Category: Central

Envirian of Warrenton

Envirian of Warrenton

Envirian in Fauquier puts the heart in home ownership

The ability to look beyond the immediate sale and focus on the client’s best interest is a hallmark of Dean’s approach.

Dean Wood was a managing partner of Envirian, LLC, a successful real estate franchise company with more than 20 franchises. He decided to get out of franchising and to refocus on local real estate through his brokerages, Envirian of Reston and Envirian of Warrenton. “You can run a large corporation for a long time and realize you’ve gone past the place you want to be,” Dean explains.

As part of his renewed commitment to local clients, Dean completed his certification as a military relocation professional. Dean, who served as an officer in the US Army National Guard, helps veterans build or find adaptive housing.

Dean takes a hands-on approach. He helps clients secure financing through the Veterans Administration, shows up during construction to make sure contractors are building to specification, researches and purchases adaptive appliances, and makes sure his clients’ needs are met at every stage. “Once I was on site when the crew was installing the electrical panel – at their eye level,” he recalls. “I stopped the work and got it placed lower on the wall so that the client, who uses a wheelchair, could reach it.”

The ability to look beyond the immediate sale and focus on the client’s best interest is a hallmark of Dean’s approach. “Many people think of real estate as a single transaction. You find the client a house, and that’s the end of the story,” Dean says. “I don’t work that way. I’ve done a number of houses for disabled vets. While I don’t build the houses, I am with them every step from finding the land to the completed home with all the needed adaptations.”

Often Dean wondered what was next. He reached out to the Lord Fairfax SBDC for help, both personal and professional. “I could have gone in any number of directions,” Dean says. “Dale Maza at the SBDC sat down with me and went through various options. That was very helpful, and I have a good idea of what I’m going to do next. I appreciated having someone like Dale work with me.”

Dean concludes, “Good advice is worth more than money. Sometimes you don’t need dollars — but you do need ‘sense.’”

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Ryzing Technologies, Staunton

Ryzing Technologies

Ryzing to meet technology needs

ICAP influenced Ryzing Technologies being able to win Phase I Option and Phase II awards from the Army SBIR for the development of an adjustable height platform system for military shelters. These awards combine for a 3-year contract, totaling $1.05 million.

Ryzing Technologies lives up to its name by rising to meet the demand for technologies of the future. “Our mission is to provide engineering services to other companies in anything that uses fabrics and textiles as a structural element,” Ryan Gundling says.

At their jobs in the same California company, Ryan Gundling, a mechanical engineer, and Ryan Long, an expert in prototyping and fabrications, helped develop an inflatable technology adopted by the US Army for military shelters, that included inflatable tents ranging from 10-foot to 90-foot wide and all the accessories the military used with the tents.

Both Ryans relocated to Virginia, but not at the same time. “After being in Virginia from seven to nine years,” Ryan G. says, “We felt like this area was a great place to open a business, so Ryan and I resigned from our jobs to do just that.” Ryan G. adds, “Our goal was to create a fast paced, research and development atmosphere that could advance and develop inflatable and textile technologies for the military and find success for those technologies in the commercial world.”

Ryan G. heard about the Innovative Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP) offered through the Shenandoah Valley SBDC. A program of the Virginia SBDC Network and available to all Virginia SBDC clients who met the criteria, ICAP helps inventors and entrepreneurs successfully take new technologies and innovations to market.

“I decided to enroll. Initially ICAP provided a general assessment of our technology and gave feedback,” Ryan G. recalls. “It turned out to be an incredible learning experience and really helped focus our direction. ICAP connected us to experts from across the country, who provided counseling on soft robotic technology.” Ryan G. adds, “At a meeting in Verona, we were also given face-to-face advice on marketing, on how to commercialize this technology, and on how to be successful.”

Ryzing Technologies took the guidance to heart, and the company’s revenue figures reflect its success. Both Ryans credit the SBDC and ICAP for their company’s initial success and continue to work with the SBDC since “graduating” from ICAP. Ryan G. adds, “The SBDC didn’t provide money or a grant — they provided guidance, and that was even more valuable.”

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Pale Fire Brewing Co.

Pale Fire Brewing Company

Brewing up business: Pale Fire Brewery a Success

Pale Fire raised an initial investment of $900,000 and recently obtained a bank loan for distribution across Virginia. They employ 5 full-time and 9 part-time workers.

Tim Brady has been brewing beer professionally for years. With both the passion and the expertise to harness the rising tide of interest in craft beer, starting Pale Fire Brewing Co. was the logical next step for the James Madison University graduate. “I’m very drawn to the creative element in brewing beer,” says Tim. “It’s such a great mix of both creativity and chemistry.”

With its high concentration of locally grown and owned businesses, Harrisonburg was the perfect place for Pale Fire to call home. “People here are especially supportive of local businesses,” says Tim, a longtime enthusiast and proponent of the town, “so it’s just an ideal place for us to be.”

A year after opening, Pale Fire quickly proved that its beers were bigger than mere local acclaim. The brewery won not one but two medals at the 2016 World Beer Cup, a highly prestigious global beer competition, held every two years.

The SBDC played a vital role in helping Tim make his brewery a reality. He worked closely with the Shenandoah Valley SBDC Director Joyce Krech to perfect a business plan. Joyce arranged sample investor presentations, which Tim says were invaluable in fine-tuning his pitch. “I would get so much good feedback from these trial runs,” he says. “I was well prepared for questions from actual investors just based on having those practice opportunities.”

Tim quickly raised the capital needed to open his brewery in downtown Harrisonburg. In fact, Tim so impressed his investors that he raised the entire $900,000. With his recipes in hand, Tim began production in 2015. By 2017, the brewery had three full-time and eight part- time employees. Business was so successful that Pale Fire wanted to bottle the beer to distribute across Virginia.

Tim returned to the SBDC and met with Capital Access Advisor Bill Groseclose. Bill helped him prepare a proposal that landed a loan by a local bank. It funded a new in-house bottling line, consolidated existing debts, and improved cash flow for the business.

As craft beer continues to enjoy intense popularity, Tim is reminded of the creative spark that drew him to brewing in the first place. “Craft beer is popular right now and that’s great, but that also means there’s lots of competition, which can be a challenge,” he says. “But our team is what sets us apart. We have the experience and we have a true passion for what we do.”

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Kylla Custom Rock Wear

Kylla Custom Rock Wear

Kylla Custom Rock Wear

The SBDC connected Kylla Custom Rock Wear with resources that helped with day-to-day operations and provided important information on customs and shipping overseas. Kylla currently has customers in 52 countries. 

Metal vocalist and designer Kim “Kylla” Dylla had a vision: start a business to dress her fellow musicians and entertainers with high-quality, yet affordable, stage wear. Today, that vision is alive and well at Kylla Custom Rock Wear.

“We create unique designs from salvaged, distressed, and reclaimed materials that echo our artists’ music,” Kylla explains. “Designed by an experienced touring musician, our jackets, vests, jeans, shirts, dresses, and accessories fill a unique niche in the rock fashion market.”

As Kylla Custom Rock Wear grew and issues about running a business emerged, Kylla visited Betty Hoge, Director of the Central Virginia SBDC in Charlottesville. “As an artisan who formed a startup business, shaping myself into an entrepreneur and connecting to others in my industry is challenging,” Kylla says.

Kylla had the additional challenge of shipping overseas to her worldwide customer base. Betty introduced her to the Virginia SBDC International Business Development Program and VITAL (Virginia International Trade Alliance). VITAL works with clients to develop export readiness and performance. “The advice from VITAL helped me avoid customs hassles and delays when sending important wardrobes for tours abroad,” Kylla says. “Now my international buyers have more confidence. I also feel confident in my ability to connect with and take on investment in the future.”

Betty also worked with her on the day-to-day tasks of running a business. She recommended some contacts and trade shows, helped expand the reach of Kylla’s website by using key words and search engine optimization techniques, found a manufacturer and distressing house, and taught her how to keep the books. “These steps took me leaps and bounds forward in my development of the new line,” Kylla attests.

Kylla concludes, “The SBDC has been immensely helpful in growing and progressing my business, and I have many new ideas to implement in the coming months.”

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Baby Change-n-go

Baby Change-N-Go

A change is gonna come

In addition to strategic marketing and development assistance from the SBDC, Baby Change-N-Go received help from the VITAL program to identify better efficiencies and cost savings for exporting, including the reduction of export shipping costs by 1/3 by using a specialist in small parcel shipping.

You are out and about with your baby, and it is time to change the diaper. You might find one of those changing tables in public restrooms, if you are lucky (and a woman, because there is almost never a changing table in the men’s room). Unfortunately, those well- used tables are teeming with bacteria and other nasty things. Thanks to two mompreneurs — and a little help from their mentors — an innovative product, Baby Change-N-Go, is putting many minds (and bottoms!) at ease.

“People were so frustrated, trying to find a safe, sanitary place to change a baby or a product that could fit in a diaper bag. But there was nothing out there,” says Mahnaz Moosa, Baby Change-N-Go co-founder and chief executive officer. “So we just sketched out a concept of a device that would fit over a door or side of a bathroom stall. Often we began to develop it.”

Mahnaz talked with safety experts, hazard experts, design engineers, child development experts, human behavior experts, and other parents to develop a unique product that fills a widespread, existing need. Often she talked with mentors at the Greater Richmond SBDC, which is directed by Greg Hofbauer. “The timing was perfect,” says Mahnaz, “because they offered just what we needed — expertise in branding and marketing, as well as a range of other issues.”

After launching, opportunities arose for international distribution of the Baby Change-N-Go product. Mahnaz and Brenda Lee Moosa, co-founder and chief operating officer, were referred to the Virginia SBDC International Business Development Program and VITAL.

VITAL (Virginia International Trade Alliance) works with clients to develop actionable market intelligence and research to improve export readiness and performance. Aaron Miller, International Trade Manager for the Virginia SBDC, explains, “Through VITAL, we helped them create export documentation and identify inefficiencies and cost savings. We provided translations of marketing material into Portuguese and Spanish. We obtained a grant to cover the cost of exhibiting at an international trade show and delivered a market report with demographic information applicable to Baby Change-N- Go’s target market.”

“We were very fortunate to have found the Greater Richmond SBDC. We have worked with outstanding mentors and even have an export plan,” says Mahnaz. “We wouldn’t have had such a smooth process without them,” Brenda adds.

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