In less than four years, Kim Brimer has gone from new business owner to operating two retail locations serving pets and their owners. She opened up Must Love Pets at the Roseville Galleria earlier this month with designer dog toys and carriers.
“What’s cool about this store is that there is nothing else like it in the Galleria, so if you come to the Galleria and you love dogs … where are you going to go?” Brimer asked. “We’re filling a niche that the Galleria just doesn’t have.”
The store has piggy banks in the shape of cats and dogs, treat jars that look like fire hydrants and slippers with paw prints.
This columnist wrote about Brimer back in December 2013, shortly after she had opened her Pampered Pet Salon and Boutique in Folsom, 6610 Folsom-Auburn Road. Then known by her maiden name, Kim Haines, she had gotten a personal loan from her father and a micro-loan from Opening Doors to get her business off the ground.
This time around, she used her own savings and a line of credit she had from her bank to launch a boutique in Roseville. Sales have been brisk, Brimer said. She got the idea to open a retail-only outlet from the manager of another local shopping center, who asked if she would open a pet boutique at her site.
“I thought it would be a really cool idea, but it wasn’t quite the clientele we cater to,” Brimer said, “so I reached out to a couple of different shopping areas that were more in line with what our business model is and I happened to find this space open at a great rate that we could afford in our budget for something that was untested for us.”
These days, Brimer employs 18 people, but in the beginning, there were only three. She said her Pampered Pet Salon has been so besieged by people seeking grooming services that she plans to stop accepting new clients for a while.
“We could probably use another two or three groomers, but we’re not finding the right ones,” she said. “It’s been a struggle …We’re too picky.”
Ripe for startups – If you’d like to go into business for yourself, Mariah Lichtenstern would like for you to explore what the Founder Institute has to offer. She’s looking to open a Sacramento program for the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator.
Founder Institute takes entrepreneurs whose concepts are at the idea stage through a 14-week program and gets their businesses ready to launch by the end of the course. Lichtenstern is holding free introductory sessions in Sacramento this summer to determine whether she can recruit enough applicants to invite the accelerator’s first cohort. Applicants pay a $749 enrollment fee if they sign up by July 30 and $999 after that date.
“Founder Institute is a global organization,” said Lichtenstern, who used the program to launch her own business. “Their mission is globalizing Silicon Valley. They’re in every time zone, over 60 countries. They have launched over 3,000 companies, created over 20,000 jobs. The companies have raised half a billion dollars collectively.”
Established by serial entrepreneur and investor Adeo Ressi in 2009, the institute requires each applicant to contribute 3.5 percent of the equity in their company to a liquidity pool that is shared with peers from their class, their industry mentors, the institute, and program directors such as Lichtenstern if the founders sell their business, take it public or otherwise convert their interest into cash.
Ressi’s idea is that this will give everyone an incentive to ensure each participant’s success. At the free summer sessions, Lichtenstern and other directors are fielding questions about the program and introducing potential applicants to the local mentors who will be guiding them.
The next session will be a three-hour ideation bootcamp on June 13 in conference rooms at Golden Pacific Bank, 980 Ninth St. in Sacramento. Space is limited, however, so attendees must register at fi.co/courses/. Lichtenstern started the exploratory sessions with an introductory event Tuesday when Apptology CEO Rich Foreman, Fourth Wave co-founder Tracy Saville and other mentors talked about making the leap from employee to entrepreneur.
While many attendees will come with business ideas already in their heads, Lichtenstern said she hopes the sessions also draw entrepreneurial people who feel their skills could be used as part of a start-up team. The Founder Institute program, which would launch in September if there is enough interest, takes into account that most participants will be working full-time jobs.