Meet EGBI Volunteer – Elsa Iris Reyes

By Hilary Enriquez

Elsa Iris Reyes was born in Chicago to an immigrant Mexican family. She moved to Austin in 2016 on a whim, but ended up meeting amazing friends and decided to build a life in Austin, Texas. Her time is mostly spent with loved ones. She stays as active as she can by playing tennis, going out for long runs along the trails, and working on small projects around the house. She especially enjoys traveling around the world and learning about the history and cultures of the places she visits.

Elsa has over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and accounting and now serves as Vice President of Finance at IronClad Consulting. Her clients range from pre-revenue to pre-IPO stage companies in food, beverage, natural food supplements, and software. Most of her clients are venture backed and high growth companies eager to share their products and mission. She enjoys sharing her technical knowledge and experience with her clients in efforts to scale their businesses to meet an ever changing business environment.

Elsa shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI.

Share a fun fact with us.

I have ran 3 marathons. They were all in Austin. I was not the fastest, but I finished all of them.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?

My friend Yolanda Davila and fellow board member, invited me to an EGBI event. I immediately felt connected with the community and mission of the organization.

Why do you volunteer for EGBI?

I believe in the mission to invest in entrepreneurs to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to achieve their goals. The entrepreneurs in our community can often face added barriers of language and lack of knowledge of how to navigate a business environment. EGBI helps to close this gap through their services and continued efforts to elevate and honor small businesses we serve.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

I am very proud of the work EGBI does. The work the organization does gives me hope that there are ways to ensure that everyone with the vision and dream to start a business can do it with some help.

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

Meet EGBI CLient – Alexander M. Williams

By Hilary Enriquez

Aura Rainwater is the brainchild of Alexander M. Williams, conceived while meditating one morning.  Combining the concepts of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research, which show the inherent vibration of positive and negative words can change the physical structure of water, with the intrinsic and unique properties of rainwater, Alexander knew that something special was being birthed.  Mr. Williams is the quintessential ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of Many.’ He has spread his wings in many areas including finance, small business development, child and adolescent development, adolescent substance abuse treatment and support, community development, fundraising and more!

Alexander is a firm believer that we do not have a water scarcity problem. “We have water abundance, but do not understand how to access this living gift from nature.” Founded in 2018, Aura Rainwater represents a collective of individuals that know the importance of rainwater, and that energy is information that has a great influence on everyone and everything in life – including water! Alexander knows in his heart that Aura Rainwater is a realistic  solution to the water needs for all of our communities as well as a solution to true hydration of the body.

Alexander shares his experience as a client with EGBI.

Share a fun fact with us.

The most incredible natural phenomena I’ve ever seen were Halos.  They were common when I lived in Italy and often seen on my visits to Switzerland.

How did you first get involved with EGBI? 

My involvement with EGBI goes back 6 months.  After hearing a presentation by Joni Foster, EGBI’s Program Director, and meeting with both Joni and Monica the relationship started.  Their positive vibes and high energy passion for helping people and businesses shinned.

Why is it important to support organizations such as EGBI?

EGBI provides both tangible and intangible resources.  This is important for entrepreneurs like myself to preserve capital and gain support to accelerate our businesses. The unique support and customized services help fuel business potential.   

“Working with EGBI has been an eye opening experience! There is ongoing mentorship and coaching support with no fixed start or end date from the staff.” – Alexander Williams

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

The power of networking is one of the most important elements in owning a business.  My involvement with EGBI has given me the networking power to expand professionally by meeting other business owners in the community and understanding the growing pains of scaling a business. Personally, it has helped me further develop my communication skills by sharing exactly what I need from those around me.

If you would like to find out more on how EGBI can assist you in starting or growing your small business, please click the link for information in English or Spanish.

Train and coach

Small Business Week for Central Texas Business Owners

For more than 50 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. National Small Business Week is celebrated during the first week of May every year and takes place from April 30 to May 6 this year. As a local partner organization in Central Texas of Small Business Administration (SBA), Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) is looking to close the gap of information from informal business to bankable businesses.

EGBI provides training, coaching, and support to aspiring and existing business owners in central Texas who face barriers to growing a successful business. These barriers can be financial literacy, cultural awareness, education, and capital.

Through out the year, EGBI equips small business owners to a road of success through trainings on building a business plan, automating their business, and 90 days to success. Support services include free legal clinic twice a year and setting up Quickbooks for your business by appointment.

Most importantly, EGBI offers individualized help to central Texas business owners through business coaching to new or growing businesses. This may include bookkeeping support, marketing assistance, techinical training on apps to save a business time, or helping to reach business goals. Read more and register today for business coaching services in English and Spanish by clicking HERE.

Meet EGBI Volunteer – John B. McLellan

By Hilary Enriquez

John B. McLellan has over 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, strategic planning, sales and marketing program development and project management. He founded Search 2 Sales, LLC in 2004, an advertising consulting firm that helps small and medium-sized businesses effectively implement Pay-Per-Click advertising on platforms such as Google Ads & Microsoft Advertising.
Prior to founding Search 2 Sales, John worked at the Hewlett-Packard Company for over 25
years in a variety of sales, consulting and leadership positions across many of HP’s business
segments. John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

John shares his experience as a volunteer with EGBI.

Share a fun fact with us.

I hold dual citizenship with the US and Canada.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?

I first got involved with EGBI when I applied to volunteer on a project they posted on Catchafire. Catchafire is an online marketplace where nonprofits post projects that require a particular set of skills and individuals with those skills can volunteer. In this case, EGBI had received a grant for free advertising on Google, using the platform called Google Ads. EGBI selected me to help them develop an advertising campaign and teach them the skills that would enable them to optimize and expand on what we created.

Why do you volunteer for EGBI?

I believe that public service in any form, is not only an obligation, but a source of personal development and self-fulfillment. I currently serve on the board and as a volunteer for several nonprofits. I consider myself fortunate to have a skillset that even in my retirement years, is still relevant and in demand. Fortunately, I am able to work with organizations and individuals literally around the world, from the comfort of my home in Dallas. EGBI is one of several nonprofits I have helped with their Google Ads accounts over the years.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

The time that I spend is personally gratifying because Monica is such a joy to work with. She sees the potential for the work we are doing and is excited whenever she makes progress or sees a new opportunity. For me professionally, I have grown by learning the ever-changing nuances of the Google Ad Grant program and how it differs from the advertising normally used by paying customers of Google Ads.

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

EGBI names Larissa Davila as Executive Director

Austin, TX – After an extensive search process led by members of its board of directors, Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI), a nonprofit business support organization in Austin, has named Larissa Davila as their next Executive Director. She begins her tenure on March 27, 2023.

For the past 8 years, Davila has been owner of BCO Consulting Group, offering services to micro, small and mid-sized business owners, government agencies and nonprofit organizations around strategic planning, budgeting, pricing strategy, process improvements, market research, marketing services, and bi-lingual community outreach. Larissa started her company after about a decade of corporate experience with Bentoli, Inc, Fed Ex and Sony Corporation. Her experience includes community project and process management, international logistics, customer support, and business in general. She also served as the Executive Director of LACE, the Latino Arts, Culture & Education Organization and Amhiga Hispana in Austin.

Davila is no stranger to EGBI. She has taught many EGBI workshops, provided volunteer expertise to clients, and in 2022 was named EGBI Volunteer of the Year. Currently working towards her MBA at the University of Texas, Davila is married and has a son at home.

“Larissa is a great choice for EGBI. She has been an active leader in the Austin community and a faithful volunteer to EGBI,” said Mike Lancaster, EGBI board chair and VP at Broadway Bank.

Come out to support EGBI and network with business owners in Central Texas at EGBI’s fundraiser, #WeAreEGBI Happy Hour on April 19th from 6 PM to 8 PM at Simar Seafood Cocina.  EGBI’s new Executive Director, Larissa  Davila will speak about her vision for the organization and local small business.   Register HERE.

­EGBI is a non-profit organization working in Central Texas with the mission of providing training, coaching and support to aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers such as knowledge, finances, or language. In 2022, EGBI provided services to over 360 aspiring and existing business owners in Central Texas. EGBI provides services in English and Spanish.


By Marisol Klauer

Maria Dominguez was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Her mother migrated to Texas with her and her three siblings when she was just nine years old. She attended Texas State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, majoring in Bilingual Education in 2007.  Mrs. Maria received her EC-4 Bilingual Certification from the state of Texas in December 2007. In 2008, Mrs. Maria began her career as a Kindergarten teacher and became school director three years later.  While working at the preschool she joined the graduate program at Texas State University and on May 2012 she graduated with a Master’s degree in Bilingual Bicultural Education and a minor in Educational Leadership. Receiving DACA gave her the opportunity to begin working at Rodriguez Elementary as a Pre-K Bilingual Teacher and and a few years later she became a First Grade Bilingual Teacher. A few years later Maria became a Certified School Counselor in May 2018 and had the opportunity to work as a school counselor at Elgin Elementary school.

Due to her contribution in her classroom and in her community, Mrs. Maria was honored at the White House in the summer of 2016, as a DACAmented Teacher Champion of Change. She was also awarded Bilingual Teacher of the Year by the Austin Area Association for Bilingual Education in May 2017. She was also awarded Campus Teacher of the Year at Rodriguez Elementary School in 2016.

Maria founded Cielito Lindo Spanish Immersion Preschool in December 2019, expanding to a second location in November of 2021. Since then, Mrs. Maria has been the owner/director managing both locations. She plans to continue providing a multilingual education for young children and enhancing her program to provide a high quality early childhood education. 

Maria shares her experience as a client of EGBI.

Do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

I used to be in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) when I was in High School and in my senior year I was the group commander 🙂

How did you first get involved with EGBI?

I first got involved when I was working at preschool in 2009, I believe. I found out about EGBI through FB, the ad said something like, do you want to start your own business and are you interested in learning how to do it. So I decided to attend the series of workshops and I actually completed the program and graduated in the fall of that year.  My dream had always been, since I was a little girl, to become a teacher and have my own school. I used to be the teacher in my neighborhood when I lived in Mexico and then when I came to the United States at the age of 9 years old. 

Why is it important to support organizations such as EGBI?

It’s important to help organizations like EGBI because they actually do what they say they do. They support small businesses by providing mentorship and workshops on taxes, business plan, marketing, loans, etc. depending on your income, they will only charge you a portion of what the classes are and many times they are free. They have a huge network and are always willing to help you connect with the right people that can help grow and improve your business. 

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

It has help grow my knowledge of how to run my business. With their guidance and business classes, they have helped me feel more confident to be able to make the right decisions for our business and our Cielito Lindo Preschool families. I look forward to continuing working with EGBI in the future. All of the staff is awesome!! I am not sure what I would’ve done without their support. Cielito Lindo SIP has been blessed by having the opportunity to work with an such a great organization like EGBI. 

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

Meet EGBI Volunteer – Kitty Bird

By Marisol Klauer

“Wouldn’t it be great if…” is by far the most common thing out of my mouth, which is usually followed up with some outrageous idea I’ve concocted in that moment. It’s true I was once labeled “an idea machine”. Always looking for that inspiration, that connection, that key moment that brings something to light. Photography is a passion of mine that does just that. Connecting with people can be so inspiring; and yes, I can be an enthusiast on just about any topic. Let’s talk!

Been a Texan since 2004 and the amazing landscape and tiny towns are becoming an essential part of my DNA. I’m currently hosting guests in Austin, Leakey and Concan Texas, photographing the lifestyle and heartbeat of small businesses and pushing the fair-trade movement with Ten Thousand Villages. 

Kitty shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

To get started, do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

I coordinated and am part of the Guinness Book Of World records for the largest singing bowl ensemble through Ten Thousand Villages.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?

I answered a volunteer ad because I wanted experience in shooting for small businesses. 

Why do you volunteer for EGBI?

To meet people and use my talents to help them. I also wanted to expand my portfolio as a photographer.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

Just meeting Monica from EGBI has helped a ton! She encouraged me in areas that I didn’t realize were important. Now I have experience in working with small business’ owners and can expand my portfolio to include commercial photography. Plus, I’ve met so many wonderful people who have used EGBI’s services. It’s a community of incredibly warm, friendly, and giving people. 

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

How To Promote Your Business on Alignable

Are you starting your own business? Do you want to know if anyone around you is too?

Alignable is an online network that connects small business owners. It is a US-based company that went public in 2014. Now, it has more than 7 million members.

Imagine a LinkedIn but specifically, for micro and small business owners.

Here is what Alignable can help you with:

Make connections with other business owners

Alignable is meant to act as an “ice breaker” for this community by helping you make connections, post about your business, and refer others. You can announce new events or product lines to all your contacts at once.  

You can also create and join groups to connect with other business owners that have similar interests. When you first join, Alignable adds you to a community that includes the businesses in your general area.

This makes it easy for other owners in your area to seek out your business and vice versa. Once you establish a connection with each other, you can continue it through Alignable.

Contribute to your local community

Alignable is great to get you in contact with business owners in your local community.

It spans about 5 to 10 towns in your area and you can personalize your connections by specifying who you want to connect with.

These might be potential customers and partners!

Here are 3 Steps to Promoting Your Business on Alignable:

Step 1: Figure out the logistics

You need your post to communicate your event or announcement clearly. What is the title of your announcement? What is the date and time of your event? Who is it for? What are you promoting?

Step 2: Create art for your post

Unique social media art is a big part of catching your audience. Make sure your message is clear and the color palette is simple. Your design should be something that you stop scrolling to take a look.

Step 3: Share your post

Below is a list of all the different functions on Alignable. You are able to click what kind of post you want to share so your potential consumers can understand your post’s purpose.

The main difference between Alignable and LinkedIn is that it’s more casual. Since it connects you from town to town, it feels close knit.

If you want to contribute to your local community and connect with other small business owners in your area, Alignable might be good for you.

Small businesses deserve the spotlight too.

See if Alignable is a good complimentary platform for you.  

Meet EGBI Client – Luis Salinas

By Marisol Klauer

Luis Salinas is the owner of 24hr Passports and Visa Services. Born and raised in Austin, he graduated from St Edwards University with a degree in Business Administration in May 2021. He started his passport expediting business in April 2022 and has been in business for over 7 months. Luis says EGBI has been instrumental in his business’ success and has helped him every step of the way.

Luis shares his experience as a client of EGBI.

Do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

I started my first business when I was 8 yrs old. I sold glow sticks and toys to kids at events where my mom was the photographer.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?

I got involved with EGBI through a friend’s recommendation, who was also a business owner. He told me how much of a positive influence EGBI has had on his business and convinced me to check it out.

Why is it important to support organizations such as EGBI?

It’s important to support organizations like EGBI because they support the wellbeing of our community, as well as foster economic growth and advancement.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

My involvement with EGBI gave me the confidence to start my business and take a leap of faith. Thanks to them, I finally got the ball rolling.

Why is it important to learn information in your primary language?

Spanish is my first language and I believe it’s very important to embrace your roots. I was born in the U.S. and have lived here my entire life, but my parents are originally from Mexico. They would only allow me to speak Spanish at home and instilled a very deep sense of pride for my Mexican heritage. That is why I embrace learning in Spanish, and why I continue to develop my ability to communicate with others that share the same language.

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

Meet EGBI Clients – Owners Of Natural Healing Wellness Co.

By Marisol Klauer

Christina worked in Social Work for more than a decade and earned a Master of Science from UT-Austin. Christina then went on to work for the next decade serving the mentally ill population in various agencies in Austin.  Though she thoroughly enjoyed supporting her clients and empowering their agency for change, she felt she needed to transition to living her dharma by teaching various aspects of Spirituality. During this time, Christina began to experience a spiritual awakening that transformed her view of the world and her role in it. Christina enjoys spending time in nature so you can find her on the hiking trails in Austin.

Aaron Gobert is also a University of Texas-Austin Alumni, who previously worked as an Audio Engineer with his own record company, “ATX Recording”. Aaron later pursued a career in the medical industry and worked for various agencies in the Austin area. During this time, Aaron began to educate himself about the Alkaline lifestyle and its benefits. Aaron went on to share this valuable information with Christina and they founded Natural Healing Wellness Co. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys educating others about genetics and human history.

Christina shares her experience as a client of EGBI.

Do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

My husband and I are both University of Texas Alumni.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?

I attended one of Monica’s Marketing classes online first. Then I started coaching with her and took the 90 day goals course later.

Why is it important to support organizations such as EGBI?

I love the work that EGBI is doing to support small businesses in Austin. Starting a business is a challenging task, but it is nice to know I can call Monica or Joni to point me in the right direction.

How has EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?

EGBI has helped me to step out of comfort zone in advertising my business and reaching my goals.

I especially loved the 90 day goal course. Though I did not reach all my goals, I was able to create some serious momentum that propelled my business forward, in a way I may not have accomplished on my own.

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