Update (10/11) - here is the menu for your ordering convenience.
We are proud to be one of the first vendors in the nation to bring you the new Card Case from Square.
You can sign up for your own card case right here at Caffe La Stazione on your next visit!
By Michael Gallant
San Francisco — When Alex Goretsky and his business partner Girolamo Aliotti decided to open Caffè La Stazione in San Francisco, they dreamed of making the small coffee shop an authentic Italian experience for their customers.
Their dreams were coming true and a growing number of repeat customers were enjoying the experience, or most of it. Some customers complained because the shop had no mechanism for accepting anything other than cash payments — until the owners learned about a technology called Square from a helpful customer.
Square provides its users with a small scanner that attaches to an iPhone or an iPod Touch, allowing businesses like Caffè La Stazione to swipe credit cards, accept payments and e-mail receipts without significant infrastructure or expense.
“People love it,” Goretsky said. “We no longer have to apologize to them for not taking credit cards, and that makes us look better in their eyes.”
Caffè La Stazione is just one among many small businesses to turn to technology to grow and thrive. Both in the United States and around the world, new technologies play a key role in helping small businesses become more efficient.
INTERNET MAKES BUSINESS EASIER
Internet-based services make it easier to start and run a small business; there are sites that help with everything from a company’s registration to payroll handling, tasks that traditionally required much time and paperwork. Some technologies offer unique approaches to problem solving. New York–based Kickstarter, for instance, is a website that allows users to post proposals for independent, creative projects and solicit funding from visitors to the website. Spanning the worlds of film, visual art, dance and other disciplines, Kickstarter proposals contain multiple giving levels, where supporters receive tiered amounts of project-related gifts and recognition in return for their money.
In Africa, wireless technologies serve as a platform for numerous business applications.“Kickstarter makes it easier — and even possible — to fund your great idea,” said Dan Abelon, a San Francisco–based entrepreneur and founder of the popular dating website SpeedDate.com. “Most people don’t know how to raise money and turn an idea into reality and also don’t have the connections to do so. Kickstarter seems to solve this problem.”
Larger and more established companies also offer products and services designed for small companies. Cisco Systems, for example, created a small business line that offers routing, network storage, security and conferencing technologies on an appropriate scale for small businesses.
The reach of technology enhancements is not limited to the U.S. market or developed countries in general. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs have benefitted from new technology services such as Kiva.org, a website that facilitates microloans to small businesses in need of capital. As of September, Kiva has committed more than $160 million in loans to nearly half a million entrepreneurs all over the world. (See related Q&A with the founder of Kiva.)
“They’re doing an amazing job of scaling fundraising for microfinance,” said Abelon. “They also do a good job of making lenders feel that they have control over who they lend to and educating people in the developed world about the challenges of emerging economies.”
In Africa, where most small businesses lack access to the Internet, wireless telecommunication has helped to create numerous technology applications for small businesses. Entrepreneur Raymond Rugemalira recently won a grant in the African Diaspora Marketplace competition for his plan to create a virtual, wireless marketplace to match small farmers in Kenya with potential buyers of their products.
Perry Klebahn, an entrepreneur and professor at the Institute of Design at Stanford University, sees tremendous potential in projects like Rugemalira’s. “It is clear that the cell phone is all that is needed in emerging markets to make a communications infrastructure that is flexible and accessible to small business owners,” he said.
In the near future more business-friendly technologies are likely to be available to entrepreneurs in developing countries. And small business’ use of these technologies only will increase, according to Abelon. “New technology makes it possible for people to build products, especially on the Web, for low cost and have the potential to reach global markets,” he said. “It’s also easier to acquire customers when you can promote your business for virtually no cost using the Web and social media. The possibilities for economic development are really outstanding.”
But technology never will replace an entrepreneur’s creativity, business instincts and skills. That is why it always should be seen as a means to an end, Klebahn said. Companies should never lose sight of their core purpose. “Focus on making a great product and service for customers and the tools you need will surface,” he said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)
We are the new kid on the block, but we pack a super punch. Our secret weapon - simply the best coffee in town, friendly baristas, and love for mama Italia. Growing up as kids in our native Sicily, we missed the atmosphere so much that we could not wait to recreate it right here - in the hippest coolest sunniest part of San Francisco... that's why we got started, and that's how we plan to stick around.
We thank our loyal customers, our neighbors, and our friends for welcoming us to the hood. For all you Italy lovers, here is a picture of the town where we grew up. If you want to know more about it just ask, but be warned - you might desperately want to go see it for yourself, as no words can describe its beauty!
This website is new, so stay tuned for surely more to come.