Our Team

Discover our extensive network of more than 100 staff and consultants. We’re a dynamic and diverse team, wholly dedicated to our clients’ success. Explore our leadership team or visit our location page to learn more about our staff. They encompass current or former business owners, practicing attorneys, angel investors, procurement experts, former bankers, marketers, web designers, CPAs, student interns, and more.

We speak Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Cantonese, Chiuchow, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Marathi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Lead Center SBDC Leadership and Staff

SBDC Leadership

SBDC Consultants and Staff

MikeDaniel

Mike Daniel

Regional Director

Mike Daniel is the network director of the Orange County Inland Empire SBDC Network, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners throughout Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Mike was formerly the director of the SBDC office at Long Beach City College. As business owner and entrepreneur himself, he started his career as the owner of a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory location in Manhattan Beach and went on to open a second location in Long Beach in 2001. In 2007, Mike sold the Manhattan Beach store for an above-market offer then invested in several additional locations as a minority shareholder. Mike further expanded his candy empire with venture located in Shoreline Village in Long Beach called Sugar Daddies Sweet Shoppe, based on fill-it yourself candy options.

Mike has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton.

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Katrina Smith

Associate Regional Director

Areas of Expertise

  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Grant Management
  • Operation


Experience
Katrina Smith is the Associate Director for the Orange County Inland Empire Regional Small Business Development Center Network. Prior to working with the Small Business Development Center, Katrina worked for the CSU, Fullerton Auxiliary Services Corporation in the Office of Sponsored Programs as a Sponsored Programs Administrator. In this position, she financially managed all sponsored research projects in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics College, College of Education, and College of Business and Economics. Katrina was responsible for managing budgets and spending, compliance, financial reporting, and audits for these projects. She is also highlighted as an influential leader in Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Don’t listen to criticism from people you would never seek advice from.

Cichuniec Family

Suzanne Cichuniec

Marketing Director

Areas of Expertise

  • Brand management
  • Digital marketing
  • Design
  • Copywriting and editing

Experience

Suzanne is a dedicated marketing communications professional with more than 20 years of experience producing and leading creative and operational strategy, brand management, content development, art direction, and design. She has a passion for fostering brand awareness through compelling storytelling — creating meaningful connections among organizations and the communities they serve. In addition to her experience as a marketing professional, Suzanne has taught writing at several area colleges. 

SBDC headshots at Great Wolf Lodge on August 11, 2023. (Joshua Sudock)

Hailey Jacobsen

Intake and Programs Manager

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Service
  • Psychological Research


Experience
Before coming to the SBDC, Hailey worked in the service industry as a service professional for 6 years. She has seen the joys and struggles of running a small business from the inside out. Hailey has her Bachelor’s in Psychology from CSUF and also volunteers at the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a Youth Leader.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
That knowledge and learning are never-ending and can be found wherever you are and in whatever you do.

Occidental College

Hanna Crowley

Marketing Manager

Areas of Expertise

  • Visual communications
  • Design
  • Email marketing
  • Photography

Experience

Hanna is a marketer, designer, illustrator, and photographer. She thrives on building a campaign from the ground up, weaving together her skills to produce a cohesive and impactful marketing plan that includes print, email, social, and web. As a small business owner herself, Hanna understands how difficult the process can be. She is excited to play a part in helping the small businesses of Orange County and the Inland Empire.
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Jessica Juarez

Finance Administrator

Areas of Expertise

  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Research Administration


Experience
Jessica attended California State University, Fullerton, and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Finance. Before joining the Lead Center, Jessica worked on campus in the Office of Sponsored Programs. She served as liaison to program administrators and university staff. Jessica also assisted in the account set-up and close-out process for all post-award grants and contracts. The four years she spent in her research administration role helped her become familiar with the Small Business Development Center’s accounts.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Never settle for the path of least resistance

Kylee Zhang

Kylee Zhang

Data and Research Manager

Areas of Expertise 

  • Market Research 
  • Data Analysis 
  • CyberSafe

Languages

  • Mandarin

Experience
Kylee received an MBA from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a Master of Science degree in Information System and Decision Science from California State University, Fullerton. She currently leads the team of market research and data analysis in the Lead Center.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Life is too short to do something you don’t love.

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Arielle Selle

Intake Coordinator

Areas of Expertise

  • Customer Service
  • Food Service
 

Experience
Before joining the SBDC OCIE team, Arielle spent eight years in the service industry, gaining valuable experience at a small family-owned business. This opportunity allowed her to experience the joys of owning and operating a small business while also witnessing the challenges faced by small business owners. Now, in her daily work assisting owners of various small businesses access the services provided by the OCIE SBDC, Arielle leaves each day feeling delighted and fulfilled, knowing she is making a positive impact by helping them navigate and overcome these challenges.

Rodriguez-Brianna

Brianna Rodriguez

Event Coordinator

Areas of Expertise

  • Event Coordination
  • Event Planning
  • Social Media Management
 

Experience
Brianna Rodriquez is an event coordinator focusing for the OCIE SBDC Network, focusing on conferences and grand openings. Brianna also provides social media and administrative assistance for Profit Talks — an OCIE SBDC podcast. Outside of work, Brianna further invests in her passion for event planning with an emphasis on weddings and music events. As a small business owner herself, Brianna is extremely passionate about helping provide resources to our awesome clients!

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Samantha Flores

Data and Operations Coordinator

Areas of Expertise

  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Operational efficiency
  • Document translation
  • Market research

Languages:

  • Spanish

Experience
Samantha, a CSUF business administration graduate specializing in information systems, excels in leveraging data to connect people and drive efficiency through innovation. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she seamlessly bridges language barriers. With expertise in market research, data analysis, and project management, Samantha ensures operational efficiency, contributing passionately to data-driven projects.

AdrianSaenz

Adrian Saenz

Market Research Analyst

Areas of Expertise

  • Economics
  • Data analysis
  • Research


Experience
Adrian has worked with small nonprofits and has experience in managing budgets and writing grants. He returned to school to get his Master’s degree in economics in preparation for a doctoral program.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Just do it.

Jonathan Cao - Jonathan Cao

Jonathan Cao

Market Research Analyst

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing
  • Analytics


Experience
Jonathan started his career working with small startup companies. Through these experiences, he gained knowledge on how to conduct market research and turn raw data into information about consumer insights. Since then, Jonathan has been able to apply what he learned to his current position as a Market Research Assistant.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
You must be comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to grow.

River Roe

River Roe

Administrative Assistant

Experience

River possesses experience as a former government employee. He is looking to expand his knowledge about the world of small businesses and support clientele needs. His most notable accomplishments are completing his undergraduate, having the opportunity to work for the OCROV, and now being with the SBDC.

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:

“Turn your failures inside and out. Press them on pass fear and doubt. Never mind if things hold you back a bit. You will come out on top, but you must not quit.”

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Joaquin Tijerina

Director

Areas of Expertise

  • Site Selection
  • Permitting and Entitlements
  • Utility Coordination
  • Construction
  • Management
  • Licensing

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Joaquin has over 25 years of experience working in economic and business development, project management, construction management, and fast-tracking entitlements with the County of Riverside. Joaquin has been the Director of the Coachella Valley Small Business Development Center for the past six years and leads a team of six consultants and two staff to assist local businesses successfully launch and grow.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Lead by example

ManalRicha

Manal Richa

Director, CSUF SBDC and SBDC Global Trade Center

Areas of Expertise

  • Startup Assistance
  • Marketing
  • Retail
  • Software
  • Financial Projections and Micro Loans

Languages

  • Arabic
  • French 

Experience
Manal owns her own business and understands the challenges that small businesses face.  At the SBDC her focus has been on guiding entrepreneurs in launching and starting new businesses and helping established business owners take their companies to the next level. She is very knowledgeable of the digital world, e-commerce, SEO, and social media.

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Martin Kleckner III

Interim Director

Areas of Expertise

  • SBIR/STTR
  • Equity Capitalization
  • Strategic Planning and Management
  • Finance and Operations
  • Research Translation and Commercialization
  • Healthcare Economics
  • Public Policy, Legislative Advocacy, and Regulatory Affairs


Experience
Martin has 29 years of experience in operations and business development in the life sciences, healthcare, and sustainability. He has advised over 115 emerging and Fortune 100 companies with corporate planning and strategy, commercialization, economics, and public policy throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He founded five venture start-ups with two exits. His SpyFinder, a hidden camera locator, was showcased in an episode of CSI Miami. He is a nationally trained instructor for the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps™ having taught Lean LaunchPad® business model discovery and validation principles at universities throughout the U. S., the University of California, Riverside (an I-Corps site), and at research universities throughout Chile.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Don’t do that! You’ll poke your eyes out!

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Paul Nolta

Director

Areas of Expertise

  • Debt finance
  • Financial Analysis 
  • Startup Feasibility
  • Strategic Planning
  • Marketing 


Experience
Paul Nolta has been a part of the Inland Empire SBDC for over 16 years. Paul is currently serving as the director and overseeing all operations at his center. Additionally, he is on the leadership team for the Inland Empire Center of Entrepreneurship (IECE). Paul is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of San Francisco State University. Paul has an extensive background in financial analysis, business planning, and leadership. 

 

The best advice I have ever been given is:
You will only be as strong as your network. Never stop building it. Try reaching out to at least one person a day, whether that is someone you have not spoken to in a while or someone you have been meaning to get in touch with. Then watch as, over time, good things happen and get much easier. 

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Paul Symczak

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Business development
  • Operations management
  • Board of Directors management


Experience
Paul has been advising start-up tech and med-tech companies for over 10 years at several SBDCs in the Southern California region. He uses the LaunchPad process to assist them in refining their investment presentations. His background is in high tech, including working with large telecom companies in new ventures and new business development.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
“A long illness is always fatal.”  Don’t continue to pursue something that is a lost cause.  Move on.

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Roger Lloyd

Director

Areas of Expertise

  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Startups 

 

Experience
Roger has led several startups to over $200m in revenue in both retail and artificial intelligence.  He has over 15 years of experience in the franchise industry where he led one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Embrace change and never stand still.

Sylvia Pizarroso

Director, Finance Center

Areas of Expertise

  • Access to capital 
  • SBA Loans 
  • Commercial loans 
  • Construction loans 
  • Practice finance 
  • Mergers and acquisitions  
  • Business development
  • Management development
  • Business plans 
  • Projections 
  • Cash management
  • Accounts receivable management 
  • Market analysis 
  • Loan covenant management 
  • Risk management

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience 
Sylvia has more than 30 years of finance, business, and commercial banking experience with a history of success in business development, managing client relationships, and managing risk. 

Her commitment to always prioritizing the customers’ interests has earned her the trust and respect of her clients, making her a trusted advisor for over three decades. 

She has worked with companies across many industries and with revenues up to $400M, providing them with comprehensive solutions in cash management, credit and financing helping them improve operations and cash flow.

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Ace Tarakchian

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Business Planning and Formation
  • Finance
  • Government Contracting
  • Franchising
  • Healthcare 

Languages

  • Armenian

Experience
Ace has been consulting for over 9 years. He has experience in healthcare, education, bioengineering, entertainment & media, wholesale, franchises, and nonprofits. Ace has consulted private SMEs throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, UK, and UAE. He currently manages a tech business accelerator in Los Angeles and is the recipient of the SBDC Network Star Award 2020.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Sometimes the one thing you need for growth is the one thing you are most afraid to do; without action, an idea is just a dream.

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Alain Chu

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Restaurant Operation
  • Debt Relief
  • Mas90 and Quicken Accounting Software
  • Payroll

Languages

  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese

Experience
Alain started his own import company with his brand and products. He also started a distribution company that services 150-200 accounts per day. Along with that, he owns and operates Benihana-style Japanese Restaurants. 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
People do not know everything, no harm to ask for help.

Alexa Pidwell (1)

Alexa Pidwell

Program Coordinator

Areas of Expertise

  • Dining industry
  • Retail industry
  • Graphic design


Experience
Alexa is a Cal State Fullerton alumna and was raised in an entrepreneurial household, exposed to business since she was young. Although her background is in customer service and hospitality, Alexa admires the many challenges small businesses face and conquer. As a program coordinator, Alexa enjoys helping her team in their efforts to support and strengthen small businesses.

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Alex Shoer

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainability
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Partnerships
  • Business Model Innovation

Languages

  • Chinese
  • Spanish

Experience
Alex co-founded Seeder Clean Energy, a VC-backed sustainability and renewable energy services company that helps the world’s largest corporations procure renewable energy in Asia, where he previously lived for nine years. Alex is also Venture Partner at Elevation Ventures where he seeks investment opportunities in early-stage climate tech companies. Alex has been recognized by President Obama as a Global Impact Entrepreneur, and by the Chinese government as Expat Founder of the Year. Alex has a certificate in entrepreneurship from Stanford GSB and has graduated from China Accelerator, Startup Chile and Fledge Incubator.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Ask for money and you’ll get advice. Ask for advice and you’ll get money.

Make an Appointment!

Alice Cherng

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Accounting
  • Restaurants
  • Operations
  • Startup 

Languages

  • Mandarin Chinese

Experience
Alice is a practicing CPA with extensive experience in hospitality accounting and operations. After working in public accounting and corporate finance, Alice worked at restaurants and loved the uniqueness of the restaurant business. Seeing the tremendous value that she can bring to local eateries and stores, she merged her accounting and restaurant knowledge and started an accounting firm with the commitment to help restaurants grow with transparency and in-depth analysis of their finances.

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Alicia Brayboy

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Content Creation
  • Video Production Growth-Hacking
 

Experience
Alicia has twelve years of marketing experience with a focus on digital marketing for high-tech startups. Her background includes brand strategy, competitive/customer analysis, content creation, video production, growth hacking, and PR.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
If someone is repeating something they’ve told you before, still listen. This might be the time where you learn something new.

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Angela Polito

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Personnel & Management
  • Conflict Resolution & Group Dynamics
  • Social Media
  • Branding & Marketing
  • Retail & Operations

Languages

  • English
  • Spanish

Experience
Angela is a retail and specialty service business owner and trained organizational psychologist who has been involved in entrepreneurial small business ownership and operations for the last ten years. Specializing in management and personnel operations, social media marketing, branding, and retail, she is driven to help small businesses inclusively operate and adapt to the ever-changing consumer and business world.

Make an Appointment!

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Anna-Lena Gruendler

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Management
  • Processes
  • Franchising

Languages

  • English
  • German

Experience
Anna-Lena holds a master’s degree in business as well as education. She currently owns a mathematics learning center. She took over the franchise location in July 2021 and reached breakeven within a few months of operating the business. She has been profitable ever since, and she loves passing on her knowledge of successfully running a business to others.

Make an Appointment!

Angel Velasquez

Administrative Assistant

Areas of Expertise

  • Payroll processing
  • Scheduling
  • Document management 


Experience
Angel has worn many hats during his extensive employment history. Although he has worked in banking, retail, customer service, and elderly care, it’s his positions with non-profit groups that have given him some of his greatest accomplishments. During this time, Angel has worked with churches, community service, and education programs. His jobs for these organizations have included clerical, financial, and administrative roles. Angel looks forward to providing his experience to those seeking assistance with small business development.

Annie Qi

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Digital Marketing
  • Business Growth
  • Branding Marketing
  • Technology
  • Pricing
  • Cost Reduction
  • Channel Management

Languages

  • Chinese
  • Japanese

Experience
As a seasoned and accomplished marketing strategist, Annie strives to teach clients about various marketing and business development topics in both consumer and business-to-business environments. She has provided business leaders and client executives with marketing transformation projects to deliver tangible improvements in topline growth. Annie was also a producer for a top-ranked technology podcast and has received international media interviews for her expertise in the past. ​

The best advice I have ever been given is:
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Winston Churchill

Arthur Salyer

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Startups
  • Operations
  • Manufacturing
  • Overseas Operations

Languages

  • Spanish
 

 

Experience
Arthur has helped start several startups in the technology, medical, media, and renewable energy industries.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Network. Friends are important in business.

Beau Brown

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Export and Import
  • Trade Agreements
  • Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers
  • Political Risk
  • Trade Facilitation and Capacity Building
  • Textile and Apparel
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Services Sector
  • Market Research
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Qualitative Methods
 

Experience
Beau is the founder of a consulting firm that serves the sports and lifestyle markets. With more than 20 years in international business development, he has spent his career in product innovation, building sales and marketing teams, and developing strategies from concept to consumer. Beau works with numerous companies as a Trusted Advisor to bring market and industry insight to their organizations. His ground-up, practical experience as a small business owner has afforded him the opportunity to see issues from the clients’ perspective.

Bill Waldo

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Food Service
  • Go-to-Market Strategies
  • Funding

Experience
Bill was the founder of a food service, sales, and marketing company that grew to over 85 employees with offices throughout Southern Nevada and Southern California. After more than 25 years, he decided on an exit strategy. Once he completed the sale of his company, he joined TechCoast Angels and has been an active investor, Membership Chairman, and Board Member for 14 years. Bill joined the SBDC as a Senior Consultant in 2008, and has counseled over 900 different clients and assisted them in raising over $120 million.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Maintain passion and enthusiasm, and nothing will stop you.

Bob Wright

Associate Director, Coachella Valley SBDC

Areas of Expertise

  • Economic Development


Experience

Robert started in his first small business in 1969 with a retail storefront. Since then, has owned construction and service companies with over 40 employees. For the past 30 years, he has owned a nursery brokerage firm and is currently using this expertise while working for Riverside County and the CV SBDC.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Brendan Ryan

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Graphic Design
  • Logo and Packaging Design
  • Branding
  • Digital Modeling
  • Prototyping 

Languages

  • Some Spanish

Experience
Brendan Ryan is an industrial designer with 7 years of experience. He has worked largely in the automotive field on concept and production cars – there’s a chance you drive some of his work. Upon departing Karma Automotive in 2020 he became one half of a multi-disciplinary design consultancy operating in Southern California.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
A closed door is still a door. Open it, that’s how doors work.

Chris Ponzillo

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Digital Marketing
  • Branding
  • eCommerce Development and Strategy


Experience

Chris is an award-winning marketing executive, product management specialist, and business owner with over 20 years of experience transforming innovative product and service concepts into successful, profitable, high-volume brands. He has demonstrated passion for pursuing excellence in every aspect of business including design, development, launch, omnichannel marketing, leveraging of social media, and optimization of new technology.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
“In order to succeed you have to dare to fail.”

Make an Appointment!

Craig Russom

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Strategic Financial Planning
  • Cash Flow Analysis 
  • Projections
  • Project Management
  • Quickbooks
  • Debt Financing and Lending


Experience
Craig Russom is the President of Arual Concepts, Inc. and has over 15 years of senior-level leadership experience solidifying sustainable business relationships and leading all aspects of bookkeeping, budgeting, forecasting, financial analysis, and project management across numerous industries. Before that, he was a Series 7 and 66 financial advisor for UBS Financial. Craig is also a California Real Estate Broker.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Know your numbers…

Damon Santos

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Finance
  • Commercial and Business Banking
 

Experience
Damon is a Navy veteran with over 25 years of experience in the commercial and business banking industry. He has managed and financed hundreds of businesses from large, syndicated deals to micro businesses. Besides financing, Damon takes the time to understand all facets of a business to help solve their problems. He also has a history of volunteering for organizations that support local communities in the Inland Empire. Damon has served as a board member for Steven’s Hope for Children and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Ontario. In addition, he has volunteered for organizations such as Shoes That Fit. Damon’s passion for small business comes from his grandmother who owned and operated restaurants in the City of Los Angeles for over 30 years. She told Damon about the struggles of owning a small business as a woman and how she persevered over the years. He is a fourth-generation Angeleno that has lived in the Inland Empire for the last 30 years. Damon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from California State University, Los Angeles.

David Friedman

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing & Sales
  • Strategic & Product Planning
  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Management

 

Experience
David is a former tech executive with a couple of engineering degrees and an MBA in Econometrics. He has been a small business consultant for about 10 years and has experience working in smaller technology and service companies. 

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Focus and PODFU (plan, organize, delegate and follow-up).

Edgar Mejia

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Traditional and Digital Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Branding
  • Graphic Design
  • Integrated Marketing
  • Public Relations
 

Experience
Edgar is an entrepreneur dedicated to developing and elevating other entrepreneurs. For over 12 years, he ran an integrated marketing and communications agency focused on digitizing and growing chambers of commerce, nonprofit business associations, and entrepreneurial ecosystems across the U.S. Edgar has also worked on marketing small business programs developed by Southwest Airlines, Google, Goldman Sachs, Twitter, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Staples, YouTube, Wells Fargo, AFLAC, and more. In addition, he has served as Marketing and Social Media Director for Maria Shriver’s California Women’s Conference and was a member of the NASA Social Media Civilian Team for several years. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Edgar served as Small Business Program Manager at the LA Area Chamber of Commerce and then went on to serve as Executive Director of the Latin Business Association. There, he designed and produced a multi-million-dollar business convention that featured two U.S. Presidents as keynote speakers and drew more than 10,000 entrepreneurs from across the U.S. Currently as a bilingual consultant, Edgar assists in traditional, digital, and integrated marketing, branding, design, messaging, PR through social media, and event marketing for businesses and nonprofits in Texas and California. He holds a communications degree with an emphasis in graphic design, and an MBA with a focus on social entrepreneurship.

Edna Ruiz

Administrative Coordinator

Areas of Expertise

  • POS Systems
  • Microsoft Suite

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Edna Ruiz is the Administrative Coordinator at the SBDC Finance Center. She is a recent graduate from the California State University, Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Her responsibilities include keeping financial records updated, preparing/organizing reports/invoices, planning events, and budgeting. She is also in charge of monitoring/developing engaging content for social media platforms and oversees daily operations.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
You have to risk it to get the biscuit

Emily DeLapp

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Operations Strategy
  • Brand Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Customer and Client Experience
  • Consumer Brands
  • eCommerce


Experience
Emily is a seasoned professional with more than 15 years of experience, specializing in operations and brand strategy. As a two-time consumer brand founder with one successful exit under her belt, she brings invaluable entrepreneurial insight to her work. Emily is renowned for her expertise in developing operating procedures that prioritize efficiency, reduce expenses, and enhance team morale. Emily enjoys meeting and learning about basically everyone, and she values assisting business owners seeking to strengthen their customer/client connections and streamline their day-to-day operations.

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Frank Plasso

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Amazon
  • Online Sales
  • Branding
  • Product Development
  • Wholesale and Distribution


Experience

Frank specializes in branding and online sales. He has owned, operated, licensed, and managed over 30 retail and online stores over the years. His experience with Amazon, retail, wholesale, and distribution allows him to help clients with branding and developing an effective sales strategy.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Stay the course

Fred Delariva

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Email and Social Marketing
  • SEO
  • Web Development
  • Management

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Fred has 20 years of experience in lead generation, marketing operations, project management, and more. Having owned two separate businesses, he understands the needs and struggles business owners go through. Fred is an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper and has a Bachelor’s degree in both Marketing and Accounting.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Bosses make deals, employees complete tasks.

Giovandi Lewis

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • QuickBooks Pro
  • Payroll
  • Tax Preparation
 

Experience
Giovandi earned a Bachelor of Science degree from California Polytechnic University, Pomona. She has worked in the accounting, and tax preparation field for over 30 years. Giovandi is an entrepreneur, IRS enrolled agent, member of the CA Society of Enrolled Agents, QuickBooks Pro consultant, and member of the Inland Valley Chamber of Commerce. As an entrepreneur, she specializes in accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll for small to medium-sized businesses and organizations. Giovandi has assisted hundreds of companies and organizations with business formations including corporations, non-profits, and LLCs. As an IRS Enrolled Agent, the highest credential the IRS awards, she has represented taxpayers (Corporations, Non-Profits, and LLC) before the Internal Revenue Service, the State of CA Franchise Tax Board, and various state and local tax agencies.

Gisele Hasman

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Cross Channel Media Buying
  • Big Data

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Gisele has been in marketing for over 20 years, focused on digital marketing for the past fifteen years. Gisele’s background includes brand strategy, competitive/customer analysis, strategic planning, cross-channel marketing campaigns, affiliate marketing, and big data in client-direct and agency settings.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Whatever you do – give it 100%

Greg Bell

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Purchasing
  • ServSafe
  • Customer Service
  • Quickbooks
  • Costing and Pricing 


Experience

Working alongside his two partners, Greg became the first operating franchisee of Blaze Pizza in Irvine. After retiring from being a Blaze Pizza franchisee, he restarted his catering company which led him to join the SBDC as a consultant in 2017. The opportunity to impart his experiences and advise others in starting their food-based business is a rewarding extension to his career in food. Greg is now the lead consultant for the SBDC EATS program and helps clients with restaurant development, operations, labor, and profit management. 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Friends buy from friends. Experience is learned.

BQ-spCew

Hang Harper

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Accounting
  • Tax
  • Food

Languages

  • Vietnamese

Experience
Hang has been a CPA, providing tax and business consulting for small businesses since 2004. She also has business ventures in tax and accounting services, restaurants, and healthcare. Hang is very involved with the community. She’s Director of ABAOC (Asian Business Association of Orange County), Director of VACOC (Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce), and Treasurer for Footprints Foundation. To Hang, her best accomplishments are being able to help many of her clients from start-ups to successful businesses, develop a great net profit and buy their own commercial properties.

The best advice I have ever been given is:>
Everything is perfect!

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Hugo Loyola

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Strategic Planning
  • Digital Marketing and eCommerce
  • Business Development
  • Finance
  • Educational Publishing

Languages

  • Spanish
  • Portuguese

Experience
Hugo is an innovative senior management executive with multiple years of experience working with multi-functional teams and global business units. He is a skilled leader credited for a collaborative communication process. Hugo is also a strong bilingual communicator in English and Spanish and is also fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. He is driven by mission, vision, and results.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Read (A LOT).

Jackie Guilfucci

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Outreach Events
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Business Training

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Jackie Guilfucci has a successful history of identifying and securing new business opportunities in transportation, education, and public works market sectors. She was responsible for identifying new business opportunities on behalf of prime contractors and teaming opportunities with new and existing clients.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Be transparent and ethical.

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Jay Allis

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Industry
  • Costing and Pricing
  • Digital Optimization and Guerilla Marketing
  • Operations
  • Licensing and Permitting

Languages

  • Cantonese

Experience
Jay has worked for corporate and independent restaurants and caterers for over 25 years.  In that time, he has worked at Michelin-starred establishments, worked with world-class chefs, served celebrity clientele, and traveled the country practicing his trade. He started as a busboy and worked his way up to Sous Chef, Kitchen Manager, and Executive Chef.  He brings a wealth of hands-on knowledge to help business owners start, operate, and streamline their foodservice operations.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Don’t just go through the motions.  Be invested and interested in everything.  Take ownership of everything you do whether you own it or not.

Joe Rasic

Joe Rasic

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Food and beverage cost control
  • Menu development
  • Menu Design
  • Purchasing
  • Inventory management
  • Labor forecast
  • Budgeting
  • Operating systems
  • In-house marketing
  • Local store marketing
  • Bookkeeping
 

Experience
Joe has been in the restaurant business for more than 35 years and has worked with a variety of concepts ranging from fast-casual to fine dining. He has a hands on approach to management and is comfortable whether it be on the kitchen line or delivering drinks to the table. As a former owner, he has an appreciation for all the challenges that restaurants can offer and he looks forward to helping other businesses overcome any obstacle.

Karie Armstrong

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Leasing
  • Strategic Planning
  • Team Building Training
  • Financial Analysis Projections
  • Business scaling Business Starts

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Karie has over 25 years worth of experience in the retail industry managing and developing large malls. Prior to that, Karie was a  retailer for 6 1/2 years and ran her own consulting business. She has worked with the SBDC for 10 years and specializes in lease negotiations, site selection for retail, restaurants, and any other brick and mortar start-up or expansion.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Stay in your lane and always deliver excellence.

Karla Gonzalez, MBA

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Contracting
  • Business Certifications
  • Business Planning
  • Financing/Lending
  • Start-Up

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Karla specializes in assisting clients to start their business by helping them through financing, licensing, the permitting process, business planning, and projections. She specializes in contracting and certifications where she assists clients in applying for the correct diverse designations and provides them with a good understanding of the contracting/procurement process. 

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
In order for a dream to become reality, you need to write it down and set goals!

KathleenSwift

Kathleen Swift

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Retail
  • Product Development
  • Event Operations
  • Team Management
  • Customer Service


Experience
Kathleen is an engaged and results-centric team leader. She has an exceptional record of driving revenue growth and business success through coordinating and executing multi-faceted product sales, merchandising, and business development strategies. She offers considerable experience in high-profile venue businesses, which includes several years with the Walt Disney Company.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Never ask someone to do something you would not do yourself.

Katie Smith

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Product Development and Design
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Feasibility Analysis
  • Fundraising
  • Competitive Landscape Analysis
  • Market Research
  • Financial Modeling


Experience
Katie is the founder of a pet care brand called NewRoad Foods that manufactures, sells, and distributes nutrition bars for pets. Previously, she was the COO of a Nestle-Purina backed startup that provided learning management systems to pet service businesses. Katie earned her MBA with an emphasis in entrepreneurial studies from USC’s Marshall School of Business. She thrives in startup and small business environments.

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Kenneth Stanigar

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Finance
  • M&A
  • Sales
  • Operations


Experience
Kenneth’s experience is primarily in corporate strategy and finance in large telecom, where he had years of experience doing M&A and business development. He was a key player in the company’s strategy to acquire relatively new companies in non-traditional areas of telecom and to internally develop a portfolio of startup entities to explore opportunities beyond its core telecommunications business.  He spent several years as CFO of one such entity operating in the video gaming industry.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
If you haven’t failed, then you haven’t tried hard enough.

Kyu Jin Kang

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Industry
  • Project Management
  • Social Media Management
  • Graphic Design
  • Localization

Languages

  • Spanish
  • Korean
     

Experience
Kyu has been involved in the restaurant industry for the past 3 years. He started EATS89 LLC from the ground up and took care of its daily operations as Bubble & Leaf in Cypress, CA. Kyu has a background in business technical management and has previously worked in software publishing and development.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Life is full of setbacks, what really matters is how you overcome them.

Larry Charpentier Jr.

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Management
  • Operations
  • Strategic Planning
 

Experience
Larry has extensive experience working with start-ups and companies under $15 million in revenue. His goal is to provide financial and management consulting services to ensure the entity is operating most efficiently and cost-effectively. He has owned and operated several small businesses since 2000 and is very intimate with every aspect of the business. He has worked closely with advertising, marketing, operations, accounting, finance, and business development professionals.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Be the best where your feet are at!

Laura Beken

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Pitch Decks
  • Go-to-Market Strategy


Experience
Laura Beken specializes in working with startups in the tech and healthcare space (life science and medical device/apps). Equity funding, strategy, and SBIR/STTR government funding are her specialties. She has degrees in Psychology, Visual Arts/Media, and a Healthcare MBA.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone.

Laura Turnbow

Budget and Data Analyst

Areas of Expertise

  • Bookkeeping


Experience
Laura worked for over 30 years assisting local businesses while working at a local chamber of commerce. She currently assists with operations by facilitating the disbursement and accounts payable process.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Whatever you do, give it 100%

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Lisa Napolitano

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Operations
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Startup Planning
  • Retail, Hospitality, Restaurant, and Service Industries


Experience

Lisa Napolitano is a successful entrepreneur, trusted advisor, business coach, and skilled executive with more than 25 years of experience helping companies improve their processes and people to drive performance. From 1991 to 2006 Lisa ran an industry association, growing it from 2 employees and 150 US-based clients to 20 employees and 6,000 clients globally. Her experience extends to the hospitality industry, having owned a fine dining establishment in the largest suburb of Chicago, and managing operations of a 17-cabin resort in the Northwoods of Minnesota.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Safko-Lon

Lon Safko

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Startups
  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Business Development 


Experience
Lon has more than 30 years of experience in building, owning, growing, and coaching new and small businesses. He has built 14 companies in his career, including a company that created the “First Computer to Save a Human Life” as coined by Steve Jobs. Lon has 18 inventions in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. along with more than 30,000 of his professional papers in their collection. Lon also has 14 inventions in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Lon has extensive experience in intellectual property and holds 125 copyrighted software programs in the Library of Congress, several trademarks, and three U.S. patents for “Three-Dimensional-Internet-Advertising.”

Lon has worked across the country with the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers, and Service Core Of Retired Executives (SCORE), where he was awarded the title of the very first “Ambassador” to SCORE. He built a company with 25 national sales offices and three international offices and another with more than 60,000 customers and $1M in revenue.

Lon has authored 22 books on business and marketing, including “The Social Media Bible,” which hit #1 on Amazon and sold more than $2M, “The Fusion Marketing Bible,” and his latest bestseller, “The Innovative Thinking Bible.

He has been recognized with such prestigious awards as the Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, the Arizona Software Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, the Public Relations Society of America’s, and Edward Bernay’s, Mark of Excellence Award; he was also twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year,

He has presented at more than 20 universities across the United States, worked with top executives at the largest companies around the world, and was an adjunct professor at the Indian School of Business.

Lupe Ramos Amith - Lupe (1)

Lupe Ramos Watson

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Business Planning, Licensing, and Permitting
  • Marketing
  • Legislative and Governmental Affairs
  • Real Estate Acquisition
  • Food Industry

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Lupe has over 30 years of experience as a small business owner. She started her career as the bookkeeper for her family businesses and has helped many start-ups by assisting them with formation, hiring, training, accounting, and business development. Most notably, she has helped hundreds of businesses secure funding for their businesses pre and post-pandemic.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
If you don’t stand up for the rights of others, then who will remain to protect yours?

LynnStewart

Lynn Stewart

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • International Expansion
  • Exporting
  • Importing
  • International Marketing
  • Training
  • International Trade Missions/Shows
  • Foreign Direct Investment


Experience
Lynn has 30 years of international trade experience as an exporter, consultant, and teacher. She ran the Orange County Center for International Trade Development. There, she assisted importers, exporters, and foreign investors in expanding their businesses. Lynn has also done business in over thirty countries and worked in various business industries as a trade consultant and business advisor. She is also a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) and trainer. She has received awards for her contributions to advancing international trade in both Orange County and the state of California.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Your target market is not EVERYONE.

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Marc Bellotti

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Life-Sustaining Systems
  • Drug and Device Systems
  • Intellectual Property
  • Biomedical Development


Experience
Marc is highly regarded as the product of a medical system development executive, experienced at leading organizations to innovate, develop and deliver patient-based medical and therapeutic systems and associated ancillaries. He is known for bridging the gaps between business needs, customer needs, and technology. He is also renowned for solving complex technical and organizational problems. Marc offers a track record of successfully growing organizations via process-driven product and pipeline development. 

The best advice I have ever been given is:
If someone offers unsolicited advice, ask if they have ever done what they are telling you about. If they say yes, take notes- if they say no, walk away.

SBDC headshots at Great Wolf Lodge on August 11, 2023. (Joshua Sudock)

Maria Cruz Lascano

Development Specialist

Areas of Expertise

  • Contract Negotiations
  • Microsoft Office/MAC OS

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Maria Cruz Lascano has more than 15 years of experience in event planning, contract negotiations, and office administration support services. Prior to joining the SBDC Maria was responsible for planning and scheduling the logistics of equipment set up and tear down for the annual Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival. She also worked on vendor and performer contracts, conducted the daily sales collection from concessionaires for the fiscal department, as well as managed all of the company bid proposals for the Fair. Maria was also responsible for negotiating service contracts for air show performers, professional services, and specialty equipment for Riverside County’s Annual Air Show.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Take life one day at a time.

DeDonato–Michael

Michael DeDonato

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Business Planning
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Government Contracting
  • Retail, Food, and Professional Services
  • Industries


Experience
Michael has been a business consultant and finance and accounting professional for 35 years. He currently serves as the Managing Member of DeDonato and Johnson Advisory Group, LLC. Since 2016 he has served as a business advisor for Small Business Development Centers in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County where he mentors startups and small businesses. He has also prepared and negotiated multimillion-dollar aerospace and defense contracts and is well versed in government contracting.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Trust in God and believe in yourself.

Michael F

Michael Faraj

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Government Contracting
  • Contract Bonds 
  • Cost Accounting 
  • Business Certifications

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Michael is a small business owner providing accounting and administrative assistance to small businesses that procure with Government Agencies. Michael has helped his core market of small businesses grow into effective and profitable companies with the Federal Government. Michael focuses on assisting socially and economically disadvantaged individuals with certifications and programs governed by The U.S. Small Business Administration and The US Department of Veterans Affairs. The essential elements of Michael’s business life revolve around government contracting and providing assistance to small businesses entering the government contracting world.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Don’t join the group to be a member, join the group to be a leader

Michelle Chuang

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Brand and Digital Marketing
  • Content Strategy
  • Social Media
  • Real Estate
  • Technology

Languages

  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
     

     

Experience
With over 23 years of marketing experience, Michelle has helped build notable brands such as Starbucks, Chevron, and Staples. During her marketing tenure, she has helped launch the green tea lineup at Starbucks and supported the establishment of go-to-market for Chevron’s Extra Mile convenience store program. Most recently, Michelle served in a marketing leadership capacity for some technology companies, where she led rebranding initiatives that elevated brand value and increased revenue shares.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Successful marketing is about understanding your audience and delivering a solution to their needs with a tremendous amount of passion.

Nanci Cisneros Lopez - Nanci Lopez-min

Nanci Cisneros Lopez

Business Services Coordinator

Areas of Expertise

  • Startups
  • Marketing 

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Nanci has been a part of the Small Business Development Center since 2006. She has worked in different roles throughout the years. Currently, she is the Business Services Coordinator; she plans, budgets, implements, and coordinates business services, training, and entrepreneurship programs and oversees the daily operations and services. Her passion is seeing entrepreneurs come in with an idea and turning their dreams into reality!

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Find a mentor and do what they’re doing.

Natalie Murphy - Natalie Murphy

Natalie Murphy

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Multicultural Communications
  • Crisis Management
  • Government Relations
  • Healthcare and Science

Languages

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian

Experience
Natalie is an accomplished marketing and international communications expert. She has worked for global multinational companies in Europe and America and is now focusing on digital marketing and technology to support small business owners and help her clients grow.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
The best way to predict the future is to create it.

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Nathaniel Quinn

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Business Startups
  • Business Planning
  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Media
  • E-commerce
  • Strategic Planning


Experience
Nathaniel applies expert knowledge, real-life small business industry experience, and relentless focus to problem-solving integrating technology in today’s business market. He’s a California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) graduate with a master’s degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Nathaniel began his career as a small business entrepreneur and now has over 15 years of small business experience. Through a focused enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, he became an award recipient in CSUSB’s Innovation Challenge Pitch competitions. Today, Nathaniel specializes in working with small business owners to achieve success and overcome challenges head-on. He works with strengths through problem-solving while integrating full electronic commerce and pronounced expertise in digital marketing.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Life sucks then you die so you better enjoy what you can.

Nicolette Wilson

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Startup
  • Business Plan/Business Formation
  • Business Management/Operations
  • Financial Analysis/Projections
  • Quickbooks/Payroll
  • Leadership
  • Clarifying Vision/Mission
  • Service Based Marketing
  • Community Integration
  • Customer Service
 

Experience
Nicolette launched her first successful startup at the age of 20 in the fitness service and retail industry. Since then, she has built and led multiple thriving business ventures. One of Nicolette’s ventures reached #2 in the national transportation industry by providing extraordinary customer service and driven by her corporate vision, resulting in $4.7M gross revenue by year three. Now she devotes time to lead wine industry education and experiences, pours into kids with challenging lives, and guides budding entrepreneurs.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Everything rises and falls on leadership (John Maxwell)

Pamela Coleman

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Video Production
  • Content Planning
  • Customer Relations Expert
  • Project Management


Experience

Pamela is best known for her sense of humor and commitment to customer services, not only toward clients but with her project team members. She started Pamiz Studio, a media and video production service, in support of other small businesses. She uses her skills to help small business owners at the Digital Marketing Lab; she is dedicated to her role as a consultant, photographer, and videographer as it is her sincere goal to assist local businesses in making an impact on their community.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Always dignify others.

Patrick Flaherty

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Human Resources
  • Employee Development
  • Sales Management


Experience
Patrick has over 40 years of experience in operations and sales management, and 20 years of experience in the outsourced human resources field. He is currently an HR instructor at several universities and founded an HR consultancy firm in 2014. Patrick holds senior HR certifications from industry associations.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Do what you say you are going to do and treat your employees with respect and compassion.

Paul Kirwan

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Strategic Management
  • International Business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Tech
  • Sales
  • Marketing
 

Experience
Paul has over 20 years of experience teaching at the university level and consulting entrepreneurs. He has previously started two non-profit organizations and comes from a family of small business owners. Paul currently teaches entrepreneurship, strategic management, and international business at several universities in southern California. His consultancy experience has included businesses across various industries, including medical, manufacturing, and software industries. Paul holds a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Management from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, focusing on the network development of global start-up firms and how technology entrepreneurs develop their networks to start and grow their companies. Before starting his academic career, Paul worked as a business development officer in a high-tech startup and worked in various sales and marketing roles.

Paul Roberts

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Podcasts
  • Live Streaming Production
  • Content Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Radio and TV Production


Experience
Paul has over 20 years of experience in entertainment, marketing, and corporate PR. He has worked as a podcast producer and host for 10 years and created Orange County’s only online radio station and live podcasting platform, OC Talk Radio, based out of UCI Beall Applied Innovation Center. In 2018, Paul won the Innovator Award from Radio World Magazine. 

The best advice I have ever been given is:
In today’s online world, perception is reality. 

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Rachel Jimenez

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Startups
  • Business Planning
  • E-commerce (Etsy)
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Event Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Leadership
 

Experience
Rachel has a passion for driving success and fostering growth. Throughout her career, Rachel has made significant contributions across nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, as well as small businesses and startups. Her versatility and adaptability have allowed her to thrive in various settings, consistently delivering outstanding results. Beyond her consultancy work, Rachel is an accomplished business owner. She has a talent for launching thriving e-commerce stores on Etsy and is proud to be a top seller on the platform. Rachel has also been featured on CNBC, the Today Show, and Business Insider and loves to help her clients bring their entrepreneurial stories to life to attract attention and grow their businesses. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Finance. She also has an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Management from California State University, San Bernardino, and advanced studies in Positive Organizational Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, enabling her to apply an insightful and holistic approach to her consulting practice.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

Scharrell Jackson - Rachel Svoboda_headshot_sunday brunch agency-min

Rachel Svoboda

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Website Design and Development
  • Graphic Design and Copywriting


Experience
Rachel Svoboda is the CEO of Sunday Brunch Advertising/PR Agency and the Founder and visionary behind Lynxx Spirits. Svoboda has represented companies across Southern California for the past 20-years. Svoboda has handled advertising, marketing, and public relations for clients ranging across industries from restaurants to technology, real estate, design, nonprofits, and many more. She is currently an official MBA mentor at Chapman University and a featured speaker on the university’s inaugural Women in Business Association series. Svoboda was also named Women of the Year by The National Association of Professional Women.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
The harder I work, the luckier I get!

Robert Ahn - Robert Ahn

Robert Ahn

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Management

Languages

  • Korean

Experience:
Robert is a business executive with 40 years of experience leading businesses to grow revenue and profit. He has successfully helped clients leverage sales technologies, software, and CRM data to identify, analyze and act upon leads, opportunities, and sales funnels. Robert’s top priority when working with clients is to exceed expectations by being a personable communicator.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Never give up

Robert Kirkpatrick

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Commercial and Industrial Real Estate


Experience:

Robert has extensive experience in commercial real estate serving in several senior management positions including President & CEO at The Rancon Companies, a large multi-faceted real estate company with brokerage offices in SoCal and developer/owner of $300+ million (per SEC) of commercial real estate. Robert also served as President and COO of CataList Homes, Vice Chairman of the Board and Director of Fallbrook & Community National Bank, and was the President and Co-founder of Benchmark Escrow, a full-service escrow company in Los Angeles County.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Debt is the devil

RoberUsher-min

Robert Usher

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Finance
  • Business Planning
  • Franchising


Experience
Robert has been exposed to small businesses from an early age due to his parents owning one. He managed a small business in college and then started consulting with convenience store franchisees (7-Eleven) shortly after graduating. He has worked with thousands of small business owners on everything from startup licensing to business plans to financing in his 21 years at the Inland Empire SBDC.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Do or do not; there is no try.

Rosalinda Delgado

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Micro and Small Business
  • Business Financing (Startup and Existing Businesses)
  • Financial Projections
  • Financial Statements and Cash Flow Analysis
  • Taxes

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Rosalinda Delgado is a business consultant with over a decade of experience in micro and small business lending and development. With 25 years of expertise in finance, accounting, auditing, insurance, and taxes, she offers comprehensive guidance to her clients. Rosalinda’s entrepreneurial journey includes successfully launching two small businesses, which refined her skills in sales and marketing. At a community development financial institution (CDFI), she played a pivotal role leading her team, spearheading significant growth, and marking a milestone in its 30-year history. Rosalinda holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting, providing a solid academic foundation for her hands-on approach in empowering entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Ryan Stull

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Digital Marketing
  • B2B and B2C Marketing
  • Web Development
  • Ecommerce Marketing Strategies
  • Content Development


Experience

Ryan has been empowering and educating clients in the digital marketing space since 2009 when he started his own business based around website development and marketing consulting. Digital Marketing is crucial to the operation of small businesses, and Ryan has helped many small businesses take charge of their platforms and ride them to success.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
“Use your fear like fuel.”

SaritaJackson

Sarita D. Jackson

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Export and Import
  • Trade Agreements
  • Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers
  • Political Risk
  • Trade Facilitation and Capacity Building
  • Textile and Apparel
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Services Sector
  • Market Research
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Qualitative Methods

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Sarita has extensive experience assisting small businesses as the owner of an international trade research firm and the Global Research Institute of International Trade, LLC, which was awarded the SCORE Los Angeles Certificate of Entrepreneurship. She has collaborated with several universities and government agencies throughout Southern California to offer customized market research to small businesses, train on conducting proper research to identify the right markets, and develop a competitive strategy for a company’s product or service. As a result, small businesses have better assessed their global competitiveness and were connected with the funding sources to expand. Lastly, Sarita’s most recent book, International Trade in Services: Effective Practice and Policy, was published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group in 2021.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Gain in-depth, hands-on experience at a small company first! Working with smaller firms will allow you to expand your knowledge and offer you tools to succeed in the future.

ScottBrovsky-min

Scott Brovsky

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise 

  • Angel and Venture Capital
  • Fundraising and Go-To Market Strategy
  • Deep tech startups
  • Cleantech
  • Agtech
  • Biotech


Experience
Scott has been a Founding Executive of five tech startups including Mobile Games Studio, Muti Labs, and the Temecula-based sports tech company, NZN Labs/LIT Pro. As a brand marketing executive, Scott has a successful track record in launching and driving global product revenue for leading entertainment companies like Disney and Marvel. Scott has a Humanities honors degree from The University of Texas, Austin where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

The best advice I have ever been given is: 
Immunity from what other people think can lead to outsized results. Don’t spend too much time tranquilized by the trivial.

Shaun Sanders

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing and Branding
  • Commercialization
  • Pitch Decks
  • Investor Presentations
  • Operations


Experience
Shaun works with companies of all sizes but is particularly passionate about startups and small businesses. In 2014, he managed the creation of an angel syndication network that tied together resources and members from more than a dozen investment groups throughout the country. Later, Shaun joined other local investors in building out the startup-focused Innovation Institute at the University of California, Irvine. Currently, in addition to advising and working with numerous startups, which has included Reddit, Hipmunk, and several Y Combinator portfolio companies, he invests much of his time into further developing the Southern California startup ecosystem.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
In the end, the “A Students” work for the “B Students,” the “B Students” lease their buildings from the “C Students,” and the “D Students” show up on a red carpet to dedicate the building.

SherriTran

Sherri Tran

Administrative Assistant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Retail

Languages

  • Vietnamese

Experience
Sherri has a background in customer service. She is a recent graduate of California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing. Sherri admires the effort the consultants put in to support their clients. As an admin for the Global Trade Center, she wants to see more small businesses grow and make their way to the international market.

Silvano Kim

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing
  • Digital Marketing
  • Design
  • Branding
  • Events
  • Beauty Industry
  • SEO/SMO
  • Retail
  • Photography

Languages

  • Korean

Experience
As an experienced and accomplished marketer and creative marketing director, Silvano has a wide range of experience within all areas of the industry. Since the start of his career, he has done marketing for branding, packaging, websites, social media, and print for hundreds of clients. His most recent projects have been for clients in the beauty industry, retail chained stores, cosmetics, Hyundai Motors of America, Asiana Airlines, and Banks.

The best advice I have ever been given is
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; just go for it!

Stephen Sharp

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • B2B and B2C Marketing
  • Operations and Related Best Practices
  • Consumer Goods


Experience
Stephen has over 39 years’ experience as an executive, board member, and business consultant, spanning startups to F500 companies as a Sr. VP of Corporate Marketing, COO, and General Manager. He has run businesses with a collective value of > $800M. He is currently in his 4th year as an EIR at UCR, with particular depth in marketing, operations, and organizational excellence. Stephen’s background is primarily in manufacturing businesses, though he has mentored teams in medical, Agtech, diagnostics, education, and consumer goods industries. 

The best advice I have ever been given is:
The first person speaking in a negotiation loses

Steven Barth (1)

Steven Barth

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Branded Content
  • Email Marketing
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Business Plans
  • Unified Communications
  • Digital Marketing


Experience

Steve is a digital media and marketing leader who has built a unique group of organizations in Southern California. He specializes in creating go-to-market strategies for local businesses and nonprofits to exceed organizational growth goals. He has expertise in digital executions, including search, social, programmatic targeting, and streaming video. Steve also has experience leading teams and building significant digital business units in several companies.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Match your skill and passion with market needs, and never, ever give up.

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Tom Mattoon

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • General Management
  • Finance
  • Operations


Experience
Tom has scaled businesses from startups to over $1B. He has experience working with companies in a range of fields including Medtech, computing, communications, and software.

Tony_Crisp_headshot_02-min

Tony Crisp

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Technology
  • Brand Strategy
  • New Product Development
  • Digital Marketing


Experience
Tony Crisp is a marketing consultant who is helping businesses fight commoditization to increase the sales of their own branded products. In addition to being the Founder and Chief Strategist at CRISPx, an award-winning, data-driven, creative agency, Crisp is a speaker at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine and at the UCLA Anderson School of Business, where he is an Alumni. Crisp also sits on the Advisory Board of the Emerging Media and Design Program for the Trever Clair School of Arts at UC Irvine and serves on the Board of Directors of the Tech Coast Venture Network. 

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Leave it better than you found it…including humans. – Mom

Troy Small

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Government Contracts
  • Validating Business Ideas and Models
  • Business Development Strategies
  • Business Operations
  • Business Start-up
  • SWOT Analysis


Experience
Troy is a government contracting ambassador and small business advocate with 28 years of experience in the Acquisition Career Field. He uses his experience as a former Contingency Contracting Officer to teach companies how to properly compete for government contracts and grow their business with the government. Troy is a small business owner and a key member of several high-performing teams. He helps companies start, grow, and expand via the government contracting marketplace. Troy is a retired US Marine with 20 years of service.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Execution is key!

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Victor Londot

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Government Contracting (Federal, State, Local)
  • Bidding
  • Proposal Guidance


Experience
Victor has more than 35 years of experience working for a Fortune 20 corporation in the government/aerospace industry. His specialty is government contracting, bidding, proposal development, and government acquisition lifecycles.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Always take the high road.

Violet Oh

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Website Design and Development
  • Graphic Design
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing

Languages

  • Korean

Experience
Violet self-started the digital marketing agency, OhViolet Agency, and is the executive coordinator of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County. She has experience working with a variety of small businesses including beauty, technology, real estate, educational institutions, lawyers, and more. She also has over nine years of experience in graphic design and has worked with National Geographic to help design their online store.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord 

Vivan Nguyen

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Marketing
  • Business Planning
  • Food Industry 

Languages

  • Vietnamese
  • Some Spanish

Experience
Vivian has 8 years of experience in both digital marketing and marketing strategy. Additionally, she has a wide range of experience in the tech, restaurant, and senior care industries. She has taken a single start-up franchise and grown it to 50 locations. She also has won first and third place in Start-up Weekend OC.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Never be afraid to ask for anything

Yadira Dominguez

Business Consultant

Areas of Expertise

  • Retail
  • Customer Service
  • Sales
  • Merchandising
  • Employee Training

Languages

  • Spanish

Experience
Yadira is an energetic, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable consultant with over 12 years of retail experience. Yadira has worked in many different positions for a variety of large and small businesses. Because of this, she understands what it takes to be successful regardless of business size. Yadira brings a unique set of experience, skills, and perspective to any business. Her areas of expertise are transferable across many fields allowing her to assist a diverse range of clients.

The best advice I have ever been given is:
Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.