Ryan German always had the makings of a small business owner. After his freshman year in college, he ran a successful student painters franchise. In the summers off from school, he and his brother worked a roadside fruit stand. German saved his money and studied business administration, and a study-abroad trip during his junior year of college inspired his next business venture: making authentic gelato.

German came to SCORE with his idea at the age of 22. In 2000, he launched Caffe Gelato, which serves lunch, dinner, and house-specialty homemade Italian gelato.

How SCORE Helped: 

With Norman's help, Ryan fine-tuned his business plan and secured a location. Norman arranged for him to meet his contacts at two local banks, and each made Ryan an offer. A few months later, Ryan went back to SCORE for help with the artwork for his company logo, and mentor Beatrice Benson connected him to an artist in the area.

My Successes: 

After being rejected by eight banks for a small business loan, German's work with Norman resulted in small business loan offers from two banks. With his parents as co-signers, German settled on a small business loan in February 2000. Next, he and his family renovated an older building and opened the doors of his restaurant that April.

Located just three blocks from German's alma mater, the University of Delaware, Caffe Gelato is not a student hangout, but is targeted to working professionals. Like any good restaurant owner, German says his goal is “to get customers in the door — make sure they are happy, and paying. Then, get them out and back again.”

The restaurant expanded and renovated in 2008 to include a 1,500-bottle wine cellar and a 10-seat bar. German is a member of Chaine des Rotisseurs, a Paris-based international gastronomic society devoted to promoting fine dining.

What's Great About My Mentor?: 

"Earl Norman is smart, has a professional background, and was very good with me," German says. "He helped expand my business plan with financial documents, such as a projected opening balance sheet, cash flow and income statements, and a sensitivity analysis."