Erika Johns had an idea for a unique business with a mission – provide school age children (tweens and teens too!) a place to get fit, develop healthy habits and socialize. Her concept is now a reality! Generation Y, located on LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center is a fun approach to youth fitness, joyful movement, vitality, and nutrition education.Erica successfully created Generation Y in the true entrepreneurial spirit – through hard work, focus and the tenacious belief in the value of the services offered. Along the way, she realized the need to request the help of experts. That’s when she turned to Denise Whitford of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Seeking financing assistance to develop a budget to properly launch and operate Generation Y, Erika immediately began working with Denise, SBDC Business Development Advisor for small businesses throughout Hartford County. Although Erika had demonstrated a clear financial commitment to her business venture by investing over $140,000 of her own capital, she still needed an additional $50,000 for renovations required to meet town fire and safety codes.
SBDC Business Advisor, Denise Whitford shared, “Erika’s high level of energy and enthusiasm struck me from the first time we met. She prides herself on her creative nature and tenacity to overcome hurdles.” Denise helped Erika to find a micro lender and also provided guidance to help her complete the required application package. The assistance Erika received from the SBDC resulted in the approval of a $50,000 micro loan from the Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO), allowing Erika to complete all the necessary renovations and open her business in July 2012.
“My main issue in securing financing was being able to get in front of the right lenders. I needed to find someone who would passionately represent me and my business, as well as I would”, explained Erika. “Denise demonstrated tenacity and a tangible commitment to my business needs – I knew that she supported my goals. She was able to help me secure the required financing at a crucial time.”