insight and organize it in different but easily digestible ways, supporting healthcare’s transformation to precision medicine and personalized care.” Scott says.

The UVA Licensing and Ventures Group referred Scott to Rebecca Haydock, the SBDC’s Executive Director. “Rebecca and her SBDC colleagues have been an invaluable resource for Springbok,” Scott says. “Each counselor with whom I’ve interacted has been very engaged and truly enthusiastic in their support, whether in making introductions to potential investors, connecting us with other public and private resources, or providing guidance on different aspects of the business.” 

“One of the biggest value-adds for us,” Scott continues, “has been the research and analysis provided by Aaron Miller, Director of the Virginia SBDC’s International Business Development Program, and his team. They produced a comprehensive market research report on the international clinical trial opportunities available, and potential strategic partners for Springbok that would have taken us several months and a lot of money to replicate. I could not have been more impressed with their work product. As a result, we are well-positioned to launch formal business development efforts on a global scale in the coming months.”

Scott summarizes, “From my perspective, the SBDC does an incredible job identifying where the organizational gaps are and where they can add the most value — whether it’s a mom-and-pop shop or an emerging tech company trying to get off the ground. Any small business, whether mature or early stage, should leverage all of the resources the SBDC has to offer.” 

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Pearl Island Foods, Sober Pierre

Pearl Island Foods

A showcase of Caribbean flavors

Received a $146,500 loan from the SBA and increased sales by $650,000

Sober Pierre initially came to Charlottesville to get his MBA at the University of Virginia’s Darden School. This, along with his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, made him a very desirable candidate for corporate America. He held positions at Emerson, Caterpillar, and John Deere. After some reflection, he recognized that his passion wasn’t for the corporate world; he wanted to follow his heart and do something on his own terms.

In 2013, Sober founded Pearl Island Foods to showcase his Haitian culture, make flavorful Caribbean food accessible to the Charlottesville community, and to one day create job opportunities in his family’s beloved country of Haiti.

The company began with the production and sales of a unique brand of spicy coleslaw known as Pikliz. Since then, Sober has joined forces with Executive Chef Javier Figueroa-Ray and successfully launched Pearl Island Catering and Pearl Island Cafe, featuring authentic Caribbean cuisine accessible to the Charlottesville area.

Pearl Island’s success didn’t come without growing pains. Sober sought help from the Central Virginia SBDC along the way. Over the years, Business Advisor Dillon Franks has provided research and business-strategy advice and has assisted Sober with obtaining angel funding. In the wake of the 2020 pandemic, the SBDC’s Business Communications Advisor Greg Dorazio assisted Sober and his team as they pivoted the business to a food-delivery strategy. To help Sober with personnel challenges caused by COVID-19, Sober leaned on Yolunda Harrell, an SBDC Business Advisor.

Sober has also found time to give back to the local community, serving on the Heal Charlottesville grant fund review committee (part of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation), and on the board of City Schoolyard Garden. He is also a graduate of the Board Development Academy, a program of Charlottesville’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

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Your Dinner, Bridgewater

Your Dinner

Success to-go with the SBDC

Invested $45,000 in equipment, created 3 jobs and retained 2 jobs

When Diane Roll hit the streets with one of the first food trucks in the Rockingham/Augusta county region in 2011, her first stop was the Shenandoah Valley SBDC. “Just because you’re a good cook doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good business person,” Diane says. “The SBDC helped me find a bank that would give me the small business loan I needed when I first got started.”

Diane’s original plan included “grab-and-go” dinners prepared in advance and sold at nearby factories for $6. The idea never took off. “But during that time, I built relationships with companies that would pick up the tab for us to come in and cook,” Diane relates. “That led us into catering.” Another opportunity came when the town of Dayton approached Diane about opening a restaurant. “I was lucky enough to open Dayton Tavern, a full-service restaurant,” she adds. “We had a higher-end clientele there — not to mention the best steaks in 100 miles!”

Diane’s restaurant and catering business continued to expand and prosper, until, as she puts it, “2020 happened.” “COVID temporarily closed the restaurant,” she explains. “We had zero catering and $250,000 in canceled events.” Undeterred by this downtime, Diane began to think about her original idea of “grab-and-go” dinners. She started selling freshly prepared family meals through the Dayton Tavern, a business venture that quickly became popular. “I don’t care how much money you have, everybody likes meatloaf,” she says.

With the “grab-and-go” dinner concept (renamed Your Dinner) now off the back burner, Diane went back to the SBDC for advice. Advisor Don Crawford met with Diane to discuss management, operations, financing, and marketing. The SBDC team also arranged for Diane and her staff to meet with the SBDC’s Retail & Restaurant Advisor Marc Willson.

“We already had a rental space for our catering business,” Diane says. “I decided to rent the whole building for the Your Dinner business. Since we didn’t need all of it, I contacted several other small business owners I knew about sharing the space.” Diane invested her own money to purchase display cases and appliances and to hire three employees to launch Your Dinner. The commitment also allowed two other small businesses to re-locate there and expand. “We now have gourmet popcorn from PrePOPsterous and produce from Radella’s in the North River Marketplace.”

Your Dinner offers everything from fresh soups, salads, and sandwiches to pre-made dinners to take home and heat up. “When you take our food home, put it on your own plate, and heat it in your own microwave, it feels like you made it. There’s a good feeling to it.”

Diane believes in down-home hospitality. It works for her, and she’s happy to pass it on. She is also appreciative of the help she’s received from the SBDC. 

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AquaFloat & Charlottesville Hyberbaric

AquaFloat & Charlottesville HyperBaric

Water and air: Finding success with the basics

AquaFloat saw a 20% increase in sales between 2018 and 2019, plus a $400,000 capital infusion. In addition, BB&T Bank provided a loan of $300,000 for Charlottesville HyperBaric.

Ted O’Neill launched AquaFloat in October 2014. Ted had been a practicing pharmacist for almost 23 years before he discovered float therapy for sensory deprivation. He was intrigued by the seemingly endless application of the treatment, which involves floating in highly salinated water in a completely dark tank. Since floatation therapy was a rapidly expanding market, Ted wanted to explore the business opportunities. He knew that Charlottesville would be an ideal place to launch his new business.

A fellow business owner connected Ted with Betty Hoge, Director of the Central Virginia (CV) SBDC, who charted a tailored plan of action for Ted that proved successful. “Hearing Betty’s objective suggestions and advice were very much welcomed. I spent one or two sessions with her providing the details about AquaFloat — its history, current status, and my vision for the future,” Ted explains. “She began collaborating with me to achieve the goals I had set.”

AquaFloat opened to an enthusiastic welcome from the Charlottesville market. In the past six years, the business, which also offers specialty massage and infrared sauna sessions, has grown, thanks in part to collaborating with Betty. Between 2018 and 2019, AquaFloat saw an approximate 20% increase in sales, thanks to the partnership with the CV SBDC.

As AquaFloat thrived, Ted turned to Betty for assistance with a second closely entwined business endeavor, Charlottesville HyperBaric. This facility will focus on hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which research shows works as a primary or complementary therapy for autism, strokes, PTSD, enhanced wound healing, pre- and post-surgery recovery, and more than 40 common conditions.

Once again, Betty readily assisted Ted with the “humongous” business plan for the sister company. “I made Betty aware of CHB early in our relationship but didn’t begin working on a business plan until 2018,” Ted says. “Betty was essential to the creation of the business plan for Charlottesville HyperBaric. She coached me on its structure, syntax, and necessary financials. After a lengthy process, we are excited to announce a March 2020 launch date.”

According to Ted, Betty has been the key to Charlottesville HyperBaric’s successful materialization. The business received a $300,000 SBA 7(a) loan through BB&T Bank in October 2019. Ted feels Betty’s coaching gave the team greater credibility with the bank because of the long-standing relationship between BB&T and the CV SBDC.

“This would never have happened without her help,” Ted says. “Betty is an unbelievably competent and enthusiastic supporter of small business. She has helped me beyond measure.”

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The Rooms Up There

The Rooms Up There

Up and away: Rooms at the top in Marshall

Dan Moore received a $100,000 bank loan to expand The Drawing Room and develop a commercial kitchen.

In a world flooded with ubiquitous hotels, motels, and unfiltered Airbnbs, Dan Moore envisioned offering something different. “I only see what will be when I look at space,” Dan says with a nod to his irrepressible designer eye. When Dan saw the stately building on Main Street in Marshall, he knew it would be home to The Rooms Up There. Three rooms to be exact, as well as Dan’s successful design business located on the first floor along with another small shop.

The structure that houses The Rooms Up There is over 200 years old. Portions of the building have previously housed a fabric shop, a stone storehouse, and a two-story log house. Dan explains, “Now, it is best described as an inn.” The “rooms” themselves are located over the first floor. Guests access them via a private courtyard and then through a coded side entrance upstairs to one of three upper rooms. Each room has a king-size bed and a private bath featuring Italian marble.

For Dan, the beauty of The Rooms Up There lies in how seamlessly it blends into Marshall’s quaint scene. “You would never know we were here. We have rehabilitated and renewed existing space which I think is appropriate in a town like Marshall,” he says. With over 27 wineries in the area, it’s an ideal getaway location for folks looking to enjoy a weekend away from the Northern Virginia and DC traffic.

The Lord Fairfax SBDC was there when Dan needed help with financial projections, market data research, and a marketing plan. “Christine Kriz is sort of like a celebrity here in Marshall,” Dan explains. “She and her team got me out and introduced me to the community. She not only holds seminars, she attends them too.”

The Rooms Up There was named Best of Fauquier 2019 in the hotel/lodging category. Dan feels certain that his business would not have received this recognition without the support of the Lord Fairfax SBDC and Christine Kriz. “I would definitely credit that to the SBDC,” he says. “Christine is ground zero for me. I couldn’t have done it without her help.”

The Rooms Up There also offers space for private events and catering in its banquet hall, The Drawing Room. Dan hopes to expand this space over the coming months with the development of a commercial kitchen. He has his eye on going after Best of Fauquier for another year. “I want to see if we can do it again,” he says. “In April we will go into our fourth year, and I’m excited to see what’s next.”

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Box Office Brewery

Box Office Brewery

Box office hit: Brewery wins big

Box Office Brewery created 43 jobs.

One of the most popular places in downtown Strasburg to grab a pint, catch the game, or listen to live music is Box Office Brewery, owned by Tom Price and Karl Roulston. But it was not always that way. Built in 1918, the spacious location at 177 East King Street was originally the Strand Theater, believed to be the first movie house in Shenandoah County.

The high, pressed-tin ceilings caught the eyes of Tom and Karl when they were scouting for a location. “When they visited the building, they knew the high ceiling would accommodate the brewing equipment,” explains Mary Price, Tom’s wife. They were eager to have a role in maintaining such a meaningful piece of community history. “It has been a gathering place since 1920,” Mary adds. “We are proud of the environment and space and what it has offered to the community.”

For Tom and Karl, the path into beer brewing was unexpected. Karl dabbled in home brewing but didn’t find real results until he started milling his own barley. Tom, on the other hand, had always considered himself a wine connoisseur. “The story all makes sense if you know what you’re looking for,” says Tom, a former engineer. “The whole brewing side — the design of the brew house and how it functions — is all engineering. The actual brewing process — how yeast converts sugar into alcohol — is all biology and chemistry.”

After they carefully and painstakingly turned their love of barley and hops into a marketable product, the pair decided to pull the trigger on the large downtown property. They approached Christine Kriz, Director of the Lord Fairfax SBDC for help. “The SBDC was a key resource for assisting us with building a business model that we could use to get financing. They also provided resources and templates when it came time to fulfill our human resource needs and hire staff,” says Mary. “Christine Kriz was always available. When we contacted her, she was always quick to respond.” With the help of the SBDC, Tom and Karl were able to secure a major investment to help fully renovate the building while maintaining several of the original murals.

Since opening last year, Box Office Brewery has hired over 20 additional staff members including a head brewer and head chef. They received numerous local accolades including the Northern Virginia Daily’s Best of 2019 for beer selection/restaurant, beer selection/retail, and best Brewery and Sports Bar. Thanks to the strong business plan and strategy developed with Christine and the Lord Fairfax SBDC, Box Office Brewery is a hit.

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Deep Run Roadhouse

Deep Run Roadhouse

Roads to growth

Deep Run Roadhouse supports 17 jobs, has 7-figure sales, and developed a growth plan that involves opening a third restaurant.

Well-known chef, Paul Hubbard, cooked at upscale Richmond restaurants like Chez Max, Franco’s, and Sensi’s, but found his niche in humble barbecue. “I did finedining for a while, and I got tired of cooking for one percent of the population,” Paul explains. “What I truly love about barbecue is that the same attention to detail and the same high quality ingredients are there, but the appreciation comes from a much wider audience.”

Paul previously co-founded Alamo Barbecue with business partner Christopher Davis. In 2013, he sold his half to Christopher in order to launch Deep Run Roadhouse. Since then Deep Run Roadhouse’s mouth-watering offerings of Tex Mex, southern comfort food, and barbecue have proven successful in the Richmond market. In 2016, he opened a second Deep Run Roadhouse near the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.

Paul had no intention of stopping at two restaurants. But he wanted help as he weighed options for further growth. He contacted Professor Louis Martinette at the University of Mary Washington, who leads a program that allows MBA students to work on real-life projects. Louis, in turn, asked Brian Baker, the SBDC Executive Director, to join Paul’s project. According to Brian, “Deep Run Roadhouse had cash flow and potentially favorable financing, but Paul wanted to assess the current market positions and the current service channels to determine the best market opportunities for growth.”

The MBA students were divided into five teams, and their assignment was to present the pros and cons of the growth option assigned to their team. The five options included (1) staying in Richmond and buying the restaurants’ real estate, (2) expanding the Deep Run Roadhouse into new territories, (3) licensing or franchising the Roadhouse concept, (4) catering with food trucks, and (5) establishing a barbecue “academy” to teach other restauranteurs. Ultimately, Paul chose (1) and (2) — opening another Roadhouse, this time in Hampton Roads, and buying the real estate. “This is an ongoing engagement to help Deep Run Roadhouse move to the next level,” Brian explains.

According to Paul, the process was incredibly eye opening, as the teams worked with him through such issues as a competitive growth analysis and the development of detailed mission and vision statements. “There are a lot of things to take into consideration when you take the next steps,” says Paul. “When you own any business, you are looking for ways of creating responsible growth. This process put so many things into context for me.”

If there is one thing Paul loves more than cooking barbecue, it’s seeing something come together. As he plans for 2020, it is clear that everything is progressing well for this young chef. Paul explains, “To open up a restaurant and be successful, you have to love what you do. And I truly do.”

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Friendly City Dance Room

Friendly City Dance Room

Room to dance: Dance studio spins into the spotlight

The Fusaros obtained a $19,500 Harrisonburg Biz Loan, started a new business, and currently support 4 jobs.

Phillip Fusaro started dancing at nine years old. For Phillip, dancing is a life-long passion and a way to bring entire communities together. He and his wife Erin founded Friendly City Dance Room in Harrisonburg and based the business on their strong belief that individuals can achieve a better quality of life through dancing. With Phillip as choreographer and Erin as artistic director, the couple seeks to make dance accessible to folks of all ages, incomes, and experience levels. 

Creating a successful dance studio was not without its challenges. The Fusaros found themselves unsure of how to turn their love of dance into a profitable business. “We were put in touch with the Shenandoah Valley (SV) SBDC by a fellow business owner,” Phillip says. “Jalal and Allison helped us so much.” Allison Dugan is the Assistant Director and Business Advisor at the SV SBDC; Jalal Maqableh is a PhD candidate at James Madison University and an SBDC Business Advisor specializing in inclusive entrepreneurship.

After attending a Smart Start workshop hosted by the SV SBDC, the Fusaros were eager to learn the next steps for business ownership. Over the subsequent months, the SBDC team assisted the Fusaros with defining goals, target marketing, social media and website development, sales, accounting, legal and HR issues, funding, and cash-flow management.

“I’m basically a visionary, so Allison’s help with all the details was essential to our start-up success,” Phillip says. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the SBDC.”

Allison guided Erin and Phillip through the process of applying for a Harrisonburg Biz Loan of $19,500. “Allison’s assistance throughout that process was invaluable. The capital was vital to Friendly City’s start,” Phillip explains. The loan was used to convert office space into a welcoming studio with special floating vinyl floors, a quality sound system, and furniture and décor to make it a truly unique space.

Since opening in March 2019, Friendly City Dance Room continues to live up to its mission of providing a deeply inclusive space for people of all abilities to experience dance and improve their lives. “I love seeing the connections in the studio between people who wouldn’t otherwise meet,” Phillip concludes.

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Wrap Buddies

Wrap Buddies

It’s a wrap with the SBDC

Bret Wortman credits the SBDC for a “huge upswing” in Facebook hits. Wrap Buddies sales have increased an impressive 250% from 2017 to 2018.

Wrap Buddies began with a gift that never got wrapped. “I was on the floor trying to wrap gifts for my kids,” Wrap Buddies Founder Bret Wortman says. “Working on the floor, you have to get on your knees to cut across the roll of wrapping paper. Then the paper starts to curl back, and the tape’s hiding underneath something.” Bret decided to take his wrapping project to a nearby table. “That was even worse,” he says with a laugh.

A wrapping session that was not a wrap drove Bret to his workshop. In half an hour, he put together some wooden blocks and dowels. Although he didn’t know it at the time, he’d just produced the prototype for his new business. “I came in the house and attached my blocks to the table,” Bret continues. “I added a roll of wrapping paper — and viola! The roll of paper stayed in place, and I could cut a straight line for the first time in my life.”

Bret decided his device was too good to keep to himself. His wife agreed. “She said, ‘You have to figure out how to make those for other people!’” Bret followed his wife’s advice. In 2016 he launched Wrap Buddies, and it’s been evolving ever since.

Through the Mason Enterprise Center-Fauquier, Bret made a connection with the Lord Fairfax SBDC. Bret made an appointment with SBDC Marketing Counselor Dale Maza. “At that first meeting, Dale and I talked about everything from material choice in manufacturing my product to creating a marketing plan,” Bret says. “I had been doing things fairly scattershot and needed to focus.”

Dale put Bret in contact with SBDC Marketing Counselor Jeff Nicely. “Jeff worked with me to hone my message, understand my target market, and come up with ad copy and a template,” Bret relates. “He also showed me how to focus on those most likely to buy rather than hitting everyone in the U.S.”

In addition to the one-on-one consulting, Bret benefited from an SBDC seminar on “Finding your Value.” The course focused on expressing to others the value of a product or service. “That course was pivotal for me,” Bret adds. “I’m now scheduled for two more. Getting our story told has been the big challenge for us all along.”

The course also gave Bret ideas for future growth. “You start with one idea, and it expands from that,” he adds. “I feel like I now have the tools to make my Christmas marketing campaign on Facebook as effective as possible.” Bret credits the SBDC for a “huge upswing” in Facebook hits. “I definitely attribute that to Jeff’s help,” he adds. In addition, Wrap Buddies sales have increased an impressive 250 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“With the SBDC’s help we now have a great grip on where we are,” Bret concludes. “We’ve also got some strong future goals and a way to know what to change as we reach those goals.” Bret sees the SBDC as a gift that keeps on giving — with or without wrapping.

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Paladin Bar & Grill

Paladin Bar & Grill

No bull about it: Paladin Bar & Grill bucks into town

Paladin Bar & Grill created 40 new jobs, landed $550,000 in capitol infusion, and went from $0 to $600,000 in revenue in one year.

It definitely wasn’t their first rodeo, but Craig Spaulding and William Waybourn, owners of Paladin Bar & Grill in Stephens City, decided to embrace the wild west spirit all the same.

A massive 1,100-pound bull named Paladin dominates the front entrance to Paladin Bar & Grill. The statue, created by Bettye Hamblen Turner, is constructed from stainless and carbon steel and recycled motorcycle and car parts. “Paladin was created on the LBJ Ranch in Texas and is one of five Longhorn sculptures. This one was the fifth in the series and the only one on public viewing, as the other four are in private collections,” William explains. The eatery’s namesake has been bullish about pulling in curious patrons and photo-op hungry passersby since opening its doors in March of 2018.

Craig and William are no strangers to entrepreneurship. They own Long View Gallery in D.C., the largest private gallery in the capital city, as well as Screen Archives, a massive online film-and-music distributor. When it came to the always-fickle restaurant scene, Craig and William were glad to have the assistance of the Lord Fairfax SBDC and seasoned analyst, Christine Kriz.

“Early on Christine gave us a demographic overlay of the area that was instrumental in our decision to sign the lease. She also provided us with resources of various governmental entities and private businesses to help us get oriented and in business,” William says. “We never would have opened this location had it not been for the SBDC and Christine Kriz. Her assistance and data were invaluable in making a determination to open Paladin Bar & Grill in Stephens City,” William adds.

For Craig and William, the restaurant incorporates pieces from all their ventures. “We try to make all of our companies partner with each other,” William says, “hence the artwork and restored movie posters you see everywhere around Paladin.”

Despite its neighborhood setting, the investment is paying off with continued steady business and growth. “We just recently started paying our servers above minimum wage — that’s unheard of in the restaurant industry,” says William. “Most servers barely survive on tips, so we made the decision to increase their hourly pay in anticipation that customers would agree that better service deserves a higher tip,” he adds.

While Paladin, the bold chrome bull, continues to be the talk of the town, William and Craig are looking to the future, once again with the assistance and resources of the SBDC. “We are currently working with the Lord Fairfax SBDC and Christine on another location in northern Frederick County,” says William.  

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