Success Stories

Karas Kitchen

Karas Kitchen is a family owned and operated food service company located in the Robert T. Matsui U.S. Courthouse in downtown Sacramento. With over 40 years of restaurant experience, John Karas started Karas Kitchen with his wife, Sinie and daughter Maria. The three of them now work together to provide café services to roughly 500 federal employees.

Karas Kitchen worked with California Capital to successfully navigate the government registration and bidding process for their new café, develop business ideas, and learn about cash flow and breakeven analysis. Maria takes time out of her busy schedule to attend California Capital workshops that are relevant to her business venture. According to Maria, operating a café in a federal building has many positive features. Compared to traditional mom and pop restaurants, for example, government cafés typically have lower start up and operating costs. Currently, Maria is focusing on marketing Karas Kitchen in order to increase their customer base, while developing a new menu and website.

Susan Difuntorm

Susan Difuntorm, a retired Air Force veteran of 23 years and recent State of California retiree, is the owner of Smiles and More Photo Booth, a local Sacramento Business that helps people enjoy events and create memories. With her love of photography, open air multi-functional photo booth and custom made props, Susan captures her customers’ important life moments- ranging from father-daughter dances to weddings, retirement parties, birthdays and more!  Susan handles all of the logistics and financing of her business, while her daughter, Brenda, focuses on the Smiles and More Photo Booth website and contract development. In the very early stages of her business, Susan received support and encouragement from the Women’s Veteran’s Alliance and California Capital. Specifically, Susan recalls benefitting from the many classes she has taken at California Capital, including those focused on business plan development, funding, bookkeeping, accounting, marketing and social media.

According to Susan, the mentorship she received from both the Women’s Veteran’s Alliance and California Capital helped her build her confidence and keep her focused on issues pertinent to business success. Currently, Susan is in the process of expanding her business. She now has two photo booths and is in the process of training an additional employee. She also hopes to offer more than just smiles as her business grows to potentially include services like card making and invitations.

Gabriel Gutierrez

Gabriel G. is the founder and CEO of indie gaming studying Nascent Games in Sacramento. Ever since he was a kid, Gabriel knew he wanted to make video games and he is now just a few weeks away from releasing his first game Crumple. Nascent Games, which began as a home-based operation, is now housed in a small office space. The gaming studio provides a base for creative game developing in Sacramento. According to Gabriel, many people want to work in gaming but also want to stay in their local communities. Nascent Games provides one avenue for game developers to continue to reside and work within the local Sacramento area.

Like most small business owners, Gabriel had to overcome challenges on his way to successfully developing Nascent Games. In particular, Gabriel successfully overcame low levels of confidence and marketing and loan fund challenges. With the support of his father, Gabriel was able to build up his confidence. Through California Capital classes, Gabriel strengthened his marketing skills and when California Capital recently revived their microloan program, Gabriel became the first local small business owner to obtain a microloan. Gabriel’s advice for burgeoning small business owners? Always remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing. Connect with other people who are supportive of your ideas (Gabriel’s business really began to take off after he successfully connected with local artists and game developers at SacAnime.) But, first and foremost, you must believe in yourself. And finally, do not focus exclusively on making money. Instead, stay focused on your passion and remember that money will come later.

You can find out more about Nascent Games and connect with Gabriel at and also on Twitter @NascentGames. Be sure to check out Crumple at