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Success Stories

Mr. Tomas Santos-Alejandro, CEO of Advent Services, joined Advent Services as VP of Operations in 2014, before taking over. Advent Services provides cybersecurity, systems/software engineering, and other IT services to federal, state, and local government organizations and the Defense Industrial Base. His wife started the business in 2013 and started performing work for the U.S. Army. In 2016, she was looking to sell the business when Santos-Alejandro assumed the business. Santos-Alejandro has grown the company significantly through government contracting. He faced several challenges while preparing the business to grow in the government contracting sector, including lack of access to capital, expertise in the federal acquisition process, and knowledge of contracting regulations. Santos-Alejandro is a service-disabled veteran and served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. 

Determined to succeed as a government contractor, Santos-Alejandro turned to the U.S. Small Business... Read More

Mary Jane Culhane, co-owner of Culhane’s Irish Pub, started the business along with her sisters Lynda, Michelle, and Aine in 2005. The sisters had a dream when they left their family farm in Limerick, Ireland emigrating to the United States. The dream was to build a family business during an era of opportunity, to honor all of the nurturing women who came before them, and especially pay homage to their mother, Kitty. Building a family business from scratch wasn’t an easy task, and they planned meticulously. They tried to start their restaurant with traditional funding, but due to lack of credit and experience, they were denied the loan. The sisters turned to their family for support and started Culhane’s Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach, Florida. They cultivated a warm and supportive environment, where they focused on customer care.

The restaurant faced many challenges along the way including the 2008 recession, lease issues, and staff turnover. Despite the challenges, the... Read More

Printella Bankhead, President of EBS Security Inc. (EBS) started her business in 2002 with limited resources and 1 client. EBS provides armed/unarmed security services, as well as bodyguard, and private investigator services. Bankhead was working 2 jobs and was raising her 2 young children in the mid 1990’s on her own after a divorce. Determined to find a better way to support her family, Bankhead took a position as a security guard. She immediately felt connected to the industry and decided to quit the other positions to work security full-time. She re-enlisted in college and majored in Criminal Justice.

Bankhead quickly became a supervisor and remained in that role for about 10 years with the same company. The company provided security to a church, where Bankhead was first approached to start her own business. The pastor of the church was impressed with Bankhead’s integrity and professionalism, but not happy with the company she worked for. He asked her if she had ever... Read More

Dennis Chan, Owner of Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro and Bar started his restaurant in 2005 after attending the Culinary Institute of America. Initially, Chan wanted to go to law school after completing his undergraduate degree, but during the entrance exams his thoughts were focused on what food he could sell to his friends in law school. He decided to attend culinary school instead and continue his family legacy of restaurant ownership. Chan was raised in the Jacksonville, Florida area and his family owns several restaurants in the area dating back decades. He was able to start the business on his own with the help of his family, but faced challenges related to planning for disasters and other business growth solutions. He needed to figure out how to operate and continue running his business in an area often impacted by hurricanes. He also faced challenges related to being able to operate for take-out during the pandemic.

Chan started working with the Small Business Development... Read More