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Success Stories

Max Kothari, President Express Kitchens

Express Kitchens is the source for all your cabinet needs. Their ability to supply cabinets that satisfy every taste, lifestyle, and budget makes the transition from old, outdated kitchens to a brand new one easy and affordable. In business since, 2002, Express Kitchens has grown to include six Connecticut showrooms and one Massachusetts location.

Hitesh, “Max” Kothari and partner Parag “Roger” Mehta are natives of Rajkot, India.   In 1989 Max purchased Star Hardware Store, a business which had operated at the location in Main Street since 1918.  The location is in the north end of Hartford, which is a section of the city with many majority residents and chronic unemployment.  At this time Max ran the store with four employees until 1999, when he received a $100,000 SBA 7(a) loan from Fleet National Bank to expand the hardware store’s inventory and hire four additional employees.

In the course of operating the hardware store, he perceived a need and a market for a... Read More

After 25 years of working as a retail executive for the May Department Store, Macy’s, and G. Fox & Company, Beth Bolton decided it was time to launch a second career.  She had always dreamed about owning a bakery/coffee shop, but the truth was that her knowledge of the industry was limited and she needed to learn more about the full range of bakery products before undertaking such an endeavor. 

Could she do it?  Her impetus came from her children who supported and encouraged her to follow her dream so that later in her life she wouldn’t have to ask herself, “what if”? 

With her support system in place, she challenged herself to fully understand the full range of bakery products as well as the nuts and bolts of owning and operating a bakery.   Beth enrolled in the Connecticut Culinary Institute and got a job working at a bakery in Simsbury which gave her the confidence and experience to bring her dream to fruition.  And after noticing an empty storefront on Park... Read More


Chris Runyan relocated to Stamford, Connecticut from Bentonville, Arkansas in 2009. He’d considered opening a GameXChange franchise in Arkansas before moving but discovered that there were no franchise territories available in Arkansas.  Chris pursued his passion for gaming and this particular franchise and prior to the relocation, researched job and business opportunities and discovered that while there were no GameXChange franchise opportunities in Arkansas where the franchise was founded, there were territories available in Connecticut.  

GameXChange is a franchise retail store that sells, purchases and trades new and pre-owned video games and related hardware, software and accessories.

After living in Connecticut for just one week, Chris contacted the SCORE chapter in Norwalk and developed a business plan and set up meetings with commercial lenders with their help.  After being rejected by eight banks, Chris contacted the Connecticut Community Investment... Read More

May Cookies – The Best Cookies on the Planet

Susan Nolte has always been a very health conscious woman, one that is looking to make the world a healthier place, one cookie at a time.  In 2008 she founded the May Cookie Co., an effort that came out of a vision that consisted of creating a world of healthy people who eat well, live well and smile a lot. Her next question was can this be a viable business? Originally, Susan wanted to bake and deliver delicious, wholesome cookies that had healthier ingredients than those traditionally found in stores at the time.  Over time, the concept evolved into a healthy cookie mix, which allowed her to take advantage of broader consumer appeal, wider geographic reach and a longer product shelf-life. 

Susan began by taking her vision to the Hartford Women Business Center in 2008 to align her with some business basics that would guide her through the challenging maze of entrepreneurship.  With guidance from the business coaches at the WBC she perfected her business plan, learned... Read More