“It can be hard to ask questions, but the SBDC had our back and helped us a lot with our business plan. I like the way the SBDC guided us to communicate with lenders - the presentation process was smooth, and we received our loan. It’s great to have this support from the [Alameda County] SBDC. It was easy to find and get help from other counselors too. I feel very lucky.”
Background: A Common Space is a fashion e-commerce site for the Millennials, women between the age of 15-35, who are interested in an effortlessly chic and modern style. With 15 years of combined fashion e-commerce experience, Stanley Yang and Elaine Chao wanted to create a space that can be shared equally by anyone to be inspired. Their message is simple, good fashion does not have to be expensive. The site focuses on grasping the customer’s buying habits and adapting to their needs and trends. Aside from shopping, A Common Space allows shoppers and browsers to view the site to learn, discover, and become immersed in a world of style. It focuses on educating consumers that one piece of fashion can be used many ways to be unique for any individual.
Challenges: Although Stanley and Elaine had the experience to run an e-commerce site their funding and man-power was limited. With a rough business plan in hand, they sought another set of eyes to analyze the plan and help find a clearer direction, and to advise them how to present the plan to lenders.
Actions: Stanley and Elaine attended various SBDC Seminars throughout Alameda County and signed up for counseling services with the ACSBDC. They were assigned to work with an SBDC Business Advisor who has ample experience in business planning and finance. The SBDC helped Stanley and Elaine refine their business plan, define specific financial goals, and create a plan that was easy to understand, realistic and actionable. The SBDC also helped prepare them for the presentation of the business plan to lenders.
Results: Stanley and Elaine were able to acquire a loan from Working Solutions and a private loan. These loans have helped them market, hire a public relations representative, acquire a location and hire photographers for their site. A Common Space officially launched in April 2015 and experienced significant sales in the first couple of months. They have been featured on the fashion site Refinery 29.