Created with Sketch.
Back of the Napkin Explores the Big Journeys of Small Business Owners
11 minutes | Dec 17, 2021
26. tinyB Chocolate Friday Fail: Tempering the Impact of a Bad Personnel Decision
Renata and Andrei Stoica from tinyB Chocolate in San Francisco, started a business based on the brigadeiro, a Brazilian confection. A brigadeiro is similar to – yet distinctly different from – fudge, ganache, truffles, or bonbons. The sweet, creamy, intensely flavored bite is perfect to scoop from a jar (spoons optional), gently shape into a ball, and roll in a variety of sweet or savory toppings. The Stoica’s leveraged their passion for the brigadeiro into a virtual team-building experience that has since expanded to 52 countries and more than 31,000 orders, unwrapping a sweet spot in the competitive boutique chocolate marketplace. While company growth has been impressive, the Stoica’s at times traveled a rocky road.Bytes of ChocolateWhen tinyB Chocolate first started, tech entrepreneur Andrei was used to working in an arena where a solution was almost self-explanatory. Coding either worked or it didn’t. With their chocolate company, Andrei stepped into a business in a very crowded category where you had to differentiate. “Differentiation in marketing was a much bigger part of the business,” said Andrei. “And I wasn't as prepared for it as I should have been.” Read More ...In addition, in the tech industry you tend to let a product come into its own before you come out with a 2.0 or 3.0 version. With chocolate, it is much easier to make changes by adding a new flavor and get instant feedback from customers. This allows for more experimentation and a constantly evolving product line. “In the beginning, I developed five flavors of chocolate and he (Andrei) wanted to keep only these flavors in the menu,” said Renata. “That's how technology works. If you have that product, let's sell that product. Chocolate is different, you have to be more creative and bring more different experiences for the customers.”
35 minutes | Dec 1, 2021
25. tinyB Chocolate Rolls Brigadeiros Virtual Team Building Experience to a Sweet Spot in the Boutique Chocolate Marketplace
Cities across the globe delight with tasty treats unique to their culture and geography. Wisconsin churns cheese. Illinois delivers Chicago deep-dish pizza. Michigan plates up the Detroit Coney. Brazil, the largest country in South America, rolls with the brigadeiro.A brigadeiro is similar to – yet distinctly different from – fudge, ganache, a truffle, or a bonbon. The sweet, creamy, intensely flavored bite is perfect to scoop from a jar (spoons optional), gently shape into a ball, and roll in a variety of sweet or savory toppings.Renata and Andrei Stoica, the husband-wife team behind tinyB Chocolate, introduced the Brazilian treat to residents and visitors to the San Francisco Bay area, and quickly expanded the business to 31,000 orders across 52 countries. Without question, tinyB Chocolate has found a sweet spot in the competitive boutique chocolate marketplace. Read on ...
12 minutes | Nov 19, 2021
24. Friday Fail: Paulo Hutson Solórzano on Navigating Expertise and Failing Up
When Paulo Hutson Solórzano from A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, started his business, he decided “more is good,” and embraced any project that came his way. His mentor advised a different approach.While he toiled away building small websites and picking up random projects, she recommended Solórzano instead focus on his core skills. She encouraged him to gradually build a portfolio that differentiated him in the marketplace.Solórzano’s mentor proved to be correct.“Her helping me navigate, really focusing and strategizing on where I wanted to take the company in the next three to five years, saved me a lot of time, which is money,” said Solórzano.Learning to navigate your expertise can be a difficult journey for any entrepreneur. Instead of a winning growth strategy, being a “jack of all trades, master of none” can be a detriment to a small business.Embracing Your Ninja PowerRead more ...
28 minutes | Nov 3, 2021
23. The Power of Cross-Cultural Inclusion with Paulo Hutson Solórzano
In this season 3 episode of Back of the Napkin, Paulo Hutson Solórzano, owner of A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, talks the importance of cross-cultural inclusion, overcoming self-imposed barriers to networking, and the power of tooting your own horn. From superheroes to how couples fell in love to the inspiration behind a small business, many people find origin stories fascinating. For Paulo Hutson Solórzano, owner of A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, his story begins as the son of missionaries in rural Nicaragua. He believes the early life lessons of being active in his community and finding a way to make a difference for those around you impacts how he operates a small business and the projects he takes on.Building Bridges with DEISince opening his business as a cross-cultural marketing and advertising agency in 2015, Solórzano has established an impressive client roster, featuring government, non-profit and corporate clients. While varied, his client roster is also uniquely connected through Solórzano’s focus on celebrating the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that enriches communities. The mission of A Medida is creating inclusivity by working across diverse markets, to maximize mainstream resources and reach. Read More ...
10 minutes | Oct 22, 2021
22: Friday Fail with Café L’Appetito: The Value of Knowing Your Business DNA
It seems like everything is on the fast track for Licia Accardo and Tony Spatara, owners of Cafe L'Appetito in Chicago. The siblings assumed ownership of the family restaurant in 2010 after their dad, Anthony Spatara, passed away. The restaurant turns 40 this year, a feat very few small business owners achieve, let alone those run by the second generation. In addition to the Gold Coast and West Loop locations, Accardo and Spatara have expanded Café L'Appetito to multiple satellite locations, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Soldier Field, United Center, and Midway Airport. Plus, the siblings added a booming catering operation.But hard work doesn't always take the prize.Take It to the ‘BurbsAfter establishing a reputation throughout Chicago as a unique Italian cultural and food experience, Anthony Spatara envisioned a new location in the suburbs. “We thought about doing a Café L'Appetito in the suburb that we live in,” said daughter Licia Accardo. “We always saw this one space; they were going to revitalize the downtown area and this space was perfect.”The idea was that Accardo, then a mom of two small children, would enjoy a shorter commute, more time with the family, and leverage her connection to the community where she lived. Spatara, Sr. thought the revitalized suburban enclave would become a “destination” and deliver similar foot traffic and comparable high-volume sales as the downtown location. But the father-daughter team learned quickly that the city concept—a one-stop Italian experience featuring a deli, coffee bar, Italian goods, and more—didn’t translate to the suburbs. Read More ...
31 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
21. Café L’Appetito Second Generation Owners Stir the Pot to Keep Things Fresh
Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, and Microsoft. Companies that started as small businesses and changed the landscape in their respective industries. Yet only Apple and Microsoft predate the restaurant started by Anthony Spatara in a small grocery store in 1981 in Chicago's vibrant Italian enclave on the city's Northwest Side. Now owned and operated by siblings Licia Accardo and Tony Spatara, Café L’Appetito celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, with the second generation leading an impressive business expansion into major Chicago venues including Solider Field and the United Center.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 21% of small businesses make it to the 20-year mark. When it comes to second-generation businesses, more than 60% fail. Restaurants are historically among the toughest small businesses to own and operate. So, what is the secret to the longevity of Café L’Appetito? Accardo and Spatara believe it’s the balance between two competing mantras—don’t mess up a good thing and changing with the times.Accardo and Spatara have honored their father's vision and expanded well beyond simply serving as caretakers of his legacy. They've creatively diversified the business and invested in opportunities that keep Café L'Appetito a vibrant and must-visit establishment for Chicagoans and visitors to the Windy City. Read more ...
9 minutes | Sep 24, 2021
20. Victor & Mika's Bakery Chew on the Savory Taste of Failure
In this season 3 episode of Back of the Napkin, Mika Altidor and Victor Munoz, owners of Victor & Mika’s Bakery, discuss owning and operating the first and only vegan establishment in Polk County, FL, and how sometimes finding the perfect recipe requires you to fail again and again.It took a pandemic, the resulting economic slowdown, and a new ally for Mika Altidor and Victor Munoz, owners of Victor & Mika’s Bakery, to acknowledge their heavy workload was quickly becoming a detriment to their lives and business. “I became vegan to be healthy,” said Altidor. “But Victor and I were working way too many hours, which is not healthy.”Working too many hours is a tough pattern to break, but the COVID-19 downtime benefitted Altidor and Munoz. “The pandemic was a blessing in disguise because it helped us to slow down,” said Altidor, who notes how exhausting it is to own and operate a business. “I realized I felt like everything's becoming way too much, and I needed help. I needed tools to be able to manage things better and to take our bakery to the next level.” Read more ...
33 minutes | Sep 9, 2021
19. It Doesn’t Taste Vegan: The Meaty Success of Victor & Mika’s Bakery
It seems unfathomable to the meat and potato crowd that people enjoy a meal filled with only vegetables, grains, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds. But for some, a whole-foods plant-based diet helps mitigate a variety of food allergies and health issues. For others it can simply express a taste preference, especially if they’re fans of Victor & Mika’s Bakery. Mika Altidor was an in-demand professional stylist and jewelry designer; Victor Munoz owned a popular produce market. Together, they now serve delicious treats and savory dishes at the first and only vegan establishment in Polk County, FL, and from their mobile kitchen. With the population of more 700,000 and a growing demand for vegan delights, the duo is in an enviable position. As many as 6% of U.S. Consumers say they're vegan; that's a 500% increase over the last several years. Also growing at double digits in the U.S. is sales of plant-based foods. Estimates suggest the U.S. plant-based meat market will reach more than $31 billion by 2026. Altidor and Munoz are quick to note that they cater to more than just the vegan crowd. “Over 98% of our customers are not vegan,” said Altidor. “The presentation of our foods, the way our food looks, it looks just like ‘regular,’ delicious food.” The business also offers options for those with other food restrictions. “Someone can order a dairy-free cake for their daughter who's allergic to milk,” said Altidor. “They don't have to be vegan, but they're allergic to dairy or they're allergic to eggs, and we were the first to have that available.” Going Great BananasRead more ...
13 minutes | Aug 27, 2021
18. How “Safe Fail” Training Helped CFAH Owners Stay Strong During COVID-19 Closures
In this Back of the Napkin Friday Fail, Jeff Arce and Web Eby, owners of CrossFit Arlington Heights, compare a “safe fail” in strength training to the obstacles faced by small business owners. Plus, they describe how gym members rallied on behalf of the entire training community during the state-mandated COVID-19 closure that hit just a few months after they assumed ownership. Failure is sometimes due to your own actions—misplacing a wad of cash or forgetting to pay taxes. You look for a reason and then catch your image in the mirror. Other times, no amount of reflection or preparation could change the course of events, like a once in a century pandemic that shuts down training facilities within months of investing in one, just as you’re gaining momentum. Jeff Arce and Web Eby, owners of CrossFit Arlington Heights (CFAH), faced that exact situation in 2020.Challenge + Recovery = AdaptationStrength training delivers results, or forces adaptation, by systematically challenging the body through progressively increasing load and periods of rest or recovery. One of the first lessons in strength training, particularly when performing barbell movements, is how to fail safely. The same holds true for small business ownership.Arce and Eby, strength training enthusiasts and CFAH performance coaches, understood the strength training equation; they all too quickly learned how to apply it as new business owners. Buoyed by record-breaking revenue gains and class attendance after just six months as owners, Arce and Eby invested in expensive equipment. And then, boom. COVID-19.“It was kind of devastation,” said Jeff. “I didn’t know how we were going to navigate this.”The duo opted to adapt and recover. Read More ...
43 minutes | Aug 18, 2021
17. CrossFit Arlington Heights: When Members Become Your Chief Marketing Officers
In this season 3 episode of Back of the Napkin, Jeff Arce and Web Eby, owners of CrossFit Arlington Heights (CFAH) in suburban Chicago, discuss how they came to own and expand an already successful small business, and how “community” provides the lift to everything they do.From the moment you walk into CrossFit Arlington Heights, you’re enveloped by what owners Jeff Arce and Web Eby painstakingly curate with every decision they make: Experience. Community. Results.Painted in bold letters on a large garage door, those three words represent more than just a slick piece of marketing; they are the very ethos of CFAH. “You come here and you're going to get experienced coaches,” said Eby. “You're going to learn that we have a stellar community, a goofball community. And you're going to see results. So, the key word community is easy to use. It's almost just second nature.”Whether checking in with a member who missed a few training sessions, or altering membership fees for someone out of town, connecting beyond the normal customer-business relationship, on a very human level, is instrumental to the ongoing success of CFAH. And Arce and Eby believe it inspires members to help spread the word and grow gym membership. Read More ...
14 minutes | Aug 6, 2021
16. Back of the Napkin Friday Fails: Failure as an Idea Generator with Kelly O’Neill
In this Back of the Napkin Friday Fail, Kelly O’Neill, owner of Fusion of Iron and Earth, talks about intrinsic value, knowing your worth and tooting your horn. Plus, Kelly reveals her favorite Detroit Coney. It is hard to imagine Kelly O’Neill, owner of Fusion of Iron and Earth, ever failing. Especially given her in-depth knowledge of the Detroit Coney (think chili dog, but with a different kind of chili topping found only in Detroit). “American is my favorite,” said O’Neill. “I like mine with mustard and onions.” That alone should make her immune to any pitfalls that can occur as a small business owner. Alas, even Detroit Coney knowledge is not all-powerful.O’Neill first experienced failure in what many have claimed to be the biggest stage ... Read More
34 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
15. The Art of Business and the Business of Art with Kelly O'Neill
In this season 3 episode of Back of the Napkin, Kelly O'Neill, owner of Fusion of Iron and Earth, shares the inspiring story of her transition from the corporate world to starting a small business from little more than clay, scrap metal, sheer determination, and the passion to honor her father's legacy. Plus she talks about small business branding, Art on the Grand, Funky Ferndale Art Fair, ArtPrize and Mint Artist Guild. Read more on the podcast blog.She was raised in the 1970s, when a generation of women demanded change, and fulfilled an emerging set of expectations. Kelly O’Neill spent her formative years in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburban enclave outside Detroit, where her mom and Dad formulated a plan for her future: graduate college, land a corporate job, achieve success, enjoy life. And so she did. O’Neill graduated from Michigan State University – the first college graduate in her family – and rose through the ranks at General Motors.As she did, O’Neill’s father, Dennis, grew his home improvement business and tinkered in his shed with a variety of artistic endeavors. His unique take on thrown pottery moved from passion to profit, with Dennis eventually showing and selling his work at local art shows. Kelly marveled at her dad’s work, yet she found something missing. “I always looked up to him for his ability to master anything and everything,” said O’Neill. “He would display his pots beautifully. But from a competitive point of view, his pots looked like everyone else's.”O’Neill took a welding course at Oakland Community College so she could create holders or stands to differentiate his work. Sadly, their plans to do a show together derailed after her father’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent death. “So, when he passed, he was very much a prolific potter… he had pottery in every stage, and I told my Mom that I would finish his work,” said O’Neill.With encouragement from her mom and support from the local arts community, O’Neill continued her father’s work while coming of age as an artist herself. Her joy for her own work grew and O’Neill took the leap from the corporate world to the art world. Her first show, Art on the Grand, was her dad’s favorite. Read More ...
15 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
14. Friday Fails: Former Coca-Cola Executive on Messaging, Media and Discretion
As small business entrepreneurs, there's a lot we can learn from the world of big business.And so in this Friday Fail, we chat with Ben Deutsch, who worked as Vice President of Communication at Coca-Cola prior to his retirement.He candidly shares the stories of some mistakes he made early in his tenure at Coke, and parses some important lessons about the power of words, the importance of focusing on your core value proposition, and the attitude needed to deal with the high stakes world of business. Read More ...
33 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
13. A Family Legacy in Ice Cream, with Jon Snyder from il laboratorio del gelato in New York
Jon Snyder got the inside scoop on running a small business from an early age; he got a taste for the entrepreneur's life working at his grandfather's Carvel ice cream stand, and he founded his first gelato business at the young age of 19.When he sold that first operation to finish school, he never imagined he would be back in the ice cream business ever again. As an unconventional student with real-world business experience, he quickly rose through the ranks and found success in the corporate world.But the allure of sweet dairy treats and the adventures of entrepreneurialism proved too strong to ignore.In this season 2 episode of Back of the Napkin, Snyder, now the owner of il laboratorio del gelato, shares his life-long entrepreneurial ice cream journey, parses the lessons he learned along the way, and answers the timeless question – what’s the difference between ice cream and gelato?
10 minutes | Jun 11, 2021
12. Friday Fails: Tips to Avoid Common Small Business Payroll Mistakes with Cory Hershman
Rarely do you hear a small business owner describe their passion as “making sure I file my payroll and taxes without triggering a visit from the IRS.”Most small business owners learn the ins and outs of payroll and taxes by trial and error, a practice that can sometimes lead to costly mistakes.In this season 2 episode of Back of the Napkin | Friday Fails, Cory Hershman, Associate Product Manager, SurePayroll, details how to prevent common small business payroll mistakes.
28 minutes | May 26, 2021
11. Building a Habit of Mindfulness and Meditation with Aisha Chottani, Founder of Moment
Aisha Chottani has been meditating for years. Despite that, she was still finding herself lacking creativity and focus come afternoon time.Aisha revisited her roots, thinking about what has helped her build good habits and feel better, and came up with her idea for Moment, a beverage that would help you rebalance and de-stress. Moment incorporates adaptogens, ingredients that have been used for hundreds of thousands of years for their calming properties.In this episode Aisha explains how Moment, or "meditation in a can" as known by its catch phrase, has a broad mission to help people de-stress and turn away from unhelpful habits. It has been recognized by companies, great organizations with similar missions and the popular television show "Shark Tank."
12 minutes | May 14, 2021
10. Friday Fails: Hiran Patel Explores Failure in Business
Hiran Patel, the owner of the Indian restaurant Naansense, remembers a time early in his small business journey that he experienced a failure in business. Hiran's story is interesting because his fail is one that you might not think of when talking about business fails.
27 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
9. Turning a Passion for Cooking Indian Food into a Business with NaanSense Owner, Hiran Patel
Hiran Patel has always had a passion for cooking, and after a chat with his father where he was reminded how important it is to follow your dreams, he decided to pursue his fortune in the kitchen. Hiran got his start in the Chicago restaurant scene and after a few years decided it was time to open his own business. NaanSense is an Indian street food restaurant that serves up delicious Indian food to customers in Chicago. Since opening the first NaanSense location several years ago, Hiran has added another location and is expanding to sell naan and sauces in Chicago area grocery stores.On this episode of Back of the Napkin, Hiran explains more about his passion for cooking Indian food and sharing this cuisine with customers, his time working at several Chicago restaurants, and how NaanSense was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and pivoted to try new things.
14 minutes | Apr 16, 2021
8. Friday Fails: Rachel Doyle Explores Failure in Business
Rachel Doyle, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit GlamourGals, shared a time early in her business when she failed. Nonprofits can have different requirements than for-profit businesses, especially when it comes to how donations are accepted and reported. Rachel's Friday Fail is very relatable for more than one reason.
36 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
7. How the Nonprofit GlamourGals Provides Companionship to Isolated Seniors, with Rachel Doyle
Rachel Doyle founded GlamourGals, a nonprofit in New York City, when she was just 17 years old. The mission of GlamourGals focuses on providing support to isolated seniors who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and for 20 years, the nonprofit’s key volunteer activity has been providing makeovers to seniors. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 60% of seniors in these living situations were facing elder isolation, and since the pandemic, that number has grown to 100% due to the lack of visitors at these facilities.Rachel and her organization are longtime clients of SurePayroll, utilizing SurePayroll’s suite of payroll and business tools to manage her small but growing nonprofit staff. We chatted with Rachel to learn more about what inspired her to launch GlamourGals, how she pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to address elder isolation through letter-writing campaigns, and what it was like being mentioned by Oprah when she was still in high school.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2022