Start Small Think Big is a nonprofit that helps small businesses with high potential and limited access to the resources needed to create thriving businesses.
Start Small. Think Big. Our name says it all.
Start Small Think Big was conceived like so many small businesses—on a "what if" premise. Our founder, Jenny DaSilva, suffered a traumatic personal loss that challenged her to rethink her job as a lawyer and explore how to create a more impactful career and apply her legal skills beyond the courtroom.
Jenny resonated with how challenging entrepreneurship could be for those who need to forge their own path. During her journey of self-discovery, Jenny explored how she could most effectively use her legal training to provide other innovators and risk-takers in her community with the resources and support they needed to create sustainable businesses.
In 2010, Jenny turned her "what if" idea into action. She opened Start Small Think Big to serve her Bronx, New York community, giving life to her idea of building a network of legal experts to help alleviate the legal burdens of business ownership and enable small businesses to thrive.
THE LEGAL PROGRAM | 2010
We started with what we knew best: the legal system. Tapping into her legal network, Jenny started recruiting law firms to provide small businesses in the Bronx with free legal services.
GROWTH SPURTS | 2012-2014
At the time, Start Small Think Big was exclusively serving Bronx-based businesses. However, applications for support started to come in from all across New York City. We hired our first full-time staff person, opened our doors to businesses in all five boroughs, and started to refine our model for scalable growth.
THE FINANCE PROGRAM | 2015
Recognizing that law cannot be practiced in a vacuum and that for lawyers to truly add value, they must understand the "big picture," next we started to build out a finance program. We hired additional staff and began to define exactly what financial services we needed to offer to help small business owners grow more sustainably.
THE MARKETING & SALES PROGRAM | 2016
By this time, we had been working with several thousand small businesses. While we helped these businesses build a strong legal and financial infrastructure, their revenue wasn't increasing as quickly as we knew it could. It became clear that many of our business owners needed marketing support to establish a strong brand and promote their products or services. We introduced our Marketing & Sales Program to help small business owners attract more customers and increase their revenues.
CROSS COUNTRY EXPANSION | 2017-2020
By 2017, we were seeing an ever-increasing demand for our services from all key stakeholders - small business owners, community and corporate partners, and volunteers. In response, we opened a second office in Oakland, California in 2017, and a third office in San Jose, California three years later.
COVID-19 IMPACT | 2020
COVID exacerbated many structural inequities in the United States and permanently shifted the small business landscape. It required us to respond urgently and decisively to the immediate and pressing challenges that this crisis has created for small businesses across the country. We immediately transitioned all programming online. This change enabled our small business owners to access our services online and by phone much more quickly and enabled us to expand nationally. We also created an Emergency Relief Fund program, which provided cash relief to small business owners in our community, enabling them to cover expenses and keep their businesses open.
Our vibrant community of volunteers and partners is the lifeline to the small businesses we serve. Because of their ongoing support and engagement, Start Small Think Big is on track to expand to all 50 states and begin serving 15,000+ small business owners annually.
We will continue to rely on data and feedback from our business owners and partners to guide our decision-making and community-centered service approach, ensuring that we continue to build a collaborative and inclusive small business ecosystem.
At our very core, Start Small Think Big is a small business. That is why we understand our small business owners’ challenges, and we know how and why it takes a united front of partners, support, and holistic resources to grow and thrive.
Together we’re #allforsmall.
We meet our community and staff where they are and aim to break down barriers to access and accommodate people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
We remain open to learning and unlearning as language and the social and economic justice frameworks we are connected to are ever-evolving spaces.
We communicate with our community and each other with respect, compassion, and acceptance.
We are committed to examining our own biases, prejudices, and viewpoints and strengthening our abilities to understand and connect with diverse populations and cultures.
We appreciate our differences and embrace people of all backgrounds and identities. We oppose racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, or ableism of any form.
We put people first. People are at the core of our organization — above all, it is people who fuel our work — small business owners, staff, volunteers, and partners alike.
Our Commitment to
Equity and Learning
Start Small Think Big is deeply committed to building an inclusive and anti-racist organization where clients, staff, and volunteers of all identities feel seen, heard, and valued.
We recognize the long history of exclusionary practices that have intentionally kept many marginalized communities out of the business sector, especially communities of color. We have a responsibility to play an active role in fighting systems of oppression and advancing equity in small business ownership.
We take an intentional approach to centering the needs and experiences of the most impacted communities to shape our strategic priorities across all areas of our work. We are committed to an active learning process to continually transform our policies, structures, and organizational culture to better support small business owners who face unique challenges stemming from structural racism that limit the growth and sustainability of their businesses.
By centering those at the margins, we aim to create the conditions for all groups to succeed.
We are a group of nonprofit and industry professionals who are passionate about small business, entrepreneurship, and community building. Small businesses have an impact on people of all backgrounds and supporting the business owners behind them draws a team of dedicated, innovative, and kind people.
Here’s what #AllforSmall means to us…
Senior Marketing and Design Manager
"We can all make a difference for each other and small businesses because we are all connected, I hope to do my part to give small businesses a voice."
Legal Program Coordinator
"#AllforSmall means showing support for small businesses. It best simplifies Start Small Think Big's mission to provide legal, financial and marketing resources to small businesses that will benefit them in their path toward success."
West Coast Legal Fellow
#AllforSmall means supporting people as they embark on attaining their dreams. It's helping people support their families by doing what inspires them and brings them joy and fulfillment.
"Being #Allforsmall means ensuring that Black and brown small business owners have access to tools, resources, and support to continue serving their communities."
Volunteer Experience & Engagement Manager
"#AllforSmall is about connecting small business owners with resources and tools they need to make their dreams happen and offering them opportunities to grow and thrive."
Director, Client Relationship Management
"Small business owners play such an important role in our local communities, and without them, our neighborhoods would not be the same. To support them is to support a dream or a passion, and I feel privileged to be able to do so."
Senior Director, Equity and Inclusion
"For me, #AllforSmall means recognizing and honoring the experiences of small business owners that are most impacted by complex systems of oppression. As an organization, we must commit ourselves to centering the needs of those at the margins to inform the way we deliver our services."
Associate Director, Legal Program
"Small businesses are the backbone of our communities! I'm proud to support entrepreneurs who model the highest standards of creativity, resilience, and hard work. There is immense joy in seeing small business owners thrive in the marketplace and achieve their dreams."
Senior Director, Technology
"Small businesses and entrepreneurship are the lifeblood of any thriving community. When we come together to support those businesses, we allow the creativity and diversity of our communities to flourish, which makes life richer for us all!"
Finance Senior Program Manager
"#AllforSmall is encouraging self determination, personal fulfillment, and pride in community building."
"I love the power and creativity that comes with a small business. To me, being #AllforSmall is about the life changing impact one business can have on an individual, family, and community."
Founder & Executive Director
"I am #AllforSmall because small businesses are the portal through which so many people, particularly those most marginalized, can enter our economic mainstream. They also create vibrant and beautiful communities. And, entrepreneurs themselves are many of the most creative, hard working and inspiring people I have ever met. They inspire me, every day, to try harder, to do better, to think bigger about all that is possible."
"To me this means being a part of a team that allows each person to bring their unique experiences and background to the table to aid others."
Client Relationship Coordinator
"We are experiencing one of the toughest times for local businesses and entrepreneurs. Being #AllforSmall means giving back time and energy to those who are often overlooked, in hopes of lightening their load."
Chief Financial Officer
"#AllforSmall is incredibly important to me. Having been a small business entrepreneur I have a deep appreciation for the work done by an organization like Start Small Think Big to support and advocate for small businesses across the USA."
Marketing & Sales Program Coordinator
"Striving to work for the success and growth of others, sometimes over yourself. To have empathy and to be empowered. To recognize that a dream should not be measured by its size, but rather its authenticity and dedication."
Senior Client Relationship Manager
"#AllforSmall is the acknowledgment that small businesses are the heart and soul of communities across the country. When I think of the places I love, I think of the local restaurants, shops, services that make those communities unique. When small businesses are thriving, communities are thriving."
Senior Manager, Information Systems
"To me, being #AllforSmall means supporting talented people with the bravery to pursue what is meaningful to them."
Impact Assessment Senior Program Manager
"Supporting the people and businesses that make our communities unique."
Administration and Office Manager
"Joining SSTB in the summer of 2021, I am overjoyed to be part of a team dedicated to greater access to business education and services that offer opportunities for all."
Director, Marketing & Sales Program
"#AllforSmall provides the needed support to communities to close the opportunity gap created by systems of oppression in this country."
CLIENT RELATIONSHIP COORDINATOR
"To me, #AllforSmall means creating new avenues of support and opportunity, chipping away at existing structures of inequality. It means empowering both small businesses and the communities they serve. "
Marketing & Sales Program Manager
"Small business owners play a huge role in supporting our local communities and having even a small part in giving back to the community is what #AllforSmall means to me."
Senior Director, Finance & Capital Programs
"Helping small businesses achieve success."
Chief Operating Officer
"I am #AllforSmall because advocating for and creating equitable structures for small businesses to succeed is critical to building more and better pathways of opportunity. Small is truly mighty and deserves to be celebrated!"
Equal Justice Works Fellow
"I am #AllForSmall because businesses in a community should reflect the people of that community."
East Coast Community Engagement Manager
"#AllforSmall means investing in the immigrant-owned businesses that are the backbone to the vibrant neighborhoods that raised me."
Marketing & Business Development Coordinator
"#Allforsmall means supporting the prosperity and livelihood of small business owners and their impact on communities. I will always celebrate the invaluable role of small businesses."
Client Relationship Manager
"Supporting our community of entrepreneurs. I believe small businesses are a vital part of our economy and supporting such businesses is very important to me."
Leaders in finance, notable venture capitalists, philanthropists, and business professionals serve our board. We rely on their valued experiences and expertise to steer us in the best direction for success.
Alison McKinnell King
Pro Bono Counsel, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Vice President, PayPal
Founder, Incites Solution
Corporate Counsel, Salesforce
Vice President, Blackstone Charitable Foundation
CIO-Multi-Asset Class Strategies, Neuberger Berman (Board Treasurer)
Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen &Hamilton LLP
Director of Fundraising, Wefunder
Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Board Chair)
Founder & CEO, PopUP CleanUP
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Picsart
Senior Vice President, Citi Foundation
Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing, Pursuit
Partner, Lowenstein Sandler (Board Secretary)
Director, Tricarico Institute for the Business of Law and In-House Counsel, Adjunct Professor of Law, New York Law School
Managing Director, Barclays Investment Bank
Steve J. Slutzky
Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Founder & CEO, Harlem Cycle
Retired Co-Founder & Managing Principal, Matarin Capital Management
Professionals in legal, marketing, and finance industries serve our associate board. Their commitment and expertise help shape our volunteer experience.