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Despite challenges with traditional banks, Northern Nevada couple persists to launch dream family venture with business loan from alternative lender

May 8, 2018 | Small Business Loans
Despite challenges with traditional banks, Northern Nevada couple persists to launch dream family venture with business loan from alternative lender

In 2003, Sherese and Francis Nguyen met while working at Celine Dion’s blowout residency debut at Caesars Palace. While the glitz and glamor of working on the Vegas Strip appealed to the then-20 somethings, they both knew early on they aspired for more — to one day open up their own business.

It would ultimately take the Nguyens about 15 years to take the entrepreneurial leap together. After marriage, kids, and fruitful careers in casino marketing and social services, the couple escaped the clamor of Las Vegas for slower, country living in Minden, Nevada. The town is the site of their recently launched business Run, Rattle & Roll, billed as the first indoor playground facility in the Northern Nevada and Tahoe areas.

“When meeting each other 15-plus years ago we both always had entrepreneur ideas, but nothing would quite sit right,” Francis said. “After moving to Northern Nevada we saw such a need for an indoor facility for kids. The idea just blossomed from there.”

The husband and wife duo spoke with leading lender and nonprofit CDC Small Business Finance about how they arrived at their business concept and what it took — from financing to business coaching — to make it come to life.

Seeking startup business capital in Nevada

Despite challenges with traditional banks, Northern Nevada couple persists to launch dream family venture with business loan from alternative lender

Run, Rattle & Roll co-owners Sherese and Francis Nguyen bill their business as the first indoor playground facility in the Northern Nevada and Tahoe areas.

The idea for Run, Rattle & Roll came out of an unmet need. Known for its unrelenting dry desert heat, Las Vegas is home to a nice selection of indoor play parks. In Minden? Not so much, discovered the Nguyens, who are parents to three boys: 7-year-old twins and a 4-year-old.

As their enterprising wheels kicked into gear, they figured: Why not create it ourselves?

It took the couple almost 18 months to design, create and open their 10,000-square-foot facility. One of the biggest challenges aspiring business owners will face is finding capital to get their venture off the ground.

Specifically, the Nguyens needed funding for the playground equipment, tenant improvements and other start-up expenses. They approached about a handful of financial institutions for loans and they were turned down due to terms that were not beneficial to secure the loan.

Undeterred, the couple decided to do more research and came across an alternative lender, CDC Small Business Finance, which has more flexibility since it’s not a bank.

“Words can’t describe each individual we came across and how knowledgeable they were – from the loan processor to the account manager each individual helped us out through the process,” said Sherese, a 38-year-old Las Vegas native.

‘Wow, someone believes in us’

Discovering they got the green light for a loan meant more than just receiving the necessary funding. The approval letter also signaled validation of their vision.

“It was almost like, ‘Wow, someone believes in us and is giving us that chance.’ Having God, my family and CDC behind us was a true blessing,” said Francis, 40, of Fairfax, Va.

There were others along the way who also believed in the hard-working couple. During their journey, the Nguyens also worked with business mentors out of Northern California’s SBDC. They gave the couple an overview of how to operate a business and obtain financing. Their advisors helped them craft realistic projections and a solid business plan, which help when trying to get a business loan.

SBDCs, or small business development centers, offer free- or low-cost training and business advising to aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs like the Nguyens. There are 1,000 locations throughout the nation, including California, Arizona and Nevada.

“It was a great service and would recommend this to any new entrepreneur,” Sherese said.

Vision takes shape

Ask the Nguyens to name their most satisfying moments in business so far, and they’ll give two answers. One, it’s the satisfaction of seeing their concept of an indoor play park of wall-to-wall fun come to life. The other: knowing their community is enjoying the fruits of their labor.

There’s no shortage of stimuli at Run, Rattle & Roll, which opened its doors in the winter. The facility boasts three levels of play equipment including a 6-lane speed slide, climbs, mazes and a ‘car’ track. Also, there’s a smaller contained area for toddlers to run and play. Parents or little ones seeking a break can go to the Grizzly Snack Shack for treats and free WiFi.

Despite challenges with traditional banks, Northern Nevada couple persists to launch dream family venture with business loan from alternative lender

Run, Rattle & Roll’s ribbon cutting ceremony

Since the play park’s debut, the Nguyens have already grown their staff and showing some early success with the help from the funds received from CDC. 

Francis, who spent 13 years at Caesar’s Palace, is still involved in the casino business. He’s now the director of casino marketing at Harrah’s Reno. Sherese, who had a decade-long career with Child Protective Services, runs Run, Rattle & Roll full time where she oversees day-to-day operations six days a week.

After conceptualizing and launching their first business, the Nguyens offer this advice to budding entrepreneurs: “Don’t give up you may get several nos and it can become discouraging, but there is someone out there that will see the vision you are seeing.”

Learn more

CDC Small Business Finance offers several loan options for business owners who want to grow their operations and are planning for their long-term needs.

Our loan experts will work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you. Let’s talk! Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8667.


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