South-West Texas Border SBDC's are Open for Business ** Details

  • Facekey Corporation

    Facekey Corporation, Annette Starkweather and Yevgeny Levitov, Founders 

    Annette Starkweather and Yevgeny Levitov founded Facekey Technologies in 1999. Facekey manufactures security products that use biometrics, fingerprint and face recognition, for identification. Annette has decades of experience in business development, management strategies, and alternative financing requirements, with an emphasis on financing and the oil and gas industry. She serves as the CFO for the company. Yevgeny had more than thirty years’ experience in the image recognition field. He previously served in engineering and management positions for one of the largest manufacturers of medical equipment, and a global manufacturer of wiring devices. Yevgeny serves as President of Facekey.

    Headquartered in San Antonio, Facekey has pioneered and patented a family of biometric products and solutions that utilize face recognition or fingerprints for identification. From small businesses to global enterprises, Facekey’s family of products have a proven record with employee time and attendance tracking, asset protection and crisis management.

    The company had the opportunity to acquire face recognition technology, which they believed was necessary for access control.  All the access control products available allowed access with the right card, but could not tell if it was the right person.  In addition, the access control products required many cable runs and lots of labor.  Facekey decided to develop security products to run on the network that could identify the right person via by recognizing their face. They believed this would reduce the cost of the system and provide a much higher level of security.The goal of Facekey is to provide security products that actually provide security and reduce the cost of operations. The business will be able control access to their facilities and reduce the cost of labor and materials during installation and the cost of admin during use.  No cards are required.   The result is a system with accurate identification, low cost installation and operation, which will help business operate safer and be more profitable.

    Annette and Yevgeny are long-term clients of the SBDC, since 1999. They started working with Crystal Darby in 2015. The three have met often to focus on marketing, specifically to help with determining their target market. Through the help received from the UTSA SBDC, the company has been able to structure a viable marketing plan.  This includes development of a new web page, development of new marketing collateral, and beginning an extensive email-marketing program.  These efforts have resulted in increased sales and strengthened the company’s ability to move forward.

    Facekey is working with Diebold, a financial self-service, security and services corporation, internationally engaged primarily in the sale, manufacture, installation and service of self-service transaction, electronic and physical security products, software and related services for global financial and commercial markets. As a result, Facekey anticipates an increase in sales this year. They have three full-time and one part-time employee, which were retained from their recent expansion. Facekey has not formally sought any loans.  Currently, the company is assessing their best sources for procuring funds for marketing. In the short term, they need to grow sales so they can provide good paying jobs in San Antonio.  Their task to meet the goal is to strengthen their dealer/reseller channels. Longer term, they would like to become the “GO TO” vendor for manufacturers if they have a product, such as a cabinet or equipment, that requires identification for access or to start/use.

    “Facekey has depended heavily on advisors and training programs to get the company to its current position. Helping us think through the profile of our target market has been a very specific task. Currently, we are meeting frequently to study and resolve ongoing issues as they appear.”  Annette Starkweather and Yevgeny Levitov

  • Mission Adventure Tours San Antonio Texas

    Mission Adventure Tours, Sarah Neal, Owner 

    Sarah Neal managed Mission Kayak for over a year before she decided to purchase the business, expand its offerings and rebrand as Mission Adventure Tours.  Sarah took full advantage of the services offered at the SBDC. She attended 29 different small-business workshops where she met with Business Advisor, Tracie Hervey. Tracie and Sarah worked on financials, strategy and process to support the business purchase.

    Mission Adventure Tours, started in January of 2017, sells Kayak Tours, Bike Tours and Running Tours. Mission Adventure Tours is also expanding into the Kayak/Canoe retail business. Sarah saw a need in the San Antonio market for an all-in-one outdoor adventure tour company. Over 13 million people visit San Antonio annually and many of them want to get outside and see more than the normal tourist spots. Mission Adventure Tours works closely with the San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Housing Authority, Lackland AFB’s Teen and Youth Programs, Mission Road Ministries and numerous disabled veterans groups to discounts their tours so that these organizations can afford to take people on the tours. Mission Adventure Tours gives back to the local community by donating supplies. MAT is also one of the largest sponsors of the San Antonio River Foundation’s River Relay Race.  Mission Adventure Tours donates all of their kayaks, paddles, lifejackets, shuttle services, etc. to help ensure the River Foundation has a successful event each year.

    Sarah earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology and certified in the American Red Cross 1st Aid and CPR/AED certification. She has the American Canoe Association (ACA) Level 2 Kayak River Instructor Certification, ACA Level 1 Stand-Up Paddleboard Instructor Certification, ACA Coastal Kayak Day-Trip Planner Certification, ACA Adaptive Paddling Certification and has a Texas Parks and Wildlife Texas All-water Paddle Craft Permit.  Sarah is a duty connected disabled veteran who has had a hard time adjusting to the civilian world. Over the last seven years, she used kayaking as a form of healing for herself and her family. Now, as the owner of Mission Adventure Tours, Sarah takes special pride in the fact that she can share kayaking with other veterans who also need a way to heal both physically and mentally.

    Sarah attended 29 different workshops at the SBDC in 2017. These workshops were invaluable to her as a new small business owner. Mission Adventure Tours plans to expand, which will give her the ability to tap into the kayak and outdoors retail market. This move has the potential to be huge in central Texas. Sarah is also looking for land and a building to lease/purchase so that Mission Adventure Tours can finally have a “home.”

    With UTSA-SBDC’s help, Sarah took a single kayaking business to a significantly larger business. Mission Adventure Tours has increased sales and number of employees. Thousands of people have booked trips with Mission Adventure Tours.  Sarah obtained a line of credit, which allows her to buy next season’s equipment in advance resulting in saving money. Sarah is also in the process of finalizing additional financing for her next expansion of the canoe and kayak business.

    “Tracie is a wonderful sounding board and she can give honest advice. Tracie is not a “yes” woman if she sees something that is not right or know that the idea is not the best. What I need is a person who is honest and is willing to tell me ‘no.’ Tracie is this person and that is invaluable to me.”  Sarah Neal, Owner 

  • Fur_Feather

    Fur and Feather Family Vet, Jenifer Scheibe, DVM

    Fur and Feather Family Vet provides veterinary services such as vaccines, heartworm testing, dental cleaning, spay neuter and hospitalization and offers products such as heartworm and flea prevention, prescription foods, ear cleaners, pet treats and pet medications. Dr. Jenifer Scheibe has been a veterinarian since 2008 but she has actually been in the veterinary field since she was 16 years old. She worked her way up from kennel assistant to technician and then completed eight years of college to become a veterinarian. So, one could say she has a compassion for animals. While in veterinary school, she had already planned to someday start her own veterinary practice. She wanted to get more experience and find the right location before actually going forward with her plan.

    Jenifer met with the UTSA Small Business Development Center’s Ruben Lopez, who helped her with budgets, business plan refining and loan acquisition preparation. They also worked on market research and payroll processing. She received approval for a loan from Wells Fargo that was used to pay a builder, obtain a lease and purchase medical equipment. She opened her veterinary clinic in January 2017.  Due to her new start-up, new jobs were created.  Besides being open late hours to help people with their sick pets after work, Fur and Feather Family Vet is open on weekends.  They also help the community by helping to spay/neuter the Bulverde Humane Society and Animal Rescue Connections kittens.  Jenifer would eventually like to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    “Ruben Lopez was a great asset every step of the way and still checks up on my business even now that my veterinary hospital is open.” Jenifer Scheibe, DVM

  • Meet Marcia Richardson, owner and photographer of Faces-Places-Photography.

    Marcia Richardson, owner and photographer of Faces-Places-Photography

    Marcia took a winding road to this profession.  As an Air Force kid and an Army wife her life experiences and extensive travel have all prepared her for this exciting career. She spent more than 20 years as a dental hygienist, and is now pursuing the artistic side of her personality. She has studied photography extensively, most recently as a student at the Art Institute of San Antonio; where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Digital Photography in 2017. Marcia is fulfilling a dream by becoming a professional photographer – “Photographs are memories for a lifetime” is a guiding principle of her business.

    Marcia said, “Larry New and Brandi Randle provide a welcoming and encouraging environment to learn more about starting a successful business. A great resource!”

    You can find Faces-Places-Photography at http://www.faces-places-photography.com/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marciarichardsonfacesplacesphotography/, via email at marcia@faces-places-photography.com or by calling 254-371-7892.

    (c) Marcia Richardson, Faces-Places-Photography

    (c) Marcia Richardson, Faces-Places-Photography

    (c) Marcia Richardson, Faces-Places-Photography

    Client Assistance:

    Marcia visited the New Braunfels Satellite Office of the San Antonio Small Business Development Center and met with Business Advisor, Larry New. Together, they worked on business entity formation, branding and identifying target markets and advertising.

    While working with UTSA Small Business Development Center Marcia was able to start and expand her business and create 1 full time job. We are proud to be a part of Faces-Places-Photography’s success!


    Find the UTSA Small Business Development Center at 940 W. San Antonio Street in New Braunfels and call Larry at 830-214-6435.

    Check out more New Braunfels and Seguin success stories!

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  • 2 Step Impressions

    2 Step Impressions, San Antonio, TX, Owners, Jerry Lozano and Rolando Ramirez

    Owners, Jerry Lozano and Rolando Ramirez started 2-Step Impressions with the idea of providing affordable customized printing to their customers who need small quantity promotional and gift products. Their business was built on the foundation of addressing the needs of customers who want only small print jobs and need to stay within a smaller budget.

    Jerry is a UTSA Alumni and has experience in the toy, amusement and vending industry. Rolando attended Princeton University where he studied Biology and Human Affairs. He is currently a Physician Assistant in a family practice.

    Jerry had attended many small business workshops at the SBDC which provided him a way to focus on networking and getting the business started. Jerry and Rolando met with SBDC Senior Business Advisor, Lisha Garcia on developing their value proposition to connect the right message to their customers.  Recently, their business was also invited to participate in the San Antonio Entrepreneurial Week’s client showcase and evening reception at the UTSA Downtown Campus. Jerry and Rolando continue to work with Lisha Garcia to find ways to grow into a successful business in the San Antonio market.

    “Our business advisor, Lisha Garcia, gave us great initial advice on developing our value proposition to connect the right message to our customers.  She assured us she will be there through our business journey. We are confident that, with the assistance of Lisha and the Small Business Development Center, 2 Step Impressions can grow into a successful business in San Antonio.”