Published May 14, 2012
| Fox News Latino
NEW YORK – Across the United States, in all fields of endeavor, Latinos are working to uphold their place in American society. Fox News Latino is proud to present "Our American Dream" – a series of snapshots and profiles of Latino success stories.
The bistro tables and chairs spread out through Times Square, Bryant Park and other iconic locations in New York have a special meaning for Argentine entrepreneur Daniel Levy. He sold them to the City of New York.
Levy, 37, is the founder and sole owner of Manhattan Home Design, a retail business that specializes in selling contemporary furniture online. He started his company in 2007 as a home-based operation.
“With the small resources that I had at that time, I actually separated $500 and I started selling this specific table on eBay,” says Levy. “I imported ten tables from China with those $500, and from there I was actually able to escalate the business to what it is right now.”
Manhattan Home Design reached a little over a million dollars in sales in 2011 according to Levy. He now has an office-showroom in Manhattan and six employees.
For his achievements, Levy was awarded the U.S. Small Business Administration entrepreneurial success award-New York district office.
“Daniel has found the way to find a market for his products and has done it extremely well,” said Harry Menta, a spokesman of the U.S. Small Business Administration when asked about the reasons why Levy was chosen as the winner. “His passion for growing the business is one and for successfully growing the business at a time when many small businesses have closed their doors,” he added.
An oceanographer by profession, Levy moved to the United States in 2001 to study English. Like many other immigrants, he later decided to stay in the United States in search of better opportunities.
Levy worked on several odd jobs including washing dishes at a restaurant and repairing computers before starting his current venture. Even though he lacked formal business training, he was already an entrepreneur by heart. He recalls selling tropical fish to his friends when he was a kid in Argentina.
But to improve his business skills he started looking into different programs for entrepreneurs in New York and he received training from the U.S. Small Business Administration to start his company.
In 2010 he was chosen to participate in the 10,000 Small Business program, an initiative of Goldman Sachs to provide practical business education to established small business owners.
It was a competitive program. Only companies that had been in business for at least two years, have four or more employees and revenues between $150,000 and $4 million could apply.
Levy got into the program where he learned about business strategies from renowned professors and business leaders. It included sessions with Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Through the program, Levy even had the chance to meet business investor Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world according to Fortune rankings.
“I felt I was touching the sky with my hands,” said Levy about the experience of receiving business advice directly from Buffett. “He said that we should try to pitch him our business now instead of waiting for a couple of years when probably he would have to pay several millions of dollars to buy the same business.”
Levy aims to continue expanding his company selling his products overseas.
A grandson of Turkish-Jewish immigrants who resettled in Argentina, Levy understands the value of the immigrant experience himself.
“The experience of living abroad and trying to re-adapt into a different culture and re-strategize quickly to make sure you can survive in a different country […] I think those kinds of skills definitively were useful for applying to the business I have now.”
Mariana Cristancho-Ahn is a journalist, entrepreneur, and co-founder ContentOle.com.
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