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Success Stories

Entrepreneurial Moms Grow Bag Lunch Business into a Full Service Catering Company

Shortly after the birth of her son, Heather Chitty found herself looking for a change from the nine-to-five corporate job and commute, with the goal of spending more time with her family. Her friends Kristen Cole and Marci West were looking to make a career change as well. With Chitty’s management background and Cole and West’s culinary expertise, the three self-described “entrepreneurial moms” formed Madres Kitchen in 2005 as a bagged lunch business. The Seattle-based business steadily grew over the next 12 years and transformed from bagged lunch sales into full service catering. By 2017 they had 13 full time employees, 40 part time employees and were doing $1 million in annual revenue. Despite the steady growth and longevity, Chitty says she was “wearing 900 hats and doing everything in the business.”  Madres Kitchen couldn’t define their ideal client. They hadn’t defined their core... Read More

Lumpia and Microloans: A Rural Small Business Success 

Cristy McFall was born into a big family in a small village in the Philippines. As one of six children, and the only daughter, she was no stranger to hard work growing up. When she immigrated to the U.S. and started a family with Jim McFall on Camano Island, Washington, she found herself looking for a way to earn extra money to support her children’s future college education plans. In 2013 Cristy McFall began selling frozen lumpia — a traditional Filipino food very similar to an eggroll—through the Facebook market app with the technical help of her social media-savvy-son. The lumpia was a huge hit. Eventually she expanded her offerings to full-service catering while continuing to sell batches of frozen lumpia. After a few years of working out of their home and through rented commercial kitchen space, the McFalls made the decision to “go all in” to the business and used Jim McFall’s 401K retirement account to... Read More

SBA Award Winner Grows Successful Mobile Storage Business From a Senior Project

Ross Black needed a business idea for his senior project in high school; so he utilized some extra space his parents had to make a mini-storage business. After finding success in it, he decided to expand by purchasing shipping containers to use as storage space. It wasn’t until a client asked if he could drop the container off at her house to put some bigger items in prior to taking it to his property that he found a potential in mobile storage. Fifteen years, two locations, and nine employees later, Ross and his father (and co-owner) Dave Black had created a successful mobile storage business headquartered in Lynden, Washington. Ross wanted to grow the business smart and knew he needed some help to make that happen.

In 2013, Ross enrolled in the SBA Emerging Leaders course, which provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small, poised-for-growth... Read More

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