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Breaking New Ground with a Great Business Model

Brief description of the business:  Brittney Howard sought financing to launch a brand new business. She and her husband, Marcus, had recently relocated from Flint, Michigan to Louisville, Kentucky. Brittney was considering new opportunities. After working in the automotive industry in Flint, she decided to become a restaurant owner and developed a plan to open her own franchise. The Howards secured a small business loan through CEI 7(a), also known as C7a. Brittney then opened Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers, a new fast casual restaurant that had its original location in Flint. She and Marcus became the first franchise operators for the company.

SBA Assistance: An SBA loan to purchase the franchise through C7a, a non-bank lender licensed by SBA to participate in the SBA 7(a) loan guaranty program.

Number of employees: 12

Response to adversity or problems: The Howards relocated to Louisville from Flint, Michigan in 2015. Brittney had spent 11 years working in the automotive industry in Flint, where she operated and managed a staff of 13 in a fast- paced, demanding environment.

When her employer shuttered the business, she and Marcus, a master electrician, moved to Kentucky so that he could accept a position as a maintenance supervisor with a major automaker. The relocation to Louisville allowed the Howards time to explore numerous entrepreneurial opportunities, and they decided to open a Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers franchise.

Brittney saw the restaurant as a way to bring a piece of her previous life to her new home in Louisville, as Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers was founded in Flint. However, this required transitioning from a prior career as a machinist in the automobile industry to owning a burger restaurant in a new city over 400 miles away. Another major obstacle was that the company did not yet have any franchises.

After more than a year of preparations with the franchisor, Brittney and Marcus Howard were able to obtain financing for the new venture. Although the Howards were first-time entrepreneurs, their focus and persistence in developing the business model impressed management at C7a and were crucial in approval of the loan.

“Watching Brittney and Marcus work to establish this franchise over the last year was inspiring,” said Rob Wilson, CEO at C7a. “They were diligent and deliberate in finding exactly the right location and creating a realistic budget that would help achieve their goals and assure a future in Louisville for their family. Hardworking individuals, they are excited to be business owners with the ability to grow, creating opportunities for themselves and others.”

Community Involvement:  The Howards support Dare to Care, a nonprofit food bank that fights hunger through programs targeting the most vulnerable in communities 13 counties around Louisville, KY and southern Indiana.  

Company Name: 
Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers
Louisville, KY