Photo credits: dirty sugar
After 17 successful years, Margaret Crisostomo and Jason Burlingame – co-founders and owners of STAMP Event Co. – realized that as their business model evolved, their business-financing needs did, too. As Jason explains, “In addition to events, we’re creating and producing specialized experiences for clients, and if we don’t have funds in hand, we’ll miss incredible opportunities.”
Here’s how a NYC Small Business Opportunity Fund loan through Pursuit gave this certified minority- and woman-owned business enterprise (MWBE), LGBTQ-led full-service event-management company working capital to smooth operations and optimize new revenue streams.
Colleagues become co-founders
Margaret and Jason met when she was part of a team handling events for Jason’s employer at the time, GLAAD. Margaret enjoyed working with Jason and the GLAAD team so much that she eventually got a job there, too. They also shared a love of event management and production – a niche that takes enormous creativity, energy, and organizational, crisis-management, and interpersonal skills. They realized that by combining their passion and expertise, they could benefit more organizations.
In 2006, they launched STAMP in New York City, with the GLAAD Media Awards as their first client. Since then, the team’s outstanding reputation has led to numerous repeat and referral clients and the opening of a second office in Los Angeles. Along with learning day-to-day operations, the STAMP team has completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses entrepreneurship program, achieved industry certifications, and won numerous awards.
The positive and supportive dynamic that they’ve created for clients is also reflected in their staff. Margaret notes that Vice President Tricia Wallin was their first employee and has been with them for most of their 17 years. Margaret and Jason also have great pride that several of their full-time staff have come from their internship program, while other former interns have gone on to significant positions at other companies, many even starting their own businesses and non-profits. Together, STAMP’s team of 14 members creates and implements about 30 major and many smaller-scale events annually for clients that include Netflix, ADCOLOR, and the Tony Awards.
It’s never too late to create financial stability
“We leveraged our personal savings to get things off the ground and, clearly, that worked for a long time,” Margaret says, “but eventually, even successful businesses need funding to achieve our full potential.”
Margaret and Jason say that their outside consultants, including Advisory IT and the accounting firm, Sampson LLC, are essential partners in their company’s success. In fact, it was the Sampson team that found the NYC Small Business Opportunity Fund program and brought it to their attention. After completing the initial application online, STAMP chose Pursuit as their lender.
“Even if you believe that you have a good shot at getting a loan, just going through the steps is stressful,” Margaret explains. “Our business loan officer at Pursuit, Marlon Samuels, and the whole team were terrific – they treated us like humans, with kindness and interest, not just as numbers. The whole experience was wonderful.”
And the process? Jason says, “Honestly, this was the easiest process. Marlon did a Zoom call to get to know how we operate and within a month, we had funds in hand.” STAMP was ready with up-to-date documents, financial projections that made sense for the industry and business, a solid plan, and accurate tax filings, which made for a smooth and efficient loan process.
Margaret and Jason waited a long time before taking on a working capital loan. Jason says, “We worked hard to grow the business and we’re proud of that, but what we realized is that it doesn’t have to be so hard! Financing helps you get ahead – it’s just a matter of finding the right lender and the right opportunity.”
Pursuit has financing options for small businesses at every stage
With funding in hand, Margaret and Jason are looking ahead. She says, “Major events are fun and they’ll always be core to our work, but they’re also intensive in terms of time, money, and human resources. We’re diversifying the types of events and integrating shorter-term projects, like experiential marketing opportunities within major events, to create repeat revenue and scalability.”
Would they return to Pursuit for additional financing? Jason says, “Yes, 100%.” Margaret adds, “Absolutely. It was such an excellent experience – I encourage all small businesses to give Pursuit a try.”
With loan options from $10,000 to $5.5 million, Pursuit has funding options that can help you get the working capital you need, as well as loan options for the purchase or construction of real estate, to refinance high-cost business-related debt and more. Take a look at more than 15 small business loan programs, then contact us to learn about how we can help you, too.