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Martin Desmarais

Stories by Martin

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Small businesses get on board with EMV

Chip cards on the rise

The EMV revolution is here and small businesses that do any kind of retail transactions had better not ignore the winds of change it brings. Simply put, “EMV” is the migration of the retail world from magnetic strip credit cards to cards with a microprocessor or smart chip that interacts with point of sale systems to validate the card and transactions, and also requires the use of a consumer pin number to finalize the sale.

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Consider the benefits of a sustainable business

Sustainable businesses are no longer just a fad. Time has now shown that beyond the obvious contribution toward a more sustainable environment there are real business benefits for companies of all sizes that infuse sustainable strategies into business operations.

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Make social media work for you

Five mistakes to avoid

There was a time not too long ago when the common consensus about the main power of social media for small business was that it can broaden a customer base and was a savvy way to achieve sales and marketing gains without much cost. While some of this does hold true, social media now is important to small businesses because anything but a positive social media presence can essentially kill a business.

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Bred Gourmet

Founder Tambo Barrow has a passion for burgers

Bred Gourmet serves up some serious burgers out of its Dorchester Lower Mills location on Dorchester Avenue. Launched a year and a half ago, the restaurant is the brainchild of 29-year-old local Tambo Barrow and already has earned a steady following and the kind of business numbers that has Barrow thinking of future locations.

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Serving Colombian flavor

Entrepreneur finds success with Hyde Park clientele

Hyde Park business big wigs wanted a breakfast café in the neighborhood and Maria “Mercedes” Pica was more than happy to oblige with her Salamander’s Café, which opened in late January of this year on River St. But four months into her business she is already looking to build on the strong breakfast rush by expanding to offer Columbian food as well.

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Mobile Cuts on the move

Barber, marketing professional launch mobile venture

By design, Mobile Cuts sounds exactly like it is: a mobile barbershop that offers barbershop services that range from a buzz cut for $25 to an artistic shave for $45. The Elite package includes a cut, shampoo, scalp manipulation and shoe shine for $50. The Executive package offers a cut, shampoo, scalp and face massage, hot towel, straight-razor shave and shoe shine for $75.

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Doing startups Smarter

Dudley-based accelerator launches new wave of firms

Dudley Square-based business accelerator Smarter in the City is helping its third cohort take their startup companies from dream to reality.

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Small businesses honored

Mass. firms among those singled out during week-long event

Last week was President Barack Obama’s last National Small Business Week and he took the opportunity to cement his economic legacy. Events around the country — and in Massachusetts — helped to highlight the strong state of the small business sector during the last eight years.

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A Healthy Love of Chocolate

Chocolate Therapy founders’ experience combines for a recipe for success

When you talk to Pamela and David Griffin about Chocolate Therapy, the savvy entrepreneurs give a great pitch about how the chocolate-making business is the perfect use of their backgrounds and experience in retail and manufacturing. But the couple can’t hide their enthusiasm for chocolate. The two have found their own recipe for success, focusing on small-batch, handmade chocolate products and pushing the health benefits of dark chocolate and their way of crafting it.

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George Foreman III

Putting into practice lessons learned in boxing and business

You might not be surprised to hear that the son of one of the most famous boxers to ever live has opened up a gym. It’s a path you could expect from a guy whose father is world heavyweight champion George Foreman. But when you talk to George Foreman III about his Boston fitness club venture EveryBodyFights — and his life growing up with a boxing legend — you realize that perhaps the biggest legacy his dad gave him is entrepreneurial prowess.

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Chocolaffee rising

Twin sisters bring Colombian treats to Greater Boston

Chocolaffee co-founders and twin sisters Angelica and Diana Cardona have already shown the perseverance needed to succeed as small business entrepreneurs — fighting through the Columbian-style nut and chocolate product company’s first business struggle with a failed business partner and store — emerging to keep the business going and on track to open a store and production facility next month.

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Success in Fields Corner

Dorchester business incubator attracting startups

When Travis Lee and John Maudlin started Fields Corner Business Lab in Dorchester two years ago they envisioned it becoming a beating heart of the area’s growing small business community. At the time, it was the kind of wishful thinking expected of any startup entrepreneur, but now, with 30 businesses and about 60 people working out of the 8,000-square foot facility on the top floor of the historic Lenane Building, their vision has become a reality.

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Asian women share insights

Asian American group builds women’s support network

Women in the corporate world face many well-documented challenges, but these can be compounded more so for women of color or women that have come to the U.S. from other countries. For this reason, the National Association of Asian American Professionals has made an effort to make sure its women members have specific support that can help them overcome what can sometimes feel like overwhelming odds to success. An important part of the effort is the association’s Women in NAAAP committee, which holds programs, social events and workshops all designed to help Asian American women succeed as professional and personal leaders, as well as influence others in their community and cultures.

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Online lending taking off

Providers find niche market with small business loans

A recent deal between a top online lending company and one of the U.S.’s largest small business associations is making waves in the loan industry, continuing a trend that sees online lending becoming an increasingly better option for cash-strapped small companies.

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Trailblazing entrepreneurs

Venture Café probes challenges to women in tech field

Venture Café’s “A Night with Female Founders” featured women entrepreneurs who are on the front line of advancing equal opportunity for the next generation of women in business, talking about their success, opening the door for mentorship and critically examining the future

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Competition for black talent

Black engineers draw major recruiters at Hub conference

Attendees at the National Society of Black Engineers were able to get up close and personal with representatives from the world’s biggest engineering firms — a concrete accomplishment for some of the U.S.’s hottest young engineering talent.

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The power of data analytics

Small businesses vary in usage of big data

Increased access to Big Data has impacted small businesses in many ways, but when it comes to marketing analytics it has thrown the door wide open. Marketing gurus generally think this is a good thing and enthusiasm for using analytics to shape marketing strategy has skyrocketed — though voices of reason caution against headlong flight into complete reliance and the costs that come with it.

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A focus on job creation

Governor’s point man on workforce launches new initiatives

As Labor and Workforce Development Secretary, Ronald Walker II is a driving force behind the state’s efforts to create new jobs and provide opportunities for Massachusetts residents to compete in the state’s growing job market.

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Forms in fashion

When it comes to building online forms, Google may have the name recognition, but the company is far from the only provider out there. For a variety of small business form needs, there are some more complex and customizable options out there. The good news is almost all are very low cost — and many free — and they provide simple and easy ways to make forms work for any business.

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The growth of online small business lending

Startups are now bypassing banks and finding capital online

Many business media outlets have emphasized online lending as a rising trend. Banner Biz has highlighted it as something to watch in 2016 as well. But it’s worth taking a closer look at the online lending sector to consider how it is changing the small business landscape, and why.

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Targeting Generation Z

Today’s tweens and teens are the keys to marketing success

For the past decade, one of the hottest target groups in advertising and marketing has been Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1997. But the wheel keeps on turning, and now the key to marketing success has come round to those born between 1998 and just about the present day — “Generation Z.”

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Low-cost business ideas for entrepreneurs

home-based businesses run the gamut from real estate to blogging

While the word “startup” has come to be associated most often with technology fields and locations like Silicon Valley or major-city business hubs, the reality is most startups begin with a single entrepreneur working out of the home — and there are many low-cost business ideas out there that could put almost anyone on the road to profits and success.

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Restaurant startup

Beta Burger founder Adrian Wong is not your typical food guy

Beta Burger founder Adrian Wong is not your typical food guy. The 30-year-old didn’t grow up in the food industry or go to cooking school or even invest in a franchise restaurant and catch the food fever that way. In fact, he has a degree in business administration from Bentley College and worked as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley for six years prior to starting Beta Burger in 2014. The only thing Wong knew is that while helping startup entrepreneurs navigate the treacherous waters of early finances, he fell in love with the innovation aspect of startups and startup culture, and he wanted a piece of it. There was one big problem — most of his startup experience was with the technology sector, but he wasn’t interested in starting a tech business.

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A Q&A with James Rooney

Bringing new ideas to Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

With significant stints at the Convention Center Authority, MBTA, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, Central Artery Project and as Chief of Staff to Mayor Menino, James Rooney is now head of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

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Outfitting champions

Mattapan startup designs athletic wear for local teams

Peter Edouard is an entrepreneur, but he is also an artist at heart and with his Mattapan-based startup Mathmatik Athletics, he is putting his creativity to work in designing and manufacturing uniforms and warm ups for sports teams.

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Black engineers coming to Hub

Will seek increase in number of blacks in field

The National Society of Black Engineers is visiting Boston next month with its 42nd annual convention, but the organization was in town last week to ramp up efforts to connect with the local community. The NSBE’s goal is to support engineering students and professionals but after four decades at the job, it also works strongly to develop the next generation of engineers — and the hope is to leave a lasting impact on Boston in doing so.

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Ingredients of success

Dorchester firm helps foodies scale up retail operations

Food startup incubator CommonWealth Kitchen can already be credited with helping cook up some of the most creative and popular small food businesses in Boston — from food trucks to catering services to online retail brands — but now the organization has jumped into small-scale manufacturing in an attempt to further help the city’s burgeoning small business food sector.

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Officials tout job gains

Obama’s secretaries cite improved climate for blacks

President Barack Obama’s economic heavy hitters spoke at the White House last week about how the economy during the current administration has impacted African Americans, namely by lowering the unemployment rate, raising tax credits and improving city infrastructure.

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Fabricating new business

Fab Lab comes to Dudley Square Roxbury Innovation Center

Fab Lab, a key component of the Roxbury Innovation Center, opened this week. It is a digital fabrication workshop containing tools such as a laser cutter and 3D printer that help entrepreneurs put concepts to work to see if a vision for a product can be realized.

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Loan specialist lands in Hub

SBA officer looks to expand lending to local small businesses

Boone is the SBA Massachusetts District Office Lead Lending Specialist. She joined the office in June 2015, coming up from the D.C. offices and a lifetime spent in Virginia. One of her main jobs is to work with local banks to make sure they continue to provide the money for the loans that fuel the SBAs many loan programs, which often are the main chance for local small businesses to get the capital they need to survive, grow or succeed.

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Strength in human capital

Firm uses weightlifting to build employment skills

Many students graduate from business school hoping to start their own companies, with dreams of flowing revenue and impressive bottom lines. Jon Feinman, founder of Dorchester’s InnerCity Weightlifting, is a bit different. With his business he measures success in the number of people it is providing careers to or keeping them off the street and out of jail.

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The promise of medical tech

State, local officials seek opportunities for local businesses

Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have each worked to pump up the small business climate in Boston and Massachusetts, in an effort to add jobs to strengthen the local economy. Last week, the pair came together to detail plans to boost the state’s burgeoning digital health-care sector in a move that could have a large ripple effect on the local startup community and small businesses connected to health.

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Positive outlook for 2016

Technological innovations seen driving small business growth

As small businesses hit the ground running in 2016, optimism seems to be high overall, which has many planning for growth and expansion in the New Year. However, there are a number of key trends that will dictate small business success over the next 12 months ranging from increased online lending to better use of technology to the impact of interest rate hikes.

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Small business growth contributed to expanding economy in 2015

This past year was a great year for small businesses. Not only did small biz entrepreneurs throughout the country continue to lead the longest streak of job growth on record, but their optimism for the economic future is becoming the final nail in the coffin burying the 2008 financial crisis and recession.

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Getting government contracts

New state program gives small businesses a leg up on government contracts

With the Diversity Goal Support Program, Mass Growth Capital is addressing the reality that it takes money to make money. While this may be an old business cliché, it holds true when small businesses are vying for lucrative state and federal contracts.

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Bookshop opens in Dot.

Entrepreneur Yooree Losordo sets up shop

Yooree Losordo, owner and operator of Dorchester-based On the Dot Books, is using some innovative ways to be successful in a traditional industry with her independent bookstore business. At the same time, she is also hoping to be part of what she sees as a growing revival of the local-owned, independent bookstore.

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Mattapan salon stands test of time

Josette Guerrier’s Paradise Hair Salon has been a stalwart in Mattapan Square for over 25 years. For most of that time, Guerrier was the force that kept the business going, but in the last several years her daughter Sandra Guerrier-Clark has taken the reins. That, combined with a recent move to a larger location, is helping to ensure that the salon continues to be a local staple for many more years to come.

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A lack of financial literacy

State lags in teaching students to manage their money

A recently released report about the financial literacy of Massachusetts residents highlighted that the state is behind in helping educate children, students and adults in ways to better manage money and understand the effects of economic decisions. With a particular focus on the state’s lower-income and underserved communities, the report also detailed a number of ways to make things better and help all state’s residents become financially savvy.

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Harnessing creative energy

Entrepreneur handles events from flowers to marketing

Nearly 20 years ago, Gwendolyn McCoy started Make Scents Floral Design to harness some of her creative energy, but the side business has continued to grow into something more. Now, the life-long Dorchester resident not only continues with her floral design, stationery and events management business, but has also folded into a larger MS Creative Group, which provides small business marketing, consulting and web design services.

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Immigrants help grow Massachusetts economy

Officials pledge continued support for immigrant businesses

Speaking at the Engaging Immigrant Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners Forum, held on Nov. 13 at Bunker Hill Community College, Massachusetts Assistant Secretary of Business Development Nam Pham pledged the state’s support to the immigrant business community. His words echoed the sentiment of the event — immigrant entrepreneurs are helping grow the state’s economy and it is imperative to help them continue to do so.

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SBA assisting veterans

Administrator visits Boston area to plug lending programs

The government’s start-up czar — U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet — was in Boston last week furthering efforts to help U.S. veterans start companies, but to also chat about the state of entrepreneurship and remind all about the cash the SBA can help pump into needy small businesses.

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Early steps lead to small business success

Startup small business owners have a lot on their plate and job one is usually trying to make money for their fledging company. If they are thinking about financial needs at all the most pressing one is likely to make enough to keep going. But it is never too early to start thinking about future financial stability and there are some critical early steps that can help a startup succeed.

Mobile tech

Saving time, money for businesses

Much has been written about the growth of the mobile technologies industry and the importance of small businesses making sure their products and services can reach consumers through the growing spectrum of handheld devices. However, for small business owners it is equally important to note that using mobile technology as a business tool for employees also is a critical factor in improving the bottom line.

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Site connects startups

StartHub provides support to Boston’s entrepreneurs

Since he took office, Mayor Martin Walsh has pledged to make Boston a friendlier place to start a business — especially in Boston’s oft underserved neighborhoods — and he has been busy trying to make this happen. Last week, he was back at it again, out in Roxbury to push the launch of the city’s first online startup website, StartHub.

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Developing a workforce

Grant provides training funds for hotels, construction

A recent $3 million grant from the federal government will allow Boston to double the amount of women and people of color it helps train for jobs in the construction and hospitality industries to about 400 over the next five years.

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The business of music

At Berklee’s ICE, music students absorb entrepreneurship

The Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music is examining the business of music in a way the college hasn’t done before, and pushing its students toward a greater impact on an evolving industry. The effort is also resonating with both U.S. and international students, who hope what they learn can be applied to the music business in their home countries.

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Asian professionals convene

NAAAP conference highlights stories of success

About 200 of some of Boston’s up-and-coming Asian businessmen and businesswomen attended the National Association of Asian American Professionals 2015 Northeast Leadership Conference last Friday at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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Regulating the sharing economy

Congress probes consumer, business protections in growing sector

The sharing economy went before Congress last week for a stark examination of how it creates jobs, benefits consumers, but also raises a slew of policy concerns and questions. At stake is the question of how much regulation businesses in the sharing economy need.

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Programs that help women business owners expand their opportunities

Women-owned businesses are on the rise — most accounts find they make up about 30 percent of all privately held firms in the U.S. — but there is concern that many of these business top out early.

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Focus on sustainable food

Festival highlights progress in Boston’s local food economy

Owners of many of Boston’s up-and-coming new food businesses turned up to showcase their fare on Sept. 20 for the sixth annual Boston Local Food Festival on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Neighborhood food startups relished the attention from an estimated 50,000 visitors who roamed and grazed through the food festival’s array of stalls and tents.