Entrepreneur Spotlight: Brittany Harris

As a teacher at Hardy Elementary, Brittany Harris was determined to do something about the low literacy scores in the Hamilton County School District. But what?

Her first thought was that in order for her students to reach their full potential,they needed to have parent involvement. Next, she needed to get parents to show up. Brittany knew she was going to have to find an innovative way to reach them.

She decided that the best way was to make a space that provided the energy of learning, but was also mobile. It was then she got the idea to turn a bus into a mobile classroom that can meet the community at their front door, which she would come to call The Passage.

In order to get started, Brittany enrolled in LAUNCH’s Business Entrepreneurship Academy, recommended to her from a LAUNCH entrepreneur. She was anxious at first; however, as the weeks went by, those feelings shifted to calm, allowing her to have a very inspiring experience.

“LAUNCH allowed me to create a business plan that would be the start of something incredible, and provided essential strategies that enabled me to reach my objectives. During this 10-week course, we were provided with knowledgeable individuals who were eager to assist our developments. We were allowed to brainstorm and collaborate amongst people who were welcoming and thrilled to learn. I actually met Rondell Crier in class, who is the artist who partnered with me to transform the bus. An amazing and purposeful journey is truly what LAUNCH provided for me during my development of The Passage.”

Now equipped with a proper business plan and her mobile classroom, Brittany is partnering with parents in order to understand the updated learning strategies that are being utilized in classrooms, and are serving grades K-5. In addition, The Passage also offers services on Saturdays for adults by appointment.

Although she was unsure of how the journey to becoming an entrepreneur would unfold, Brittany knew she had it in her. “At the back of my mind, I knew I had the grit and strategies to form a business. Then, God blessed me with an extraordinary idea that has empowered my community to thrive. Becoming an entrepreneur has been an enlightening and positive experience.”

With The Passage, Brittany hopes to help bring student’s reading abilities up to their grade level and increase mathematical fluency, as well as create strong partnerships with parents.

“When accomplishing these goals I will bring a community together and produce lifelong learners.”

The Passage
(615) 542-0045
thepassage423@gmail.com
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Do you have a business idea? Our next round of Business Entrepreneurship Classes begins in March! Learn more about the 10-week course here.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Jennifer Holder

                                              photo by Chris Wolfe

                                              photo by Chris Wolfe

Upon moving back to Chattanooga from Brooklyn, New York and a year abroad in New Zealand in 2012, LAUNCH entrepreneur Jennifer Holder found herself working at Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and getting connected with one of her favorite nonprofits in town, Glass House Collective. As a nonprofit dedicated to bringing life back to Glass Street, this organization opened the doors to their flagship office to let us hold our first Business Entrepreneurship Academy classes in East Chattanooga.  When Jennifer heard about the classes she  signed up and the rest is history.

Initially, Jennifer intended to take the class to learn about starting another business, but she was inspired by the Brooklyn Brainery, a business that she was extremely grateful for while she lived in New York. She explains, “The inspiration for The Chattery came from the Brooklyn Brainery. Although I’m back in Chattanooga, the people who run it are just an email away and always willing to help. I continually learn from them!”

At LAUNCH, we have to admit that one of our favorite things about The Chattery is how they not only serve the Chattanooga community, but rely on it for their classes. “We pride ourselves in the fact that we are able to work with with various entrepreneurs to teach classes, as well as partner with businesses in and around the Chattanooga area to host classes. The Chattery has held classes all over town including back on Glass Street where I first began, and downtown in coffee shops, donut shops and art spaces.”

Why does she work so hard on The Chattery in addition to her full time job at CNE? Through The Chattery, Jennifer pursues her passion of making learning fun, affordable and accessible to all.

 Our ultimate goal is to make Chattanooga a learning community. We want there to be a great selection of classes through us and additional avenues in Chattanooga. My parents are both public school teachers and learning has always been an integral component to my life.”

So what impact did LAUNCH’s Business Entrepreneurship Academy have on her? Jennifer says “Without the push of taking a class and the support of my classmates, I don’t know that I would have ever fully fleshed out the idea of The Chattery. Through the program, I met so many wonderful neighbors and others who all had wonderful ideas. These classes gave me the tools and resources to get started, and I’m extremely grateful for my experience through LAUNCH.”

The Chattery has a full schedule of classes on a variety of subjects coming up! For more information, please visit  www.thechattery.org.

info@thechattery.org

To view their upcoming classes, head here.

 

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Brian Allen

“Growing up on the Southside of Chattanooga, I saw and dealt with a lot of things at a young age. I knew then I wanted to become an entrepreneur and own my own business so that I could have a better life for me and my family. I knew that I would be able to give back to communities such as the one I grew up in to continue to make communities better within the City of Chattanooga and the surrounding areas.” - LAUNCH entrepreneur Brian Allen

In 2014 while working at The Bethlehem Center in Alton Park, Brian Allen was introduced to LAUNCH by Program Director Gina Soltau. After hearing about the Business Entrepreneurship Academy, Brian thought it was the perfect time to start taking action on his business idea, Royal Transportation.

A few years earlier, Brian was frequently traveling back and forth from Chattanooga to Nashville. He used a local company that provided shuttle service with a 15-passenger van from city to city.  He would hear complaints from customers wanting better service with more amenities. Although it would take some time to work out the details, it was at that moment Royal Transportation was born.

Based out of Chattanooga, TN, Royal Transportation offers relaxing transportation services between Chattanooga, Atlanta, Nashville and the surrounding areas. Some of the features that are offered on board include free Wi-Fi, relaxing massage cushions and much more, all for an affordable price.

As Brian works to build his business, he credits LAUNCH for helping him take the first steps. “When I first started I was a little scared and nervous because I didn’t know what I was getting into but as the days and weeks went by, I became more excited about my business because of the class and the help from the LAUNCH staff and team.”

He continues, “LAUNCH has been a very integral part in Royal Transportation, as they have been by my side making sure I reach the goals I set for my business. My experience with LAUNCH staff has been like no other. I’ve been able to connect and meet people that I never would have if I had not taken the course. I’m also grateful for the friendships I have made along the way. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

Royal Transportation
423-401-0480  royaltransportchattanooga@gmail.com

UPDATE: For those of you keeping up with Brian and his journey, he has now been fully funded on Kiva! He'll now be able to move foward with Royal Transportation Chattanooga by purchasing a second vehicle, commercial insurance and using some of the loan for marketing. 

Brian is currently raising funds for his loan on Kiva, a nonprofit with a mission to connect people through lending.  With the loan, Brian will purchase a second vehicle which will allow his business to expand. Please consider being a lender with Brian.  You can lend as little as $25.  To lend now or just to read more about his journey check out his Kiva profile.

The next Business Entrepreneurship Academy begins the week of September 12th. To learn more, or to sign up, head here.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Lisa Tumlin

Lisa Tumlin’s entrepreneurial journey began long before she even knew it had started.

With over 25 years experience in HIV care, the problem she saw most often was that patients were in need of housing due to the many life changing events and challenges they face. Her idea for The Springs House of Hope, a nonprofit that will provide transitional housing to HIV+ women in Chattanooga, was conceived back in the 1990s while she worked at an HIV clinic. It took 12 years and a particularly inspirational sermon for her to take a leap of faith and get to the next step.

Lisa’s friend and LAUNCH entrepreneur Robin Davis told Lisa to give the Business Entrepreneurship Academy a try. By the time she enrolled, the program was already in it’s third week. Working two jobs at the same time as the course, Lisa was overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how she was going to fit the program into her life. Facilitator Alexis Willis made sure to put Lisa’s fears at ease and worked with her one-on-one to catch her up.

Once I started the program it gave me a whole lot of insight on the work it takes to succeed and sustain your business once it is up and running,” Lisa says. “The 10-week Business Entrepreneurship Academy gave me the push I needed to go after my dreams. I never would have started The Springs House of Hope if I had not had been shown how hard work and help from people that believe in you can get you through the challenges that you face when starting a business.”

With the training she had and a prayer in her heart, Lisa came up with the name The Springs.  It was, a name that combined her mother’s maiden name with the idea of a season that brings new life and a fresh start. While it was a hard decision, she felt that it was important to focus on women. “A woman will do anything necessary to care for her family, but if she is not strong physically, mentally and spiritually, she will struggle. I plan to provide a system of educational, social and spiritual support.”

Through The Springs House of Hope, Lisa aspires to help HIV+ women in the Chattanooga area that need a hand to stand strong.  She will introduce them to the tools they need to be confident. With her current business plan, $1,000 will provide housing for one woman for a three months, and she is currently raising funds via Causeway, with every donation being matched dollar for dollar. To learn more and to donate, head here.

The Springs House of Hope
Email
 

 

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Felicia Polk Jackson

For Felicia Jackson it wasn’t about starting her own business, but about saving lives. After two traumatic life experiences, one which involved her son choking and another where she lost her niece, Felicia knew she had to do something.

Her invention, The CPR LifeWrap serves to save lives. “I never thought about owning my own business. I am a medical professional and am always trying to find a solution to a need. I saw a need and my path was set before me. So here I am, in less than a year, a business owner!” Having initially heard about LAUNCH from their Director of Business Support Services, Alexis Willis, Felicia admits she was terrified when she first went. “But after that first session, my fear turned into determination,” she says.

“My LAUNCH class started out as several strangers talking about their dreams and goals as future business owners. In the end, we became each other's’ cheerleaders, friends and family. Alexis, who was our class facilitator, was knowledgeable and introduced us to other people who started where we were, and made it to where we want to be. Although I’ve finished class, I still refer to my course manual and talk to the people at LAUNCH. When you graduate from the 10-week course it doesn’t end there. LAUNCH continues to help you along your journey.”

With CPR LifeWrap, Felicia hopes to spread awareness and educate people about performing CPR. “With this product,” she explains, “ the average person will have a template that will provide visual landmarks, simple CPR instructions, and a plastic protective covering from blood and other harmful contaminants. Her motivation? “I want to be a part of saving the most precious thing on earth, LIFE!”

Do you have a business idea? Get the training and support you need at our Business Entrepreneurship Academy. Start your journey to becoming a business owner like Felicia.

Currently, Felicia and her business partner Tony Iwanczyk are working to raise funds to help pay for an initial order of CPR LifeWraps that can be sold to various institutions. To help them on their journey, please consider a donation. For more information, visit their GoFundMe page

 

 

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Yanetta Bowman

After years of wanting to start her own business, Yanetta Bowman began Grand Finale Events and Decor in January of 2014. After stepping into her new role as business owner, she quickly realized there was more she could do to help her business grow. 

Originally, she heard about LAUNCH through the High School Entrepreneurship Program, but it wasn’t until she volunteered for I Believe, a teen mom empowerment conference in July of 2014 that she considered the Business Entrepreneurship Program for herself. After speaking with LAUNCH entrepreneur Linda Murray Bullard at the conference, Yanetta says,

“My mind started thinking about my own business and how I could benefit from the LAUNCH business academy.”

Filled with excitement, she signed up and was ready to soak in all that she would learn in the following 10 weeks in order grow her business further.

Yanetta shares, “During the course, I learned valuable information on how to take my business to the next level, how to identify my ideal customer, how to write a business plan, how to calculate my break even point, how to craft my pitch, how to structure my business and so much more.

With Grand Finale Events and Decor, Yanetta has set herself apart from other event planners, designers and decorators by receiving certification in Event Design from the Institute of Wedding and Event Design (IWED), an accredited event design academy. The goal for all of her clients? Leaving them and their guests “with a feeling of WOW,” something she compares to a spectacular closing scene or the finale episode of a television show.

Yanetta focuses on exceptional quality of service, professionalism, value and flexibility. She works with clients one-on-one, from the initial meeting through the entire planning process, to ensure that Grand Finale Events and Decor understands their vision and transforms it into a reality.

As her business continues to grow, Yanetta credits LAUNCH for helping her along the way. “Even though I had already started my business before enrolling in the Business Entrepreneurship Academy, LAUNCH played, and continues to play, a fundamental part of how I am managing my business.”

Grand Finale Events and Decor
www.GrandFinaleChatt.com
423-385-9008

Entrepreneur Spotlight: JaMaal Macon

            Growing up, most of us dream of being doctors, astronauts, teachers, or firefighters. One exception to this? JaMaal Macon, who wanted to be an entrepreneur. “Growing up as a kid, I always wanted to work for myself. I never envisioned myself working for someone for the rest of my life,” he says.

            Fellow LAUNCH entrepreneur Christopher Williams, who owns Up-N-Smoke Grill, told JaMaal about the Business Entrepreneurship Academy. Not really being sure what to expect, he enrolled.

            JaMaal admits, “Honestly, I had just planned to go to say I went, but I ended up enjoying the class and coming back.” The next 10 weeks helped JaMaal hone in on the plan for his business, Exclusive Cleaning Professionals.

            Having owned a franchised cleaning service for 5 years, JaMaal took note of changes that could be made to make the business more efficient, as well as more affordable for clients. “One thing I’ve noticed doing commercial cleaning, is that a lot of businesses and individuals get tied into contracts that include services they don’t need,” he explains. Since the business was franchised, he was unable to make any changes to the way he ran the business and decided to start planning his own.

            Exclusive Cleaning Professionals strives to offer excellent and affordable cleaning services for both residential and commercial clients, and with that comes customized cleaning packages that allows them to meet specific client needs. No longer do individuals and businesses have to pay for services they don’t need or want, and plans are created based on your budget.

            Of the Business Entrepreneurship Academy, JaMaal says, “I was shocked, it was a lot different than I thought it was going to be. It was a class, but it had a different feel to it. Everyone taking the class was encouraging and helpful. Each week we developed a bond with one another. It was refreshing to see adults with the same goal that you have.”

            “I wouldn't be in the position I'm in with my business right now without LAUNCH. The class taught me my target market, hourly rate, startup costs and how to get my business license and insurance. It helped me eliminate the struggle to establish a foundation for my business. LAUNCH also connected me with people who could give me insight for my business.”

            Looking ahead, JaMaal hopes to develop Exclusive Cleaning Professionals into companies like Aramark, ABM and Southern Management. “I want to provide jobs and second chances to those that want the opportunity.”

EXCLUSIVE CLEANING PROFESSIONALS
exclusivecleaningpros@gmail.com


       

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Carol White

Carol White didn’t intend to start her own business, but after looking at the economy and noticing that opportunities were limited, she was open to the idea. Through the years she helped others successfully grow their business, and thought it was time to go out on her own and see what would happen.

After reading about LAUNCH on the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce website, Carol noticed the Business Entrepreneurship Academy started later that same evening. Without hesitation, she decided to enroll. As the class progressed, Carol found answers to all of the questions she had about starting her own business. Taking her 30 years of printing sales and production experience into consideration, she decided Good Stuff Promotional Products was the business for her.

Specializing in helping customers promote and market their businesses through printing and promotional items, Carol says Good Stuff Promotional Products reflects a retro feel of doing business the old-fashioned way, one hand shake at a time. “I want to bring that personal touch of doing business face to face, and help clients with their printing and branding of promotional products in order to promote their business.”

“LAUNCH was an integral part of getting my business started,” Carol continued. “They helped me answer the questions of how, when, where and why. During the 10-week course, I was able to lay out a plan and move forward.”

As Good Stuff Promotional Products continues to grow, Carol aims to be proud of the work she does, achieve financial security and give back to the Chattanooga business community.

 Good Stuff Promotional Products


Entrepreneur Spotlight: Robin Davis

After 20 years in the medical industry, Robin Davis decided she was ready for a change. She then met a patient in the office who complained of being tired after traveling from Jasper to Chattanooga, and right then it hit her, “Transportation!” That day, she started doing her research.

But what was the next step? She had the idea, but needed the direction and support to put her business plan together. Enter LAUNCH.

After hearing about LAUNCH’s Business Entrepreneurship Academy from LAUNCH entrepreneur, and now facilitator, Linda Murray Bullard, she signed up for the 10 week course. Although shy at first, she got comfortable with her class as they went from strangers to a support system for each other.

As a non-emergency transportation service, Loving Hands Helping Hearts Transportation helps get patients to and from doctors’ appointments without long wait times that often come with businesses like hers. Through Loving Hands Helping Hearts, Robin hopes to show communities that love, patience, kindness and respect will go a long way in the world. “Everyone can make a difference if we just work together. We all need a helping hand at some point or another, so why not help each other and do it from the heart?”

With an office and 3 different vehicles, Robin says that LAUNCH played a major part in getting her where she is today. “I could not afford to go back to school, but LAUNCH made it possible for me to make my dream come true,” she says. She also credits the entrepreneurs in class with her who shared their ideas and the struggles they encountered while on the path to starting a business. For future entrepreneurs who join the Business Entrepreneurship Academy, Robin offers this advice, “You have to make an effort to do the groundwork, without breaking in between. Keep moving until you reach your goal.”

Loving Hands Helping Hearts Transportation
6110 Shallowford Rd., Chattanooga, TN 67421
423-894-4927 / LHHHtransportation@gmail.com

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Derelle Roshell

18 years old, graduate of The Howard School, college freshman, LAUNCH intern, and business owner.

That's right, at just 18 years old Derelle owns and operates Lingua Cocoa, a high end chocolate company that aims to raise cultural awareness through the universal language of chocolate, infused with spices from around the world.

Derelle went through the LAUNCH High School Entrepreneurship Program its first year, winning the grand prize with Lingua Cocoa.  Although he knew that the market is flooded with chocolate products, he wanted to bring different cultures to the Chattanooga community.

When asked what drives him to be an entrepreneur, Derelle said, "I'm motivated to be an entrepreneur because I know and see how much harder times are becoming. I want to help change the face and the stereotype of my generation and race."