START SMALL THINK BIG INC

WE’RE ALL FOR SMALL. BECAUSE SMALL BUSINESSES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. #ALLFORSMALL

New York City, NY   |  www.startsmallthinkbig.org

Mission

Start Small Think Big (Start Small) has a mission to help under-resourced entrepreneurs create thriving businesses in underserved areas so owners can build wealth for themselves, their families and communities. We do this by activating and engaging a top-tier network of professional volunteers who provide high-quality legal, financial and marketing services, at no cost. Our work with low-to moderate-income entrepreneurs directly aligns with our vision: a society in which entrepreneurship is a viable path to socioeconomic mobility. By investing in the underserved, we create jobs and value for our society, and empower others to create a better future.

Ruling year info

2010

Executive Director

Ms. Jennifer DaSilva

Main address

511 Avenue of the Americas #4151

New York City, NY 10011 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-1821066

NTEE code info

Financial Counseling, Money Management (P51)

Economic Development (S30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Low-income and/or minority small business owners' lack of access to technical and financial assistance which impedes their opportunities and success. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy: they create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness. According to the US Small Business Administration, they account for 44 percent of U.S. economic activity. However, structural racial and gender disparities in business ownership are continuous and long-standing, and damaging to both minority and low-income communities as well as the overall economy. Nationally, people of color represent about 40% of the population, but only 20% of the nation’s 5.6 million business owners with employees. If ownership shares matched population shares, people of color would own 50% more businesses than they currently do now. We are working to remove this disparity.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Legal Services

Start Small provides eligible entrepreneurs with free legal services through in-house experts and our extensive network of pro bono partners. Clients gain advice and technical assessment with areas such as corporate risk assessment, entity selection and formation, intellectual property, corporate governance, commercial leases, employment, taxes, and more.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Ethnic and racial groups
LGBTQ people
Self-employed people

We provide assistance with bookkeeping, financial planning, and projections.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Self-employed people
Ethnic and racial groups
LGBTQ people

We provide assistance with logo and website design, digital marketing strategy, social media, brand assessment, online advertising, distribution and sales channel strategy, website auditing, and access to sales opportunities.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Self-employed people
Ethnic and racial groups
LGBTQ people

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Aspen Institute emphasizes the importance of increasing marginalized and low-income business owners’ access to capital, skills, networks, and markets as a lever to reducing this racial wealth gap, in addition to policies aimed at raising the quality of education, building savings, and increasing financial inclusion for low-income and marginalized populations.

Start Small’s intervention is in this specific area - increasing access to skills, professional expertise, and networks so that marginalized and low-income business owners’ can fulfill their potential and through their industry reduce the wealth disparity.

We help under-resourced -- low-income, marginalized, immigrant, and women -- entrepreneurs create thriving businesses in underserved areas so that they can build wealth for themselves, their families, and communities. By assisting under-resourced small business owners who typically do not have access to expensive professional expertise, we aim to a) reduce their inequity of access, b) build wealth for marginalized individuals and for their communities, and c) stimulate economic innovation and growth on underserved “Main Streets.” We enable our entrepreneurs to achieve success by activating and engaging a top-tier network of professional volunteers who provide high-quality legal, financial and marketing services at no cost.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the landscape for the small businesses we serve, as well as the way we assist them and the kind of help they need. We surveyed our clients in March 2020 and found that the vast majority have seen sales decline 80 to 100 percent. Women-owned businesses, and those in food and retail, have been the hardest hit. Less than 10% of the businesses we serve believe that they can continue operating for 3 months or more before they will be forced to shutter for good.

In response to this historic financial and public health crisis, Start Small is pivoting quickly and directing all efforts to scale - because the need for our services is now tremendous and nationwide. Our overarching aim is to help our clients and thousands of small businesses nationwide to survive the immediate impact of COVID19, and equip them for recovery and sustainability.

Specifically, our goals over the next year are:
- Scale nationwide, and increase the number of under-resourced small businesses to which we provide our services by 150+%;
- Help at least 40% of our clients sustain and/or expand their businesses and ensure that they are able to retain at least $4.5M in revenue throughout this economic downturn and recovery period, post COVID.

Start Small provides small business owners from underserved communities with free legal, financial and marketing services through our in-house experts and extensive network of pro bono partners.

Over the years, Start Small has built a robust ecosystem with 100+ top-tier private and public partnerships, providing our clients with a caliber of support that would be unobtainable and unthinkably expensive normally.

Our programs are built around three specific intersections: 1) who we target and serve, 2) what services we offer, and 3) how we serve.

Who we target and serve: Start Small’s unique model fills a critically important gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: we target a population of entrepreneurs -- who have launched businesses but are still in the early stages. Businesses at this stage often go under-served by other technical assistance providers (who, on one end of the spectrum, focus — often exclusively — on pre-launch businesses, and at the other end of the spectrum, target much later stage or growth entrepreneurs and typically provide niche programming and support). Our entrepreneurs are past the initial launch phase, but need individualized one-on-one counsel and support to get to the next stage of growth.

What services we provide: Start Small offers a highly curated blend of one-on-one legal, financial management, and marketing assistance; we are the only program in the country that engages both legal and non-legal experts to provide this kind of comprehensive, wrap-around support to ensure the sustainability and growth of these entrepreneurs and their small businesses. Moreover, since very few programs offer ongoing support, they do not have the long-standing relationships with businesses to support their particular needs during this unprecedented economic recession, whereas at Start Small, our ongoing and deep relationships with clients enable us to provide the customized, responsive assistance they need to sustain their businesses in the short-term and grow them over the long-term.

How we serve: In addition to in-house expertise, we have developed a network of 100+ top-tier private and public partnerships -- including from Square, American Express, and international law firms like Skadden --- whose thousands of employees provide legal, financial and marketing services to our entrepreneurs (originally in New York and California, but now nationwide as we expand and go virtual). Through our ongoing and deep relationships with both clients and partners, we facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between under-resourced entrepreneurs and professional volunteers at hundreds of the most successful law firms, and corporations in the US.

With a current annual organizational budget of $1.7 million dollars, our 17-person team leverages a vast network of top-tier legal, financial and marketing volunteers to provide entrepreneurs with pro bono support valued at $12 million. Start Small’s staff is a diverse team of women, men, minority and immigrant professionals. The team ensures Start Small clients receive over 60 hours of one-on-one pro bono assistance, valued at more than $30,700 per client. Last year alone, over 2,000 volunteers provided approximately 24,500 hours of one-on-one legal, financial management, and marketing technical assistance.

Over the past 10 years, Start Small has built a robust ecosystem through 100+ top-tier private and public partnerships such as with Square, American Express, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, international law firms like Skadden Arps, and community organizations such as Business Center for New Americans, Latino Business Council, Catholic Charities and their Community Navigators for New Americans, and Grameen America, who provide a caliber of support to our clients that would be unobtainable and unthinkably expensive otherwise.

Start Small Think Big (Start Small) provides free technical assistance - financial, marketing, and legal - to 1,300+ immigrant, minority, and/or women-owned small businesses operating in underserved communities in New York and California, and soon across the country. Currently, our entrepreneurs are 21% immigrants and 97% minority and/or women. Among our targeted entrepreneurs, 35% live below the federal poverty line and 70% have businesses located in high-poverty communities. The average business revenue at intake is approximately $33,000 per year.

Within the first year of receiving Start Small services, the small businesses that we support:
- achieve a 50%+ increase in business revenue.
- 40% have identified meaningful new and varied distribution channels for their businesses.
- retain and/or create a total of at least 470 jobs.
- for every $1 in program costs invested in Start Small entrepreneurs, $3.3 of increased economic activity is generated.

In addition, over the past 10 years, Start Small has built a robust ecosystem through 100+ top-tier private and public partnerships who provide a caliber of support to our clients that would be unobtainable and unthinkably expensive otherwise. In 2019, this pro bono support was valued at $14 million. Start Small clients receive over 60 hours of one-on-one pro bono assistance, valued at more than $30,700 per client. Last year (2019) alone, over 2,000 volunteers provided approximately 24,500 hours of one-on-one legal, financial management, and marketing technical assistance.

Now, as a result of Covid19, in response to client need and the public health crisis, we have transitioned all client programming (client intakes, workshops, clinics) online. This change has resulted in the team expanding beyond our core geography (New York City, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose). With an infrastructure in place that can be accessible anywhere, Start Small has “opened its doors” to business across the U.S. Our aim is to scale our work nationally, and increase the number of under-resourced small businesses to which we provide our services by 150+%,
help at least 40% of our clients sustain and/or expand their businesses and ensure that they are able to retain at least $4.5M in revenue throughout this economic downturn and recovery period, post COVID.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

Financials

START SMALL THINK BIG INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

START SMALL THINK BIG INC

Board of directors
as of 11/4/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Joseph Kaufman

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Term: 2020 - 2023

KEVIN BOON

SQUARE

CAROLYN COHEN

INCITES SOLUTIONS

JENNIFER DASILVA

START SMALL THINK BIG

JOSEPH KAUFMAN

SIMPSON THACHER & BARTLETT LLP

NAVNEET KAUR

BARCLAYS INVESTMENT BANK

MARK KESSLEN

LOWENSTEIN SANDLER

ALISON KING

ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER LLP

ERIK KNUTZEN

NEUBERGER BERMAN

LAURA KOZIEN

NEW YORK BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS

VALERIE MALTER

MATARIN CAPITAL MANAGEMENT

FRANCESCA ODELL

CLEARY GOTTLIEB STEEN & HAMILTON LLP

JONNY PRICE

WEFUNDER

KRISTEN SCHEYDER

CITI FOUNDATION

STEVEN SLUTZKY

DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON LLP

CINTIA GABILAN

AMAZON

MICHAEL PASTOR

NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL

ERICA LOCK

BLACKSTONE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/04/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/04/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.