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Local Entrepreneurs Persevere Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Ten Capital Region entrepreneurs in nine businesses (one partnership) have built a foundation to expand their businesses following their successful completion of the Capital Region Chamber’s 60-hour award-winning Entrepreneur Boot Camp training course, specially designed for starting and growing businesses.

“It is a credit and testament to the entrepreneurs’ drive and passion for having persevered in completing this class, and in some cases, launching a new business, under such extraordinary, unprecedented and uncertain times,” said Vice President of Business Growth, Laura Mann.

The entrepreneurs graduated from the Chamber’s Spring 2020 boot camp course during a ceremony held via Zoom due to pandemic-related restrictions on in-person events.  

During the virtual event, Jay Singh from Sunmark Credit Union presented Alseny Diop of Renaissance Geotechnical Engineering, PLLC a cash grant of $3,000 and a one-year Capital Region Chamber membership. Established just before the pandemic began in January of 2020, the geotechnical engineering consulting firm offers geotechnical engineering analyses, construction inspection and testing services for foundation design to support pavement structures, bridge substructures, residential, industrial and commercial buildings, water tanks/towers, dams, retaining walls and more. The firm has applied for and anticipates becoming certified as a NYS MBE.

Lindsey and Marissa Phelps of Zen Den were presented with a $1,500 check from Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP and also won a Ricoh printer from Repeat Business Systems. Zen Den is a wellness studio in Rotterdam that opened its doors in February of 2020. Zen Den was offering holistic guided personal and group meditation services and classes as well as private massage services until COVID-19 forced a quick pivot to virtual and online personal care services. Zen Den is looking forward to opening its doors once more when it is safe to do so and offering a tranquil environment where clients will find multiple ways to de-stress, unwind, refocus and replenish their mental, emotional and physical well-being; something much needed by everyone especially at this time.

Carla Peckage of OSAY Boutique won two classes from MicroKnowledge and a 3-credit class of choice from SUNY Schenectady County Community College. Peckage will launch OSAY as an online boutique in July with post-pandemic plans to open a Saratoga Springs, NY brick and mortar location in 2021.

Mark Eagan, President and CEO of the Capital Region Chamber, was Master of Ceremonies for the event. Shoprite offered scholarships to military veterans again this year.

The award-winning 10-week course, taught through the Chamber’s Entrepreneur Boot Camp Training Course, educated entrepreneurs on the critical skills necessary for business growth and expansion. The classes blended classroom and individual training with lectures by prominent business experts. Special guest lecturers covered topics including branding, advertising, legal issues, market research, demographics, sales, financing, leadership, diversity and inclusion, social media, presentations skills, accounting and more. 

Spring 2020 Entrepreneur Boot Camp graduate businesses/entrepreneurs include:

Justin Camelo, Dunkin' franchise

Yvonne Clark Rogers, Talentswork

Alseny Diop, Renaissance Geotechnical Engineering, PLLC

Sherene Hemraj, Buttercup Bakery and Cafe

Chandler McCray, Centronics Gaming Lounge

Carla Peckage, OSAY Boutique

Lindsey and Marissa Phelps, Zen Den

Brooke Ross, Beauty on the Avenue

David Sanders, Sanders Subaru

Entrepreneur Boot Camp is supported by the Capital Region Chamber and the Empire State Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program. Sunmark Credit Union is the major sponsor. For more information about the program, contact Vice President, Business Growth Laura Mann, at 518-431-1430 or by email at  
The Fall 2020 Boot Camp begins September 9, 2020 and registration is now underway.