As the 1st Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit approaches, the Chamber of Commerce last week announced the winners of the David J. Freschman Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year Award.
The large number of applications received for both awards were narrowed down to the two winners that most demonstrated the characteristics sought by the selection committee.
David J. Freschman Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Alisa Morkides, Owner and Founder, Brew Ha Ha!
A fateful trip to Florence in the Spring of 1993 was the catalyst to the creation of one of Wilmington’s most beloved coffee hangouts. Educated as a chemist, and working in corporate management, Alisa never let go of her dream to start her own business. But it was while sipping another perfect cappuccino in a setting worthy of a Shakespearean drama that gave her the impetus to open Brew Ha Ha!, Wilmington’s first bona fide espresso café in a 750 square foot store front in Greenville, Delaware. Today, Brew Ha Ha! has grown to 10 coffee houses with sales of over $7 million, multiple awards, including Best Coffee in Delaware for over 22 years in a row. In 2015 Alisa started a second business, Brandywine Coffee Roasters, which sells coffee world wide.
Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year Award
Mark Olazagasti, Managing Partner, Info Solutions, LLC
As managing partner and founding member of Info Solutions LLC, Mark Olazagasti has helped create and build one of the area’s preeminent IT infrastructure consulting and managed services firm. As a first generation entrepreneur, Mark has taken the lessons he has learned from his more than 25 years of operations, personnel, and project management experience to help mentor local entrepreneurs and students. Mark serves on numerous boards and committees, and as a moderator at various business-related events. In addition, Mark has conducted over 25 Q&A sessions for hundreds of students at local educational institutions including Goldey-Beacom College, Wilmington University, Delaware Technical Community College, and the University of Delaware.
In 2015, Mark founded YourMoney101, a non-profit organization focused on providing financial wellness and mentoring services to individuals and to companies with less than 250 employees.
When New Castle County Department of Economic Development launched NCC Innovates, it was with a specific goal in mind: to support economic development through entrepreneurship. Through NCC Innovates, New Castle County chose to sponsor a one-year membership to the Resident Incubator Program at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center. The sponsorship includes office space and amenities, 24/7 access to the Emerging Enterprise Center, one-on-one business mentoring, business growth workshops and a one-year membership in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce.
A call for applications was issued in April and two finalists were selected on Friday, June 8, 2018.
D150 Fueling, LLC is an on-site fueling and fuel marketing company for commercial fleets that offers Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel, Biodiesel and Off-Road Diesel. Coupled with FuelCloud software, D150 Fueling offers a fueling program tailored to an individual fleet’s needs that saves time, money and emissions. With contracts in hand, D150 Fueling is in full launch mode and ready to expand its market.
SAS Nanotechnologies, LLC has developed a proprietary, patent pending anticorrosive coating technology that not only prevents corrosion but also heals and protects metals from corrosion in the case of surface scratch/damage. Growing out of PhD research, the technology was recently awarded an NSF SBIR grant to further develop the technology and is already in conversations with potential strategic partners for technology testing and licensing.
The finalists were selected after submitting a 5 page business canvas which included information on the business, market and industry landscape, go-to-market strategy and financial estimates. Each application was judged on several criteria, including business feasibility, understanding of market need and opportunity, clear articulation of value proposition, go-to-market strategy and realistic financial projections.
The jury consisted of five members of the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Advisory Board and represented a broad background of interests and expertise. The winner will be announced by County Executive Matt Meyer on July 12, 2018 at the 2018 Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit organized by the Emerging Enterprise Center and the Small Business Development Center and held at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Concord Pike.
David J. Freschman Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner: Alisa Morkides, Brew HaHa!
Alisa Morkides is the founder and owner of Brew Ha Ha!, an independent chain of coffeehouses headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware.
During a vacation to Florence in the spring of ’93, Alisa fell in love with the quality coffee experience in Italy. One day, while sitting on a rose-covered terrace overlooking Florence, sipping yet another perfect cappuccino, she thought to herself, ”Why can’t they make coffee like this in Wilmington?’ And then she thought, “Wait a minute, why can’t I make coffee like this in Wilmington?” And a seed was planted. When she returned from vacation, she pushed full steam ahead into opening Wilmington’s first bona fide espresso cafe. She leased a 750-square foot storefront in Greenville, Delaware, maxed out her credit cards, and opened her first Brew Ha Ha! cafe in December 1993 – in the middle of a recession and a brutally cold winter.
Today, Brew Ha Ha! has grown to ten coffeehouses with sales of over $7 million, and earned many quality awards, including being voted Best Coffee in Delaware for 22 years in a row by the readers of Delaware Today. In 2015, Morkides opened a second business, Brandywine Coffee Roasters, which sells coffee worldwide.
Mrs. Morkides lives in Wilmington with her husband Chris – a therapist and reformed convenience store coffee drinker – and their daughter Kina.
Written by Erica Crell, Program Support Coordinator, Emerging Enterprise Center
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner in the tri-state area, you should attend the 1st Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit presented by the Emerging Enterprise Center and Small Business Development Center on July 12.
This full day event is packed with quality content, information and resources for those looking to build, connect, and grow as entrepreneurs and business owners.
Whether you are thinking of starting a business, a start-up, or an established small business that is looking to grow, the Entrepreneurial Summit has got you covered. But if that’s not enough, here are 10 more reasons why you should be there:
- Workshops and Panel Discussions – Whether you’re looking to articulate your value proposition, understand cash flow, or get funding, the Summit has you covered with workshops in two tracks. The technical/science track is geared specifically for those start-ups or small businesses that are in high tech fields while the alternative track is geared towards the more traditional entrepreneur.
- Networking – Network with over 100 entrepreneurs, small business owners, resources and professionals in the tri-state area about developing your business.
- Mentorship – What better place to find a business mentor to help grow your business than at the Entrepreneurial Summit. The Summit is being presented by the Emerging Enterprise Center and the Small Business Development Center and a number of additional business mentoring and advisory organizations will be available for you to talk to, including SCORE Delaware, the SBA and many more….
- Sources of Funding Panel Discussion – If you want to learn the ins and outs of raising capital, you’ll want to hear it from our panel of experts.
- Awards Luncheon – The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and the Emerging Enterprise Center are always looking to recognize those achievers and at this event we look forward to announcing the Entrepreneur of the Year, the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year and the winner of the NCC Innovates Entrepreneurial Sponsorship Award.
- Keynote Speaker – Come and hear from Chuck Nunan, owner of Harvest Ridge Winery, and learn about his route to entrepreneurial success.
- Entrepreneurial Showcase – Check out over 15 up-and-coming entrepreneurs and innovators that that the Emerging Enterprise Center and the Small Business Development Center have identified as up and coming entrepreneurs in Delaware. Find out about what they’re doing to get their businesses off the ground and be inspired!
- Delaware Resources Tabletop Expo – Meet and have one-on-one conversations with Delaware resources that are available to entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses.
- Happy Hour – Join your fellow entrepreneurs for a happy hour to engage in personal conversations and build future relationships.
- You can’t beat the price! All of the above for under $100.
The Central Firm, led by M2 (pronounced “Em-Squared”), evaluates and analyzes a company’s current operating expenses and recommends ways to reduce costs.
M2 is a native Delawarean. She graduated from the University of Delaware and Delaware State College. She is retired military and served in the Middle East for 20 years.
Upon her return to the US, M2 noticed discrepancies in the fine print in service contracts and agreements that didn’t align with the original sales promises. She saw the need for expense analysis for businesses and The Central Firm was created. The Central Firm is a boutique concierge consulting firm which offers tools and services to assist and support businesses by offering evaluative and metric driven advice. The Central Firm uses proprietary methodology that reviews, evaluates, and advises systematic strategies to improve operational effectiveness like cloud hosting, VoIP, water/sewer, managed services, etc.
M2 does acknowledge that her greatest challenge is getting past gatekeepers to the decision-makers in order to begin the process of presenting her success rates as a newly created, female, small technology business. The Central Firm has already proven a success rate for a current client by reducing their operating expenses by 27%.
The Central Firm aims to work with the State Department in the near future and when current projects can support it, she also plans to work with University interns to support clients. M2 says, “The EEC has provided us with invaluable advice and mentoring to help solidify our value proposition which has helped increase business opportunities. Since joining the EEC, we have made some great contacts that are sure to be rewarding in the near future.”
Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Confucius
When I first entered the world of business more years ago than I care to remember, it was a very different place. Word processors were just making an appearance and sending a fax was the ultimate in high speed communication, the internet barely existed, and Amazon wasn’t even a glimmer in Jeff Bezos’ eye.
Fast forward to 2018 and while the basic principles of business remain the same, the way we DO business is infinitely different. Technology has changed how we make decisions and embark on a strategic direction, how we execute on strategy, how we transact business, how we communicate. Equally, we have access to more informational and educational resources than ever before. For the small business owner today – more than ever – to ignore the need for continuous learning is to remain stagnant at best, fail at worst.
The Emerging Enterprise Center’s Business Growth Workshops hone in on business processes that every small business and entrepreneur needs while tying into the ever-evolving business environment. Among these:
Marketing & Communication: 30 years ago, sales and marketing were almost synonymous and advertising represented the main thrust of the marketing and sales effort. Today the world of sales and marketing couldn’t be more different, yet too often small business owners still believe that, as long as they market their product or business “customers will come”. This couldn’t be further from the truth, so it is critical that new entrepreneurs as well as small business owners are clear in their own minds of the differences between strategic marketing, marketing communications, advertising, and sales so that they can develop and implement a sustainable business growth plan.
Selling Value: Probably the toughest thing for first time – and sometimes serial – entrepreneurs to grasp, is the difference between selling a PRODUCT or SERVICE and selling VALUE. Entrepreneurs and innovators, rightly, are passionate about their product and their passion is reflected when they speak about it. What it can do, how it can do it, how it was developed, the features, the benefits. The more clearly those features and benefits can be articulated into end user value, the less important price becomes as a part of the sales equation. This translates into a more valuable business model that generates greater revenue. To quote Warren Buffet: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” Are you clear about the value that you are providing to your customers?
Innovation: “Innovate or die” has become a 21st century mantra and rightly so. Failure to innovate led to the slow demise of companies like Eastman Kodak, Blockbuster, Sears and, more recently, Toys ‘R’ Us. In today’s world of rapid technological development, changing tastes and increasing competition, product life cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. Businesses that fail to update are gradually squeezed out of the market. Innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive – it can be gradual and incremental. The key is to remain relevant!
Globalization: Globalization can be a hotly contested topic but has nevertheless had a profound impact on business with increased competition, expanded markets, increased resources, technology transfer. The increased ease with which business can be transacted internationally means that even the smallest of businesses can access customers and markets which in the past may have seemed unreachable, either directly or through strategic business alliances.
In the end, while ignorance – at times – can be bliss, when running a business, it can be fatal. As a business owner, I’m all too aware of the fact that the first step to growing a business is the ability to acknowledge that “I don’t know what I don’t know.” So I make sure I continue to learn.
For more information on the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Business Growth Workshops, contact Erica Crell at (302) 294-2063 or via email.
Thank you for our Sponsors:
Through NCC Innovates, New Castle County will sponsor a 1 year membership to the Resident Incubator a the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center.
Supporting local entrepreneurship and attracting new companies to New Castle County are key elements in the development of a strong innovation ecosystem. The Emerging Enterprise Center provides direct mentoring and
support for local startup companies.
The application review process and selection of a winner will be managed by the Emerging Enterprise Center Advisory Board.
Specifically, the award covers, Office space (single office) at the Emerging
Enterprise Center, Wi-fi & telephone service (one VoIP per
employee-unlimited minutes), Mail service, Fax/photocopier, Beverage station/kitchen access, 24/7 access to facilities, Access to meeting and conference rooms, Business idea execution guidance & coaching with
one-on-one mentoring via the Growth Wheel®, Platform, Business Growth Workshops and Training, Business networking and connectivity, and a one year membership in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce
The last award, the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year, will be chosen by an appointed New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Committee and the Emerging Enterprise Center Advisory Board. The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce would like to recognize a member of the Chamber that have exemplified the entrepreneurial spirit and supported the efforts of the NCC Chamber. This award is presented to someone that has participated in programs and activities that support early stage business, been active in supporting entrepreneurial activity for at least three years, demonstrated an active level of participation in the local community, and is an active supporter/participant of the NCC Chamber.
The purpose of these awards is to not only recognize businesses and advocates successes right here in New Castle County but to pause for a moment and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit.