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Success Stories

Finding Success in Subterranean Surface Imaging

Dave Walsh came out of grad school with a desire to run his own business. Using his schooling and knowledge in the MRI technology field, he started Vista Clara. He spent time consulting and subcontracting but wanted more with his business. Walsh came up with an idea: use MRI technology to detect water in the ground to create an actual image. However, he needed funding for research and development of this idea.


Walsh turned to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR grants, which come in three stages, allow a qualifying business with a technology-based idea the means to commercially develop it. The grant is also sometimes known as “seed funding,” as awarded monies have historically provided innovators like Walsh a direct means to see their technology concepts grow into trusted industry solutions. He was also able to secure a line of credit guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business... Read More

It’s all in the Family: Local Irish Pub Grows Strong Roots with SBA Assistance

Shawn O’Donnell’s American Grill and Irish Pub is truly a family affair. With a strong connection to his Irish roots and an even stronger connection to his Washington-based family, Founder and Owner Shawn O’Donnell Sr. opened his first sandwich shop in Everett, Washington in 1982. It seemed a natural progression to get family involved as his business expanded into three full-service locations over the course of more than 30 years. The current-day owners of Shawn O’Donnell’s three locations now include his wife Tina O’Donnell, son Shawn O’Donnell Jr., daughter-in-law Molly O’Donnell, daughter Sophia Taylor, niece Kristen Nannery, and close family friend Chase VanCotthem.

Along the way the O’Donnell family has encountered various obstacles to survival and growth. In 2003 following a landlord dispute, they wanted to stop renting and were ready to buy. Shortly after moving and opening... Read More

Bremerton Construction Firm Uses Quality-Centric Philosophy, Federal Programs to Find Success

Roger Newton never planned to start his own business. But after years of hands-on construction and project management experience, Newton branched out on his own and founded Newton Building and Development, LLC (NBD) in March 2002. He recognized the opportunities of doing business with the federal government but he needed a way to gain access to the network.


Having seen the benefits of the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program at a previous firm, Newton applied for and received his 8(a) certification in 2005. The combination of the certification and outstanding project reviews opened the floodgates for work opportunities with the Navy. After a successful nine-year run, Newton graduated from the SBA 8(a) program. Several years later, he was ready to take his business in a new direction, but wasn’t sure what that should be. That’s when Newton was accepted... Read More

Bone-a-Fide Dog Ranch From NYC to the Town of Maltby: a Big Move for a Small Business

Lauren Rick was tired of designing software and wanted a change. So she started walking dogs while still living in New York City; but the big city didn’t offer the space she wanted for the dogs. Focused on a doggy daycare business model where dogs had space to run, she began searching nationwide for a business she could buy.


In 2009, Rick made use of the U.S. Small Business Administration loan program and purchased Bone-a-Fide Ranch in the small town of Maltby, Washington, population 10,830. The business is spread across five acres open for the dogs to play  and includes a single family home that has been converted into a specialized shelter where the dogs sleep overnight.


She has grown the business to 17 employees and has six vans that go around the greater Seattle area to pick up and drop off dogs for “doggy day care.” Rick’s business... Read More