Start Small, Dream BIG

Start Small, Dream BIG

Small businesses comprise over 99% of the companies in America and, before COVID-19, they provided nearly half the jobs in the country. Small business is one of the most trusted institutions in American society today (67%), far outstripping big business in measures of public trust (25%, Gallup, 2018). Small businesses and their entrepreneurial founders exemplify the values associated with the American Dream: they believe in free enterprise and the strength of their own vision, they work hard despite obstacles and, ultimately, their success lifts up not only themselves and their families, but those around them. Small businesses are our “Main Street”, the heart and soul of our urban neighborhoods and small towns, and their owners are often the first to respond to community needs, challenges and crises. At the same time, small businesses have been among those hardest hit by the coronavirus, with 60% of small businesses closing their doors, many permanently. Black-owned small businesses have been particularly devastated, with nearly half closing by the end of April 2020 (Forbes). The purpose of Start Small, Dream BIG is to celebrate the courage, vision and tenacity of small business owners of all kinds and to highlight their contribution to our communities and the American Dream.


July 8, 2020 31 mins

“... probably the riskiest thing I ever did in my life was to go out there and start laying down whiskey, not knowing what it's going to taste like four or five years later.”

Our guest, Kaveh Zamanian, took his family “down the rabbit hole” when he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a bourbon entrepreneur. Kaveh shares his story from growing up in Iran to moving to the United States, where he began his career in the psychol...

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“I was just looking for opportunities and I wasn’t afraid to do something that I didn’t know how to do.”

By the age of six, Rodney Williams knew he was going to be an entrepreneur, and he hasn’t slowed down or stopped creating businesses since the day he started renting magazines to customers at his mom’s hair salon. His entrepreneurial drive has taken him on a winding journey through consumer goods giant, Procter & Gamble – whe...

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July 21, 2020 22 mins

“The sky is the limit here. I really think so. If you put the work in, if you aren't afraid of giving it your all, I think there's a good potential in each and every one of us to reach goals that we set up.”

After a diverse career in Sweden, Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies, moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she founded her mouthguard business. After starting her business at the kitchen table, Sassa began distr...

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July 28, 2020 37 mins

“The immigrant talent that we brought on board is just part of Miami. It's not the exception; it's the norm. And, there's a big luxury to that. There's a big drive and different perspectives, different sensitivities that, really when it comes together and if harnessed in the right way, something very powerful can resolve from that.”

Seth Cassel, a fourth generation Floridian, and Anton Diego, an American of Russian-C...

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August 4, 2020 44 mins

“For us, we came to Miami not knowing one single person here, launching a business in an industry and education technology that we hadn't been in before -- with a business plan in hand, a coworking space rented, and a website up. And here we are, six years later, with nearly a thousand graduates, maintaining amazing jobs support, working with over 450 hiring partners who hire from the program.”

 Married co-founders Juha and Joha...

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August 11, 2020 37 mins

“I realized that most busy professionals struggle with eating clean - not because they don't know what to eat, but it's the time, right? Your time, your life, your health. That's kind of the mission statement as to how to DeliverLean evolved was to create a model that focused on transparency of ingredients, not diet food, just healthy food, and making it convenient for people to eat this way consistently with the variet...

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August 18, 2020 27 mins

“What we've really discovered is our new calling in this COVID space. We are really purveyors of local pride and, people who buy our boxes, aren't just buying it for this functional need of feeding their families, but of course that is important. They really believe and supporting small business and making sure that their communities look the way that they look before COVID.”

When Angela Shen’s parents immigrated to America,...

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August 26, 2020 23 mins

"You can do it… you really can. I mean, you don't have to be a victim of your circumstances. Whatever you can come up with, whatever passion you decide to store down in your belly, you can make it - or whatever big idea you have in your brain - you can make it come true. And I think that it's just a blessing to be in a position where you can inspire other people as well."

In pursuit of her life-long passion for doin...

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September 1, 2020 30 mins

“Anything is possible as long as we can make dreams come true for other people. And, I think at the end of the day, that's the business we're in… we're making dreams come true for businesses, for enterprise, for nonprofits, for our team and, I wouldn't have it any other way.”

Shezad and Hussain Manjee, two brothers moved to the United States with their family in 1990 from Karachi, Pakistan. Raised in Chicago, Shezad ...

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November 9, 2020 28 mins

“So, my grandmother saved my father's life before they even knew each other. And that's what faith and destiny is about. That's why I believe that anything's possible in life-- that you never ever give up, miracles happen and when you have a chance to bring your humanity to the moment, you do it.”

One of the greatest lessons Alan Lazowski learned from his parents, survivors of the Holocaust, was the importance of hu...

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November 16, 2020 23 mins

"I like the people. I love food, you know, I mean, but who doesn’t? Whether it's a Michelin star meal or a small meal at your home? What I love was the community -- really brilliant people, creative, interesting, driven from all different walks of life that came together.”

In this week’s episode, we return to hear MCAAD president Kerry Healey speak with the founder and CEO of Rethink Food, Matthew Jozwiak, to discuss tacklin...

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November 24, 2020 35 mins

…we need to remain vigilant about ensuring that as we grow and as we grow profits, that we continue to keep in mind the question of who benefits from those profits and how it is that a more inclusive form of corporate governance can both drive growth and positive impact in a way that I think some more traditional corporate organizations are still grappling with.

After years of working in corporate America, Laura Clise decided to s...

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December 1, 2020 23 mins

“I think [values] lead to the culture, and the culture comes from the people that you hire. And so, bringing your values to your work is making sure that the folks you hire hear the values that you have… From our perspective, trust is everything.”

While growing up without running water and using an outhouse in rural Kentucky, Kyle Green learned the importance of sustainability from an early age. This focus on reuse and recycling has...

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December 8, 2020 41 mins

“…if it's a problem for our customers, we are going to be with them. We're not going to be on the sidelines, noticing that it's a problem and do nothing. We're going to be experimenting and using sort of our entrepreneurial gift to see if we can't come up with something to make things better.”

Jeffrey Brown is a fourth-generation grocer and the Founder, President and CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. Growing up w...

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December 15, 2020 25 mins

“I got really invested in sausage-making because I felt like there was an opportunity there to really expound on that sustainability angle of sausage making and see how far I could take it.”- Cara Nicoletti.

Sustainability has been at the core of Seemore Meats and Veggies since Cara Nicoletti first thought about creating a sausage company and following in her family’s footsteps as a 4th generation butcher. She took what she learned ...

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January 5, 2021 20 mins

“The snacks that they had at the food pantries were not as nutritious as I would've liked, and they also contained things that my children were allergic to. And so, I started thinking about what would help satiate my husband's appetite, but would also taste good to my children. After speaking with my aunts, I came up with a recipe for a granola bar that was packed with really delicious ingredients, but that was nutritiously...

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January 12, 2021 35 mins

“The American Dream to me is very simple. America owes me nothing but the opportunity to participate in a free enterprise. That is the American Dream.”

Former Marine Andy Williams knew that he wanted to bring the problem-solving mentality he developed in the armed forces into his work as a civilian. Andy found his new challenge in affordable housing and creating employment opportunities for other veterans who often are left out of t...

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January 19, 2021 22 mins

“One thing that is super important in marketing is making sure that, once you have a value proposition, you activate that image in every consumer touchpoint. If you think about packaging, the messaging, the product, the website, the brochures, everything has to talk to that specific segment with that specific value proposition.”

Throughout his years in the corporate world, Carlos Ramirez helped numerous organizations rethink their m...

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January 26, 2021 35 mins

“She [my mother] really wanted for me to understand the value of hard work and the value of a dollar, and she instilled that in me at a very young age. At the age of 12, my mother gave me her checkbook and told me to balance it every two weeks when she got paid. So, that really was the first beginning step of my financial education.”

On a flight to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, Alicia Makaye and her husband came up with...

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February 2, 2021 27 mins

“We knew we wanted to create a company that would provide not only economic opportunity for the women we were serving but also all the wraparound support so that it would help them transition to a life of independence.”

Rebel Nell is a jewelry company on a mission. Co-founder Amy Peterson started the social enterprise as a means to support women transitioning out of homelessness and domestic violence in Detroit. By providing work ex...

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