How I Did it
I gave up my job to live on ramen and work seven days a week. And all I got was a dream come true.
(MONEY Magazine) – BY SYBIL HILLMAN-KATONA, 26, CINEMA & DRAFTHOUSE, WEST HAZLETON, PA.
"In June 2001, I moved back home after a year of teaching 11th-grade English. The town I left had a run-down theater that had been turned into a movie house and restaurant, and I returned to West Hazleton hoping to do the same thing to the old Key Theater.
No one thought my idea would fly--not even my lawyer. I fine-tuned my business plan with the help of a small business development center, a federal program that advises merchants, and went looking for funding. Eight banks turned me down. But one lender agreed to finance my venture if I could get a Small Business Administration loan guarantee. In September 2002, I was approved for a $259,000 loan, 75% of which was guaranteed by the SBA.
Right off, I discovered that the theater's entire electrical system had to be replaced--an $80,000 expense that sank me deeper in debt. But finally, in March 2003, the doors to the Cinema & Drafthouse opened. It was rough going at first: I lived on ramen noodles and worked seven days a week. Three years later, customers come from as far as New Jersey, and I'm already thinking about setting up other locations. Every morning I wake up thrilled that this all came together."