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

Or sign up at Eventbrite.




Denise Belisle was inspired to start her own coffee shop,
Evergreen Coffee Company, after her husband lost his job in 2009. Denise and her husband bought Java Junction, transformed the business into Evergreen Coffee Company, and ran it with the Belisle family for the last five years. Denise leveraged her business experience working in human resources in the private sector, for attorneys and at manufacturing companies.


Business was scarce at first. The Evergreen Village Square was not a popular destination spot. But after Walmart had opened up their store in the village, business for the Evergreen Coffee Company grew substantially. Starting out with just three employees, the Evergreen Coffee Company has expanded to nine employees.


Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 2.44.59 PM

Evergreen Coffee Company became a neighborhood destination. Customers love the friendly and comfortable atmosphere. Belisle’s small business is different from chain coffee companies like Starbucks, because of Evergreen Coffee Company’s emphasis on personal connection with customers.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 2.45.14 PMEven with a vast knowledge of business, Belisle gains guidance from Katie Fagan, San José Small Business Ignite mentor. Fagan mentors Belisle on business marketing and management, helping her identify access to capital and learn marketing strategies. Now, Denise has a clear vision of her goals and believes that the mentoring program with San José Small Business Ignite will help her strategize towards business expansion and customer reach.


Belisle reflects on the value of participating in the San José Small Business Ignite mentoring program, “When we started we were flying blind and you could always learn from someone. This particular mentor has been very helpful.”


This blog was written byJanani Thiyagarajan, intern at Silicon Valley Talent Partnership.

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 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.

2 Source: 2012 Hunger Index by Santa Clara University and Second Harvest Food Bank.


DSC_0613On May 29, 2015, over 250 small business owners, entrepreneurs, business advisors and city staff came together for the the 4th Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the launch of San José Small Business Ignite 2.0 – Business Mentorship program. San José’s commitment to strengthening regional long-term economic success drives the city’s passion for creating a solid foundation of resources and network to accelerate the success of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Through San José Small Business Ignite, we are collaborating with partners like Ernst & Young LLC and City of San José to encourage small business owners and business professionals to mentor emerging or immigrant small businesses in San José.

DSC_0908The Summit was presented by BusinessOwnerSpace, work2future, and San José Office of Economic Development in partnership with the Silicon Valley Talent Partnership. At the Summit, small business owners, entrepreneurs, business advisors, and industry experts came together for workshops on Business Strategy, Marketing, Technology for Business Productivity, and Navigating City Permits. The Summit featured Keynote speakers Nicole Isaac – LinkedIn, and Rob Reckis – Wells Fargo, and a panel on Accessing Capital, moderated by Kip Harkness (PayPal) and included panelists Rob Reckis – Wells Fargo, Laureen Cortez – Bank of America, Dennis King – Silicon Valley SBDC, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley, Miguel Angel Barreras – The Opportunity Fund and Robert Lattimore – AnewAmerica.

DSC_0612“We know in Silicon Valley that 95% of our job growth is attributed to small firms that are growing,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. Mayor Sam Liccardo understands small business needs and emphasized that the City of San José will strive to work with all small business owners by providing them guidance to accelerate and scale their success. Additionally, companies like Ernst & Young LLC, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and PayPal all understand the need of connecting with small businesses. Helping small businesses thrive builds a stronger ecosystem and makes the working world better.

Keynote speaker Nicole Isaac, Head of the Economic Graph Policy Partnerships at LinkedIn, said, “We are here to serve you. We have the resources, we have the capacity, we have the network to get you more interconnected, to ensure that you are able to gain information, to gain education, to take yourself from one place to another.”

Ms. Isaac recognizes that although the economy faltered in the last decade, small businesses had helped the economy rise again.

DSC_0816We were thrilled to partner again with EY and SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant on workshops for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Kailesh Karavadra led the EY workshop on “Plan to Grow and Succeed,” with a focus on tax planning, business strategy, and accounting.


Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 12.38.56 PMRyan Melchiano, Co-Owner of SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant, Karina Velazquez, Investigation Specialist with Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Quynh Nguyen (Ad Review Specialist, BBB), presented a workshop on marketing and branding, “Growing Your Business Reputation/Social Marketing.”

Kymberli Brady, Owner of, who participated in the marketing workshop, reflected, “In looking at the analytics of the company that he pulled up…I’m in the marketing business…This is another great way to get that brand going further.” 

The other workshops focused on apps to “Make Your Smartphone Smarter,” and “Navigating City Permits.” PayPal presented the workshop, “Make Your Smartphone Smarter”, which featured content developed by Michelle Li, a Silicon Valley Talent Partnership intern and Tony Winston of Ernst & Young LLP.

DSC_0978After listening to the panelists, I learned that every person’s story is unique, and that many small business owners and entrepreneurs were influenced by their experiences in the United States or from their homeland. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the Panel on Accessing Capital, which was moderated by Kip Harkness, Director of Technology Engagement at PayPal. Mr. Harkness was an excellent moderator, and facilitated the conversation to help the audience understand the challenges, success, and experiences of each panelist. I learned that Robert Lattimore, of AnewAmerica Community Corporation, has had his business for over a decade already!


As I talked to attendees and participated in the workshops and panel, I felt the whirlwind of knowledge being shared. Attendees were engrossed in the information, scrambling to take notes and continuously drilling the speakers with questions. I was really impressed with the entrepreneurial attendees who strive to become small businesses owners in different industries from online retail to restaurants to landscaping.


Panelist Dennis King, the Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley, emphasized that those who want to create their own businesses are not alone, “You may be in business for yourself, but you certainly don’t need to be in business for yourself – you need to look out for yourself, and sometimes the best resources are right around you.”

At the Summit, I learned that San José is a city brimming with entrepreneurial potential. Before this, I did not realize how many jobs each business offers and how it attributes to a large, small business community. With over 55,000 small businesses in San José, and the majority of these small businesses owned by immigrants, the city boasts a diverse network of small businesses. The Summit reflected the efforts of City of San José’s vision–to cultivate the potential of immigrant San José small business owners to thrive.

DSC_1112San José Small Business Ignite 2.0 created a support system for small businesses, by connecting mentees–small business owners or entrepreneurs–with business mentors. We look forward to the growth of our pilot mentorship program, and to create a strong foundation for San José small businesses to grow, connect, and innovate.

Written by Charlene Chen (University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign ’17), Silicon Valley Talent Partnership Marketing Intern. For more information, email:


Small Business Ignite - Business Planning Workshop - Flyer - January 21, 2015

We are excited to return in the new year with our next Small Business Ignite workshop! We collaborated with the City of San José’s Office of Economic Development to launch “Small Business Ignite” in October 2014, along with, Ernst & Young LLP (EY), and SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant. Small Business Ignite provides year-long training and mentoring to help small businesses in San Jose succeed. Participating small businesses will learn from industry leaders, network with global companies, and gain exposure and experience. The program offers workshops on marketing, social media, and business planning that will help small businesses gain hands-on experience to create business plans, social media strategies, and marketing strategies to expand their customer base and reach.

Let’s take a deep dive into business planning!


Small Business Ignite San José: Business Planning Workshop & Networking

Wednesday January 21, 2015

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

EY, 1st Floor Training Room

303 Almaden Blvd., San José, CA 95110


Are you a small business owner who could use expert advice to create a business plan? Have questions about taxes and accounting? This is a free workshop facilitated by experts from Ernst & Young, LLP (EY).


1:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Welcome

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Workshops:

  • Business Planning: How to Write a Business Plan
  • Accounting: Cost and Pricing
  • Tax Overview

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Networking and Closing with refreshments

Register today. Space is limited. Questions? Email


Ignite Your Success. Small Business Ignite is a series of training, networking and mentoring sessions for small business owners in San José. Small Business Ignite is a partnership with the City of San José’s Office of Economic Development, Silicon Valley Talent Partnership, BusinessOwnerSpace, EY, and SP2 Communal Bar & Restaurant. Small Business Ignite is focused on helping you accelerate the success of your small business.

Small Business Ignite - Business Planning Workshop Jan 21, 2015


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