Small Business News & Opportunities
In this Issue: 
  • Success Stories by HCC Business Plan Competition Alumni
    • John Hadley - Specialty Diving
    • Sarah Mercier - Learning Ninjas
    • Reda Hicks - GotSpot
    • Christa Clarke - Cubicles to Cocktails
    • Arneisha Sadler - Emeniss Call Center
    • Thanks Again to our HCC Business Plan Competition Sponsors, Trainers, Judges and Advisors! 
    • HCC Business Plan Competition Sponsor Spotlight - Wallis Bank
  • Upcoming Virtual Webinars & Classes - HCC & Partners 
    • H-Force Small Business Survival Webinars 
    • HCC Southwest Free Webinars - Microsoft and More
    • MBDA Export Academy
    • Creating a Successful Business Plan Class
    • Jobs Now Houston - Powered by HCC
    • Usa tus Redes Sociales con Exito
    • Resources for Women in Business
    • Small Business Administration Events
    • Digital Marketing Clinic
  • Small Business Success Series by HCC© - Fall 2020 Updates
    • October - November Cohort - Save the Dates
    • August - September Cohort in Full Swing  - Virtually Zooming Along!
    • Sponsor Spotlight - Wells Fargo Bank - Small Business Resources 
Alumni Success Stories
HCC Business Plan Competition

John Hadley
Specialty Diving, LLC
1st Place - $12,000
2020 HCC Business Plan Competition
Specialty Diving LLC is a commercial diving and marine construction company that provides divers and marine services (crane barges, dive support vessels, marine construction equipment) to perform construction and inspection projects for both private parties and governmental agencies.

Participating in the business plan competition allowed me to identify my weak spots in business ownership. I gained knowledge in areas I was lacking, ultimately providing critical insight on how to better develop my company.
I've utilized my winning proceeds as well as loans generated from my efforts to reinvest into the company. It's given me the ability purchase equipment currently rented for projects, allowing for greater profit margins and expedited response times. I'm able to bid more competitively owning equipment over renting. I've already hired one full time salaried and one hourly employee since the end of the competition.

Sarah Mercier
Learning Ninjas LLC

2nd Place - $8,000
2020 HCC Business Plan Competition

Learning Ninjas are the online learning experts. We provide high-touch services to organizations that need to train their workforce or the communities they serve, but don't have the capabilities to do so. Applying evidence-based instructional design and the latest technology and data standards, we create online courses, plan learning ecosystems, and implement measurement and evaluation that ties directly to business needs.

Participating in the competition meant making dedicated time to work on our business growth plan.  What stands out as most valuable was working on our financial projections.  We have a much clearer picture of how we align elements of our projections with our business goals. 

The pandemic has resulted in a flood of new work for us, mostly in helping organizations build their capacity to support distance based learning.  Working remotely is now the norm for most US-based organizations, and we are able to help them with up-skilling their teams in this new environment.  Teaching virtual facilitation skills using web conferencing tools used has quickly become one of our most popular services. 

We are executing our business plan in three primary areas:  improved marketing and communication of our services, expanding our implementation team through hiring, and building our business banking relationships. I'm happy to report that we've already made tremendous progress in all areas, and are continuing to monitor and adjust our plan due to the high demand for our services. 

Reda Hicks
GotSpot, Inc.

3rd Place - $4,000
2020 HCC Business Plan Competition

GotSpot, Inc. is an Airbnb-style platform for sharing all kinds of commercial space; a marketplace where businesses that have space, and businesses that occasionally need space, find one another.

Reda thanked all involved in the HCC Business Plan Competiton: "The HCC Business Plan Competition helped me streamline my company to be more efficient. The training and guidance of my advisors were critical in helping me achieve and focus my business goals.
Three is my lucky number, I leveraged my HCC experience and just placed 3rd again, this time in the in the Ford Fund Pitch Competition hosted by Bunker Labs today (cash prize of $10,000). I'm also now serving as an Alumnus-in-Residence for the current MassChallenge Texas cohort, and also just completed HubSpot's Ellevate marketing automation workshop with my assistant. We're working on automating some of our internal functions to increase bandwidth.
We have made some pandemic pivots. People are still staying home (which is a good thing), so the typical need for GotSpot hasn't been there; but we're using the "quiet" time to have conversations with businesses and commercial real estate companies about putting inventory on GotSpot to be ready when things begin reopening.
We're continuing conversations with local leaders up and down the Texas Gulf Coast about RescueSpot, and our goal is full functionality before hurricane season 2020. Meanwhile, we're still helping with ad hoc space for COVID response as needed, and we're ready with space here in Houston for this hurricane season. 

Christa Clarke
Cubicles to Cocktails
Honorable Mention - $1,000
2020 HCC Business Plan Competition

Cubicles to Cocktails is a platform for women of color to build their networks through meaningful community-based conversations, resources, and events that young professional women of color find worthwhile in building their careers.

Ms. Clarke's comment about her competition advisors:   "Being paired initially with 2 advisors, and eventually 3, provided me a breadth of expertise to strengthen my business plan (e.g. marketing plan and financial projections) and support me to shift my mindset also (e.g. confidence, personal reflection)." 

The pandemic caused us to shift our focus to hosting virtual events, and we will reintroduce in-person events in 2021 once it is safe to do so. We developed a plan to expand our digital platform from social media channels and online blog to an online community platform and eventually a robust mobile application housing all of our resources, virtual events, and community in one easy to access place.  

Post competition, my advisor pitched me to several media outlets to help me begin my PR and marketing campaign. The campaign helped me to grow my newsletter list by 44%. I've also been working on securing funding for my business through grants, an SBA EIDL loan, and a small business relief crowdfunding campaign. The funding I've secured so far will go towards product development, including launching the digital community platform and developing digital resources such as career workbooks for community members. 

Arneisha Sadler
Emeniss Call Center  

Honorable Mention - $1,000
2020 HCC Business Plan Competition

Emeniss Call Center provides small businesses
provides small businesses with knowledgeable, US-based customer service representatives to answer calls about their products/services, process orders, gain customer feedback, and upsell at economical prices without sacrificing quality.

Participating in the Business Plan Competition established accountability that pushed me beyond my fears. Thanks to the competition leaders, trainers and advisors for this great opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect, learn and grow. I applied three years in a row to get into this competition, and broke my foot during COVID-19. Thanks to the leaders, trainers and to my advisors James Cutler and Chuck Weiser for your vast wisdom, Zoom calls and 3 am email replies. To have completed the competition AND win prize money is an overwhelming blessing. My advice to entrepreneurs: Never give up!
Pandemic Pivots: The pandemic led me to a revised business model that is working well for us. We shifted from primarily a brick-and-mortar based business to remote employees and we have adjusted our prices and expanded our service to be more beneficial to prospects and to our clients. We also provide virtual receptionists to keep professionals connected with their clients, are pursuing government contracts and we have discovered ways to help the community and offer non-profit services.

More Alumni Success Stories Coming Up in Future Issues!
 Thank you Again to our Competition Sponsors! 

HCC Business Plan Competition 
Sponsor Spotlight:  Wallis Bank

Wallis Bank Was Awarded the Houston Cup
at the Houston SBA Awards

Wallis Bank was awarded the Houston Cup for the 4th consecutive year at the Houston Small Business Awards Ceremony on September 8th.  This award is presented by the SBA Houston District Office each year to the organization that submits the most nominations for recognizing outstanding small businesses in the community.  We are thrilled that Wallis Bank customers were recognized and awarded four of the 10 SBA Awards. Congratulations to all the winners

Wallis Bank Provided $347.5 Million in PPP Loans for Over 3,500 Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19.

Wallis Bank is also a recurring sponsor of the annual HCC Business Plan Competition.
Upcoming Webinars

Sign up for all or part of the Export Academy!

Creating a Successful Business Plan Class

6 Weeks Access - 24 Course Hours
Online - Choose Instructor Led or Self-Paced Class 


Turn your business ideas into a solid plan for financing and long-term success. Committing your idea to paper in the form of a business plan not only increases your chances of obtaining financing, but also in keeping your business strategically focused. You will work through all the major components of writing a business plan and emerge with your first draft in hand. And most importantly, you will have completed the first-and most difficult-step on the path to small business success.
This class prepares you to apply for the Spring 2021 HCC Business Plan Competition! 


Instructor Led Class - 6 Weeks Access - Class Starts September 16


Self-Paced Class - 3 Months Access - Start Anytime.


Register Now

Women Wednesdays:
Resources for Women in Business

Do you want to start or grow your Woman-Owned Small Business? SBA Resource & Lending Partners can help you do just that! Attend this September webinar series to learn how each organization can help your business, hear from a business owner who has leveraged these resources, and ask your small business questions! The final event will include an informational webinar on the WOSB federal contracting program.
SCORE Houston
September 16  |  2:00pm CST  |  REGISTER HERE
SBA Funding Options
September 23  |  10:00am CST  |  REGISTER HERE
WOSB Federal Contracting Program
September 30  |  10:00am CST  | REGISTER HERE

Monthly Digital Marketing Clinic
September - Social Media Tips & Why 
Content Planning is Critical

Small Business Success Series by HCC©

October - November 2020 Cohort  

Class Size is Limited 
Application Period for the October-November Cohort 
Opening Soon  

Applications will be reviewed to choose those accepted into this series. 

Applicants will be contacted via the email submitted in the application.

Your completion of the Small Business Success Series 
also fulfills the program/class pre-requisite for applying 
for the 2021 HCC Business Plan Competition in January! 


This series is offered at no cost to entrepreneurs thanks to our sponsor
Wells Fargo Bank.
Apply for an 
opportunity to be 
chosen for a cohort.

Small Business Success Series by HCC©
Update - August - September Cohort is Zooming Along! 

We're More than Half-Way Done!  Three weeks completed, two to go.

Mod 1 - Ignite the Entrepreneur in You! - Thea and Ned helped all understand the key traits of successful entrepreneurs; including leadership styles & problem-solving skills to negotiate, sell & achieve goals. We all took personality inventories! Mod 2 - Vet the Venture - Are My Ideas Lucrative? - Austin and Ned assisted entrepreneurs in determining the financial viability of their business idea or growth plan. We covered competition, market need, price positioning, differentiators, revenue projections, start-up costs & more.  Mod 3 - Sales & Marketing Powered Up - Ashley & Austin gave each entrepreneur Insights & tactics to improve their ongoing market research process, messaging, strategic planning, budget & spending, digital marketing, analytics & measurement and loyalty & brand advocacy. 

Still to come

This week, in Mod 4 -  Financials for Small Business Launch & Growth Rebecca Schultz is up.  She will empower each small business owner to prepare for the "why, how & what's next" in understanding their numbers: past, present & how to analyze & estimate numbers that both owners and funders need to know to propel the business to sustained success. Mod 4B also delivers a Funding Panel featuring the SBA, Wells Fargo, LiftFund, Synerlock and Diversity Fund.  Next week, Mod 5  is Minimizing Risk - Protect Your Assets, Your Business & Your Future!  David Regenbaum addresses liability and tax requirements in business organization; insurance; hiring employees & independent contractors; operational processes & contract negotiations. Mod 5B also features a Minimizing Risk Panel, with legal, tax and insurance experts. Graduation is on 9/24! 

Featured Facilitators:  
Goldin Smith
Mod 1
Mods 1 & 2
Mods 2 & 3
Mod 3
Mod 4

Mod 5

Our Program is Highly Interactive

Dynamic General Sessions: In each Module's Monday and Thursday session, facilitators change up the action by presenting in about 20-minute segments, while interacting with the group and having entrepreneurs come on camera to share out loud; others ask questions in the chat. 

Small Group Virtual Breakout Exercises:  We often send the entrepreneurs into small group virtual breakout rooms for exercises where they can apply learnings to their businesses and get feedback from their peers.  Coursework assignments and workbooks keep the entrepreneurs writing down their business assumptions as they evolve their strategies about how they will maximize opportunities and minimize risk, given the unprecedented changes coming our way as we navigate the pandemic. 

Weekly Virtual Office Hours with the facilitators and series leaders help entrepreneurs ask questions and get feedback in between classes.  

Networking:  There is also ample opportunity for networking 30 minutes prior to class start times.

Connections with Entrepreneurial Resources: HCC also provides connections and relationship building opportunities with entrepreneurial resource partner entities including our sponsor Wells Fargo Bank, the Small Business Adminstration and SCORE; and through our guest panelists. 

This cohort graduates on September 24!

Do you wish you were a part of this program?  Perhaps you can be.  We open up the application period for our October-November Small Business Success Series cohort soon!  

Sponsor Spotlight:  Wells Fargo Bank

Small business owners are dealing with unprecedented challenges because of COVID-19. But they are also tougher than the challenges they face. We created the Small Business Resource Center to support small business owners as they adapt, rebuild, and grow their companies amidst uncertainty.

Action-oriented content to help you rebuild stronger

We want to help you navigate the COVID-19 crisis without losing sight of your long-term goals. So we built this program around five themes that are relevant to small business owners every day.

* Insights provides context for the crisis, including what it means for your customers and your business.
* Business strategy covers the best way to adapt, rebuild and grow as a company.
* Connections looks at how to build a community that can help you through
the crisis.
* Marketing explores the best way to promote your company amidst uncertainty.
* Capital considerations looks at everything from cash flow to financing.

About the Glenda & David Regenbaum Center for Entrepreneurship - HCC Northwest

OUR MISSION:  To help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. We do this by offering workshops, seminars, summits, classes and competitive training and advising, while also providing practical knowledge, resources and connections.
Contact us at [email protected] or 713-718-6650

We are committed to furthering the cause of social justice in our community and beyond...

Houston Community College is committed to furthering the cause of social justice in our community and beyond. HCC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender identity and expression, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status. I fully support that commitment and, as such, will work to maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. In this course, we share in the creation and maintenance of a positive and safe learning environment. Part of this process includes acknowledging and embracing the differences among us in order to establish and reinforce that each one of us matters.  I appreciate your suggestions about how to best maintain this environment of respect. If you experience any type of discrimination, please contact me and/or the Office of Institutional Equity at 713-718-8271. 
From all of us to all of you In all our offerings! 
Sandra Louvier, Director
David Regenbaum, Entrepreneur in Residence
Flora Renteria, Reception Assistant
Sabiha, Dholkawala, Administrative Assistant