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Business In the City

Downtown Sacramento Foundation Making Dreams Come True

In celebration of Sacramento’s entrepreneurial spirit, the Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) announced its 5th Annual Calling All Dreamers competition last week, which offers the opportunity to anyone with a business plan to apply for a chance to turn a dream into reality.

While anyone is welcome to enter the competition, only a few qualified applicants will be selected to go through the business development program, where extensive business planning, market research and financial justifications will take place, with the support of business sponsors from across the Sacramento region. In the end, one candidate will receive the grand prize start-up package, valued at more than $100,000.

Since the competition’s inception in 2013, DSF has been credited with assisting in the creation of 15 new business throughout Sacramento, including Metro Juice, Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours, Whired Wine and The Allspicery.

Most recently, Laura Benson and Neil Estaris won the competition in 2016 with their dream concept of opening a comic shop within a coffee shop. Featuring new, vintage and independent comics, paired with craft coffee from Chocolate Fish, Benson and Estaris’ dream hot spot for geeks and coffee lovers alike will come to fruition this Spring with the opening of Oblivion Comics and Coffee.

As exciting as the current buzz of a new business may be, Benson and Estaris have been preparing for this opportunity long before the competition was announced. In fact, they originally intended on joining the competition in 2015, but decided to wait a full year to develop their business plan for 2016’s competition. Their patience and dedication paid off as they are currently working on the final steps to opening their dream business inside the M.A.Y. building at 11th and K Street, with full support from an established business community.

“They’ve been helping us get down the exact floor plan that we need and the exact equipment that we need, where it should be and what kind of furniture we need, you know, all that kind of detail,” said Benson. “A lot of these companies have been helping us to figure it out. Honestly, if we hadn’t won, it probably would have taken us an extra two years, maybe more, just because there’s so much involved with opening up a business.”

With up to six months of free rent, up to 25 hours of business and real estate-related legal services, interior design consultations and up to 15 hours of accounting consultations related to financial and business operations among other services, the advantages of receiving the start-up package speak for themselves.

In winning, Benson and Estaris were provided an elusive key to all the resources previously just out of reach.

“Those are the things that we were eyeing on when we were entering this competition,” said Estaris.  “Mainly because we didn’t know what to do next and this competition helped bring us to the next step and we are so grateful that everything fell into place.”

While timing has certainly played its part in this dream, Oblivion Comics and Coffee’s location has been a key part in assuring its completion and setting the tone for its future.

“We’re two blocks away from the convention center and about three blocks or four blocks away from the Golden 1 Center, and K Street has had a huge growth within the year of the Golden 1 Center being put in,” said Estaris. “We’re hoping to take advantage of that.”

Applications for the 5th Annual Calling All Dreamers competition are now being accepted until April 10.

For more information on the competition, visit DowntownSac.org.

For more information on Oblivion Comics and Coffee, visit Facebook.com/OblivionComics.

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About the author

Cesar Alexander

Cesar Alexander

Cesar Alexander is the assistant editor for Sacramento Press. A native to California, he enjoys writing and discovering the varieties of art, live music, nature and everyday wonders Sacramento has to offer. He is currently working on a children's series of short stories.

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