“Words cannot express my deep gratitude. You have made this journey so painless.”

–Lance Brown, Jamaica Grill Jerk Center


Jessica Spaulding is the proud owner of Harlem Chocolate Factory. Jessica is a single mom with two young kids and was unemployed when she came to Start Small seeking help to start a business. We matched her with a team of volunteer lawyers who helped her to formalize her business, develop the contract she now uses with clients, and trademark her brand. We’re helping her maintain a bookkeeping system so that she can more accurately report her finances, and we taught her how to develop business projections so that she can make more informed decisions for future growth. Jessica has participated in several Start Small-organized pop-up markets, and we’ve introduced her to numerous corporate partners to provide catering and corporate gifts.

When Jessica came to us two years ago, she was struggling just to make ends meet. Today, Jessica’s business is profitable and she’s recently opened up her own storefront.

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Jessica isn’t a lawyer. She doesn’t have a finance or marketing degree. And that’s okay. Her job is to make delicious chocolate. And our job is to make sure that entrepreneurs like Jessica have the legal, financial, and marketing support they need to build a sustainable business.


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“Start Small Think Big is the most meaningful help I have ever received. It has literally made my dreams possible.”

–Sheryl Moller, Rocket Nutrition

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Jennifer Hopkins had been performing and teaching dance for over twenty years when she was asked to take over as lead pre-school teacher at an after-school program in Brooklyn. She immediately noticed the different ways that her students struggled socially. It was hard for them to have conversations with more than one person at a time. Some children exhibited bullying behavior to get attention and others didn’t know how to overcome shyness. Then she realized that parents generally had no idea when their children made positive connections with others on the playground or in the classroom. As a natural connector, Jennifer could not leave these observations unaddressed.

For the next four years, she focused increasingly on helping her students get to know each other, using skits and stories to teach them how to include each other in conversations and play, and making recommendations to parents about playdates for their children. Eventually, she formalized her curriculum into A Play Date Every Day, an after-school program for four- and five-year-olds focused on building social skills for success.

As JenNifer was establishing her business, she was referred to Start Small. Her priority was to protect the name of her program, so first we got her a trademark. we Then helped her create contracts for the teachers she hires, contracts for the schools where she runs her program, and human resource policies for her employees. Today, with fourteen teachers on staff, Jennifer is constantly busy.

She hadn’t quite anticipated all the administrative work that would fall to her as a business owner. But on the busiest, most challenging days, she reminds herself that this program comes from her heart and soul, and that keeps her going.

People regularly inquire about an adult version of the class but, no, A Play Date Every Day is exclusively focused on pre-schoolers. Enrollment has tripled in two years and Jennifer anticipates more growth to come, “I started very small, but I want to think really big and make this a nationwide program.” 


“I left Start Small today feeling rejuvenated. More than that, I feel like I’m making a difference for my own future.”

–Rhonda Coleman-Brissett, E.A.C. Brinell Co. Caterers

Prospect Gynmastics