Alumni Spotlight: Perez, APC


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A Story of Resilience

Perez is a 75-year-old business and according to Mary Alexander, Chief Financial Officer of Perez, “It’s the second-oldest architecture firm in New Orleans,” where it is based out of the French Quarter. Before 2005, most of its contracts were in and around New Orleans. In 2005, however, Hurricane Katrina hit the South Coast. Almost all of their business was either put on hold or destroyed in the devastation. The Perez office itself, in the northern part of the quarter, suffered damage as well. 

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Alumni Spotlight: Bon Bon Bon

Alex-Clark-Headshot-Shot-by-Brad-ZieglerYearning for Chocolate in Detroit

At the age of fourteen, Alexandra Clark knew what she wanted to do with her life: create and sell sweets. “I loved the interaction that people have when they’re buying sweets,” Alex recalls. “It’s so fun!”

After graduating college, she left her home state of Michigan to pursue her craft in places as far off as Norway, New Zealand, and in the North American cities of Vancouver, Aspen, Chicago, and Boston. “For eight years, I moved on average every six months.” But when it came to starting her own business, Alex knew she had to return to Michigan. 

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Alumni Spotlight: The Leading Niche

Tamara Nall LinkedIn PhotoIn 2007, Tamara Nall had a successful career at a corporate consulting firm. She was six months away from getting promoted to a top position. But not everything was as perfect as it seemed: “I worked twenty hours a day – that does not include eating, bathing, sleeping. I had gotten to the point where there was a lot of bureaucracy and hierarchy to getting things done.”

That year, she decided that she would soon resign and founded The Leading Niche. Tamara felt that “there was a need in the market for a high-caliber small business/professional services company but with a big business approach.” She aimed to start a nimble and more flexible business that could provide clients with recommendations in far less time than larger and more bureaucratic firms could. Although she was motivated to leave her corporate job by a culture that she disliked, she soon learned that culture is something every business owner must work on.

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Alumni Spotlight: Apprio Inc.

DarrylBritt-hi 1Overcoming the Odds: Winning Federal Contracts 

It’s estimated that $400 billion in products and services are purchased every year by the federal government. Gaining access to this huge market has enormous potential for small businesses, but that takes capacity-building. When it comes to going after a federal contract, Darryl Britt, CEO of Apprio Inc., notes that “most of us small business owners aren’t salesmen, and there’s a little bit of call reluctance.”

His business, Apprio Inc., provides technology solutions, program management and program support for a growing base of federal clients in the healthcare and emergency response sectors. Today, Apprio boasts substantial contracts with federal agencies such as FEMA, USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services, but when Darryl founded the business back in 1998, he worked with smaller commercial clients only. After 10 years without substantial business growth, Apprio was a $2 million business with only one federal contract and two other employees.  

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NYCEDC Bronx Graduation Speech

NYCEDC Next Level Bronx Grads 2016.jpg-largeDuring Interise’s first graduation of 2017, we were lucky enough to hear Next Level Bronx grad Sheila McQueen speak to her class and those attending the celebration.

Sheila recently completed the StreetWise™ ‘MBA’ program through NYCEDC, equipping her with the knowledge and skills to sustainably grow her business. In her speech, Sheila addressed the ways the program shifted her mindset for running her own business as well as hard skills she learned in class.

Read below for the full speech!


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Alumni Spotlight: Essance LLC

JasmineTran HeadshotJasmine Tran always had a keen interest in skincare, having spent five years working in natural cosmetic laboratories. In 2011 she turned those years of experience into a business venture, Essance. Essance allows Jasmine to create and sell her handmade organic skincare products to retail and wholesale clients in her local community of Portland, Oregon. As a growing supply of organic products crowds out the market in Portland, however, Jasmine hopes to widen her client base.

In 2016, Jasmine completed Portland Development Commission’s Increase Project, a capacity building program for small businesses powered by Interise’s StreetWise 'MBA'™. Increase Project provided her with valuable relationships, business know-how, and a growth plan to improve her business.

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