The non-profit BikeStation reached a crossroads in late 2007. Founded in Long Beach, Calif., in 1996 to design, build, and manage bike transit centers, the 10-employee organization couldn't handle all the calls coming in on its $300,000 budget.
CEO Andréa White-Kjoss used the Institute’s Academy business planning process to create a plan for opening new bike stations in 5-10 cities in the near future, and to recruit “angel” investors to help fund it as a for-profit wholly owned subsidiary. Shares of Mobis Transportation Alternatives, the for-profit venture, are owned by BikeStation and by those who are investing $750,000 in seed capital.
This year BikeStation has increased staff from 10 to 14 and opening four new transit hubs this year, bringing the total to 16. They are expanding beyond its traditional customers—cities and transit agencies—to market to universities, corporate campuses, and other developments. "We're able to do what we've wanted to do for a long time," says White-Kjoss.
Working Wardrobes, which puts people back to work after a life crisis, wanted to grow their business so that they could serve more people but, as a non-profit, neither the staff nor the board had the business skills or orientation to foster such growth. Through the Academy, Working Wardrobes received training that enabled them to create a business advisory committee, revamp accounting and operational practices, and conduct market research to justify expansion.
The resulting business plan enabled them to obtain a $300,000 bank loan, providing the seed capital for opening two new thrift stores and a career center. In three years Working Wardrobes has seen a 94% increase in revenues with 78 % of that coming from earned income. Perhaps most important, they have more than doubled number of clients served.
The Supervised Visitation Program at L.A.-based Bienvenidos is a social enterprise venture that expanded a government funded program for low income families to offer services to those who can afford to pay. Bienvenidos used the Academy to create a structure and business plan. Within 3 months of start up, the program was working with more than 60 families, with additional sites and expanded visitation planned. Not only is the program furthering the agency's social mission, it is projecting first year revenue of $200,000 that will increase to $500,000 by year three. According to President & CEO, Ritchie Geisel, “The Academy jump-started this whole process of social enterprise formation.”