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Award-Winning Entrepreneur’s Key to Success is Education 

Daniel LevyLong Island City, NY—May 18, 2012--What often makes small businesses so interesting is the stories behind them. Take, for example, the story of Daniel Levy, a native Argentine who came to New York set on creating a business that would help him make it big in the iconic city and ending up winning the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2012 Entrepreneurial Success Award of the Year.

Reflecting on the past two years that have catapulted him into a realm of success he couldn’t have imagined in his lean years as a small business owner, Levy describes his participation in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses education program at LaGuardia Community College in 2010 as a turning point. “The program changed my mindset from thinking of myself as a regular small business person, who does all the everyday things, to a CEO, with a vision of long term goals,” he says. "It was and is and will be life transforming for my business."

Besides a new attitude, Levy also received from the program the crucial skills and knowledge he needed to take his company to the next level. Having arrived in New York in 2001 knowing little English, it wasn't until 2007--after various failed business ventures--that Levy launched Manhattan Home Design, an online modern furniture company that began with just $500 and the sale a few tables on eBay. In 2009, he heard about 10,000 Small Businesses and began to inquire. “I was always looking for different opportunities to learn, to restructure my business,” says Levy. By 2010, he had been granted one of the coveted spots in the first cohort, which is free of cost to the business owners accepted into the program.

The aim of the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative is to help small businesses across the U.S. grow and create jobs. This is carried out through a rigorous 100-hour business education program, which focuses on accounting and financing, negotiation, marketing, operations and other key business management areas; business support services, including specialized business coaching; and access to financial capital through non-profit community lenders. An essential element of the program is to develop a business growth plan.

Levy immediately began implementing into his business strategy what he was learning in class. Already working on a business deal with New York City, Levy used what he learned in his negotiations class to help him land a $200,000 contract to provide tables and chairs for plazas in Times Square as well as other prominent public spaces in the city. “This was my first big contract,” notes Levy. Another positive outcome from the program: a line of credit for $150,000 from Seedco Financial Services, the 10,000 Small Businesses community lending partner in New York.

In 2010, the year Levy graduated from the program, his company earned $500,000. By 2011, his revenue had more than doubled. Levy has also added two new employees.

“We have developed our growth plan and are exceeding our expectations,” Levy says. Manhattan Home Design currently sells more than three dozen brands and partners with sites such as Amazon and eBay.

Impressed with Levy’s commitment to his company’s success and the results it is yielding, New York City Small Business Services’ (SBS), nominated him for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2012 Entrepreneurial Success Award of the Year. The winner is chosen by a panel of SBA judges and the SBA Administrator based on criteria that include expansion from a small to large business, staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and innovativeness of product or service, among other factors. Levy won the prestigious award for the New York District.

“It’s an ongoing process, and even though we finished the classes, every day I’m learning,” explains Levy of his experience in 10,000 Small Businesses at LaGuardia. “They created a marketplace, and I’m actually doing business with some colleagues from the program,” he says. Other interaction with fellow graduates includes an alumni group being run by the program, and networking as well as socializing that the business owners initiate on their own. “We share opportunities. We try to help each other in different ways and be supportive,” says Levy.

Looking to the future and his big plans for Manhattan Home Design, he asserts, “Maybe one day I’ll do business with Goldman Sachs!”

To learn more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative at LaGuardia Community College, please:
• Visit www.laguardia.edu/10ksb
• Call our team at (718) 730-7400 or
• Email 10KSB@lagcc.cuny.edu

About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses:

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is an initiative to unlock the growth and job creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to business education, financial capital, and business support services. The program operates through a national network of public and private partner organizations including community colleges, business schools and Community Development Financial Institutions. The initiative is currently active in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, and will continue to expand to communities across the country. Community partners in New York City include The City of New York, LaGuardia Community College and Seedco Financial Services.

About LaGuardia:

LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.

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