Oakland Launch

New Parkway

Four years since its inception, the New Parkway employs 40 people, has an excellent kitchen, and hosts various events outside of movies such as game nights and sports broadcasts. Customers flock to see the daily changing shows including reruns of classics, anime, and indie movies.

Anasa Yoga

“I’m a multicultural person with a very diverse background, and I really wanted to create a multicultural space,” says Jean Marie. “Anasa Yoga is what I hoped it would be.”

Taiwan Bento

Taiwan Bento works to bridge a lot of cultures, creating an environment that everyone feels comfortable in. As a business owner, Willy advises new businesses establish a good financial cushion.

Cafe Underwood

Dominick reflects, “After two years, we’re realizing the full vision that we started with. It’s incredibly rewarding to see it all come together.”

Spice Monkey

Spice Monkey brings mouth-watering, globally inspired cuisine together with a warm-hearted service staff. “Seeing the joy when someone relaxes around a table with the people they love is the real benefit I get from my business,” says Kanitha.

The Port Bar

Sean Sullivan has been an advocate for the LGBTQ community and the Oakland small business community for 15 years. He and his partner Richard Fuentes saw an opportunity to create a gathering place open seven days per week, specifically focused on serving LGBTQ people and Uptown.

Barron Ross

Ed’s business works passionately to support their clients and their families to plan and pay for long-term care. His $50,000 Main Street Launch loan helped upgrade their technology and systems, so they could spend more of their time with clients, and less on arduous record keeping.

Kingston 11

Kingston 11 is truly a part of Oakland, and their business employs 30 people from the community. Nigel notes, “Oakland is a diverse city, and we want our restaurant to reflect the community. From our management team to our customer service approach, we reflect Oakland.”

Cafe Santana

Richard Santana first read about the benefits of fresh roasted coffee while on a plane. Thirteen years later, he now owns a successful coffee roasting business in Oakland.


Now, their newest venture, MeetGeraldine, offers their clients the best of both of their brains: digital strategy and development from Geraldine and planning and branding support from Lauren.

Back to the Roots

Back to the Roots has a staff of 15 who are working to “undo food”, leading a new wave of food that demands total transparency about ingredient sources of what’s on the table.

Saint Harridan

In describing the manufacturing aspect of the business, Mary says “No one profits unless everyone profits.”

Oakland Chop Bar

“I had lived in this neighborhood for five years before opening Oakland Chop Bar and I really felt we needed a place where people could walk from their homes, have a great meal and just hang out together,” said Pastena.

The Octopus Literary Salon

Outgrowing the living rooms that previously held events, the new space hosts musicians, performances, and literary events, reinterpreting the literary salon to fit the 21st century.

Noble Brewer

For Noble Brewer, it’s more than just craft beer but creating a unique experience by sharing the story of the homebrewers with friends and family.

Laurel Book Store

Luan Stauss, the owner of Laurel Book Store, started her business to build community. She said, “We truly want to be ‘Your Neighborhood Bookstore in Downtown Oakland.’”

Las Marianas Restaurante

Rosa says, “I opened my business for many reasons, but the most important thing for me was to be able to employ my family.”


All three entrepreneurs knew that they wanted to run a business that gives back to the community.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

A soul food restaurant owned by Tanya Holland and located in West Oakland. This East Bay gem has been featured in many places and often cited for pioneering Oakland’s thriving restaurant scene.

Entrepreneurs in Residence

Wellington Studio

“The mentorship I’m receiving in the Entrepreneur in Residence program is giving me the tools and showing me the realities of how to attain more success and balance in my business,” reflects Chamaine.

Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement

“Taking advantage of resources is what has helped my business survive,” reflects Fernay. “Workshops, classes, and meetings are easy to overlook, but these resources (Enterprising Women, La Cocina, and now Main Street Launch) are what have helped my business grow.”

Civil Labs

Civil Labs is a social enterprise with a mission to empower young people to make change in their community, and to give them the resources to do so. The Oakland-based business is developing a food community center that provides space for after-school youth programming and commercial kitchens for area food entrepreneurs.

San Francisco Launch

Triptych Strength

Tarquin offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Be prepared for the little things to add up – it will always cost more than you plan for. Be flexible with your business plan. Know what is non-negotiable and what you can adapt to meet your clients’ needs.”

Lexington Place

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Nichole. “When I would see empty storefronts, I’d imagine what kind of business I could open there.”

Mister Jiu’s

Mister Jiu’s opened in April 2016 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, but the idea for this restaurant has been developing for nearly three years. “I went everywhere to try and get funding and support to open,” remembers Brandon.

Alicia K Designs

“I felt like the banks did not understand my business or what I would be able to achieve with some capital,” Alicia reflects.

Professional Computer Support

Now, Professional Computer Support delivers custom service packages that are fully scalable and available for a flat-rate fee, allowing their clients to work without worrying about IT costs they can’t support.

Emanuel Coffee

To pay for the business, Irene used her own money and credit cards. “I didn’t have money to take care of myself,” reflects Irene. “I spent everything to follow my passion.”

Picnic on Third

“It takes more than your in-house team to be successful. We love that everyone who works with us is really part of the business.”

Wine Down

Jaime offers advice to other entrepreneurs considering opening a bar or restaurant: “You need patience and persistence. We spoke to other bar and restaurant owners as we were starting out. They all gave great advice. Our biggest takeaway was that you should expect it to take twice as long and cost twice as much as you originally thought—and they were right—so plan accordingly.”

VIP Grooming

“When we found the location, we knew we had to jump on this perfect opportunity to expand the business. We couldn’t have done it without the second loan from Main Street Launch,” says Lancy. “The loan allowed us to revamp the new place, set aside money we’d need to grow this new investment, purchase equipment, and help us expand our staff.”

Bernal Cutlery

Bernal Cutlery offers several classes that cover breaking down fish and vegetables with Japanese techniques, everyday Western knife skills, and Japanese Whetstone sharpening.

Jenny Pennywood

In 2008, Jen Garrido was exclusively working as a fine artist in several galleries. When the recession hit, everything stopped. Jen has always been business-driven and created work for herself, so she got creative about other ways to use her experience as an artist to make money.

Electric Bicycle Superstore

As more and more companies came to him to sell their products Len’s studio/workshop became too small to support his newfound vision. He had to make a move to legitimize this hobby into a full-fledged business.

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, located on 3230 Mission Street in San Francisco, is the culmination of Emily Kaplan’s life-long career working in the restaurant business and was almost a lost dream.

Dark Garden

“We’re a place where people can feel at home while making a living,” says Autumn.

Awesome Bars

The bars were made with wholesome ingredients and designed to give a burst of energy, and people thought they were awesome.


In the fall of 2012, Max Gunawan conceived a design for a light that allows people to have beautiful lighting—anywhere.


After twenty years in the jewelry business Shawn Higgins was questioning whether he wanted to stay in an industry that can be harmful to people and the environment.