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Success Stories

Growing a Small Renewable Energy Executive Search Firm into Something Big

“I worked for an executive search firm as a recruiter from 2008 to late 2010 and the firm executed searches in multiple industries. When new searches in renewable energy, would come in, none of the other recruiters wanted to work on them so I became specialized in the field of renewable energy. I fell in love with the people who dedicated their talents to benefit our environment and decided to open my own search firm specializing solely in the renewable energy space,” Carina Whitham recalls.

North Coast SCORE Chapter Chair Richard Adler worked with Carina in 2010 and 2011 in preparation for the launch of her own executive search firm, Whitham Group Executive Search  in December 2010. . Whitham Group recruits and places executives in the arenas of Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Biomass, Geothermal Energy and all other areas of renewables.

Adler outlined what he wanted from Whitham to gauge where she was in the process. “I came prepared with a list of my competitors, sales... Read More

The idea behind Cool Earth Solar is to remove any perceived limits on solar power. This means designing solar technology so that first, it competes economically against all forms of electricity generation and second, that there are no limiting bottlenecks in material or process that prevent the scaling up of solar as much as we want to address our energy needs.

“At Cool Earth Solar, we are reshaping solar technology, literally and philosophically. Our unique concentrated-photovoltaic (CPV) technology is designed to ‘tread lightly’ on the landscape and to deliver solar power at a low cost to the environment and in dollars and cents,” said CEO Rob Lamkin.  Cool Earth Solar's CPV is an inflated solar concentrator made primarily of inexpensive and free materials. This design approach reduces material requirements as well cost and time.

Cool Earth Solar was introduced to the Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at a seminar hosted at iGate, one of... Read More

How much difference does the quality of olive oil make to the flavor of your food?  A lot, according to Olive This Olive That co-owners and founders Janell Pekkain and Mary Kucel.  In the summer of 2012, Pekkain opened an olive oil tasting bar in San Francisco to give people an opportunity to taste a wide variety of extra virgin olive oils and discover the difference in taste for themselves.

“Our business gets people really excited and knowledgeable about extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, pairings, and uses.” Pekkain explained.  She finds the looks on people’s faces as they experience the tasting for the first time almost as rewarding as the sales that result.

Olive This Olive That is a boutique retailer with three part time employees that sells extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, hand-crafted pasta, and other fresh, food products. Pekkain prides herself on the customer service provided in her shop as well as the quality foodstuffs.

Pekkain’s... Read More

Passionate in Sports, Passionate in Business

Jaimi Ellison was playing basketball for Smith College in Massachusetts when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  After receiving reconstructive surgery, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz to be closer to home.  Not two weeks after she entered the fitness industry, Jaimi was hit by a car on her bike, which she was riding in an effort to rehab her knee from surgery. “It was this accident and the events that followed which inspired me to get into the fitness industry as a business owner,” Jaimi recalls.

Jaimi has been a personal trainer since the age of 23 and was just 27 when she had her grand opening in April of 2009.  Now thirty-one years old, Jaimi is the owner of Santa Cruz Core Fitness + Rehab, an integrative wellness center offering personal training, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture services, nutrition counseling, and various health and fitness classes.

Jaimi also worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in her area and was able to... Read More

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