Philly's fastest-growing small businesses are learning together at their local community college

More than 530 entrepreneurs have completed Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses training at Community College of Philadelphia.

Twenty-three of the fastest growing privately held companies in Greater Philadelphia in 2019 are alumni of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a free business education program designed to provide practical skills and professional support for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

The Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Inquirer announced the Philadelphia 100 award winners at a ceremony in October 2019. They revealed that the fastest growing business in the region in 2019 was Kapital Data Corp., whose owner, Kumar Mangala, completed Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses-Greater Philadelphia. The free program is hosted by and held at Community College of Philadelphia.

Equally as exciting, women or minorities own 16 of the 23 companies making the Philly 100. The alumni represent the city and suburbs as well as a variety of industries including architecture, law, training, construction and retail.

“We’re excited to see so many women and people of color at the forefront of Philadelphia's Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program,” said CCP President Donald Guy Generals. “Philadelphia's workforce and economy are strengthened as these entrepreneurs expand their employment rolls and increase revenues."

Mangala credits the program with helping him to sharpen his strategic corporate focus, prioritize tasks and hone his presentation skills.

“I have always operated from a position of strength, having already run another successful business,” Mangala said. “I had the knowledge in my head and I knew I could wing it. Attending this program allowed me to put that aside and view it from a different perspective. That allowed me to articulate my plan better to my stakeholders, customers and even prospective employees. I began to see, gradually, the difference it made. It was a small difference but it made a huge difference in the outcome.”

Goldman Sachs launched 10,000 Small Businesses as part of a national initiative to create jobs and foster inclusive economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital and business support services. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99 percent of all business in the U.S. and employ nearly half the American workforce.

Through Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, companies coming from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania get new supports and an opportunity to meet like-minded business owners and develop customized tools.

Alumna Patty Tawadros is founder of Studio x., a digital design firm specializing in resolving usability issues. Launched in 2003 as Xercel, Inc., it has grown from a three-person team to an international design studio headquartered in Philadelphia with teams in Russia and India.

“I spent the first 13 years of my business just working with no specific plans for how I would scale; we’ve all been there,  years just slipping by unnoticed, ” Tawadros said. “I had reached a point where I was bored and complaining to my mom. She told me, ‘Why don’t you stop complaining and start working?’ It was time to change my attitude and refocus my company. The 10KSB program helped me do just that. I was able to spend time working on my business instead of drowning in the daily tasks. Moreover, by delegating more, my team stepped up and delivered successful projects. I spent my newfound time working through a strategy to create recurring stable revenue and planning a future exit strategy, In addition, I was introduced to funding sources that have enabled me to take a larger leap than I could have on my own. I will be forever grateful.”

In addition to providing classes on topics such as negotiation, marketing and employee management, the program offers a network of support and expertise. Many of the alumni remain closely connected with peers, as past cohorts meet regularly to discuss shared challenges and sometimes collaborate on business opportunities. Since 2013, 20 cohorts have graduated at the College, bringing the number of entrepreneurs served to 540.

Sheila Adkins, a member of cohort 14, is among those making the Philly 100 for a second straight year. Adkins Management Inc., a woman- and minority-owned construction firm based in Bala Cynwd, specializes in home modifications and remodeling work related to health, aging and safety issues. Most of their remodeling work has been geared toward helping seniors and individuals with disabilities remain in their homes. Recently, the firm was selected for a pilot program that modifies homes to eradicate asthma triggers such as mold, dust, poor ventilation, worn carpet and structural hazards. The project, sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia, is being expanded.

Prior to joining Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Adkins had about 10 employees. Two and a half years later, her company has grown to include work on commercial facilities. She now employs 35 people — all of them coming from the neighborhoods where she works.

“The growth that my company has reached—it is phenomenal. We are supplying a lot of families with income. And as I grow, the community grows with me because everybody I hire is from these Philadelphia neighborhoods,” she said. “Before Goldman Sachs, I worked on two houses a week. Now I do seven or eight houses a week.”

The program at CCP, which is the only site in the region and just one of 19 nationally, helps entrepreneurs to refocus and move beyond the daily tasks so they can develop growth strategies, as Adkins has done.

“I have been able to grow our staff from five full-time staff to eight full-time staff, said alumnus Kevin Kearns, CEO of Tri-State Training & Safety Consulting, which provides training and other services geared toward clients’ health and safety needs. “With this organic growth, our sales have grown by 40 percent. Being a member of the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program has allowed me to be more of a business owner. In the past, I was an owner of a business.”

Apply online to 10,000 Small Businesses-Greater Philadelphia.