Meet EGBI’s Volunteer- Ken Falk

By Alison Flangel

A native of Pittsburgh, graphic designer expert Ken Falk has over 50 years of experience working with unique clients from all different realms. Through creating thousands of logos, brochures, campaigns, and more, Ken’s unique perspective on graphic design is valued by many. Starting off as an Art Publisher for Penton Publishing, Ken has grown his professional career all the way to building his own Marketing and Communications company out of Potomac, Maryland. Currently residing in Rockville, Maryland, Ken is still passionate about the importance of good design in our everyday lives.

Ken Falk shares his experience as an EGBI volunteer.

To get started, do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
In my free time, I enjoy doing calligraphy.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?
So, I recently retired. A former client of mine mentioned that they use Catchafire, a skills-based volunteer match program, to get volunteer design work. I thought this would be perfect as I was looking for short duration volunteer work where my skills could be used. This is actually my first job with Catchafire, so it is an initial experience. It’s nice because I am planning to travel more now that the pandemic is controllable, and I don’t want to take on large long-term commitments, so short-term ones work pretty well.

Why do you volunteer for EGBI?
What intrigues me about EGBI is that it helps people learn to help themselves in a sense. People that have skills in one area, like carpentry, need help in learning how to start a business and all those things, which can be somewhat daunting. I like the idea of being able to help people become more self-sufficient and successful.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?
One reason why I chose this project with EGBI is because I like working on annual reports as a graphic designer. I think annual reports are interesting because they encapsulate telling a story about an organization, through highlighting accomplishments at a certain period of time. Annual reports can show transition and transformation of organizations. Additionally, Monica is really easy to work with, and I was able to make suggestions on the project which created a collaborative workspace. I really value working on projects where my input is heard and taken into consideration.

In 2021, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Ken make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.

Meet EGBI’s Volunteer- Leslie Montoya

By Diana Garcia

Meet Leslie Montoya. She was born and raised in Reynosa Tamaulipas, México, where at the age of 15, she began her career in the communications field as a Radio Disc Jockey, and soon became a producer at ExaFM- one of the best Mexican Radio Stations. Leslie got her bachelor’s degree with Honors in marketing at Eastern Michigan University. She worked at Univision for 14 years as TV and radio personality and producer. Leslie was nominated several times as the best Austin TV personality by the Austin Women in Media, AWM. In 2013, Leslie was nominated and the recipient of an Emmy from the National Academy of Television & Sciences Lone Star Emmy Awards. Leslie is also a certified life coach from the Robbins Madanes Institute, founded by the great motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. She is also a NLP practitioner certified by NLP Seminars Group International, founded by Dr. Richard Bandler. Her purpose is to continue self- improvement and to better help her community. This allows her to positively motivate and inform the Hispanic community with the use of communication platforms. For five consecutive years, Leslie contributed as an editor/life coach with monthly positive bilingual capsules to the local magazine Austin Family Magazine. In her podcast, Leslie Contigo, Leslie talks about emotional intelligence and topics related to personal growth such as anxiety, how to handle stress, relationships among other topics. The purpose of the show is to share emotional health concepts and practical emotional skills that the person can easily understand and use in his life. She is a well representative personality in our Hispanic community in Austin.  

Leslie shares her experience as a volunteer of EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Leslie! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

My weakness is craving Tamarindo: A Mexican candy. I can’t say no to any offers.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I have had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with EGBI as a master of ceremonies for different events and workshops.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?

There are many professional and physical health benefits when a person decides to volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer feel happier and improve their mental health, which helps ensure you don’t get burned out in your “real” job. Professionally, it helps you meet new people, learn new skills, and more. It is a wonderful way to contribute to your community and support organizations such as EGBI.

“Consider volunteering at EGBI. It will be a win-win experience.” – Leslie Montoya

Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?

EGBI is a great and solid organization that supports established entrepreneurs grow their business, or starters who are thinking about launching a business but don’t have a clue where to start. EGBI has a great, knowledgeable, and heartfelt team whose mission is to always provide valuable information to local small business owners and entrepreneurs.

What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI? 

I would say that they would have a win-win experience. They will be supporting a great organization while also gaining a great experience and meeting wonderful people, who will help enrich their professional life.

Leslie Montoya will be sharing her knowledge to Present yourself confidently online and offline at EGBI’s Summer Marketing Series on June 7th in Spanish and June 9th in English.


In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Leslie make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.

Meet EGBI’s Client- Rebecca Smith

By Anne Lagrange

Meet Rebecca, an Austin native and founder of Earth + Hand, a health and wellness company offering locally produced soaps made from all natural ingredients. She started making soaps for her family and friends in 2011 with the goal of eliminating chemicals and toxins from her everyday routine. Having a child on the spectrum, she was especially focused on creating products with aroma and texture sensitivity in mind. Although she was hesitant at first, her friends loved her products and encouraged her to start a business. Today Earth + Hand products can be found online and at local markets around Austin.

Rebecca shares her experience as a business owner and how EGBI can help you grow your business too. 

Hi Rebecca! To get started, would you mind telling us what inspired you to start your business? 

I experienced sensitivity to a lot of skincare products and was worried about my son who’s sensitive to certain fragrances and dyes. I wanted to create a product that minimizes toxins while using sustainable and renewable ingredients. 

What makes your business unique?

We take a general wellness approach by combining wellness with everyday life. Our soaps are thoughtfully made and produced by hand in small batches. We’ve also started selling sage and crystals to encourage self-care for both the body and home. 

What are some obstacles you feel like you have encountered in starting or growing your business?  How did you overcome this?  

Our biggest obstacle was the shift with the pandemic and no longer being able to sell our products in person. Our soaps are very aroma centered, with a focus on aromatherapy, so it’s been difficult not having an in person experience. Moving online was especially difficult because I’m not the most tech savvy person and had to learn everything from scratch. I’ve overcome this by being persistent and intentional. The most important thing is to keep trying. 

What workshops/business coaching have you done through EGBI? 

I was so excited when I found EGBI! I started doing business coaching with Barbara and Joni, where we focused on formulating my business and kicking it into high gear. 

How has EGBI helped you? 

EGBI helped me turn my passion into a sustainable business. My mom was an entrepreneur and having a personal background in real estate I knew a little about selling services; But to sell products I needed a completely different approach. It’s amazing how after one coaching session I knew exactly what steps I needed to take in order to get my business off the ground. 

Want to work with EGBI? Contact us to find out how you can get started.

Client Conversation with Royal Arms Cleaning, LLC

Royal Arms Cleaning services specializes in cleaning commercial spaces for various industries, including, but not limited to offices, schools, retail, medical, industrial/manufacturing, restaurants, dealerships, religious facilities, event venues, etc. The company offers full cleaning services in the general night clean: vacuum, sweep and mop, garbage/recycling removal, kitchen/breakroom, restroom, etc. Additional services provided: day porter, deep clean; make-ready (move in/move out) service, post-construction clean up, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, water extraction, floor maintenance (strip and wax, machine scrub and recoat, and spray buff), power washing, and disinfecting (fogger). They use hospital grade disinfectant products that help to eliminate viruses, germs, and more.

We were proud to have a conversation  with Anne Hardin, coowner of Royal Arms Cleaning, LLC about their entrepreneur journey, challenges during COVID-19, how EGBI has assisted them through coaching, and much more. We were also joined with our supporter Cristina Valdés, local realtor with Realty Austin.

Interview with Anne Hardin below.

Client Conversation with Lucero Photography

Lucero was born and raise in North Mexico and now happily living and raising my little family in Austin, Texas. She created Lucero Photography due to her passion of digital photography. She does professional headshots, family photos, and product photography.

We were proud to have a conversation with Lucero Valle-Archuleta about her entrepreneur journey, challenges during COVID-19, how she has pivoted her business, how EGBI has assisted her through coaching, and more.  We were joined by Allison Lujan with Moody Bank as moderator. Thank you ladies for the great conversation.

Interview with Lucero Valle-Archuleta of Lucero Photography below.

I want to start my own business, but I don’t know everything.

By Leonardo Pozzobon

f you ask entrepreneurs why they started their businesses, motives spread all over the place, from following passion and wanting to turn a hobby into a business; being personally unable to hold an office job and needing to be its own boss; all the way to just “I saw an opportunity”, “I saw a market”, “I saw room for improvement”. After this, conversations often go into the “I wish I knew” topic, and that’s where pain starts talking by itself. You will hear stories about sleepless nights trying to solve operational problems and lost business opportunities due to lack of experience or not knowing where to find an answer. Thus, it always helps to have resources to learn from and reach out to in times of trouble.

The learning chance that helps one become a better business owner often comes as a result of a previously failed business. When the business owner is busy putting out fires day and night, it is only after failure that one will take the time to do a postmortem and understand what went wrong. Thus, it is important to stay on your feet, listen to your business, and make timely changes if/when needed.

A quick google search will get you to hundreds of “10 things I wish I knew before starting a business”, “7 things to know before opening your business”, “5 things I learned from running a business” and similar results. Of course this experience will be very different for people running different businesses and with different lifestyles, but here is a list of selected quotes I found quite relevant for most entrepreneurs:

  • Running the business takes 24/7

The biggest difference between a 9-to-5 job and being a business owner is the total lack of a fixed schedule. There is always the possibility for your client to have an issue with your product at an inconvenient time, or a supplier to have trouble in the middle of the night. Consider these possibilities, have contingency plans to address your customer’s needs, and organize responsibilities among your employees to ensure resiliency.

  • Optimize, outsource and automate everything you can

We at EGBI take our time to explain “The Four Roles An Entrepreneur Must Take” (Product Manager, Organizer and Manager, Marketer and Salesperson, Financier), and we emphasize that the entrepreneur must focus on the roles he is best at. Start by wearing many hats, but as soon as you have some traction, consider the best use of your scarce time will rely on dedicating your full attention to what you’re best at and outsourcing or hiring for other activities.

  • A part-time gig gives peace of mind

Once you give up a regular full time job in place of a business, you will be subject to the whims of seasonality and economic ups and downs. You can plan for these risks either by building a strong savings lung, or having a part-time gig to supplement the varying income from the business. This resiliency will give you peace of mind.

  • At the beginning everyone is excited and ready to help. When help is needed, it’s hard to come by.

People want you to succeed, and as soon as you start will get excited for your success. However, not everyone is willing or available to help you when you’re in such need for help. What should you do? Find access to reliable resources to help you through the hard times, find mentors, find a business coach.

With all this in mind, you should now know that you will face unexpected challenges, and learn from every opportunity you have. These common challenges I mentioned are not the end of the world, and do not mean that running a business is impossible. Challenges and obstacles are there for you to improve yourself and your business, and once you get to such a point in your entrepreneurial adventure, you will be more than welcome at EGBI for training, coaching and support.

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