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Idea Cafe's Small Business Grant Winner's Reports

Leah Larson, founder of YALDAH Magazine, Sharon, Mass., USA

Leah Larson Grant WinnerFrom the field of over 700 applicants, then 184 semifinalists, then 30 finalists, Leah Larson emerged as the one entrepreneur who will receive a $1,000.00 check from to use in her business, YALDAH Magazine.

Winner of Idea Cafe's Grant in Honor of Kent Capener

Leah will send us monthly updates on how her business is doing since receiving Idea Cafe's Grant, so check back here to see how she leverages a cash infusion to build her business.

Leah's Reports:
Scroll down to get insights from Leah's reports from the beginning (right after she won the grant) through each month after...

Here's Leah's first report for July, 2008:

What were your top business-related accomplishments for the past month?

Well, first of all I won IdeaCafe's $1000 grant! That was a big accomplishment! After I found out I won, I started researching possible advertising venues, because the grant will enable me to increase marketing and advertising for my business, YALDAH. I was able to negotiate a great advertising deal for only $400, so I hope that will bring in a lot of new subscribers. I've been going back and forth negotiating a contract with a bookstore distributor, and I'm just about to finish that up and sign the contract. The IdeaCafe grant will help me pay the extra fees associated with bookstore distribution. For almost a year I've been looking for an Advertising Manager, to work on commission and get ads for YALDAH. This month I finally found myself a wonderful Advertising Manager who is already hard at work getting ads for the next issue. And finally, today I started planning an Auction thats proceeds will go to YALDAH, and got some prizes donated. It's been a really busy month for me here at YALDAH and I thank IdeaCafe for all their support!


What were your business lessons learned or problems encountered?

One lesson I learned is that good seems to attract more good! Within the same week that I got the grant, I found my Advertising Manager, found great advertising opportunities, and more! Some problems encountered were finding the right person in a company to speak to, I kept getting transferred from department to department until I ended up where I started. A constant problem is fundraising, but I'm hoping that with YALDAH being in bookstores, getting more advertisements, increased readership because of advertising, and the variety of fundraising programs I'm working on now, this problem should be solved.


What are your top business goals for the upcoming month?

I have a busy month ahead of me. If everything goes well with the contract, our next issue should be sold in major retail bookstores. We're also going to have to switch to a more professional (but more expensive) printer, and have a larger print run. My goals are to raise enough funds to print the next issue, and to increase our readership through advertising, because the more copies we print, the cheaper it gets.



Leah's report for August, 2008:

What were your top business-related accomplishments for the past month?

Thanks to our new advertising manager, we've been getting a lot more advertising for the next issue which is great! I also got a silent auction launched on our website to help us have funds to print the future issues. I've been brainstorming for a creative marketing campaign that can maximize the effect of the grant money. I've come up with a campaign called 'Project Pass it On' which will involve Jewish girls passing on rubber bracelets that require them to log onto a website (therefore finding out about YALDAH) and do an act of kindness. The website is in the process of being created and the last few details are being smoothed out, so you'll get a more detailed report of the project as soon as it's launched - hopefully early September. I also signed a contract with Ingram Periodicals to distribute to Barnes & Noble, so that will start with the next issue!


What were your business lessons learned or problems encountered?

Using the grant money I was going to just buy a full page ad in a targeted newspaper. I was talking it over with my younger brother and he said 'that's ALL you're going to do with it? Can't you think of something that will have a bigger effect." So I started brainstorming and came up with Project Pass it On - something I'm confident will get us a many more responses than a newspaper ad. This helped me realize that sometimes we automatically just do the conventional thing, we think inside the box - and in a business you really have to think creatively of new ways to do things.


What are your top business goals for the upcoming month?

I'm being a counselor in a three week overnight camp now, so some of the business has definitely been put on hold. My goals are to get the Fall issue off to the printer (it's almost done!), see good results from the auction, and launch Project Pass it On.



Leah's report for September, 2008:

What were your top business-related accomplishments for the past month?

One very big accomplishment: YALDAH was one of five finalists who won $10,000 in Wells Fargo's 'Someday Stories' contest! They came down to my house in a stagecoach, presented me with the $10,000 check and spend the whole day videoing me. From September 17th-November 19th a video about YALDAH will be posted on Anyone who visits the site can vote, and the one grand prize winner will win $100,000!!! This $10,000 has been a huge relief to me, since I was in the middle of trying to raise $7000. I also finished the Fall issue and it is at the printer. Project Pass It On is launched now, and girls are starting to log in with their bracelet codes (we're still in the middle of sending out bracelets to more girls). The project website is !


What were your business lessons learned or problems encountered?

Hmm...Thank G-d there haven't really been too many problems! I learned that sometimes you are pleasantly surprised and given just what you need to expand!


What are your top business goals for the upcoming month?

To get a lot of people to vote for me at! I hope that Idea Cafe readers will vote to support a fellow Idea Cafe member and Small Business Owner. I'm also looking forward to finally seeing YALDAH in bookstores. I want to focus on effective advertising and place strategic ads to get more readers.



Leah's report for October, 2008:

What were your top business-related accomplishments for the past month?

I've been able to get a lot of free publicity! I was interviewed on the radio, got an article in the Boston Herald, our local newspaper, and the Boston Jewish Advocate. Being a finalist in the Wells Fargo Someday Stories Contest generated a lot of buzz, so YALDAH has also been discussed on lots of blogs, forums, and social networking mediums. Project Pass It On ( has united over 100 girls! YALDAH is in independent bookstores across the country. And, I've managed to stay in the lead in the Someday Stories Contest voting. Please make sure to vote for me (Evelyn from MA) at!


What were your business lessons learned or problems encountered?

Time management has definitely been a challenge because I've been involved in so many things, plus it's a busy season with all the High Holidays. I learned that it's important to focus on the task at hand and be in the moment. While I'm working on one job, it will only make me work less effectively if I'm worrying about everything else I have to do. I also found a great program to limit time wasted on the internet:


What are your top business goals for the upcoming month?

To win $100,000 in the Wells Fargo Someday Stories Contest!! I also want Project Pass it On to reach many more girls, and for the Winter issue to come out on time. I just had a major brainstorm this morning for a creative advertising campaign, so that will probably be launched this month as well.




Read why Idea Cafe chose Leah to receive this grant

Also, check out Leah's Business Profile here at Idea Cafe.


To see more grants: government grants, SBA, corporate, more private grants, enter Idea Cafe's Free Grant Center for Small Biz -- a privilege for registered Idea Cafe Regulars only. GO!


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