All Sections

Home | Mike Cote's Business Notebook

Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: Great ideas SCORE capital

December 17. 2017 12:43AM
SCORE Chairman Ed Izzo and mentor Lynn Friedel (center) present the $10,000 top Business Growth Award to Krysta Lewis, founder of Aisling Organic Cosmetics, during the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE's 50th anniversary party and awards at Derryfield Country Club in Manchester on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
One chapter's SCOREcard
Merrimack Valley SCORE, which covers Nashua, Manchester, Concord and the surrounding areas, was chartered on Nov. 1, 1967. It was one of the first chapters of SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Among the chapter’s achievements during its 50-year history:

• Client sessions held: 46,614
• Volunteer mentors: 588
• Volunteer hours: 195,237
• Workshops held: 788
• Workshop attendees: 9,061
• New businesses started: 8,467
• New jobs created: 9,020

During its most recent year, in which the chapter received only $5,500 in federal funding, Merrimack Valley SCORE accomplished the following:

• Clients served: 964
• Client sessions held: 1,670
• Volunteer hours (mentoring only): 2,285
• Volunteer hours (total): 11,415
• Workshops presented: 33
• Workshop attendees: 928

Source: Merrimack Valley SCORE

Krysta Lewis had a crazy idea. How about a makeup line that ditches formaldehyde, lead, aluminum and other potentially harmful chemicals and uses only organic ingredients? Her advisers at SCORE were skeptical.

Not anymore.

On Wednesday, Lewis took home the top prize - $10,000 - in the SCORE Business Growth Competition for her Auburn-based company, Aisling Organic Cosmetics, which markets U.S.-made products that are "100 percent natural and organic, vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free."

Lewis and other winners of the competition were recognized by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE during its 50th anniversary gala at the Derryfield Country Club in Manchester.

"Right from the start I knew it was a great fit," said Lewis, 22. "A lot of times as an entrepreneur - especially when you're younger, and you're a female - you tend to feel there are too many challenges ahead of you. And it's definitely an experience that can often feel lonely as well."

Lewis thanked her SCORE advisers, Lynn Friedel and Doug Schumann, for their guidance and the endless hours they worked with her on her business plan.

"Right from the beginning, with jokes that they made and the helpful hints that they gave me, I felt confident. And I knew I was going to be going somewhere with my business," said Lewis, who also credited SCORE member Dianne Connolly, who organized the competition.

Merrimack Valley SCORE covers Nashua, Manchester, Concord and the surrounding areas, and has about 55 current and former business executives who volunteer to serve as mentors to startups and existing businesses. SCORE is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Lewis' company was one of two small businesses and a high school team honored by the chapter Wednesday. The business competition, which featured a total of $20,000 in prize money, was sponsored by the TD Charitable Foundation, Orr & Reno, Melanson Heath and the SCORE Association.

"We wanted the participants to show us that they were solid, they were in the black, they were moving forward, and they knew how to move forward," Connolly said. "We had an enormous number of people who were involved, both the talent on the judging team and the mentors who worked with the clients that we had who participated in the competition."

Post Cruise Solutions of Windham won $5,000 for second place. The offshoot of Solo To Group Travel provides secure and safe post-cruise city adventures for travelers coming into Boston. Solo To Group Travel was founded in 2013 by Wendy Schoneberger, who with her husband, Eric, also owns Linahan Limousine.

Their son Jared Schoneberger began working with SCORE between his freshman and sophomore years in college, where he was studying business. "I thought it would be a great idea to redo our entire business plan for Linahan Limousine," he told the group.

For Post Cruise Solutions, the company worked with SCORE mentor Gene Calvano.

"It really was a lot of fun. We started working on it in the spring and really put a lot of hours into it with Gene, as I'm sure he'll probably vouch for - a little too many hours," Schoneberger said.

Making Connections Community Charter School (MC2) won the Business Concept Competition for a high-school level business/entrepreneur program for students in southern New Hampshire.

The school's team, comprised of student Kevin Wolf Kabamba, design assistant Cohen Searle-Spratt and MC2 Principal Kim Carter, developed the concept for #RAPTORBOYZ ( The site provides photography for custom clothing targeted to customers ages 15 to 30, typically from urban areas, who like skateboarding, photography and art.

The $3,000 prize will be split among Kabamba ($1,500), MC2 ($1,000) and Searle-Spratt ($500). The team worked with SCORE adviser Glenn Boston.

"I am so grateful to have this opportunity, and I'm so proud of Kevin and Cohen and the work that they've done and what they've accomplished," said Carter. She thanked Boston for "his mentoring, his unfailing encouragement and for his belief in our team."

Contact Business Editor Mike Cote at 206-7724 or

Business Manchester Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook

More Headlines