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Small Business Week 2024 Success Stories Roundup

Entrepreneur Development

ESD’s Entrepreneur Development team supports individuals interested in starting a business or that recently started small businesses to establish and grow their business.  For more than three decades, we’ve worked with partners to assist new and aspiring entrepreneurs in developing basic business management skills by providing business training, one-on-one counseling, and technical assistance and support services. Through thousands of hours of counseling, we’ve helped New Yorkers start and expand thousands of businesses in communities across the state. We also assist small businesses seeking to sell their products to or contract with New York State.  Finally, we help entrepreneurs and small businesses to access the wide-array of New York State programs and services through our Small Business Liaison – contact us at [email protected] to find out how we can help. 

Key programs supporting entrepreneurs and new small businesses include:  

  • Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers (EAC) Program - Provides business training, one-on-one counseling and technical assistance in multiple languages through 2 4 strategically located centers across New York.  

  • Procurement Assistance – Assists small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses in identifying contracting opportunities with state government and navigating the New York State Contract Reporter.  

  • Small Business Liaison – Provides one-on-one assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners in resolving issues affecting their business operation. To reach ESD’s small business liaison, contact: (212) 803-3149 or [email protected]

You can learn more about ESD’s Entrepreneur Development programs and all small business programs on our Small Business website.

Success Stories:

EAC: Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC)  
Entrepreneur:  Alexander Campaz
Business:  Infinite Wave, Inc.

Infinite Wave Inc., a Latino-owned garment manufacturing business led by Alexander Campaz, is located in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Campaz pivoted the business to produce essential PPE gowns, securing procurement contracts and collaborating with other factories in New York City.  

Campaz contacted ESD's Entrepreneurship Assistance Center at the South Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation and participated in the EAC's Plan for Growth program, a 60-hour training supported by Empire State Development. This program equipped him with essential business skills, enhancing his understanding of digital marketing, e-commerce, and navigating bureaucratic processes. The training provided by ESD enabled Campaz to collaborate effectively with governmental bodies and other stakeholders, also empowering him to take his business to the next level—realizing his desire to preserve the manufacturing legacy of the garment industry, while balancing technological advancements, and fostering inclusivity and shared success in order to ensure the industry’s thriving future. 

EAC: Washington Heights & Inwood Development Corporation (WHIDC) 
Entrepreneur: Maria Flores 
Business: Maria Flores Daycare  

Maria Flores, the owner of Maria Flores Daycare in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, is an entrepreneur dedicated to providing high-quality childcare services while nurturing the growth and development of the children under her care. Flores' entrepreneurial journey is rooted in her passion for teaching and her ability to connect with children, drawing inspiration from her experience as a mother and helping care for her nieces and nephews. 

Flores faced numerous challenges in building her business, but her determination never wavered. In 2017, a friend encouraged her to take a CPR course, enabling her to obtain a license to open her daycare center. However, starting with just $500, she needed more support and information to turn her dream into reality. This need led Flores to engage with ESD and work with the EAC, Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation, where she found the essential resources and assistance to kick-start her business. WHIDC provided commercial lease assistance, access to capital, business workshops, and helped her secure financial packages through the New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant program, ensuring the survival of her business during challenging times. Through WHIDC, Flores gained invaluable skills in marketing, financial management and entrepreneurship, transforming her initial investment into a thriving business with better infrastructure and enhanced services. 

EAC: Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) 
Entrepreneur: Stephanie MacIntosh & Alex Tovar 
Business: NTC Language Services 

NTC Language Services, founded in Suffolk County, Long Island in 2018 by Stephanie MacIntosh and Alex Tovar, provides high-quality language services in more than 50 languages, focusing on bridging the gap between diverse communities and the educational system. The company's founders, with their backgrounds in education, were driven to establish the company after recognizing the urgent need for multilingual emotional support and social-emotional outlets within the community. 

MacIntosh and Tovar turned to ESD's Entrepreneurship Assistance Center at Suffolk Community College for guidance and support. The EAC facilitated their certification as a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) in New York State, opening doors to government contracts and funding, and enabling NTC to weather the challenges of the pandemic. Through the EAC, they connected with a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs, attended training sessions, and honed their business skills to transform the lives of English-Language Learners through innovative educational programs, community outreach, and reimagining the educational process. 


New York Ventures

NY Ventures is New York State’s venture fund, and is investing in entrepreneurs, fund managers, and accelerators to fuel New York’s innovation ecosystem.  

ESD's NY Ventures team supports high-growth companies and their partners to use technology to solve important challenges in areas of strategic interest and importance to NYS. We actively look to provide greater access to venture capital for regions, industries and individuals, including women and minority entrepreneurs and fund managers. Our goal is to build a robust startup ecosystem across New York State, leveraging public and private sector assets.    

NY Ventures is actively deploying over $300 million of capital through equity programs for both direct and indirect investment.   

Some key programs supporting startup small businesses include:  

You can learn more about all of ESD’s NY Ventures programs on the NY Ventures website. For information on all of ESD’s small business programs, please visit our website

Success Stories: 

Company: Envisagenics
CEO and Founder: Maria Luisa Pineda 

Envisagenics, a Queens-based biotech company, leverages AI to improve RNA therapeutics. Maria Luisa Pineda, the company’s CEO and founder, says NY Ventures’ investment, through the New York Innovation Venture Capital Fund, provided pivotal support. “NY Ventures’ investment was a game-changer for Envisagenics,” Pineda says. “Since we spun out of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, they have not only provided the financial backing we needed to scale but also brought a robust network that has been instrumental in our success. NY Ventures’ belief in Envisagenics mission, to revolutionize drug discovery by leveraging our deep expertise in RNA splicing and artificial intelligence, has empowered us to push the boundaries of innovation and make significant strides for patients." 

Company: SimpliFed
CEO and Founder: Andrea Ippolito 

SimpliFed, an Ithaca-based maternal health platform founded by Andrea Ippolito, specializes in providing accessible lactation support services to new mothers throughout the United States. Founded with the goal of improving postpartum care, SimpliFed offers a range of services from virtual consultations to in-person support, addressing common breastfeeding challenges and promoting a supportive community environment for mothers. This initiative ensures vital health resources are readily available to mothers, regardless of their location, enhancing both the well-being and the breastfeeding success of families nationwide. With the support of NY Ventures’ NY State Innovation Venture Capital Fund, SimpliFed was able to develop their platform, hire key personnel, and establish partnerships with healthcare providers, ultimately paving the way for improved access to lactation support services for patients nationwide. 

Company: Arbol 
Founders: David Gonzalez and Favio Osorio 

Arbol, a Buffalo-based startup founded by David Gonzalez and Favio Osorio, addresses the issue of affordability in higher education by providing tools that empower students to make better financial decisions. The company's mobile app and platform track students' financial accounts, help them budget, and provide alerts to flag potential issues. The startup completed the University at Buffalo's yearlong Cultivator program for early startups and this year raised over $850,000 in its pre-seed financing round from investors including from NY Ventures' Pre-Seed and Seed Fund. This investment has been crucial for Arbol’s growth, allowing the expansion of their financial literacy programs and the development of their app, which unlocks insights for administrators to remove financial barriers for students in need.  

The Arbol founders describe the NY Ventures investment as "instrumental in propelling our company forward. With their support, we've achieved critical milestones ... Beyond financial support, NY Ventures has significantly expanded our network, connecting us with other investors who are likely to participate in our next financing round and introducing us to fellow founders in their portfolio for valuable knowledge exchange.” 


Capital Access

Capital Access ensures that small businesses across New York are able to secure loans and other financing instruments to grow and sustain their businesses. From working capital to commercial mortgages, Capital Access manages a suite of programs helping Main Street business, manufacturers, and other small and medium sized businesses thrive in communities all over the state.  

While Capital Access manages many programs to support small businesses, a few key opportunities include:  

  • Linked Deposit Program – Helps existing New York State firms obtain reduced-rate financing of 2-3% so they can undertake investments to improve competitiveness, develop new products, introduce new technologies, modernize equipment, or carry out a renovation. 
  • New York Forward Loan Fund – Simple and business-friendly loans of up to $150,000 for small businesses to make payroll, pay utilities or rent, purchase supplies and equipment, make building renovations, and more.  
  • Contractor Financing Program – Provides capital to help contractors successfully execute contracts and ease timing of payments from government agencies or municipalities to small businesses 

You can learn more about all of Capital Access’s programs helping small businesses on ESD’s Small Business website

Success Stories

Company: MME Construction Services LLC
Owner: Melissa Edwards 
MME Construction Services LLC, a small business based in New York City, specializes in construction services and contracting. ESD connected MME Construction Services LLC to the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC), one of the participating lenders in the Contractor Financing Program. GJDC met Melissa Edwards, owner of MME Construction Services, at a sponsored event for small businesses to bid on JFK opportunities and assisted the company with a short-term line of credit. With the approval of a $20,000 line of credit, MME Construction Services LLC successfully performed on their MTA contract worth $33,439, covering material and labor costs. After completing the initial contract and repaying the loan, the company secured a larger MTA contract opportunity worth $239,150. ESD, through GJDC, provided an additional $80,000 loan to support this growth, demonstrating its commitment to creating access to capital for New York State contractors. 

Company: Richard Sears Tree Experts 
Owner: Richard Sears 

Richard Sears Tree Experts provide commercial and residential tree removal services in Queensbury New York. The company recently secured a contract with National Grid to provide tree services around power lines and clear debris resulting from storms, necessitating the hiring of a new crew and the purchase of additional equipment to support this new revenue stream and future growth opportunities. With the help of ESD's Linked Deposit Program, the company was able to finance the purchase of new trucks, including two bucket trucks and an additional truck with a crane. This equipment was essential for the company to fulfill its new contract with National Grid and expand its services. With the help of the LDP, Richard Sears Tree Experts was able to hire the new employees needed to provide services under the new contract. 

Company: Charles J. Husted, Inc. 
Owner: Charles J. Husted 

Charles J. Husted, Inc., based in Mt. Upton, New York, plays a critical role in the dairy industry by transporting milk from state farms to processing facilities across the Northeast. This essential service facilitates the timely and efficient delivery of fresh milk, essential for maintaining the supply chain in the dairy market. The company has been experiencing increased demand for its services, requiring an expansion of its fleet to remain competitive in the growing market. To attract truck drivers and operate more efficiently, Charles J. Husted, Inc. needed to purchase new trucks and trailers. With the help of ESD's Linked Deposit Program, the company was able to purchase six new trucks and twelve new trailers. This new equipment will increase the company's capacity, allowing them to keep up with the growing demand for their services. 



The Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) programs and innovation centers emphasize the importance of working with industry as a way to leverage New York State’s technology strengths to produce new products. NYSTAR supports the development and commercialization of today and tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies.  
Some key programs supporting small businesses include:  

  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) – A network of eleven organizations that provide growth and innovation services to small and mid-sized manufacturers in every corner of the state to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.  
  • Business Incubators and Innovation Hot Spots – NYSTAR has designated 10 Innovation Hot Spots—one for each of New York's economic development regions—and 20 Certified Business Incubators. Support for small businesses may vary by location but generally these sites include: physical space; shared administrative staff; access to capital; coaching; mentoring; networking connections; prototype development; and access to other technical services. 
  • Innovation Matching Grants – Coming this spring, this program provides state matching funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs The SBIR/STTR programs encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. 

Visit NYSTAR’s website to learn more about how it can help you. For information on all of our small business programs visit ESD’s website

Success Stories:

Company: Perfeito Foods 
Owner: Patricia Springer

Patricia Springer grew up in Brazil, where she learned how to cook alongside her mother, whose basic blends of herbs, spices and fresh ingredients filled their home with inviting aromas. After nearly 30 years of experience in telecom and biotech, earning an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and time spent at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she rediscovered her childhood love of cooking—and saw an opportunity to turn this curiosity into a career pivot.  

Her idea: Create the types of Brazilian seasonings her mother used and bring these simple mixtures to the American marketplace. But to do so, she needed to find a way to infuse their key fresh garlic ingredient with shelf stability. Working with the Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC) and the NYSTAR Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture (CoE) she was able to launch Perfeito Foods in Auburn in 2021, and create a shelf-stable, safe product that could dazzle the marketplace. 

Now, after Wegmans began stocking two varieties of Springer’s spices in 100 of the supermarket’s largest stores across the East Coast, the entrepreneur is off and running—and she credits NYSTAR programs for getting her small business started. 

Company: Levelle Nutrition 
Owner: Dr. Linda Alvarez and Stephanie Schrauth 

Dr. Linda Alvarez and Stephanie Schrauth met in an innovations course while working on their Executive MBAs at Cornell and learned about the unmet nutritional needs of female endurance athletes. Alvarez and Schrauth created their company, Levelle Nutrition, in early 2021, without manufacturing or entrepreneurial experience. 

With guidance from multiple centers and programs funded by ESD’s NYSTAR division, their company moved beyond the first step of identifying a problem. In short order, they created a solution, scaled a product for commercialization— an energy puree formulated specifically for women – and are now on the cusp of introducing it to the market. 

Levelle Nutrition took full advantage of the NYSTAR network, utilizing not only the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, but also the New York State Science & Technology Law Center at Syracuse University, where they gained a better understanding how to protect their intellectual property – their proprietary recipe and process – to position themselves for long-term success. 

In October 2022, Levelle Nutrition won $50,000 from the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund Commercialization Competition, hosted by FuzeHub at the New York State Innovation Summit that would help the company buy and establish its own manufacturing line. Levelle Nutrition began working with another NYSTAR program – the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – to submit a grant proposal through the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to further understand the effects of their products on female athletes while expanding their research. 

“We noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of research on nutrition and female athletes, and we want to help change that,” Alvarez said.  

Company: neARabl 
Owner: Jin Chen, Arber Ruci, and E’edresha Sturdivant 

Behind the modern-day jobsite are companies like neARabl, a startup that was spun out of the City College of New York Visual Computing Research Laboratory, that has developed software for the construction industry that combines accurate indoor navigation with augmented reality— resulting in more efficient project management. The software also provides real-time updates to offsite stakeholders including project managers and building owners. Powered by iTwin, Nearabl’s world-class indoor navigation accuracy and augmented reality visualization lays the groundwork for the metaverse of the built world. 

Company founders Jin Chen, Arber Ruci, and E’edresha Sturdivant initially saw their mobile application as a way to help people who are blind or visually impaired navigate indoor spaces. They then pivoted to indoor navigation for first responders — but there wasn’t much demand. Not to be discouraged, the company used the technology’s versatility to adapt to market needs and learned that infrastructure professionals could use neARabl’s technology for keeping multiple stakeholders updated in real time, visualizing workflows, and saving money on physical signage at job sites. Today, the company’s software is deployed on five job sites including in New York City, while preparing to launch its technology at job sites in the Western U.S. and overseas. 

Through the entire process, the company has leveraged the expertise and support of 13 different centers backed by NYSTAR. Ruci, the company’s CEO, led the New York City Innovation Hot Spot for five years. “I knew the rich resources that were available throughout the state and how committed New York and NYSTAR are to cultivating collaborative innovation,” Ruci said. “And it’s not just in New York City. We received support from the Western New York Incubator Network, the New York I-Corps Hub at CUNY and Central NY Biotech Accelerator at Upstate Medical University

With solid grounding from the NYSTAR ecosystem, neARabl has partnered with Bentley Systems, Inc.— an influential global infrastructure engineering software company—further establishing its imprint. To find out more about the technology, visit nearabl.com


Life Sciences

ESD’s Life Science Division manages a diverse portfolio of programs aimed at benefiting small life science businesses and start-ups across the State. With its core mission of developing the State’s life science ecosystem and fostering and creating life science clusters, ESD’s life science programs have provided many small businesses and start-ups with financial assistance and access to the tools they need to grow and help translate promising academic research to commercial viability.   

The Life Science Division’s programming includes a mix of funding opportunities that provides grant support to small businesses with promising and innovative solutions to combat diseases and improve the health of New Yorkers, assists research institutions and academic centers to create small spin-out companies from promising research projects and develop the entrepreneurs and small business leaders of tomorrow, and fosters existing start-ups through life science incubator programs that provide the necessary tools to successfully navigate clinical trials and make meaningful connections with venture capital investors.   

Key programs benefiting small businesses include: 

  • Biodefense Commercialization Fund Provides grants and mentoring services to life science start-ups and academic institutions involved in the commercialization of innovative solutions for severe infectious diseases, with the goal of improving New York’s resilience and preparedness against these threats. New York start-ups developing promising diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and other innovations to prevent, treat or mitigate serious infectious disease threats may receive up to $4 million in grants. 
  • IndieBio NY – In 2019, ESD signed a $25 million contract with SOSV, a leading life science venture capital firm, to establish IndieBio New York. IndieBio New York selects approximately 10 start-ups twice yearly from applicants from across the globe for an intensive four-month training program. The program provides investment, laboratory space, mentoring, and vital skills necessary to thrive in the dynamic life science industry. 
  • Empire Discovery Institute (EDI) – EDI is an integrated drug discovery and development accelerator located in upstate New York, formed as an equal partnership between the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, and RPCCC and represents a nimble and transformative approach to the creation of new medicines. Faced with the "valley of death," a funding challenge that threatens many life science start-ups during early-stage research, EDIwas conceived as a solution to bridge this gap and expedite the journey from discovery and pre-clinical research to commercial viability. 

You can learn more about all of ESD’s Life Sciences programs on the Life Sciences website. For information on all of ESD’s small business programs, please visit our website