Starting a business is a commitment and requires dedication, resources and sacrifice. We asked some of the rising stars in our community how they thought through the idea of starting their own businesses.

Filipp Chebotarev | Co-Founder & Partner

I was working on the finance team at a large publicly traded healthcare company called DaVita before co-founding Cambridge Companies SPG. DaVita was an incredible organization and I credit the experience I got working there with laying the foundation for Cambridge SPG. Although I had an incredible job at a very successful company I felt that I wanted to grow professionally faster than the corporate world would allow. Prior to quitting my job I applied for several more senior positions, I was not selected for the positions and it gave me the final push I needed to quit and start my own business. The first two years of Cambridge SPG was very slow and we learned a lot as we went, leveraged corporate experience to lay a strong foundation for organizational development and later started attracting partners, bigger investment opportunities until we got traction. Today, Cambridge SPG is approaching $1B of transaction volume across a variety of sectors such as real estate and consumer products. Read more>>

Tim Barnes | Entrepreneur & Virtual Events Specialist

My most recent venture, The Wine Nest, aims to take advantage of the most wide spread and most immediate adoption of technology that the world has ever experienced. Through COVID, hundreds of millions of people have been forced to not only try video conferencing but accept it as a the “new normal”. We see this as an opportunity to rapidly reshape the way two industries generate revenue, build brand awareness and loyalty and engage their customers. Our B2B platform delivers virtual event solutions for wineries (with a focus on small-to-medium sized producers) and non-profit organizations. Behind all of my entrepreneurial ventures, supporting the community and local businesses is at the forefront of the business strategy! Read more>>

Angela Hill | Brand Strategy Expert

As a working Mom of two kids under 2, I knew that I could not sustain an 8am-10pm M-Fri + some weekends work schedule. I had to make a decision. I could either let my husband raise the kids or I could start my own company to get work/life balance. I decided to start my business the year my 2nd child was born…when he was 3 months old! Having two kids in diapers and working in the living room was really hard, but each month got better and I became more successful over time which enabled me to get an office, hire employees, and finally gain the work/life balance that I was looking for. I started completely alone with zero clue regarding how to start up a business. I reached back into my memories of all the agencies where I had worked before and made a list of “what not to do” so I didn’t make the same mistakes they did. Read more>>

Dr. Daniel Singley | Board Certified Psychologist & Founder

It’s interesting, because my own dad was very much a career company man and that was my model. But even in the middle of grad school, I knew that I wasn’t going to follow a traditional career path. Most licensed psychologists do set up a private practice, and that was an easy way into starting my own business. One thing that I did that was a little strange was that after grad school I went to work for two different startup companies, and as with most of these types of environments I had to wear a lot of different hats. In doing so, I learned a lot about the intersection of business and mental health and so unlike a lot of psychologists who just want to help people, I feel like these early experiences helped me to also get a sense of how to set up a business well. And of course, I wanted the control over my finances and my schedule that owning my own business would afford. Read more>>

Janey DeMeo | Founder & President

I have always been bothered by the suffering of the vulnerable, those who cannot help themselves. I saw a need that no one else was fulfilling: impoverished kids often left to fend for themselves. It bothered me deeply and kept me awake at night. I prayed about it often, and eventually felt compelled to do something. The plight of impoverished children—especially those who are overlooked or who have fallen through the cracks– cannot be ignored. Poverty makes these children very vulnerable, especially in third-world countries where we work. They make easy prey for traffickers. They can often get caught up in stealing, drugs, prostitution and other insalubrious lifestyles because they are not being adequately nurtured and educated. This is not always the fault of relatives, if they have any. It is often simply because the family they were born into and the neighborhood where they live is poverty stricken. Read more>>

Rachel Krentzman | Physical Therapist, Yoga Therapist & Author

When I graduated from physical therapy school in 1996, starting my own practice was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to work in the hospital system with patients in orthopedics, neurology and neurosurgery and was glad to be a part of the UCSD system. However, after years working in acute care, I became frustrated with the limitations inherent in the medical and insurance/billing system. As I took more courses in manual therapy and also, more specifically, in yoga and its health benefits, I knew I needed a different setting to carry out treatment sessions that were more client centered and holistic. That is what propelled me to open my own practice. Read more>>

Elyse Quartini | Doctor of Physical Therapy & Orthopedic Specialist

I saw a need that I was unable to fill in the conventional physical therapy setting. Physical therapists have such a depth of knowledge and, very unfortunately, the current medical model doesn’t allow PT’s and many medical professionals, to be able to fully utilize those skills and talents to fully benefit patients. I think many people, want and need attentive care, And I don’t believe it takes more than what we already know how to do, we just need the time and autonomy to implement our skills and compassion to truly help patients improve. Read more>>

Julie Scrivener | Wedding Planner & DJ

Having worked in an office/corporate environment for many years, my husband and I decided to branch out and take the risk to start our own business and work for ourselves. It was a scary time as we had very secure jobs in the brokerage industry but we wanted to push ourselves and do something different. Mick started his own DJ company, Elite British DJ. He had worked as a DJ in the past but not for his own company so it was a natural progression. I hung around as his roadie to help him load in and load out and decided to try my hand at becoming a wedding planner. I followed a few years later and opened up my business, The Best Wedding For You. Now 15 years later, we both have a strong presence in San Diego in the wedding community. This year has obviously been challenging with COVID19, but hoping 2021 is better! Read more>>

Eliza Friedman | Founder & Designer

We wanted to create something special and unique for the fundraising community, helping them raise significant finds while adding beauty and excitement to their events. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and design and it’s a blessing to pair the two with my passion for helping others. Our drive and mission from our very start in 2005 has been to provide our entire collection exclusively and directly to the non-profit community. Rather than going the traditional route, we decided to pass the middleman commissions and profits onto the wonderful causes that we support. The community and the patrons love our mission and greatly admire the fact that our collection can only be acquired through fundraising events and that we don’t make any of our items available for purchase. Our jewelry is a fantastic addition to all auctions, whether it’s a virtual or an in-person event! Read more>>

Dawn Bailey | Marine Ecologist & Expedition Leader

It was really a culmination of several realizations that led me to believe I needed to run my own show, so to speak. 1) I had designed large scale projects similar to the business I am creating; 2) I was asked to leave several positions because I refused to adhere to faulty methods of collecting scientific data and compromise important research; and 3) I had taught outdoor education in some way my whole life and been very good at it, I was a natural at telling relatable antidotes, conveying complex ideas to a broad range of audiences and inciting passion for the things I cared about. So I thought why not just create my own mechanism to inspire and enable people to participate in scientific research while preserving the places they love through personalized experiences. I had the connections, I have the experience, my passion is contagious, and I’m not afraid of leadership. So the journey began to figure out how exactly one creates a business… Read more>>

Tom Green | Personal Trainer & Owner

The thought process revolved around my passion for fitness while also building a strong, positive, healthy community. Coming from small town Iowa, I grew up in a very tight knit supportive community. So it’s always been important for me to have that in both business and personal life. Outside of that, I wanted to take things slow and gradually build each year. I’ve seen a lot of businesses start out too big and too fancy without building a foundation first. Generally speaking I’ve watched the majority of those businesses fail. I’m a firm believer that baby steps lead to big results. Read more>>

Dawn Steel | Owner, Planner & Designer

I have always been the creative type – drawing and painting as a child, then majoring in graphic design & studio art in college. My family also has a history of working with florals – that rubbed off on me, as well as always loving being in my mom’s garden. Just after college, I fell into the trap of just “getting a job” to pay the bills. I didn’t love any of the various jobs that I had while I tried to find my passion. After working for a local event planner, I started my own business doing artisan floral work as well as event planning. I started that with my late husband and combined our styles and knowledge. Now that I’m at the helm, I’m in the process of rebranding to reflect my personal style which is more artistic and up-to-date than it had been.. My goal is to appeal to a client with discerning taste and one who appreciates the importance of aesthetics. Read more>>

Kristina Lersbuasin Israel | Co-Founder & CEO

StaySmilinLife started as an idea to put a smiley face onto a hat. It was a personal reminder to smile. What we discovered that the personal reminder ended up making other people smile as well when they saw the smiley face. The StaySmilinLife platform was created to inspire people to choose happiness through transforming and supporting a positive mindset. It’s the ideas that we live and breathe everyday to do our best to stay smiling everyday. The four of us who’ve created StaySmilinLife wholeheartedly believe everyone deserves to be happy, and our goal and passion is to help others feel in control, and empowered to choose happiness. Read more>>

Gerardo Yepiz | Art Director

I’ve worked in print shops, design studios and computer labs for over 30 years. I’ve always had side jobs, side projects until I decided to open my own art studio. Read more>>

Mickey Strand | Portrait Photographer & Artist

I had just retired after 24 years from the US Navy as a Chief Photographers mate and was ready to get back to my roots of shooting and being a photographer. I knew I did not want to take the middle management positions that were being offered as a Naval leader and needed to get back into being creative and working with people. Read more>>

Laurie Libman Wilson | Founder & Creator

It wasn’t really a process as much as it was a calling. I had lost someone very dear to me and my heart was broken for all the things that happened in his life, he had lost his children tragically and unnecessarily and for this his heart was broken and there really wasn’t a way to mend it. After he passed away I deeply felt that I was meant to tell their story and create something that would have an impact and could possibly change the outcomes of others lives by creating a movement that fostered Mindfulness and the awareness of choice on a deep level, choice of thought and the power in that. Perhaps bring people, comfort and/or contentment in this life that is both challenging and beautiful. Read more>>

Philip Ferrari | Video Producer & Commercial Photographer

I love what I do, but I wanted to control my own career destiny and have the ability to make key business and technical decisions for myself. The hardest part of starting the business was finding the initial working capital and obtaining my first clients. Once I got started I knew it was the right decision for me and my style of work. I find I can be very flexible and responsive to my clients, while allowing for creativity and spontaneity. Read more>>

Inez Laval | Esthetician

The thought process behind starting my business happened as I was recovering from having surgery. During this time I asked myself what did I want for myself, my life, and my career and realized that I wanted to start my business. Once I made up my mind on it there was no turning back and I made the moves to make it happen. Read more>>

Matthew Smith | Marketing Agency Owner

While in high school I started working for a large, well-known retail toy store. It’s a name you know. I worked there for over three years, and during that time I watched as most of my coworkers were treated horribly and made to feel like they were stuck in their job and their station in life. I remember once receiving my annual review, almost all positive, and being offered a 5 cent per hour raise as a result. Not only that, but I was also told that I was lucky to be offered that because not everyone gets so much! That experience drove me to seek out small business opportunities. After working for three smaller companies, two of which were less than 10 people each, I realized that the small business environment and the agile, flexible nature of smaller organizations was very appealing, and usually much more efficient. In 2010 I saw an opportunity to launch Modmacro and I didn’t hesitate. Read more>>