Success Stories

39 Degrees North Co-Owner Chris Walls

For Chris Walls, it all began with a love for maps.

"I always loved maps.  When we were in the car when I was growing up, I was always looking at where we were going.”

Walls says his favorite maps were made by Rand McNally, who was the premier publisher of paper maps and atlases in the United States.   Being on the road with his family taught Walls an important thing—geography doesn’t change, but with the evolution of tech, how maps were presented to consumers had to.  So, Walls went to Indiana University, obtained a degree in geography and began a career in Geographic Information Systems.

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is computerized mapping.  It takes all the information needed for a flat paper map; coordinates, topography, roads, etc.; and inputs into online databases.  As Walls says, working in GIS, “is kind of like being immersed in Rand McNally, and creating it for the 21st Century.”

After school, Walls worked as a GIS Tech at the Indiana... Read More

Real Taste Catering Inc. owner Mark Webster stands outside his corporate offices in the Martindale Brightwood neighborhood of Indianapolis.  Webster, a participant in this year’s SBA Emerging Leaders Program credits SBA with “putting hands on people who need it.”

SBA Programs Help Caterer’s Business Give Back to Indianapolis Neighborhood

“Have you ever been walking down the street, smelled the best fried chicken you’ve ever smelled in your life and wondered, ‘where’s that coming from?’  Well, you don’t have to wonder any more.  It’s coming from Real Taste Catering, right here in Indianapolis, Indiana!”

This pitch almost won Mark Webster $10,000 at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in 2015.  Webster owns Real Taste Catering, which began when he and his wife were approached by her cousin to cater her wedding in 1997. 

“When I was in college, I majored in criminal justice, but was always known as the chef for frat parties,” says Webster.  “After I graduated and got married, I was a Parole Officer in Indianapolis but my wife and I still threw epic house parties with great food.  When my wife’s cousin asked if we’d cater her wedding, we didn’t know anything about catering, but we did it anyway and it was just great... Read More

The owner of Indianapolis based RYAN Consulting Group, Keith Harding poses with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon after accepting his award as SBA Indiana District Office National Small Business Week 2017 8(a) Graduate of the Year.  Photo by Katie Maynard.

For Keith Harding, being an entrepreneur wasn’t his initial calling.  It became his reality after a car accident during high school left him a paraplegic. He applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration and realized that it wasn’t an income on which he could survive. 

“I got my first check from SSI and it was $461. I knew I couldn’t sustain on that,” Harding says.

Almost 30 years later, Harding owns the Indianapolis based multi-million dollar tech company RYAN Consulting Group, which boasts close to 100 employees. His yearly net profit is well over 1,000 times as much as that first SSI check. 

After his accident and that first paltry check, Harding decided he wasn’t going to sit on his laurels and be content with life. Harding enrolled in a local training program and learned Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), a computer programming language designed for business use. Harding began working for IBM in 1989, for... Read More

Dr. Joey Rivera of Rivera Consulting Group accepts his award as Indiana District 2017 National Small Business Week Small Business Person of the Year

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced that the federal government reached its small business federal contract awards goal of 23% for the fourth year in a row.  Not only did they reach their goal, but they beat it by over $9 billion dollars.  What this means is that during FY 2016 the federal government awarded 24.34% of their prime and sub-contracting contracts to small businesses.  These are the kind of numbers that make small business owners, like Indiana District Office’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year, Rivera Consulting Group’s Dr. Joey Rivera, very proud they took advantage of SBA resources such as the 8(a) program to earn their slice of the federal contracting pie.

Rivera Consulting Group is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) with expertise in Information Technology resources and Cyber Security.  Rivera says he wouldn’t be where he is today without SBA.

“My first encounter with SBA was in 2005 when I went... Read More

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