Success Stories

Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Bear Republic Brewing Co. is a family owned business founded in 1995.  Rich and Tami Norgrove have been working alongside Sandy and Richard Norgrove Sr. since even before that first day.  The family visited every brewery from Canada to Mexico along the west coast, visited trade shows, and scouted potential sites for their brewery together.  The family dinner table at which the business plan was written over twenty years ago now serves as the meeting table in the conference room of their 152 employee business.

Brew Master Rich had apprenticed at Marin Brewing Company to learn the trade.  He was originally heading down a path as a graphic designer.  In the beginning, he was the only full time employee doing both the brewing and the marketing while everyone else kept their day jobs.  Tami had a non-profit and environmental career, and Richard Sr. had worked in logistics for Optical Coating Laboratory, Inc. and was a Navy veteran.

Since the soft opening of the brewery and... Read More

Training operations team April 2015

The recent experience of Lyncean Technologies, based in Fremont, California, and led by Dr. Ronald Ruth, is a case study of a breakthrough technology mastered with small business acumen and sold to the world. 

In 2002, Lyncean licensed an x-ray technology from Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  Supported in part through a series of far-seeing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, Lyncean went on to develop “Compact Light Source” (CLS) – the world’s first miniature X-ray probe employing state-of-the-art laser and electron beams.  Remarkably, Lyncean’s CLS can replace a traditional, stadium-scale synchrotron with a lab-size machine at one percent of the cost.  

A big opportunity came from a university research consortium in Germany, the Center for Advanced Laser Research, which was eager to employ CLS in cancer research. 

The lag time between buying materials, assembling a product, shipping it, and finally receiving payment can create a... Read More


The San Francisco District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration selected The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen as San Francisco’s 2015 Emerging Business of the Year.

Both Nate and Heidi lost their corporate jobs in 2009 as a result of the Great Recession.  Heidi completed Renaissance’s Business Planning Class in 2009.  They received SBA services through Renaissance’s San Francisco Women’s Business Center and are now mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and helping other business owners with their own business financials.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center is a Bay Area non-profit small business organization providing training and support services to help socially and economically diverse women and men start and grow their own thriving businesses. 

Nate Pollak and Heidi Gibson opened the first American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in May of 2010.  They now operate two very successful locations with 30 employees in San Francisco.  Their stores offer made-from-... Read More

Kelly Hensley

                Kelly Hensley is the owner of Leftovers consignment store in San Francisco.  She works with over 5,000 consigners and currently has a wait list for consignment, which she attributes in part to her prime location at the epicenter of Russian Hill, Nob Hill, and other upscale San Francisco neighborhoods. 

                Consignors leave their goods at her store for sixty days, after which they can either reclaim what hasn’t sold or donate it.  All proceeds are split 50/50 between the consignor and the shop.  The constant flow of new and unique goods gives the store a different energy from a big box store that can be counted on to have the same types of furnishings indefinitely.  Kelly runs her business for two sets of customers, her consignors and her shoppers.

                By the nature of her business, Kelly is able to make monthly donations to mission-based thrift stores like Out of the Closet and Goodwill.

                Kelly also gives... Read More