Meet Ellie Venafro, wife and mother of two young boys, and “mompreneur” of Tots On The Go. Ellie, originally from Tennessee, came to Richmond nine years ago. Not content to be a stay-at-home mom, she conceived the idea of starting a business that would rent high quality strollers, car seats, cribs and other child care products. Her typical client is a visiting parent or grand parent who needs these items for a short stay in the area. The idea for the business model is a consequence of her own real world experiences traveling with small children.
Ms. Venafro comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and always had a desire to operate a business of her own. In December
of 2005, with the support of her husband, she introduced Tots On The Go, utilizing the Internet http://www.totsongo.com as her main source of outreach. Shortly thereafter she opened a showroom in Brandermill, located at 13541 East Boundary Road, where clients can see, rent or buy her products. Ellie recently opened a second location in Charleston, South Carolina and has plans to open a third store in the Virginia Beach area.
The model has been so well received that Ellie has plans to franchise the business. She came to Richmond SCORE in March
of 2009, specifically looking for help to expand her business. Counselor, John Anderson, with the assistance of several other SCORE counselors, helped her define a process that seemed to have value for both herself and the people buying into the franchise model. Anderson put Ellie in touch with a local attorney to explore the legal challenges of franchising. He also introduced her to another SCORE client, Howard Deskin, of WSI-We Simplify the Internet, who provides web site optimization for her company.
Ellie Venafro has high praise for her counselor John Anderson. “John has been a true mentor to me, encouraging and motivating me to believe in myself. Together we have developed a five year business and marketing strategy. I look forward to continuing my relationship with SCORE and would recommend it as a valuable resource to anyone thinking of starting a business or their own.”