Borrower Story: Roberto’s Winds & Michiko Studios in NYC


While New York City is overflowing with artists and creatives, one thing the city is always short on is space for musicians, especially rehearsal spaces that are both affordable and acoustically sound. That’s where Roberto Romeo saw a tremendous opportunity to expand his small business and support the community of local musicians.

As the owner of Roberto’s Winds for more than a decade, Roberto had established a reputation as the premier retailer of woodwinds in New York City. With a showroom and shop known internationally, musicians travel from abroad to purchase instruments and accessories, view his high-end saxophone collection and hear stories from Roberto’s 35 years in the business.

Roberto not only built a successful business, but brought together a large community of musicians that he wanted to support and grow. Listening to the needs of the artists, Roberto formed Michiko Studios, a music rehearsal studio for solo practice, teaching or large-group rehearsals that can be rented by the hour. By the end of its first full year of operations as an independent company in 2015, Michiko Studios was operating at its full capacity, and Roberto decided to add more rehearsal rooms to meet the demand. With that decision, however, came the need for additional funding. That’s when he turned to Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) for financial guidance and assistance.

Roberto already had $200,000 of the $300,000 he budgeted for the expansion, but he needed the rest of the funds to finish the work. The business was going strong and already generating profit so it was a matter of presenting sound financial projections along with the loan application — the task that the EGF Business Advisory Service was assisting businesses with to increase the chance of the loan approval at the satisfactory terms. Together with Roberto, they developed a detailed business and financial plan to demonstrate to lenders that he’s on top of his operations. The BAS team supported him through every step of the loan process, too. They worked with Roberto extensively one-on-one to package his application, explain lender expectations, and present financial metrics for his business. Roberto was not only approved for $100,000 loan to finish renovations, but also for an extra $150,000 for debt refinance and to purchase additional assets like furniture and studio equipment.

Together, the financing and business advisory services helped Roberto expand Michiko Studios to include four more studios and another rehearsal space and to hire several employees, filling a need for musicians in the city and helping to strengthen the local economy, too. Another win win!

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