Winner, 2015 Faces of Entrepreneurship award
Abraham arrived in San Rafael, California in 1997 from Mexico. His first job was washing dishes. Through his willingness to learn and hard work, he moved from busboy, to waiter, to supervisor at Rickey’s Restaurant in Novato.
But Abraham had a dream of owning a business – maybe a fine dining Mexican restaurant or computer repair shop as he liked technology. He tried his hand at business ownership and opened a small catering company in 2007. The recession hit and he had to close.
He loved to fix his own gadgets and has a passion for technology, so he promised his 10-year old son, Johny: “Someday, we’re going to open an electronics business.” For an immigrant from. Yucatan, Mexico, with little English at the time, no formal technical skills or money, it was a tall order.
In his spare time, he studied English, earned his GED and took courses to get an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems at College of Marin. With all this new knowledge, he started repairing electronics for his neighboring friends and family around 2011.
Abraham was in transition; he lost his house and got a divorce. With nothing to lose, he decided to start fresh. And start with something better. It was time to pursue the dream.
He started by working on his finances. He enrolled in a workshop with EARN that taught ways to save and come out of debt. The EARN program offered a matched Independent Savings Account to start a business. In order to be able to qualify for the match, Abraham needed a business plan and a business counselor. The counselor referred him to the Renaissance Marin in 2011.
Abraham took Renaissance’s Como Empezer Tu Propio Negocio/Start and Grow Smart class to work on his business plan and received one-on-one advising through the Renaissance-hosted SBDC to finalize his plan. His instructor, Fermin Alvarez, gave him an understanding of what it takes to open a business. And his business counselor Luis taught him Quickbooks, budget management, and inventory management.
While starting his business, he continued to work 16 hour days: five nights a week at the restaurant and daytime doing maintenance for a hotel. That left him three-to-four afternoons to work on his electronics business.
In May of 2013, he decide it was time to fulfill his promise to Johny. His studio apartment was becoming overcrowded with computers and parts with no room to work on them. And he was eligible to withdraw the money he saved through the EARN program to put a deposit on a physical location. He opened YucaTech Technology Solutions — a dedicated, customer-focused electronics service business on Fourth Street in San Rafael.
In 2014 Renaissance recognized Abraham with the Emerging Entrepreneur of Year Award. Abraham continues to stay involved with the Center by receiving ongoing consulting and participating in Renaissance’s events.
YucaTech practices environmentally conscious business operations – the business recycles and reuses tech devices and electronics. Today, it employes 2 people, in addition to Abraham.
He has given up his maintenance job at the hotel, but still works two nights at the restaurant. He is reinvesting in the business to create a solid business foundation with the goal of drawing a salary and opening a second location.
His main inspiration is his son, who turns 18 in July. For the last three years, Johnny worked alongside his father, and learned the technical skills and ropes of running a business. Johnny will enroll in Pomona College in the fall of 2015 to study business and environmental science.