• Elements of Success
    The Situation: Kombucha is a lightly effervescent tea drink fermented by a friendly colony of bacteria and yeast, or as Kevin and Tim will tell you is “powered by herbs” and brewed with only the best teas sourced directly from small tea farms, and it does not contain any juices or flavorings, and is low in sugar. Located just a bit southwest of downtown San Antonio, the small manufacturer brings much-needed economic growth to an underserved area. Originally sold only wholesale to grocers in most major Texas cities, customer demand led to the launch of online batch orders and a presence at The Pearl Farmer’s Market. Working closely with the SBDC and poised for growth with the support of a private investor and an SBA-guaranteed loan through Frost Bank, they expanded to new markets. Then, along came the pandemic.
    SBDC Assistance: In the months that followed, SBDC Business Advisor Lisha Garcia was in constant touch by phone, zoom and email to support as the business applied for available disaster assistance. After a very difficult 2020, they now are beginning to grow again and have national distribution in various states and are expanding to New York and the northeast of the United States. They also have participated in various trainings at the SBDC and are Profit Mastery graduates, whose tools they use daily in their operations. The SBDC also recommended and they were chosen to participate in the Frost Bank Small Business Series. Assistance received includes a 7(a)a SBA loan for the expansion, and an increased line of credit with Frost Bank. Element Kombucha automatically received Section 1112 Cares Act assistance for their existing 7(a)a loan. Additional disaster support included two rounds of PPP loans which have since been forgiven. Element Kombucha also obtained an EIDL advance and loan as well as a recent additional EIDL loan increase. The company was also a recipient of a Bexar County Grant to maintain a manufacturing presence on the West Side.

    ” Of all the resources for small businesses in San Antonio, SBDC is the only one I’ve come back to again and again. Their assistance during the pandemic helped keep us afloat and meet payroll, operating expenses and retain 8 employees.”
    Kevin Rayhons, CEO

  • Michelle Blomstedt first came to the UTSA Small Business Development Center  in 2019 for training workshops. During our trainings, we inform attendees about our advising services and encourage them to take advantage of the no-cost, one-on-one experience. When Michelle decided to take the leap to small business ownership, she met with advisors at our satellite office, SPARK Small Business Center, in New Braunfels.

    Michelle’s passion is running, training and coaching. She knew there was a need for specialty running apparel and services in the New Braunfels area, and she knew she could fill that need with her experience, heart, and hard work.

    The UTSA SBDC and Senior Business Advisor Lucinda Vela were able to assist Michelle in her start-up planning by taking her through a business start checklist, creating a business plan, market research, commercial property and reaching out to lenders. Despite the global pandemic and COVID-19 downturn, Michelle was able to start Two Rivers Running in January 2021 and hold a grand opening in April 2021.

    Two Rivers Running is a woman-owned business that not only offers running apparel and accessories, but also strives to build a community of runners through coaching, training, and a 500-member-strong running club. Michelle and her husband Nick are often seen in the community volunteering and participating in local races. In an additional effort to support the community, Michelle chose to open her store in a designated location that supports the New Braunfels’ effort of retaining and maintaining historical buildings.

    Lucinda and the UTSA SBDC continue to support Michelle and her business through trainings and advising. Michelle says, “I’m extremely grateful for the guidance and support that Lucinda and the SBDC provided to me, especially during my planning phase. The assistance with my business plan was invaluable, and it was comforting to know that I always had someone to go to with my questions about anything and everything… The icing on the cake is knowing that we share a common goal – the ultimate success of my business.”

    Our New Braunfels satellite office, Spark Small Business Center, serves Comal and Guadalupe counties. If you would like to know more about how we can help your small business dreams come true, visit us at https://sasbdc.org/contact-us/new-braunfels/. For information on advising outside of Comal and Guadalupe counties, please visit us online at sasbdc.org.

  • Melinda Salazar, Anchor Home Infusion

    Melinda Salazar, CEO of Anchor Home Infusion Services, LLC, has spent more than 20 years of her life as a Registered Nurse (RN). During that time, she raised three children as a single mom and found that childcare was becoming more expensive than she could afford on part-time wages from home health. Melinda began contemplating a new career path that would allow more flexibility and possibly even allow her to take the children with her.

    In 2018, Melinda attended a training workshop at UTSA SBDC that was led by Senior Business Advisor Crystal Darby. Having been introduced to our training and advising services, Melinda met with Crystal one-on-one in February 2018. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to pursue, but Crystal helped her talk through several possibilities of small business ownership. Melinda eventually decided that the path to the greatest success would be to start a business based on her RN and home health skills.   

    Melinda worked closely with Crystal to find both legal and licensing resources for starting a home infusion service. Crystal also directed her to UTSA SBDC QuickBooks workshops, an attorney, and Deirdre Pattillo, a SBDC specialty center resource for human resources and hiring. In 2019, Melinda celebrated receiving her first signed contract with a specialty pharmacy and she officially started Anchor Home Infusion Services, LLC in February 2020. Anchor Home Infusion Services is committed to providing safe comprehensive therapy management for patients requiring IV or SC immunoglobulin therapy in the comfort of their own homes.

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020 and patients were not able to receive infusions at a facility, Melinda’s services became high-demand. More clients were looking for treatments to be not only in-home, but COVID-safe. Melinda found great success through word-of-mouth and pharmacy referrals spurring a need to grow and hire a part-time position to help with the clients. Growing meant starting a home health agency so Crystal referred Melinda to a consultant, Candyce Slusher of Slusher Consulting, who helps with securing medical licensing required by the State of Texas (and is also a client of Crystal’s). By September 2020, Anchor Home Infusion Services became a licensed home health agency. Currently, Melinda has expanded to include one part-time nurse to help with her clients and is looking forward to a rewarding, compassionate and prosperous year.

    Website: https://www.anchorhomeinfusion.com/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anchorhomeinfusionservices/

  • (L-R) Chris Mobley, Boyan Kalusevic, Randy Ward

    (L-R) Chris Mobley, Boyan Kalusevic, Randy Ward

    In a 2020 New Year’s blog post, Dorćol Distilling Company resolved to spread the deliciousness of their High Wheel beers and make the distillery’s location more of a second home for their guests. No one could have predicted that our resolutions would be so drastically interrupted. The world was suddenly thrown into the reality of a global pandemic that quickly made life more difficult for small business owners everywhere; especially in the food & beverage industry. San Antonio businesses were forced to adapt, apply for emergency funding, or sadly close. In a time of uncertainty, Dorćol’s co-founders Boyan Kalusevic and Chris Mobley utilized the services of UTSA SBDC and Senior Advisor Crystal Darby to help navigate and innovate.

    Dorćol’s business history goes back to its founding in 2012, but its creation story goes back much further to Boyan’s childhood in Serbia. Boyan’s experience in  distilling spirits began on his family’s farm located in Dorćol, just outside of Belgrade, where his family distilled rakia, a grape-based alcohol, for generations. Boyan moved to the States at the age of 10 and his family’s legacy never left his mind.

    In 2003, Boyan met Chris Mobley while attending the University of Texas and as the two became friends they discussed opening a business together. It was soon after a trip to Europe where Chris was able to see Boyan’s family tradition for himself, that they decided the business would be a distillery.

    Boyan and Chris first came to the UTSA SBDC in 2012 to seek funding assistance and received an SBA 504 loan through TexStar Bank and Accion (now LiftFund). Armed with established financial assistance and years of research and dedication, they were able to open Dorćol Distilling Company in 2013 on the corner of La Chapelle and South Flores streets, in the heart of a historically underserved area of San Antonio.

    One of their greatest feats was bringing a copper still from Serbia to the San Antonio location and the decision proved fruitful as it quickly set them apart from other aspiring local trendsetters. Dorćol’s first product was the Kinsman Rakia, the famed Serbian brandy but with the twist of being made with apricots. In 2015, Dorćol added their High Wheel line of beers to the product line through bringing on Randy Ward, an award-winning brewmaster.

    Dorćol’s spirits and craft beers have been recognized and awarded nationally, propelling them onto cocktail and restaurant menus all over Texas. The Southtown distillery location includes a bar, office space and indoor/outdoor seating in addition to the distilling equipment room.

    Everything was tracking well for nationwide distribution and then COVID-19 brought the food and beverage service industry to a grinding halt. Boyan didn’t hesitate to reach out to UTSA SBDC Advisor Crystal Darby for assistance in applying for emergency disaster funding and the Paycheck Protection Program. Crystal has also been able to help navigate local city and county restrictions, including exploring adding independent food trucks to the property. Dorćol continues to innovate by offering to-go service and recently participated in a virtual guided beer tasting. They also continue to expand their distribution opportunities, making Dorćol’s Kinsman and High Wheel beers available to everyone in convenient shopping locations.

    Throughout the roller coaster that has been 2020, the team at Dorćol have shown perseverance, passion, and a sincere gratitude for their customers that prove the storm can be weathered.

    Crystal Darby and Boyan at Dorcol

    UTSA SBDC Senior Advisor Crystal Darby (pictured left) celebrates a birthday at Dorcol with Boyan and friends

    For more about Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Co.:

    Website: http://dorcolspirits.com/
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dorcolspirits/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DorcolSpirits/
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dorcol-distilling-company/

  • Alberto and Jason Pina of Braustin Mobile Homes

    Alberto and Jason Pina, Creators of Braustin Mobile Homes
    (c) Braustin Homes

    2020 has brought sudden life changes to many small business owners, requiring hard decisions and a seemingly endless number of roadblocks. It’s in these times that people often discover a new path, new meaning, and new inspiration. Five years ago, Alberto and Jason Piña lost their brother and through that devastating experience they decided they wanted to live their lives making a difference for others. Alberto and Jason already possessed the necessary business skills and a concern for the lack of affordable housing, so they turned their eyes toward creating more access to home ownership and founded Braustin Mobile Homes in 2017.

    Braustin Mobile Homes is a virtual mobile home dealership that launched from the brothers’ workspace in Geekdom, a co-working space in San Antonio. Braustin’s innovative business model helps buyers shop for, view and purchase a home entirely online. By using existing virtual-reality technology such as goggles, drones and custom software, they are able to provide their customers with a more streamlined and enjoyable experience, while also reducing their own overhead costs. These advantages of technology allow the process of buying a home to be more accessible, faster, and affordable.

    Alberto was referred to Senior Advisor Crystal Darby at the UTSA SBDC by David Jones, an attorney who also offices out of Geekdom. Alberto explained to Crystal his mission to improve access to affordable housing in San Antonio and the surrounding areas, making home ownership a reality for more of the population. The brothers see home ownership as an important piece of building stable families and communities. Crystal and Alberto began by working together on plans for creating neighborhoods and changing the perception of mobile homes. In Braustin’s first year they sold and delivered 35 homes and added a virtual showroom on the southeast side. To date, Braustin has sold over 300 homes.

    When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Braustin initially felt the downturn. However, they were fortunately already equipped to sell homes in a socially-distanced world. By using virtual methods of communication and a home-selection experience conducted in a private conference room, they were able to keep minimal direct contact with others. Customers can tour homes on their own by meeting with a customer experience representative via video chat, which is set up in a conference room on location. Braustin took the added step of updating their website to include the measures they’re taking to keep customers safe while viewing homes in person. If a customer prefers not to venture from their home for a tour, they can visit Braustin’s website to also see photos, floor plans, standard virtual tours, and even get an instant price estimate. Then, if a customer wants to know more, they can contact the sales team. When the time does come for a sale, all documents can be signed remotely without the need to come into the dealership.

    Alberto and Jason continue to be recognized as technology-driven innovators in the San Antonio area. On November 16, 2020, it was announced that they were the recipients of $1.875 million in seed funding led by Geekdom Fund, with participation from City Rise Ventures investors, Graham Weston and Pat Matthews, as well as angel investor Pat Condon1. The Piñas plan to use the funding to expand Braustin’s operations state-wide, fulfilling their mission for even more communities.

    Advisor Crystal Darby currently assists Alberto with strategic planning and funding guidance, ensuring that Braustin Mobile Homes continues to thrive even during this difficult time.

    “Crystal is a rock star and really helped us during a difficult time as a business. This year has been chaotic to say the least and it is extremely valuable to have someone you can rely on for facts and guidance.” – Alberto Pina

    Website: https://www.findmymobilehome.com/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/braustinmobilehomes/
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/braustin_homes/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/braustinmh
    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOr3ElD4yLDUe7Y_c6ZEgQw
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/braustin-mobile-homes/
    Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/braustinhomes/
    Podcast: https://www.findmymobilehome.com/doublewide-dudes-podcast/