Downtown Sac, Old Sacramento

Bring Your Business Idea to Life!

Jordan Alwood

Did you know today is National Non-Profit Day? It’s also Congressional Startup Day, which means we’re celebrating our Calling All Dreamers program.

What is Calling All Dreamers?

CAD is a business incubator that allows entrepreneurs the chance to start their own business. We are a huge fan of non-profits and supporting new beginnings, so this program is truly inspirational and close to our hearts. Calling All Dreamers is supported by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, whose goal was to support entrepreneurs and bring their dream of opening a downtown storefront a reality. This is possible because applicants get the chance to open a downtown storefront and earn a coveted business start-up package valued at over $120,000. If you or anyone you know would like to apply for this program you can click HERE.

NEO Escape Rooms

We’ve got an exclusive interview with a past CAD winner – NEO Escape Rooms! Acme Lee and Gabriel Berzamina applied to the program in 2018. We’ve included some of Acme’s advice and tips on how he won and why he loves this program.

Why did you apply to be in CAD?

“My business partner and I decided we wanted to open an escape room and bring some fun to the Old Sacramento Waterfront. We saw this program and decided it would be the perfect opportunity for us,” says Gabriel.

How did this program help you open the business?

“This program helped us by giving us the structure and framework that we needed to get our plan together. It turned this dream we had into practical steps we needed to take to make it a reality,
says Acme.

What was your mission at the start of your company?

“Our mission was to create an exceptionally unique experience for friends, families, and colleagues to enjoy that are all Sacramento-themed,” says Acme. Gabriel adds, “we wanted to create a fun and safe entertainment space during the pandemic, so it was all great timing for us.”

What made you choose to open a business in the Old Sacramento Waterfront?

Gabriel and Acme begin by telling us how the Old Sacramento Waterfront is a great tourist spot. “Most escape rooms tend to be very hidden. You have to drive straight to the space or they’re always in hidden spots. We wanted to do it here because we wanted to put escape rooms on the map. We wanted to show that people can walk by and see it and don’t need to go out of their way to have fun,” says Acme.

What advice do you have for new business owners & entrepreneurs?

“I would say you only live once and just go for it. Put your all and your heart into this program, and everything is gonna be great,” says Gabriel.

What is your favorite thing about the CAD program?

“I would say the opportunity to grow is my favorite thing about the program. It allows entrepreneurs a real shot at starting a business,” says Gabriel. “The Downtown Sacramento Partnership has provided so many services for us to open this business and we couldn’t have done it without them. This program showed us so much support and encouraged us to do our best and to keep going until we were successful.”

How do I apply?

Applying is easy and fast!

  • APPLY – Prepare an application, business plan, and 60-second video. Applications open August 1 and close September 1. CLICK HERE to apply.
  • DEVELOP – Applicants are chosen based on our guidelines. Accepted applicants are placed in their bootcamp cohort paired with a business mentor from SCORE to build their concept and refine their winning pitch.
  • WIN – Entrepreneurs who are most business-ready will be given up to $20,000 in cash, in addition to in-kind services from industry professionals.

Applications are due September 1st so we suggest applying soon. We hope you apply and wish you the best of luck.