The Power of Partnerships and Quick Business Loans – Creative Capital Series
TEDC’s Creative Capital Series shares the stories of local entrepreneurs who’ve benefited from our lending programs and services.
In our latest episode, restauranteurs Tony and Emily Galvez of Okie Proud Restaurant Group share their experience of opening their first restaurant, The Local Bison, as they answered the call of entrepreneurship.
Also in this episode, get the top three tips from industrial real estate investor Deren Huang on how to choose the best location for your business. Additionally, Joanna Oxford, the Assistant Director of Loan Coordination and Reporting at TEDC, provides valuable insights on how to efficiently and effectively prepare for the loan application process.
[Beginning of Transcript]
Tony: I am Tony Galvez.
Emily: I’m Emily Galvez, co-owner of Okie Proud Restaurant Group,
which consists of The Local Bison…
Emily: Sandos Rockin Deli and Copaneazi’s Pizzeria.
We knew we wanted to open a place, and figuring out all the logistics of it was exciting and overwhelming.
Tony: Just that nerves of opening a restaurant are there, and that first night you’re open was great.
Emily: Our whole thing whenever we opened The Local Bison was that we wanted, you know, that neighborhood bar feel. We wanted it to be a place where everyone feels comfortable. And we wanted it to be really inclusive, and that’s why we offer all the different options as far as vegan and vegetarian and gluten-free and omnivore. We want everyone to be able to eat there, and we want everyone to feel comfortable there.
Tony: I’ve been in this business over 20 years, I think 22 years. Emily’s been doing this, I think we counted 17 years.
And we kind of got to a crossroads.
We basically worked at restaurants, bars, nightclubs…
We got to a place in life where we’re like, “Well, do we want to just switch gears and do something else, or do we want to do this thing and do it on our own?” and we decided to make a go of it and do it on our own.
Emily: We got to a point that we were like, we really think this should be done this way, and we think that this could be done this way, and it would work better – and not really having control to make those changes – but knowing that if we did it on our own, we could.
We could run the business how we wanted it to be run.
And that really gave us a lot of drive, I feel like, to make that jump.
The big scary jump!
Tony: Yep. We each have our own special skill sets, which kind of make us blend really well together. I’m more of an operational person. Emily’s more marketing aspect. She has brilliant ideas.
So she’s definitely the brains behind this whole operation. She has a vision and she makes those visions come to life.
Emily: And I think Tony has so much knowledge of the operations side of things like he knows how to make things work. It really makes us a good team.
Tony: She always says this business is tough ‘cause you gotta rely on everyone. So, you’ve gotta rely on customers to come in…
Emily: Staff to show up…
Emily: All your orders to come in and come in on time. The whole business is built on relying on other people.
Emily: And it makes it very challenging, but it teaches you to be flexible and creative.
Tony: We kind of wanted to create more like a family environment with a little structure.
Emily: We just wanted to create a place that we would wanna go spend time at.
Tony: And we were tired of making other people money.
Tony: I talked to one of my best friends, who was a banker, and he got me in touch with a loan officer. We were only approved for so much, “We need to get other funding. What are we gonna do?”
We went to our personal bank. They couldn’t help us, but they veered us towards TEDC, and they told us what they do. And that sounded great!
Emily: Yeah, TEDC was able to fill the gap to get us started. We wouldn’t have been able to open the first restaurant without TEDC.
Tony: Joanna was my point of contact, and she made everything so easy. We love lists,
so they gave us a checklist.
Like, “We need this, this, this, this, and this.” We’re great at checklists – we’re like, okay, cool.
So they wanted our business plan. We got our business plan together. That was so much fun working on the business plan, and they loved our business plan.
They were like, wow, we haven’t seen anything like this. So it was fun. It was really, really cool – the whole process.
Emily: Yeah. Everyone was so quick and kind, and helpful, and it made it super easy on us.
Joanna: They are one of my favorites. They’re just so well put together and they had a vision. They knew exactly what they wanted to do; they knew how to execute it; they just needed the resources to do it.
And everything that we asked of them, they were able to accomplish in a very short period of
time, get everything to us. They were very open and their concept was very clear and concise.
They knew exactly what they wanted to do, and they had the confidence to know they could do it.
So there are a few things that entrepreneurs and future business owners can do to prepare for a quick business loan. We want to expedite the process as quickly as possible, and we want to make sure that it’s easy and painless.
In order for that to happen, there are some things that you can prepare for ahead of time.
So, if you have credit issues, if you know you have credit issues, start working with your creditors and get those in place, get payment plans in place. Any lender is going to ask you to justify or explain any credit issues.
Have your operating agreement and your certificate, and make sure you register with the Secretary of State – your organizational documents. Operating agreements are valuable to any business, it protects partners, it protects your business, and it helps the lender know exactly who has the authorization to borrow money on behalf of the business. Without that, they’re not going to be able to draft your legal documents.
Insurance, think about these things in advance. Talk to insurance agents, know what type of insurance you need ahead of time. That way, you’re not trying to struggle to get insurance. it can take some time, you know, it has to go through the agent and the home office.
So getting those in place are things that you can do ahead of time, or at least have the answers ahead of time. Then, once you get approved, you know exactly what steps you need to take.
TEDC is a partner with our applicants, with our borrowers, and we even maintain those relationships with people that have already paid off with us. We have many that have come back for multiple loans because we facilitate everything from the application and helping even with ideation.
And we partner with you to help you grow and get to where you can be bankable and fundable.
Our whole goal is that one day, you grow too big for TEDC, and you don’t need us anymore. To do that, we have to be your helping hand from start to finish. And there’s things that we’re able to do that other lenders aren’t.
We will work with you on loan modifications. If your business is struggling, we’ll get you with a mentor. We partner with many organizations and coaches to be able to help our businesses be successful.
We want you to feel relaxed and comfortable and not like you’re under a microscope.
Emily: Starting a business is like having building blocks, but they’re on like an uneven like moving platform, and you have to make sure everything builds up the way it’s supposed to.
It just all has to work perfectly together, and timing that can become really challenging, really quick. So it definitely makes it easier to have those funds quickly.
Tony: When we first opened The Local Bison, we lived in the apartments right above because that was our baby. We wanted to be there. Emily always compares it to like infancy, right?
Emily: Yeah. It’s a little like a new restaurant is literally like a newborn, and then it turns into an infant and a toddler, and then a bigger kid, and you know, that’s how you have to treat it in order for it to grow and thrive.
Tony: Our commercial real estate agent knew the owner of the Meridia, so they kind of put us together.
Emily: For sure. He was able to guide us on uncharted territory for us. We didn’t know anything about that side of it. I mean, operations – we knew, but…
Tony: The price per square foot?
Emily: Getting started, yes.
Tony: Triple net leases, I mean, you name it, we had no idea. And we were okay to admit that. And that’s why we used his expertise.
Deren: So there are so many different types of real estate agents or brokers out
there. Some of them specialize just in residential, some of them in commercial real estate.
The person that helped you find your home might not be the best person to find your nail salon, your coffee shop, or your design studio. It’s really important to know what your agent is specialized in and if they’re able to add value to your journey.
There are so many different things that you have to consider when choosing that perfect space.
One – is it zoned for it? And what are your neighbors gonna be doing? Those are the first questions that I ask.
You can do a lot of research on who your competition is, and I think that’s really important in knowing your demographic, who you’re serving, and who is an ideal customer or client with you.
Your property advisor, if they’re specialized, can provide you with different demographic points, population growth, household income, and consumer spending when it comes to that neighborhood, if it is local. And you can use all that to help determine and set you up for success for your business.
There are three points that I want to try to get across to anybody looking for commercial space, whether you’re trying to buy it, or lease it or sell it – whatever the case may be.
One is, as a buyer or a tenant, that your representation is most likely paid for by the seller.
The second point is not all agents are created equal.
The third point that I want to get across is, think like the big boys. There is so much data at your fingertips that you don’t even know that you know. There are GPS locations and satellites looking at every street, and they can get an average median of how many cars are going across per day.
There’s also some technology that tracks your cell phone or tracks everybody’s cell phone and can see how many people are in walking distance and that actually walk the retail site.
Use that towards your advantage because all the big guys are using it too.
Tony: If you’re more the kind of person that doesn’t have that entrepreneurial spirit, then owning a restaurant or owning your own business is not for you.
Emily: And I would definitely say that you have to write down your mission statement. Write down your goals, and you have to…
Tony: Stick with it.
Emily: Yeah, you have to revisit those and remember why you’re doing this constantly, or you’ll lose focus, and you will lose drive, a hundred percent. Because we’ve had to steer ourselves back straight more than once because it gets really, really challenging at times.
Tony: But it’s fun. We enjoy it. At the end of the day, we’re our own bosses, which is nice.
Tony: She took the leap of faith with me by saying yes to marrying me.
Emily: Yes… That’s a big one.
[End of Transcript]
About TEDC Creative Capital
TEDC works to remove barriers in order to level the playing field for all who desire to build successful businesses, despite their zip code, race or personal financial strength.
Our goal is economic vitality, growth, and strength in Oklahoma.
Explore the strategies TEDC Creative Capital uses to support the economic success of Oklahoman entrepreneurs and review our programs to learn how we can help!
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSOR, OKLAHOMA BUSINESS INCUBATOR ASSOCIATION
The purpose of the Oklahoma Business Incubator Association (OKBIA) is to be a network that can help support and further the development of small business Incubators and other entrepreneurial support organizations in Oklahoma, whether for profit or not for profit. We advocate for, connect, and develop Incubators.