Oakland Launch

Hacking Solutions

Tony Beaman was at a crossroads. He had just been laid off from his corporate job after a company acquisition, and despite his 20 years of experience in tech recruitment,…

Cafe El Patio

Café El Patio is a casual community-based café founded by Allan Coello, located in East Oakland. Café El Patio serves single origin coffee that comes directly from a family member’s farm in Honduras.

The Cook and Her Farmer

After spending a year popping up around town and leasing kitchen space, Romney and Steven opened The Cook and Her Farmer in 2014. Through their partnership, they have grown The Cook and Her Farmer into the successful restaurant it is today and contributed to the thriving of Swan’s Market as part of the Old Oakland Renaissance.

Sequoia CrossFit

“I love living in East Oakland,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to help people achieve their fitness goals, and I saw an opportunity to improve on existing services,” explained Matt.

Bar Shiru

Bar Shiru is a high-fi vinyl listening music bar in Oakland, and the first of its kind in the Bay Area. It was founded by business partners Shirin Raza and Daniel Gahr, who also happen to be wife and husband.

Hive the Place to Bee

Before they launched Hive the Place to Bee, Bree and Calanit noticed that they had to leave their neighborhood to find high quality food and drinks. As local residents, they started the café because they wanted to provide high quality food and drinks to their community.

Native Organic Cotton

Co-founder and co-owner Marc W. Chase says, “My ancestors are French and they were in the textiles industry in the Old World.  I started this business because it’s in my blood.”


Aburaya is special since it offers the community casual dining options and quick service, without the social and ethical consequences of corporate fast food.

Blue Heron Catering

Blue Heron Catering, Inc. has been serving the Oakland community for 30 years since their establishment in 1988. They cater for a variety of events in the community, including programs…

BIBO Salon

BIBO is a hair and beauty salon located on 2509 Broadway in the Uptown District. The owners, Susie Geda and Kech Carera, both have strong ties to Oakland and the…

Wine & Design

“For anyone who wants to open a business,” Tina explains, “You have to be patient, be out there, and do a lot of outreach. Wherever I go, I always talk about my business or wear its merch to promote the store.”

Sugar Sweet Cookie + Cake Studio

Growing up, David Benton, the owner of Sugarsweet Cookie and Cake Studio, was not exposed to baking. He went on to California Culinary School to become a chef. During his…


Vita is a boutique fitness studio specializing in yoga, pilates, and barre.  They offer classes that range from gentle to power to intense cardio. Vita is a great place to…

Illumino Lashes

Since its start, Illumino has been a self-supported spa service business, and Soo-Jin had never received outside investment until her loan with Main Street Launch. Sensing it was time to shift Illumino away from direct services and increase its product reach, Soo-Jin sought the loan to fund her business’ transition.


Growing up, Chris Pastena spent a lot of time around the dining table at his grandmother’s house, sharing food with his loved ones. Whenever he thinks of family, he thinks…

Nyum Bai

Coming to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia, Nite Yun opened Nyum Bai to commemorate her parents as well as celebrate Cambodian food and culture, especially its Golden…

Crooked City Cider

“My great uncles inspired me to own a business,” remembers Dana. Liquor was illegal in the early 1930, and the Bushouse brothers, John and Peter created a moonshine production that was successful back at the time. Eventually they were forced to end their business, but generations later, Dana decided to follow her great uncles’ footstep, using the family knowledge to create her unique cider recipes for everybody to enjoy.

The Hair Gym Academy & Salon

“The process takes time, but it is a good learning experience. It was pleasant to work with Main Street Launch, and they provided us with lots of support and help,” remembers Daniel.

Bardo (formerly Michel Bistro)

“Become an expert in knocking on the doors of those who are experts in everything business related. They will help you fill in the gaps of starting or growing your business so you can go forward with allies and develop relationships with people committed to your success.”

Serenity Skin Care

“I encourage all startup businesses in need to apply for loans. I was hesitant at the beginning because of the time-consuming application process and paper-work. After going through the process, the loan helped me feel ready, and it allowed me to make improvement to my business,” explains Kamilah.

Remedy Barre + Foam Rolling

Remedy Barre and Foam Rolling is Oakland’s newest barre studio, freshening up barre in Oakland. Their barre classes give you the strength you’re looking for while providing the release you need through foam rolling.

Roses’ Taproom

Roses’ Taproom partners with other local businesses. “We are not just distributing our beer to other restaurants, we also serve food from the business in our neighborhood!”

Maple Street Denim

Julie was able to use the loan to refinance credit card debt, purchase inventory, and buy photo equipment to help with their marketing, which increased her cash flow.


Michael explains: “I have a need to make things. It is a grounding process for me.”


Reem’s isn’t just a business. At the heart of the work is a desire to pursue social justice. All of Reem’s leadership team come from a social justice background, and their shared focus around fighting xenophobia comes through the daily work at Reem’s.


A serial entrepreneur, Chris offers advice to aspiring small business owners: “You can’t be afraid of failing. Stick to what you set out to do, and commit for the long-term. The first year is a struggle, but persist and stick to your vision. It will pay off.”

Lena’s Soul Food Cafe

“I opened my first restaurant venture with a loan from Main Street Launch, and without that loan I could have never gotten open,” remembers Calvin.

Malaya Acupuncture and Wellness Center

Emil Velasquez, owner of Malaya Acupuncture and Wellness Center, decided to launch his business after his parents got sick. “I wasn’t satisfied with the treatments they were receiving, so I decided to open a business where I could help educate people about Chinese medicine,” explains Emil.

Beauty’s Bagel Shop

Blake explains, “My dad grew up in Montreal, so Montreal-style bagels were a big part of my life growing up. My dad’s love for these bagels inspired us to want to start Beauty’s Bagel Shop.”


“Working with Robert [Lattimore, Senior Vice President] was a great experience. He has so much knowledge and expertise that I know I can ask him any question about my business and get great advice,” says Sherri.

New Parkway

Four years since its inception, the New Parkway employs 40 people, has an excellent kitchen, and hosts various events outside of movies such as game nights and sports broadcasts. Customers flock to see the daily changing shows including reruns of classics, anime, and indie movies.

Anasa Yoga

“I’m a multicultural person with a very diverse background, and I really wanted to create a multicultural space,” says Jean Marie. “Anasa Yoga is what I hoped it would be.”

Taiwan Bento

Taiwan Bento works to bridge a lot of cultures, creating an environment that everyone feels comfortable in. As a business owner, Willy advises new businesses establish a good financial cushion.

Cafe Underwood

Dominick reflects, “After two years, we’re realizing the full vision that we started with. It’s incredibly rewarding to see it all come together.”

Spice Monkey

Spice Monkey brings mouth-watering, globally inspired cuisine together with a warm-hearted service staff. “Seeing the joy when someone relaxes around a table with the people they love is the real benefit I get from my business,” says Kanitha.

The Port Bar

Sean Sullivan has been an advocate for the LGBTQ community and the Oakland small business community for 15 years. He and his partner Richard Fuentes saw an opportunity to create a gathering place open seven days per week, specifically focused on serving LGBTQ people and Uptown.

Barron Ross

Ed’s business works passionately to support their clients and their families to plan and pay for long-term care. His $50,000 Main Street Launch loan helped upgrade their technology and systems, so they could spend more of their time with clients, and less on arduous record keeping.

Kingston 11

Kingston 11 is truly a part of Oakland, and their business employs 30 people from the community. Nigel notes, “Oakland is a diverse city, and we want our restaurant to reflect the community. From our management team to our customer service approach, we reflect Oakland.”

Cafe Santana

Richard Santana first read about the benefits of fresh roasted coffee while on a plane. Thirteen years later, he now owns a successful coffee roasting business in Oakland.


Now, their newest venture, MeetGeraldine, offers their clients the best of both of their brains: digital strategy and development from Geraldine and planning and branding support from Lauren.

Back to the Roots

Back to the Roots has a staff of 15 who are working to “undo food”, leading a new wave of food that demands total transparency about ingredient sources of what’s on the table.

Oakland Chop Bar

“I had lived in this neighborhood for five years before opening Oakland Chop Bar and I really felt we needed a place where people could walk from their homes, have a great meal and just hang out together,” said Pastena.

The Octopus Literary Salon

Outgrowing the living rooms that previously held events, the new space hosts musicians, performances, and literary events, reinterpreting the literary salon to fit the 21st century.

Noble Brewer

For Noble Brewer, it’s more than just craft beer but creating a unique experience by sharing the story of the homebrewers with friends and family. While stationed in Seattle and then in San Diego, Claude took advantage of the great beer scenes, developing a deeper interest in craft beer.

Laurel Book Store

Luan Stauss, the owner of Laurel Book Store, started her business to build community. She said, “We truly want to be ‘Your Neighborhood Bookstore in Downtown Oakland.’”

Las Marianas Food Truck

Rosa says, “I opened my business for many reasons, but the most important thing for me was to be able to employ my family.”


All three entrepreneurs knew that they wanted to run a business that gives back to the community.

Entrepreneurs in Residence


After a period of personal struggles, Shala Cox discovered the transformative power of fitness to improve both her physical and mental health. A Bay Area native, she wanted to empower…

McWoods Distribution

Joel McGill finds himself having some unusual conversations in the airport security line these days. He usually opens with: “Hey, where do you guys get your rubber gloves from?” McWoods…

Courtney Smith (right) and his team with Warriors center Kevon Looney and Mariah Simone.


Courtney Smith’s passion for fusing together art, basketball, and fashion came through at an early age. He started his first sports apparel company when he was just 24 years old.…

Ade Dream

Ade Dream is a labor of love for husband-and-wife team Pierre and Jenn Davis. They started the business in 2014, a year after their first child was born. Pierre’s sister…

Strategy Squad

Nicole Middleton is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with her firm, Strategy Squad, which she co-manages with her father, a Certified Public Accountant. The firm focuses on financial planning and investment…

Threadz Culture + Fashion

Before they started their business, Christopher McMichael and Maurion Gaines came together over their shared passion for music. In 2012, Chris was working security and kept hitting ceilings as he…

Chef Ron’s Pastries

In 2004 Chef Ron’s Pastries started like many business: doing small orders here and there for family and friends.  In 2015 brother and sister Ron and Rhonda Persons officially launched…

Wellington Studio

“The mentorship I’m receiving in the Entrepreneur in Residence program is giving me the tools and showing me the realities of how to attain more success and balance in my business,” reflects Chamaine.

Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement

“Taking advantage of resources is what has helped my business survive,” reflects Fernay. “Workshops, classes, and meetings are easy to overlook, but these resources (Enterprising Women, La Cocina, and now Main Street Launch) are what have helped my business grow.”

Civil Labs

Civil Labs is a social enterprise with a mission to empower young people to make change in their community, and to give them the resources to do so. The Oakland-based business is developing a food community center that provides space for after-school youth programming and commercial kitchens for area food entrepreneurs.

San Francisco Launch

Lacy’s Barber Shop

Lloyd Lacy Jr. has been cutting hair for about fifty years. His godfather bought the barber shop Lloyd now owns back in 1952. Growing up in the city, Lloyd would…

Sour Cherry Comics

When you walk into Sour Cherry Comics, you’ll likely get a warm welcome from the store’s furry greeter, Benny. The colorful displays of comic books, graphic novels, and toys draw…

Tana Harris, owner of Harris Hoisting

Harris Hoisting

After Tana Harris completed her service with the National Guard, she wasn’t sure what was next for her in life. When a friend suggested that she look into construction work,…

Mr. East Kitchen

Victor and Ken started Mr. East Kitchen in August 2018 after beginning the planning process in December 2017. They used the loan they received from Main Street Launch as working capital.

Subpar Miniature Golf

At Subpar, mini golf is the focus of the business. “We aim to make a good game of golf by making sure that it is fun to play and that there is skill involved. It’s a player’s game,” Michael said.

Retreat Skin and Hair Studio

Retreat Skin and Hair Studio provides a safe space for all clients to rejuvenate as they receive high quality skin, beauty, and hair care in a beautiful, relaxed environment.


“Attention to ingredients is the core of Birdsong,” says Aarti. The restaurant features locally- and sustainably-sourced ingredients from small ranches, fisheries, and independent foragers.

Silber, Vasquez & Associates

Silber, Vasquez & Associates is a Life Coaching firm based in San Francisco but works with clients all around the world, such as in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and China among others. Their mission is to help their clients set goals in order to attain a better future.

Continental Window Fashions

Continental Window Fashions is an online retailer for drapery hardware and window furnishings, based in San Francisco. They carry a multitude of window furnishing items such as curtain rods, finials,…


Cassava is a neighborhood restaurant that serves modern California cuisine and serves San Francisco’s Outer Richmond district as a community gathering place.  Yuka Ioroi is the Owner/General Manager and her…

The Storybook School

Children are not just learning a language; they are learning about a culture that comes with the language.”

Secession Art & Design

“Look for mentors that can help you plan out five to ten years. Celebrate the wins, learn from your mistakes, and show up each day and make something happen.”

Wholesome Bakery

Open since 2009, owner Mandy Harper used her Main Street Launch loan to open her retail bakery space at 299 Divisadero Street in San Francisco.  “Starting my business was a…

Black Jet Baking Co.

Owned by Gillian Shaw Lundgren, Black Jet Baking Co. is a family-owned, neighborhood wholesale and retail bakery in Bernal Heights.  They specialize in classic American-style desserts and are now offering…

Jenny Lemons

“When I was working for someone else, I found myself drawn to pursuing my own art. When I decided to open the store, my business expanded beyond my dream and became a place to support other local artists, as well as myself.”

Inside-Out Bar

Seth created a new food product that was healthy and could serve as a meal supplement to give his peers and himself a better option than the meals available.  Now Inside-Out Bar is a mission-driven nutrition bar company with a social impact that helps their customers fuel their bodies with a powerful food that supports good health from the inside out.


“Since I was a kid, I’ve always charted my own path, so I decided to create my own opportunities,” says Cheri.  “There have been serious challenges, but I know I have to follow my passion and find people to help me achieve my goals.”

Four Star Seafood

Their company was growing quickly, and they wanted a plan in place in case their profits needed some time to catch up with the growing demand.

Kettle and Fire

Justin was referred to Main Street Launch by purewod, another Main Street client. “The experience was great. I knew what to expect because I knew another borrower.”


Gianluca also operates 54 Mint in San Francisco, and he has learned a lot about owning restaurants over the years: “Montesacro is the result of amazing teamwork of our 15 employees, and giving your family of employees room to prove themselves has good results.  A successful restaurant is not based on the number of customers served in one day but in the number of customers dying to come back,” he explains.

Parle Innovation

“Technology is a way to advance people’s lives, and while sometimes it has the potential to disconnect, it also holds the promise of immersion,” explains Mary.

iCAFE San Francisco

Part of their loan from Main Street Launch was to purchase a new ice machine, ovens for their fresh, baked goods, and various supplies to grow their fast paced café. Currently, the café has 4 part-time employees and has also opened its 2nd location: iCAFE Chinatown.

Black Bark BBQ

David is a chef, and Monetta is a native San Franciscan, and they both have strong entrepreneurial spirits. They put their passions together ten years ago to open 1300 on Fillmore, a full-service restaurant in the Fillmore.

Barebottle Brewing Co.

“We found a sizeable space, about 16,000 square feet. The space gave us room to grow over the long term and add capacity as we expand. But we needed more money to buy equipment and for unknown future costs, which is what Main Street’s loan helped us do,” explains Mike.

Luxurious Nail Boutique

Richard offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “When you ask for money, make sure you can answer any question about the business. Your idea has to make sense on paper, and you have to focus on the details in the right order if you want to be successful.”

Motus Rehab Clinic

Lindsay encourages new entrepreneurs to take some time to self-reflect. “While It is important to plan, work hard, and put the time in; self-reflection is equally as important in my experience and sometime more so. You need to be able to look at your personal weaknesses and be willing to confront them so they do not hold your business back from thriving.”

Triptych Strength

Tarquin offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Be prepared for the little things to add up – it will always cost more than you plan for. Be flexible with your business plan. Know what is non-negotiable and what you can adapt to meet your clients’ needs.”

Lexington Place

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Nichole. “When I would see empty storefronts, I’d imagine what kind of business I could open there.”

Mister Jiu’s

Mister Jiu’s opened in April 2016 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, but the idea for this restaurant has been developing for nearly three years. “I went everywhere to try and get funding and support to open,” remembers Brandon.

Alicia K Designs

“I felt like the banks did not understand my business or what I would be able to achieve with some capital,” Alicia reflects.

Professional Computer Support

Now, Professional Computer Support delivers custom service packages that are fully scalable and available for a flat-rate fee, allowing their clients to work without worrying about IT costs they can’t support.

Emanuel Coffee

To pay for the business, Irene used her own money and credit cards. “I didn’t have money to take care of myself,” reflects Irene. “I spent everything to follow my passion.”

Picnic on Third

“It takes more than your in-house team to be successful. We love that everyone who works with us is really part of the business.”

Wine Down

Jaime offers advice to other entrepreneurs considering opening a bar or restaurant: “You need patience and persistence. We spoke to other bar and restaurant owners as we were starting out. They all gave great advice. Our biggest takeaway was that you should expect it to take twice as long and cost twice as much as you originally thought—and they were right—so plan accordingly.”

VIP Grooming

“When we found the location, we knew we had to jump on this perfect opportunity to expand the business. We couldn’t have done it without the second loan from Main Street Launch,” says Lancy. “The loan allowed us to revamp the new place, set aside money we’d need to grow this new investment, purchase equipment, and help us expand our staff.”

Bernal Cutlery

Bernal Cutlery offers several classes that cover breaking down fish and vegetables with Japanese techniques, everyday Western knife skills, and Japanese Whetstone sharpening.

Jenny Pennywood

In 2008, Jen Garrido was exclusively working as a fine artist in several galleries. When the recession hit, everything stopped. Jen has always been business-driven and created work for herself, so she got creative about other ways to use her experience as an artist to make money.

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, located on 3230 Mission Street in San Francisco, is the culmination of Emily Kaplan’s life-long career working in the restaurant business and was almost a lost dream.

Dark Garden

“We’re a place where people can feel at home while making a living,” says Autumn.

Awesome Bars

The bars were made with wholesome ingredients and designed to give a burst of energy, and people thought they were awesome.


In the fall of 2012, Max Gunawan conceived a design for a light that allows people to have beautiful lighting—anywhere.


After twenty years in the jewelry business Shawn Higgins was questioning whether he wanted to stay in an industry that can be harmful to people and the environment.

Veteran Launch

Hacking Solutions

Tony Beaman was at a crossroads. He had just been laid off from his corporate job after a company acquisition, and despite his 20 years of experience in tech recruitment,…

Tana Harris, owner of Harris Hoisting

Harris Hoisting

After Tana Harris completed her service with the National Guard, she wasn’t sure what was next for her in life. When a friend suggested that she look into construction work,…

Gracefully Global Group

“Without that loan, I wouldn’t have been able to reach nearly as many university student veterans centers,”


Kenny’s Heart & Soul

In April 2014, Kenny Stuckey, an Army veteran, decided that he wanted to launch a food truck in order to be independent and to create something of his own.


Smokey Jake’s BBQ

“We serve high-quality, made-from-scratch smoked meats directly to customers. Our food truck has two commercial smokers that you would typically find in a restaurant. The smoking process takes fourteen hours and occurs overnight so that it is ready by the next morning.”

Freedom Makers

“My brother is in the Air Force, and my sister-in-law and I were having a familiar conversation about what she was going to do for work. I developed Freedom Makers to try and develop more opportunities within my community,” explains Laura.

Degrees Plato

“My brother is in the Air Force, and my sister-in-law and I were having a familiar conversation about what she was going to do for work. As a brat and in the military I have many friends who have faced the same challenge when their spouse is transferred, so I developed Freedom Makers to try and develop more opportunities within my community,” explains Laura.


Water Saver Solutions

Chuck was inspired to enter the healthcare industry after discovering the EPA labeled it the third-highest water-wasting industry. Although there are many barriers to entry in the healthcare field due to strict regulations, Chuck says, “I embraced the barriers.”


The Philoglots

“My experience with Veteran Launch was awesome. I had nothing but help, support, and understanding for my business, and it was a smooth ride. I found Mr. Mike McGrane through the SBDC. He helped me start my business. I was impressed by the services,” reflects Josee.


Tytanium Ideas

“The loan gave us the ability to launch this new service faster and with more peace of mind,” says Tyler. “Working capital gave us more flexibility, so we could make the best long-term decisions for our business.”


Millennium Family Entertainment Center

“I’ve always wanted to be the one in charge, but I hadn’t found the right type of job where I could do that.” reflects Sara. She served in the Army Reserve, and her experience managing people in the military has helped her in running the business.


Acumen Building Enterprise

Walter joined the Navy at 17 years old and served for seven years. He stays connected to his military roots, dedicating Acumen to employing veterans, people of color, and women.

Spice Monkey

Spice Monkey brings mouth-watering, globally inspired cuisine together with a warm-hearted service staff. “Seeing the joy when someone relaxes around a table with the people they love is the real benefit I get from my business,” says Kanitha.


Fair Game

Terry shares how happy he is to have come across Veteran Launch: “You are doing an enormously valuable service for veterans. It was a pleasure to find Veteran Launch and receive the loan that helped me acquire Fair Game.”


Haute Butch

HauteButch opened in April 2012, offering their customers a line of masculine and gender-neutral clothing and footwear designed for women’s bodies.


The Waffle Experience

The Waffle Experience offers a large menu for breakfast and lunch, all centered around waffles. If you’ve never tried a burger on a waffle or a salad with a waffle base, these guys have you covered.

Noble Brewer

For Noble Brewer, it’s more than just craft beer but creating a unique experience by sharing the story of the homebrewers with friends and family. While stationed in Seattle and then in San Diego, Claude took advantage of the great beer scenes, developing a deeper interest in craft beer.

BAS Consulting

Donald Stukes launched his second business, BAS Consulting, in 2009, offering management, scientific, and technical consulting. Currently, some of his clients include CalTrans of Southern California, the Department of Energy, and Battelle. BAS Consulting works with other consultants, bringing as many as six onto one project last year. Helping to connect other entrepreneurs with opportunities is a big part of his business model.

Nido Kitchen & Bar

In October of 2013 Cory and Silvia McCollow opened the doors to their restaurant, Nido, which means nest in Spanish.