“The Small Business Administration has helped open doors for us. Helped us with education, helped us with advocacy. All of those things that really help small businesses like ourselves achieve the success we’ve achieved so far,” said Sanjay Kucheria, CEO of Trinus Corporation. Trinus Corporation is a business intelligence and data management solutions company, which was founded in 1995 by Kucheria.
In 2003, Kucheria took his intense desire to make Trinus a market leader and entered into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which helps small disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. At that time, Trinus Corporation had been steadily growing for eight years but not at the pace Kucheria had envisioned. He had been keeping the operating expenses low and investing every penny of profit back into his company to avoid the need for any loans.
He contacted the Los Angeles SBA District Office and inquired about the 8(a) Business Development Program, which allows participants to receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. It’s a steppingstone for small business owners to build their competitive and institutional know-how while opening up doors to joint ventures and mentor-protégé arrangements.
Kucheria and his team kept to their strategy of growing the company by focusing on multiple vertical markets within the government and commercial sectors. “Through the two recessions and the Great Recession we’ve consistently grown, in fact, last year  we grew 35%,” said Kucheria.
Trinus Corporation has grown from $120,000 in its first year to now having a work force of 121 individuals with about $12 million in sales. Kucheria plans to reach $50 million by 2017 and there is no evidence he is slowing down. “I feel tremendous joy in receiving the 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award,” said Kucheria. No wonder the SBA is proud to have Sanjay Kucheria as a 2013 Small Business Week Award winner.
When a trend setter or style conscience individual goes to a typical mall they are both unlimited in their choices and confined to those choices. One can choose individual flavors of ice cream, pizza ingredients, ring arrangements and hair styles but for the most part custom-made clothing such as shirts, hats and outfits are not on hand for the typical mall shopper – this is about to change.
In October 2013, HDLV USA will launch a flagship location at Westfield Culver City Mall that will go beyond the typical routine of finding the perfect hat, shirt or outfit and usher in a new concept that will delight and indulge customers by offering in person fashion services directly to everyday consumers, including HDLV USA custom painted hat designs, fashion styling, and an exclusive selection of trendsetting fashion brands. “Personalizing the traditional retail shopping experience provides elite value for our celebrity clientele and makes everyday consumers feel like celebrities,” says Janey.
Benjamen Janey founded HDLV, a creative fashion firm, in 2010; HDLV stands for Highly Distinguished Liquid Value and specializes in creating custom fashion branding for stylish individuals.
Janey started selling clothes as a vendor on Venice Beach in 2008 and fondly remembers having to get up before dawn to stand in line for the 5 a.m. vendor lottery to have a stall along Venice Beach. It was there that Janey made a name for himself as a local designer and entrepreneur by creating his hand painted caps for beachgoers and tourists. He quickly became a known name and brand among the Venice Beach culture.
Referring to his clothing industry start on Venice Beach, “You quickly know if your products are viable or not….I learned how to sell, what to sell and learned different languages,” said Janey. “At first, I got some markers and blank trucker hats and hand painted them with customer’s names or put a funny character on it…from that I developed a whole collection from pop culture icons.” Back then, he sold as many items as possible at a competitive price, “in order to compete in Los Angeles, I designed a product that was unique and affordable and that was how I penetrated the market.”
By 2010, Janey planned to expand out of Venice Beach and into malls, so he attended the Valley Economic Development Center’s access to capital event “Where’s the Money.” There he met Marsel Watts, director of the SBA’s Women Business Center hosted by VEDC. They immediately set up a business consultation and she reviewed his products. She concurred with Janey’s plan to expand out of Venice Beach and recommended Orange County Marketplace in Costa Mesa, California that is one of the largest weekly events in Southern California with approximately two million visitors each year.
Janey applied for and received a $5,000 microloan for inventory and equipment to build out and open the Costa Mesa location. For the next two years, Janey improved upon that location and received additional financing from Travelers’s Safety Risk Management Program to refine his product lines and grow his start-up.
It was around the two-year mark that HDLV also captured the media’s attention and Janey was featured on television shows such as Art Traveler, Fluid Artist and NewFacet TV. He also attended an awards ceremony and met the actress Vivica Fox. But after the blitzkrieg of media attention, Janey went right back to planning for the third phase of his expansion and his most recent milestone as a rising small business owner.
This leads back to the launch of HDLV USA’s flagship location at Westfield Culver City Mall, which would be comparable to an Urban Outfitters or Forever 21. “This grand opening is a huge step and it’s a great launching pad for the retail end of the business…Westfield malls are located in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In 2015, they are planning to open a mall in the new World Trade Center in New York,” said Janey.
Janey described the business technical assistance and support of Marsel Watt’s at the Women’s Business Center and the financial backing of VEDC, a SBA lender, “like a big sister or brother…they have big expectations and see the business opening in more locations,” said Janey. The deal took about six months to complete with the help of accountants, attorneys and HDLV’s new management team.
At HDLV USA’s new location, anyone can design an outfit and/or hat there, and that young girl or guy who wants to wear something customized but in style will now be able to purchase this at Westfield Culver City Mall’s newest store come October. “It’s the first of its kind. Westfield Group, VEDC and the Women’s Business Center made an investment in the location and I’m looking forward to our grand opening,” said Janey.
VSolvit was founded in 2006 by Payal Kamdar. VSolvit (pronounced ‘We Solve It’) develops geospatial and information technology solutions for government and private sector clients. VSolvit is also a certified SBA 8(a) firm and Women Owned Small Business.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development (USDA RD) designated geographic information system procurement as an 8(a) set aside. VSolvit competed and won this five-year $14.5 million 8(a) competitive contract and within their first year of performance demonstrated how a small 8(a) firm can provide outstanding service to their customers.
One example of VSolvit’s innovation is an application that integrated Rural Development’s geospatial system with social media platforms such as Flickr and YouTube. This ingenious web application enhanced the USDA Rural Development’s community outreach efforts, lowered costs and enabled personalized, location-based data sharing. Based upon VSolvit’s sound execution and delivery on the program, they were nationally recognized as the USDA's 2011 Woman Owned Business of the Year.
This early success has garnered the attention of other prospects as VSolvit’s customer list has grown to include multiple agencies within the Navy and USDA as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and local government agencies.
Ms. Kamdar acknowledges that her business’ success is in large part due to VSolvit’s talented team members, the SBA and her advisors. “Without the generous support from SBA and its programs, VSolvit could not have transformed from a one person outfit in 2006 to the successful company it is today,” said Ms. Kamdar. “If small businesses are the growth engines of our economy, then SBA is the vital engineer who keeps the engine roaring.” VSolvit is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program with Long Beach Community College District.
After leading VSolvit to national recognition for innovative information technology/geospatial solution development, Ms. Kamdar was recently honored by the SBA for driving VSolvit’s “exemplary growth and success.” Kamdar was named Region IX Minority Small Business Person of the Year, which recognizes small business owners across California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. Kamdar will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in October to receive the honor at the White House on behalf of VSolvit.