On the morning of July 25, 2016, students from four San Jose high schools arrived at San Jose State University for the first San Jose-based SunPower Solar Energy Academy – a week-long intensive training program, where students would learn the ins and outs of the solar industry and gain exposure to STEM careers.


Kicking off the week, Renee Solari, Program Manager of SunPower’s Educational Services, led the students through a quick orientation, explaining that this experience should be treated like a real job. Before lunch, the students had already learned all the solar energy basics and had completed their first hands-on activity – the solar panel  and circuits assembly. Students then split up into groups, created a company name, slogan, and logo, and were introduced to their clients for their final project.

Sustainability Tour at Santa Clara University

Sustainability Tour at Santa Clara University

The following day, the students came back energized and ready for more. With the knowledge from the previous day, the students went on a sustainability tour of Santa Clara University led by SVTP’s intern and current Santa Clara University student Steven Harrison. Rather than only hearing about the academic aspect of the school, the students dug deeper and learned about the school’s various sustainability features. Students also partook in a Twitter challenge, during which they tweeted about the various features they saw. Teams with the most tweets and the most creative tweets won special prizes. That afternoon, students returned to the lab and started computing the layouts for their residential solar systems.

Students with Bobby Ram and Bill Yates

Students with Bobby Ram and Bill Yates

On Wednesday, Bill Yates, Vice President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, gave a very informative tutorial on financial literacy and money management. Following that, the students toured San Jose State University’s campus. In the afternoon, students listened to an inspiring story of Bobby Ram, Managing Director of SunPower. Liz Chung, Associate Manager of SunPower, followed with a talk on the various financing options for potential customers interested in installing a residential solar system.

Oscar Garcia and students

Oscar Garcia and students

On Thursday, guest speaker Kristel Wickham, who has been with SunPower from the very beginning and pioneered the company’s growth initiatives, shared her personal story and career path at SunPower. She also gave an overview of various SunPower careers and emphasized the importance of STEM education. Afterwards, students got their hands dirty and transformed regular flashlights into rechargeable flashlights – many utilized power tools, drills and soldering irons for the first time. In the afternoon, Oscar Garcia led the students through a LinkedIn tutorial, unveiling the cool features that could help them with their college applications and job search.

Teachers, judges, students, and their parents

Teachers, judges, students, and their parents

The final day’s presentations culminated a long week of preparation when the students delivered their final sales pitches in front of families, friends, and a panel of judges from different professional backgrounds such as engineering, business, and education. After a whirlwind week of hard work, the students produced excellent results and impressed the audience with a high level of creativity and professionalism. After the presentations, students got face time with each of the judges when they got a chance to learn more about their respective backgrounds and picked their brains for career advice. Councilman Raul Peralez captured the students’ attention and inspired them with his story, underlining the importance of education and how it can transform their lives. The graduation/awards ceremony concluded the day by honoring the students’ efforts and work.

Both students and parents alike were very grateful for such an exciting and eye-opening opportunity. The academy not only gave them an exposure to the field of renewable energy and sustainability but also offered a glimpse of a potential solar or STEM-related career path – a future that they might not have imagined otherwise.


Watch the Academy Overview video.

For more videos and information, check out our Kanvz page.

On April 5th, the 2016 Small Business Mentoring Program Kickoff got off to an enthusiastic start at the San Jose Martin Luther King Jr. Library.  Attended by over 20 aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses, the event brought together mentors and mentees from different fields for an afternoon of presentations and speed mentoring.  The Small Business Mentoring Program is dedicated to offering support and advice through highly skilled volunteers to aspiring businesses to facilitate their success.

Lea King, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Talent Partnership

Lea King, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Talent Partnership

The event kicked off by a brief introduction by our very own Executive Director, Lea King.  Lea described both our history and future in organizing these Small Business assistance programs, as well as the wonderful opportunity they provide for both mentors and mentees.  Lea was followed by Margaret Yamasaki, Senior Librarian at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Library.  Ms. Yamasaki explained the resources that will soon be available in the Small Business Center that is currently under construction.  Once completed, the Small Business Center will offer visitors the free use of individual computers as well as access to various programs such as Adobe Creative Suite, Quickbooks, Business Plan Pro, and Microsoft Office.  The Center will also offer ongoing free classes and tutorials to teach essential skills for small businesses and entrepreneurs.  We are very excited to see the Center’s completion, and we are confident that it will quickly become a vital hub in assisting small business success.

Sina Sartipi, Bank of America

Sina Sartipi, Bank of America

Sina Sartipi of Bank of America then led the audience through a presentation describing the importance of establishing a line of business credit.  Mr. Sartipi explained the dangers and pitfalls of using personal accounts to conduct business transactions.  By establishing good business credit, small businesses and entrepreneurs will gain quicker access to future capital, will be better protected against fraud and malfeasance, and will be able to use the financial establishment’s reporting services come audit or tax time.

Tracey Lee Davis, ZingPop Social Media

Tracey Lee Davis, ZingPop Social Media

Tracey Lee Davis, owner of ZingPop Social Media, followed up by introducing the criticality of social media for business.  She took the audience through a brief but comprehensive tutorial of many different aspects and avenues that socialmedia can provide.  From targeted marketing, simple campaigns, and using affordable paid advertising, Ms. Davis explained that a concerted social media strategy is within the realm of every small business and entrepreneur.

The team from Ernst and Young finished the presentations.  Carlos Roa explained some of the finer details of creating a strategic roadmap, financial metrics, hiring and staffing, and effective ways to pursue funding and new finance.  Omar Valencia then showed the importance of a solid business plan and why a mission/vision statement is important.  He also explained techniques to understand potential marketplaces and customers using strength and weakness assessments.

Laura Bravo, Ernst & Young

Laura Bravo, Ernst & Young

Laura Bravo, volunteer and mentor extraordinaire, finished up the presentations by describing the importance of the mentor and mentee relationship and how that relationship is best fostered.  She broke down the role of a mentor as a valuable resource that can guide and foster new relationships, new practices, and generally ease the learning curve of small business owners.  Laura has been an integral and invaluable member of many of the Small Business Ignite functions over the years and we are very fortunate to have her in our community.

Following the presentations the audience was invited to meet with the mentors.  In round-robin style, the participants had an opportunity to meet and talk with multiple mentors with different expertise.  It was inspiring to see some of our community’s fledgling businesses, from nonprofits, aspiring technological endeavors, bakeries, and retail stores availing themselves to the knowledge and resources provided by the mentors.

Misty Castaneda, For-Purpose Connections & Laura Bravo, EY

Misty Castaneda, For-Purpose Connections and Laura Bravo, Omar Valencia, EY

Feedback from both the mentors and menses was overwhelmingly positive.  Misty Castaneda, founder of new nonprofit, For-Purpose Connections, remarked, “being new to the area, Small Business Ignite provides support and mentoring opportunities and resources that I need to be successful in the entrepreneurial space in San Jose.”  Rosie, of Don Mateo Foods said, “It was great.  There are new ideas about things that we are unfamiliar with.”  Anthony Napolitano, mentor and attorney from the Napolitano Law Office, “The diversity of the mentors will support multiple business ideas, as well the diversity of the group will help the group help itself.”  He also appreciated the relationship between SBI and the efforts of San Jose City Council to actively promote the event.


This was a wonderful precursor to a summer filled with more Small Business Ignite events and mentoring sessions.  With the completion of San Jose Public Library’s Works program and the Small Business Center, these programs will soon be a cornerstone of the vitalization of San Jose’s small business and entrepreneurial endeavors.  We at Silicon Valley are overjoyed with the success and impact these programs make and would like to thank all the mentors and organizers.  We are extremely excited for the next installation on May 6th of the Small Business Ignite Mentoring sessions at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda.  If you’re interested please sign up here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/5th-summit-on-entrepreneurship-and-innovation-tickets-22125751719?aff=SVTP.

Special Thanks:

Margaret Yamasaki, Senior Librarian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library

Long Do, Aborn Compounding Pharmacy

Nel Messersmith, Docs and Images

Anthony Napolitano, Napolitano Law Firm

Ping Wang, PWConsulting

Carlos Roa, Ernst and Young

Omar Valencia, Ernst and Young

Laura Bravo, Ernst and Young

Sina Sartipi, Bank of America

Tien Van, Bank of America

Tracey Lee Davis, ZingPop Social Media

DSC_3348 DSC_3357 DSC_3359 DSC_3390 DSC_3391 DSC_3396 DSC_3403 DSC_3384

San Jose Small Business Ignite_2016 Business Mentoring Program_English

San José small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and passion alone does not lead to success. There are 55,000 small businesses in San José; these small businesses employ 144,000 individuals and provide 38% of all jobs in San José. Minority and immigrant entrepreneurs play a critical role. In San José, 60% of small businesses are minority-owned and 51% are owned by immigrants. Mentors can help small businesses thrive and achieve possibilities.

Sign up by April 4th, 2016 to become a mentor or mentee. Business professionals are encouraged to sign up as mentors, and small business owners and entrepreneurs in San José are encouraged to sign up as a business mentee. See forms below.  Or sign up at eventbrite:



Apply by April 4th, 2016 – see forms below. 

  • Mentors and mentees will be paired based on desired area and background in business expertise. The program runs from April to November 2016.


Passion alone is not enough for business success. With knowledge, guidance, and encouragement, you can help small businesses achieve possibilities and thrive.

  • If you are a San José business professional or subject matter expert with preferably with language fluency in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean, you can be a mentor.
  • Commit ten hours minimum to mentor small business owners/entrepreneurs.
  • Mentors will also receive mentoring from business professionals.


  • Small business owners or entrepreneurs, ideally from San José, can gain guidance and insight from business professionals.
  • Learn from trainings with industry experts
  • Commit ten hours minimum to meet with mentors.

San Jose Small Business Ignite_2016 Business Mentoring Program_English

Prospective mentors and mentees can apply online by April 4th, 2016:




About San José Small Business Ignite

San José Small Business Ignite harnesses the talent of business professionals and industry experts to train and mentor small businesses to accelerate success. This is a partnership with Silicon Valley Talent Partnership, City of San Jose – Office of Economic Development, BusinessOwnerSpace and EY. For more information, email info@svtpca.org.

Or sign up at Eventbrite.




On November 13th the Silicon Valley Talent Partnership, BusinessOwnerSpace (BOS), EY, SP2, PayPal, Silicon Valley SCORE, SBDC, Minority Business Development Agency, AnewAmerica, and US Small Business Administration came together to present the Small Business Seminar Series.  The Small Business Seminar: Take Center Stage focuses on providing free training and mentoring to small business and budding entrepreneurs–covering topics such as marketing and taxes as well as guidance in procuring investors and capital.

DSC_1685After a welcoming introduction from San Jose Councilmember, Magdalena Carrasco, the event started off with excellent keynote speeches from Ron Feathers, Lead Sales Engineer at PayPal and Kailesh Karavadra, Managing Partner at EY.  Highlighting their experience as budding entrepreneurs and small business owners, both speakers wove their personal stories into inspirational accounts of perseverance and success.



IMG_20151113_093159_663Following the keynotes, Ryan Melchiano (serial entrepreneur and current co-owner of SP2 Communal Bar and Restaurant in downtown San Jose) led a workshop entitled “Growing Your Business Reputation With Social Media”.  Emphasizing the criticality of properly designing a functional website, to the easiest and most efficient way to incorporate social media and social media branding, Ryan gave a comprehensive tutorial in web marketing.

DSC_1775“Understanding Your Bottom Line Workshop,” was presented by a team of experts from EY: Meng-Wei Lee, Carlos Roa, Milton Tang, Rachel Breen, and Allan Lazaro.  Covering vital and fundamental tax topics such as EBITDA, justifiable write-offs, the importance of accurate reporting in the process of business development, and international tax matters, the team provided a thorough examination of the most common and tax concerns.

Panelist: Mireya Baez, Co-Owner, Milohas Bakery

Panelist: Mireya Baez, Co-Owner, Milohas Bakery

“Finding Investors and Funding” concluded the morning’s workshops.  Panelists from MBDA, SBA, AnewAmerica and SCORE all provided their insight into the process of capital procurement.  Accentuating the importance of creating and maintaining a viable and responsible reputation as a budding business owner by keeping and growing good credit, fostering equitable relationships, asking good questions, and persevering through adversity, the panel capped off an enlightening morning.

Panelist: Emma Gonzalez, Deputy Director, SBDC-Hispanic Satellite

Panelist: Emma Gonzalez, Deputy Director, SBDC-Hispanic Satellite

The workshops were followed by speed mentoring sessions.  Giving individuals personalized advice on the subjects covered during the morning workshops in three languages (English, Vietnamese, and Spanish), the mentors offered sage and essential advice to everyone that engage them.




“At the event today, I met Vinni from Team San Jose, and I learned about working on my speaking and my pitch. Even though I have experience in my industry, there is room for growth and I’m so grateful for everyone that came out today. I received a lot of useful information. I can’t wait to be a part of the organizations that were here today. Thank you so much.”

-Diana Guadalupe, Owner of Wealth Recovery Solutions


I found the Small Business Seminar very helpful, especially the Growing Your Business Reputation through Social Media. The speaker is very knowledgeable. The mentors at the Speed Mentoring helped me generate ideas I never thought of before. – Marshella Sanjaya, CSU East Bay MBA alumna


“I received great feedback from the speed mentorship, Diana from Wells Fargo shared how they help new businesses. Ryan with social media gave a wonderful speech, and there was a wonderful keynote. Ron Feathers from PayPal was a great connection, showing us how to position our business. Coming here I really benefited from the networking and personal one-on-one. I look forward to coming back and I love the mentors.”

– Numbiya Aziz, Men’s Health & Fitness stretch coach

“I am looking into going into fashion startup. Today, I learned about tax income statement, and learned more about social media from Ryan Melchiano’s presentation. He was really very helpful on explaining how to utilize the advantages of social media. I had a mentoring session with Carlos Perez. It was very inspiring, and he helped me understanding my branding, mission and values. I learned so much from these resources. I really appreciate the Small Business Seminar series and these organizers for the wonderful expose of small business resources.”

– Josephine Amajor, fashion entrepreneur


An all around success with volunteers, mentors and participants leaving with a sense of accomplishment. We are grateful for our partners and volunteers for making Small Business Ignite a success.  You can get involved with San José Small Business Ignite. Subscribe to our newsletter and like us on Facebook to get updates on upcoming seminars and resources.

Seasoned small business owners and emerging entrepreneurs and small business owners in San José can sign up as mentors or mentees for the next round of San José Small Business Ignite Mentoring Program. Apply online by January 10, 2017. Mentors and mentees will be paired in January 2016 for mentoring from January – June 2016.

CrossFit Kindred Photo 4

Located in East San José, Crossfit Kindred was founded by Jeff and Cindy Muya in 2011. Muya wanted to provide an environment where members would feel comfortable improving their health, and be able to tackle their obstacles–obstacles that he has gone through.   

In 2008, Jeff Muya started doing CrossFit at a time when he was overweight. Unfortunately, as Jeff was getting fit, his cousin passed. CrossFit kept Jeff from falling over the edge. One year later, he met his wife, Cindy, and together they trained and earned their CrossFit certification, enabling them to coach.


Jeff and Cindy had opened their doors to CrossFit Kindred in 2011. Starting out with a 1,000 square feet, CrossFit Kindred has to grown to more than 80 members with a playroom, special olympic classes, and daily CrossFit classes. Jeff Muya had the inspiration to start his business in East San José because of the lack of CrossFit centers around the area. He wanted to provide a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. Members come to CrossFit Kindred to release the stress they had from work, school, or life. Cindy and Jeff wanted to bring back to the community the power and value of CrossFit, a lifestyle that they deeply believe in.

With the help of San Jose Small Business Ignite, Jeff Muya gains guidance from mentors, Elias Portales, Chris Esparza, and Omar Rodriguez. These mentors have helped Jeff Muya on marketing, branding, and legal issues. On top of that, the mentors have given Jeff new ideas and perspectives for his business.

Jeff Muya hopes to give back to the CrossFit community and to open a world for members to grow a healthy and happy lifestyle. Muya expresses his gratitude for San Jose Small Business Ignite and encourages entrepreneurs to take up any opportunity to work with mentors,

“I really appreciate all of my mentors. They have helped me with branding and marketing and given me legal advice. If you have the time, go out there and become a mentor. Remember the uncertainty when you first started. When you have someone behind you, it makes the journey so much more enjoyable.”

DSC_0011This blog was written by Janani Thiyagarajan. Janani Thiyagarajan is a senior at Washington High School, and plans to major in marketing in college. At school, she is the president of ARK (Acts of Random Kindness Club) and is an active member in debate, DECA, and HOSA. Outside of school, she has been an intern at various non-profit organizations. During her free time, Janani listens to music and read books. At Silicon Valley Talent Partnership, Janani hopes to strengthen her marketing skills and to attain a deeper understanding of the business world.

FeedingSV Impact - Dec2015

In California, 1 in 6 people struggle with hunger.The 2012 Hunger Index shows that there were 204 million missing mealsmealtimes when children, families, and seniors went hungry in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.2  With excess food to feed our communities, no one should go hungry in Silicon Valley. It’s not about producing more, it’s about wasting less. In September 2015, we held a press conference with the City of San José and Waste No Food, announcing Feeding Silicon Valley. We are proud to kick off this collaboration with nonprofits and donors, including Team San José, Levi’s Stadium, Martha’s Kitchen, and Salvation Army. We need your help to battle hunger, reduce food waste and connect excess food to communities in need through Feeding Silicon Valley.




FeedingSV Impact - Dec2015


Food donors, nonprofit recipients, and volunteers (food runners/drivers) can sign up on the Waste No Food app on Google PlayiTunes, or online at www.wastenofood.org. The app generates no income. Over 38,000 lbs have already been donated using the Waste No Food app to Martha’s Kitchen, Salvation Army, City Team, Bill Wilson Center, InnVision Shelter Network, Family Supportive Housing and the Ecumenical Hunger Program. This has resulted in a reduction of over 37,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. Results were calculated using the Whole Earth Calculator from Rock & Wrap It, which was endorsed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Feeding Silicon Valley_Flyer


Developed by SJSU student Jamilia Jernigan with code from Code for America. 



View the press kit, watch videos of our partners on the story of Feeding Silicon Valley, and view the video of the Press Conference announcing Feeding Silicon Valley. We were featured in San José Inside, The Intersector ProjectRoute Fifty, KTSF 26 (EnglishChineseSpartan Daily, and ABC 7.


1 “Map the Meal Gap” Feeding America, 2013. http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/our-research/map-the-meal-gap/

2 Source: 2012 Hunger Index by Santa Clara University and Second Harvest Food Bank. http://www.shfb.org/hungerindex



San José Small Business Ignite Launch 2.0 at 4th Summit on Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

As a mere seven-year-old, Carlos Pérez’s family recognized his budding talent in the arts. In his town of El Chante, Jalisco, Mexico, a young Carlos was sent to art lessons. Two years later, he immigrated to Stockton, CA, but his love for art did not diminish. The focus on art in his formative years did not leave him, and many years later, when he entered San Joaquin Delta Junior College, he entered into an academic path focusing on painting, drawing, and many other forms of art.

Sagrado Corazón | 2011 | Carlos Pérez.

Sagrado Corazón | 2011 | Carlos Pérez.

Carlos studied under Wayne Thiebaud, a popular American painter and artist who focused on ordinary objects as his subjects. Carlos learnt many artistic lessons from Thiebaud, and was admitted to San José State University (SJSU) in the fall of 1972 as a transfer student. He explains, The instruction and creative spirit at SJSU provided me with a wealth of knowledge and experience that has kept my career alive for the last 49+ years!”

Carlos graduated in the top three of his class at SJSU. Because of his stellar grades, he was awarded a competitive apprenticeship at Regis McKenna, Inc., a highly recognized marketing and advertising firm in Palo Alto, CA.

Fast forward a few years to 1977, when Carlos was a budding Junior Art Director at Regis McKenna, Inc. That year, Steve Jobs approached the consultancy for assistance with developing the logo for Apple. Pérez drew the original rendering of the logo and has been a staple member of the Silicon Valley’s graphic design scene ever since.

SVTP Marketing Interns with Carlos Pérez at his San José Art Origin studio. From left to right: Charlene Chen, Carlos Pérez, Connie Pang, and Umika Kumar.

SVTP Marketing Interns with Carlos Pérez at his San José Art Origin studio. From left to right: Charlene Chen, Carlos Pérez, Connie Pang, and Umika Kumar.



Pérez’s work ranges from fine art seen in exhibitions, to graphic design seen in advertisements and city spaces, and even to public art, such as an installation that dominates Evergreen Valley High School’s library ceiling. After working for Regis McKenna and IBM, he started freelancing, and eventually started his own small business: Art Origin.


Transformation | 2004 | Carlos Pérez

Transformation | 2004 | Carlos Pérez

Carlos is one of our dedicated mentors with San José Small Business Ignite. He works with several mentees from all over San José.

“Mentoring gives me an opportunity to listen and hear from small business mentees and learn about the culture of their small business. Mentees receive knowledge and guidance from my forty years plus expertise in marketing and communications industry and arena. I would encourage you to get involved as mentor with San José Small Business Ignite, because you will also gain from it as well.” – Carlos Pérez, Owner of ArtOrigin and San José Small Business Ignite Mentor.


Carlos Pérez - The Artistic Mestizaje mural (2006) at the San José Mexican Heritage Plaza

Carlos Pérez – The Artistic Mestizaje mural (2006) at the San José Mexican Heritage Plaza


Umika Kumar_headshot by Srijana AngdembeyWritten by Umika Kumar, Marketing Intern, Silicon Valley Talent Partnership. 

Umika Kumar is a rising college first-year student, foodie, community service enthusiast, and aspiring entrepreneur. Her current goal with SVTP is to make a lasting impact on the community. She is greatly interested in education, feminism, and using technology to improve the former two. She hopes to eventually be CEO of a company, see a female president in office, and travel the world. Learn more about Umika Kumar

Mariana Faerron Interview for Small Business Ignite

Mariana Faerron with coffee harvest. Photo Credit: Tico Coffee Roasters

Mariana Faerron with coffee harvest. Photo Credit: Tico Coffee Roasters

Eight years ago, Mariana Faerron moved to the United States from the province of Heredia, Costa Rica. Growing up, Mariana was surrounded by coffee plantations in Heredia. She decided to pursue the American Dream by opening a small business to share her love and passion of coffee. Because of her friendship and respect with many coffee farmers in Costa Rica she had the opportunity to create a great product for possible consumers. In 2010, Mariana Faerron and Thomas Goepel co-founded Tico Coffee Roasters in Campbell, California. Mariana and Thomas roast sustainable and unique Grand Cru coffees and import fine teas. Mariana Faerron, CEO of Tico Coffee Roasters, is one of our business mentees with San José Small Business Ignite. 

“I have been drinking coffee since my childhood memories! I still can remember standing next to my grandma, when she brewed the coffee and enjoying the smell as well as the distinct taste. I was so much looking forward to enjoy the fresh cup of coffee with the typical biscuits. Coffee has always been a part of my life.” – Mariana Faerron, CEO & Co-founder, Tico Coffee Roasters

Coffee harvest in Costa Rica. Photo by Tico Coffee Roasters.

Coffee harvest in Costa Rica. Photo by Tico Coffee Roasters.

The name Tico Coffee Roasters honors the heritage of Costa Rican coffee growers and to reflect on Mariana’s origin. Mariana herself is a Tica (colloquial term for Native of Costa Rica) and built herself great honor to be able to come from a coffee growing country and being able to share all the products she gained from her native country. Mariana is responsible for the company strategy, sales leadership and group. Determined to keep the company growing strong, Mariana incorporates social responsibility and sustainability into her innovative procurement, brewing, sales and business practices.

Through San José Small Business Ignite, Mariana receives guidance from her mentor, Ryan Melchiano, Co-owner of SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant in downtown San José. Mariana is learning how to improve Tico Coffee Roasters’ social media, marketing and website.

“Ryan has been very helpful in teaching me about marketing and PR. He gave us feedback on our social media channels and website. After updating our website, we received feedback from from our customers that they really like the changes in the feeling and look.”

Mariana looks forward to learning more in the future sessions on how to create partnerships with other small businesses. Mariana encourages others to join San José Small Business Ignite, “A mentor can help you grow. Don’t hesitate to search for support and meet new people because they can be a great resource for your business.”

Coffee harvest of Helsar de Zarcero. Photo by Tico Coffee Roasters.

Coffee harvest of Helsar de Zarcero. Photo by Tico Coffee Roasters.

Written by Charlene Chen, Marketing Intern at Silicon Valley Talent Partnership.

Charlene Chen_headshot by Srijana Angdembey_2Charlene Chen is studying Information Systems & Technology and Marketing at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign ’17. Charlene enjoys playing and coaching competitive soccer, dancing ballet/ballroom, and learning different languages. During her free time she enjoys working at cafes to learn the art of coffee and tea, with hopes to travel and run her own small business café. Through her internship with SVTP she hopes to grow her knowledge by working on projects and so she can give back to the community where she’s lived in her whole life. Learn more about Charlene Chen.



This year, Japantown San José celebrates 125 years of community, small business and diversity. It is one of the last three historical Japantowns in the United States. Japantown has become a hub for young entrepreneurs to open creative small businesses like urban clothing boutiques and art galleries. April Gee, who opened Petite Galleria in Japantown, is one of many eager and excited mentees with San José Small Business Ignite.


Petite Galleria. Photo by Charlene Chen.

As a resident of Japantown, April loved the neighborhood. She decided to move her art gallery “The Garden,” which was formerly in the Citadel, to Japantown San José. Ms. Gee and her friend discovered this closet-sized nook on Jackston Street, and began transforming the place by painting the walls, cleaning, and adding special editions. In 2013, April opened Petite Galleria with the motto: “Precious and rare, more tortoise than hare.”

At Petite Galleria, April fills the tiny boutique with handmade gems from over 70 local artisans. The gifts that Petite Galleria carriers includes handmade lotion and soaps, hand-printed cards, up-cycled wall décor and limited-edition prints. Gee really enjoys supporting local artisans who do what they love and create handmade gifts. In addition to running the boutique, April also works on her music as ContainHer, working on tracks for for games and composing singles.

April Gee is currently mentored by Katie Fagan, President of FranNet of San Francisco Bay Area. She has really appreciated Katie’s guidance in business operations and marketing. Katie has helped her understand how to utilize resources such as cash flow worksheets; April looks forward to gaining more knowledge and insight from Katie’s business expertise. Gee aspires to work on her online presence so she can highlight the artist’s crafts and stories to a larger audience.


April Gee, Owner of Petite Galleria. Photo by Charlene Chen.

She encourages other entrepreneurs to seek help with San José Small Business Ignite, “In any area of life where you want to grow, it’s important to find a mentor. As soon as the possibility arises, take the opportunity to get mentorship.”





Written by Charlene Chen, Marketing Intern at Silicon Valley Talent Partnership.

Charlene Chen_headshot by Srijana Angdembey_2Charlene Chen is studying Information Systems & Technology and Marketing at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign ’17. Charlene enjoys playing and coaching competitive soccer, dancing ballet/ballroom, and learning different languages. During her free time she enjoys working at cafes to learn the art of coffee and tea, with hopes to travel and run her own small business café. Through her internship with SVTP she hopes to grow her knowledge by working on projects and so she can give back to the community where she’s lived in her whole life. Learn more about Charlene Chen.


RyanMelchiano_headshotRyan Melchiano, Co-owner of SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant in downtown San José, is one of our dedicated mentors with San José Small Business Ignite.

Since his childhood, Ryan was involved with small businesses. His mother’s family immigrated to America from Syria and grew their business by starting small Arabic and Syrian markets, expanding into American markets and achieving the American Dream of owning markets, small businesses, and real estate. Inspired by the little empire that his mother and grandfather built, Ryan was eager to start his own small business. He attended college in San Francisco and got involved with his first business at the age of 21 in the food and beverage industry. Since then, he has opened, ran, and sold different businesses for 15 years in San Francisco. In 2012, he began looking into San José’s growing potential and decided to start SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant with Ryan Hisamune.

Ryan credits his family’s work ethic, determination, and success as inspiration for his desire to give back to small businesses as a mentor:

“I always admired their work ethic, determination and success as a small business owner. Unfortunately at the time my family never had the resources of today. They were faced with many obstacles as well as language and cultural barriers. Faced with those obstacles they managed to succeed and accomplish their goals. My grandfather as well as my mother have always inspired and educated me to follow a good path. It’s my time to give back. I hope my role as a mentor will help others, as my grandfather and mother did for me.”

Before becoming a mentor with Small Business Ignite, Ryan Melchiano already volunteered as a workshop facilitator for two San José Small Business Ignite workshops on marketing. During the workshops, he focused on marketing strategies through social media platforms, emphasizing the cost-savings and user-friendly aspect of social media for small business owners. Ryan Melchiano is mentoring Mariana Faerron, Co-Owner of Tico Coffee Roasters and Chad Bolorquez, coordinator of Downtown Streets Team’s Kartma–a street café initiative to end homelessness.

Mr. Melchiano touches upon one of many reasons for mentoring, “You learn so much and share ideas with your mentees. Mentoring has a great impact on the community–as a mentor, you are directly helping people thrive in San José.”


You can share your knowledge and guidance as a mentor to small business owners and entrepreneurs in San José. Sign up to be a mentor by July 31, 2015.

Written by Charlene Chen, Marketing Intern at Silicon Valley Talent Partnership.

Charlene Chen_headshot by Srijana Angdembey_2Charlene Chen is studying Information Systems & Technology and Marketing at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign ’17. Charlene enjoys playing and coaching competitive soccer, dancing ballet/ballroom, and learning different languages. During her free time she enjoys working at cafes to learn the art of coffee and tea, with hopes to travel and run her own small business café. Through her internship with SVTP she hopes to grow her knowledge by working on projects and so she can give back to the community where she’s lived in her whole life. Learn more about Charlene Chen.

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