Business of the Month 2017
An initiative from the Staten Island SBDC to showcase the success and achievements in result of the hard work and efforts formed from business relationships with our expert advisors
May 2017: Grandmas 2 Share
Marguerite Spagnuolo, owner of Grandmas2Share Inc., has been a client of SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Bottega since November 2014. From the launch of her business to recently appearing on the Toy Box show on TV on April 28th 2017, Marguerite has been making a name for her brand. Starting her business in September of 2014, this innovated toy inventor has designed a product known as Grandmas 2 Share.
Marguerite’s concept of Grandmas2Share was to “recreate” the loss of grandmothers in the form of dolls. The design process is an intense process from sketching out the prototype to production. However, with the help of her children, Grandmas2Share was born. The idea of these products is to bring children the joy of having a doll that could embody the spirit of grandmothers. After launching her business and receiving great feedback, Marguerite decided to enter to be a candidate on The Toy Box.
This ABC TV toy competition series depicts aspiring entrepreneur-contestants as they present their toy inventions first to a panel of toy industry professionals, then to a panel of children. Only toys approved by the adult mentors are presented to the child judges in “the Toy Box,” who select one toy to advance to the finals each episode. The season’s winning toy will be produced and distributed by Mattel and sold at Toys “R” Us locations. After rigorous vetting of toy inventors who hope for the opportunity to get their product manufactured, Marguerite was featured on the show and passed through the first round, continuing to her presentation to the kids. While she did not move on to the finals, Marguerite continues to be a talented toy designer who hopes her concept expands to toy-loving children all over the world.
Marguerite Spagnuolo first met with the SI SBDC through an entrepreneurship class at an educational institution. The SI SBDC has helped Marguerite develop her business plan and subsequently write a Disaster Preparedness Plan in retrospect of the damages caused from Superstorm Sandy. Advisor Bottega also provided marketing strategies as Marguerite was actively seeking to promote her business, ultimately taking her business to the next level. Marguerite is not only a rising entrepreneur filled with vibrant energy and enthusiasm for expanding her business, but always had a passion for bringing joy through her toy inventions. Despite challenges that were thrown at her, Marguerite continues to remain positive and driven in her business endeavors.
“Persistence, patience, creativity and quality has pushed Marguerite’s business to success!” – SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Bottega
“The SBDC has been a big help since I started my business. From the entrepreneurship class and learning how to draw up a business plan, to helping me with my pitch for ‘Shark Tank’ and ‘The Toy Box’. Joe Bottega has been an integral part of growing my business in a completely professional manner. The SBDC has the networking connections and the know-how combined with experience to bring new businesses to fruition. “ – Marguerite Spagnuolo, owner of Grandmas2Share Inc.
April 2017: The Morristown Game Vault
The Morristown Game Vault, has been a client of SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Ed Piszko since the summer of 2015.
The Morristown Game Vault is located in the former PNC Bank at 22 South Street, Morristown, New Jersey. This innovative and upcoming business has started to make a name for itself through their creative twist in rejuvenating retro arcade games in the downtown Morristown area. They are now celebrating their one-year anniversary since opening their doors to the public.
The Morristown Game Vault is an arcade with a vast collection of classic video games, pinball machines and modern day consoles dating from the 1970s until current day. Step back in time for mind blowing game fun today! This arcade is designed to not only target the younger generation but is also for all generations to come and enjoy. The Morristown Game Vault has a party room available for birthday parties as well as any type of event, such as corporate Team Building exercises. This is inviting for people of all ages to come relax and have fun – from people spending time during their lunch breaks, kids coming after school, or a family waiting for their nearby restaurant reservation, all to enjoy these recreational games.
The SI SBDC helped The Morristown Game Vault develop a marketing platform for their business. Along with marketing, they also received assistance to develop a business plan and stay on top of financial endeavors. The owner is not only a rising entrepreneur filled with a vibrant energy and enthusiasm for this space in downtown Morristown but also has always had a passion for vintage gaming. Significant progress has been made from the initial steps of developing this corporate concept to seeing it come to life after a well-received soft opening.
“The Morristown Game Vault has continued to surpass expectations. It has become a source of unique entertainment for gamers of all ages.”
– SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko
March 2017: We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym
James and Adrienne Grosso are owners of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym – Staten Island LLC, an indoor sensory kids’ gym for all children and families. The gym provides a safe, fun, and nurturing environment for kids to grow, explore, and learn. This is the borough’s first special needs open-play gym establishment which opened December 2016. James and Adrienne have been clients of SI SBDC Senior Business Advisor George Telmany since April 2015 when they began planning the new project. We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is a flourishing indoor kids’ center located in the Rossville area of Staten Island, NY at 639 Veterans Road West, Staten Island, NY 10309. This center offers services through a sensory gym experience for children with autism, helping bring awareness and industry care for special needs children. This new and popular establishment is definitely creating a buzz as it continues to grow.
The Grossos are motivated entrepreneurs who are not only passionate about bringing awareness to the community but also providing a service to the cause. Believing they could fill a need on Staten Island, the Grossos decided to go forward with the development of this project. We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym franchise signature motto being, “Finally a Place Where You Never Have to Say I’m Sorry”®. The business is committed to providing a safe, nurturing, fun and a motivational environment to foster learning and exploration through social groups and activities for children across the spectrum. This environment also helps children develop strength, movement, sensory processing, communication, positive behavior, social interactions, and self-care skills.
This gym offers suspended equipment with swings, trampolines, zip lining, crash mats and pillows, and sensory based toys. Their indoor play structures and arts & crafts areas assist kids of all abilities to improve on balance, strength, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and auditory processing. The expert staff offers classes, host parties, and assist in the full use of the gym with all equipment, and an arts & crafts section. The Grossos continue to serve our Staten Island community by providing a gym that truly is for all.
The Grossos initially came to the SI SBDC to inquire information and assistance as they were considering starting a business, which is the franchise opportunity through “We Rock the Spectrum, LLC.” SI SBDC Senior Business Advisor George Telmany provided guidance in business startup, management, and financing options. George was able to connect the client to a local lender who ultimately funded the project. The NY SBDC Research Network provided information regarding their venture and the development of the industry. George also discussed the importance of marketing issues related to other potential opportunities through events and niche classes.
Through the strong and wonderful efforts of both the WRTS franchise and our very own Staten Island entrepreneurs who, through their desire to fill a need in our community, have made this business an amazing example of how we can help all children grow and develop by providing an environment for all to enjoy.
“The Grosso’s pride themselves on the selection and development of a quality staff that is very aware of the needs of the local youth they serve. It is a wonderful attribute for the community” – SI SBDC Business Advisor George Telmany
“Opening a business in NYC is difficult to navigate; with the guidance of the SBDC at CSI, it was much easier.”- James Grosso, owner We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym – Staten Island LLC
February 2017: Paulie’s Pizzeria & Errigo’s Restaurant
Phill Errigo is the proud owner of two thriving establishments in the up-and-coming North Shore of Staten Island. While his first establishment Paulie’s Pizzeria opened in March 2015, about a year later Phill’s entrepreneurial dream expanded to Errigo’s Restaurant right next door. These businesses feature a quick service pizzeria adjoining an upscale yet casual Italian restaurant in Stapleton, Staten Island. Phill has been a client of SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Bottega since July 2016.
Phill requested the assistance from the SI SBDC to develop economic strategies into a business expansion. The SBDC has helped Phill in advising him how to write a business plan, developing a disaster preparedness plan and becoming more marketing oriented. Advisor Bottega discussed the importance of networking and establishing a solid marketing strategy to help further expand and grow his establishments. Through attending various SBDC seminars, Phill has gained valuable knowledge in taxation, networking, and marketing. Phill put his newfound knowledge to work as he increased his social media presence and began offering special events at his restaurant, such as live music, comedy nights, and even his own networking mixer.
Phill saw the potential in the up-and-coming North Shore of Staten Island and wanted to be a part of the action. Not only did he do this by opening up neighboring establishments, but by going throughout the Island to be a supportive entrepreneur. “Phill is putting his footprint in the community,” commented Advisor Bottega. From participating in local festivals such as Uncorked to hosting a viewing party for a local Staten Island teen featured on Chopped Junior, Phill proves that being an active member of your community is an important part of being an entrepreneur.
Phill Errigo is a driven entrepreneur who is not only passionate about the restaurant industry but also Italian cuisine. With delicious food, diverse dining environments, and excellent customer service, Errigo’s & Paulie’s continue to thrive in the community. Serving delicious pizzas, calzones, and rolls at his pizzeria, Phill also serves fine Italian cuisine at his full service restaurant and bar next door. Free delivery, catering, event space, and a seasonal outdoor dining patio are also offered through Errigo’s. So if you are looking for a quick bite or a relaxed night out, Phill and his staff have your options covered!
“Errigo’s Italian Restaurant has been succeeding and growing its customer base by ‘Hard Work, Persistence and Community Relations.’ Proof of this statement is based on rave reviews from customers who registered their comments online.” – SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Bottega
“I would like to thank the SI SBDC. Joe Bottega was so helpful in getting me started on the right foot. He came to my restaurant twice when I first opened to check in on my progress. He then followed up and took time to sit with me. He gave me everything I needed to create a precise business plan to make sure I stay focused on my goals and succeed!” – Phill Errigo, Owner of Errigo’s Restaurant & Paulie’s Pizzeria
January 2017: Mario’s Restaurant
Mario Gentile, chef and owner of Mario’s Restaurant, has been a client of SI SBDC’s Business Advisor Joseph Muller since February 2016. Mario’s Restaurant is a flourishing Italian restaurant in Dongan Hills, Staten Island, NY. This thriving business continues to make a name for itself through their delicious food and fantastic service after opening in February 2015. While tackling the development and growth of running a successful start-up business, Mario continues to stay active and focused on the quality and experience of dining in his restaurant.
Chef Mario started in the restaurant business when he was just a young boy. Mario learned a lot from his father during his childhood and as he grew older, developed a desire to learn even about the business. To further his culinary expertise, Mario decided to specialize in his family’s native Italian cuisine and relocated to Italy. He traveled through Southern, Central, and Northern Italy and worked in various kitchens of Italy’s restaurants, including those with Michelin Star Ratings. He knew learning from the masters was the best way to attempt to accomplish greatness. Mario has been a well-known chef and now entrepreneur when starting his own venture in 2015. Mario’s has since become a vibrant place to go for a fabulous dining experience, ordering take out, and having a wonderful catering service.
The SI SBDC staff recently went on a site visit to experience the restaurant first hand. They were extremely impressed with the impeccable and timely service – and not to mention the delicious food!
The SBDC has helped Mario develop a business plan to help further expand and grow his business. SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Muller has spent numerous sessions with Mario discussing disaster recovery planning, marketing and social media and brainstorm on how they can help grow business strategies. They also utilized the services of the SBDC Research Network to assess statistical data on local business and restaurant information as well as sample business plans.
“A down to earth family owned restaurant with good food and great service. Mario’s Restaurant brings back the family values of a Sunday afternoon, Italian family meal.”– SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Muller
“We are honored to have been chosen by the Small Business Development Center as Business of the Month from such a great organization. Mr. Joe Muller was very professional and went out of his way to help us in every way.” – Mario Gentile, owner of Mario’s Restaurant
To learn more about the SBDC Research Network, please read here.