January 2, 2020

“I come from a culture that loves food and loves to share food experiences with others”, says Fernando Dizon, owner of the food truck, Little Manila, and CIC graduate. He opened the Little Manila food truck after having a super successful season selling as a vendor at the Charlottesville City Market. At the market, he prepared lumpia, which are small bite-sized egg rolls. From market sales, the business grew and Fernando was able to save enough to purchase his food truck. In the future, as his business continues to grow, Fernando hopes to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.  

Fernando is a graduate of CIC’s Entrepreneur Workshop and says that “CIC was a wonderful experience, it was great to meet other local entrepreneurs and hear about their visions for their businesses”. He feels that CIC gave him a lot of insight into his own vision for his business and that talking to other small business owners and learning about their experiences was so valuable. He feels that “You can learn so much from people who have been in your shoes and have done exactly what you’re trying to do”. 

“The support CIC gives you access to as an entrepreneur and an alumni are extremely helpful with day to day operations”. Fernando feels the most helpful tools in the Entrepreneur Workshop were the budgeting tools, they helped him to understand his breakeven and to organize his cash flow. He recommends entrepreneurs, “Don’t let society tell you you have to take out loans to start a business. Start small let it grow naturally. One of the biggest risks you can take starting a business is going into debt”.  

When asked for what advice he has for CIC entrepreneurs, he says, “For me what has worked has been starting small and not going into debt right away like a lot of businesses do. I was still working a full-time job and operating the food truck part-time with my wife. Eventually, as the business grew, I was able to quit my full-time job to work on business full time”.