Michelle from Brooklyn

Three years ago I started my own business, ScooterFood LLC, a homemade dog food manufacturing company inspired by my dog, Scooter Mae (left). I’m happy to say that in 2007, ScooterFood is a thriving business but at the beginning I was a complete novice—and out of work. I had the entrepreneurial spirit but no expertise. I had no money. But I did have my public library card.

Now, my Rolodex looks like a game of 6 degrees of separation—not from Kevin Bacon but from the Brooklyn Business Library [BBL]. Nearly every important business contact I’ve made from marketing consultant to commercial kitchen came through a primary contact at the library. Really. I’ve mapped it out.

Let’s explore one string of connections. This one includes invaluable mentoring, a New York Times article and an appearance on ABC news.

In November 2004 I went to a BBL seminar on learning to write a business plan. There I met Angel Roman from the New York State Small Business Development Center [NYS SBDC]. He introduced me to Miriam Colon, an SBDC advisor, who became an important ScooterFood mentor. Miriam helped me through the first phase of a well-written business plan, which led to a blurb in the New York State SBDC annual report. Joseph Fried of the New York Times read that blurb, and on July 9, 2006, the Times published an article Fried wrote about me. And it was that article that led to my 2007 appearance on ABC news.

A second string of connections begins at the library, extends to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and ends in pro bono counsel for ScooterFood. The library gave me a discount on Chamber membership. The Chamber put me in touch with New York Business Solutions. And New York Business Solutions sent my business plan to various partners, resulting in ScooterFood’s pro bono legal representation by the extremely well respected Manhattan firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel. This law firm incorporated ScooterFood as an LLC in October 2005 and trademarked our name—all at no cost to me.

There are so many other leads I got through the library; it is an unbelievably rich resource that nurtures small business. In addition, the library acts as a clearing house and network for other non-profits interested in helping entrepreneurs get off the ground.

Then there are the librarians: knowledgeable, supportive, encouraging. They are the people who pointed me in the right direction and helped me ask the right questions. The librarians were the first degree of separation between me and all the invaluable information I gathered.

I have to get back to my cooking (in the commercial kitchen owned by the woman I met at a library function). Then I’m going to call the bank, which is considering a line of credit for ScooterFood—another opportunity that came through contacts at the library.) You get the idea.