For the vast majority of small business owners, owning and operating a business isn’t simply a job. The business brings feelings of joy, pain, extreme pride, overwhelming stress, and, above all, a deep sense of purpose and commitment to both the product and the customer. This is often particularly true for the neighborhood businesses that make each part of Philadelphia unique and special.

Many of the coaching and technical assistance programs for small businesses focus solely on traditional business metrics: revenue growth, number of jobs created, and amount of capital raised. We are taking a new approach.

Beyond the Grant (BtG) focuses on the business owner’s quality of life. Our approach will be highly individualized and center the unique goals and vision of each individual entrepreneur. While one business owner may want to rapidly scale and increase sales, another may be profitable but in need of finding a better work/life balance.

It is important to understand that for many businesses growth is just one of many desired outcomes. Increasing profitability, developing a stable retirement plan, pivoting the business to e-commerce in light of the current pandemic, opening a second and third location, or transitioning the business to the next generation are all worthy goals. Beyond the Grant will work with entrepreneurs to solidify a strategic plan and vision for the business, and provide the coaching and mentorship needed to help each business owner reach their individual goals. 

Interested in learning more about the program?
Complete our Inquiry Form to learn more and register for a required informational session. Deadline is November 30th. (There will be a new deadline in 2021 for the second cohort.)
For additional questions, please contact The Merchants Fund at 215.399.1339 or email George at

Program Overview

Beyond the Grant is only available to Merchants Fund grantees.

Ten businesses. 6 months of intensive business mentorship and coaching. Advisors to guide and teach. A peer network to provide support and shared learning. A strong focus on business financials and strategic planning.

There will be two BtG cohorts comprised of 10 businesses- one in the first half of 2021, and one in the second half of 2021.

What BtG Participants Will Gain:Participant Expectations:
– 6 months of business coaching and mentorship 
– Approximately 5 hours of one-on-one coaching per month
– 3-6 small group workshops with subject matter experts and BtG Advisors
– Creation and implementation of a strategic plan to help the business owner reach their goals and vision
– Approximately 3-6 small group peer learning sessions with business owners from the same industry
– Connection to a network of small business experts
– Access to post-program support and technical assistance
– Cohort members must be willing and able to commit 10-15 hours a month to focus on the development and implementation of their strategic goals
– Willingness to share business and personal financials and processes with BtG advisors
– Engage in peer-group sessions and workshops
– A genuine commitment to developing one’s business
– A willingness to learn and grow

While the market rate for a unique opportunity such as this would be approximately $5,000, Beyond the Grant is available to TMF grantees free of charge. Thus, we ask that entrepreneurs make sure they have the time, desire, and ability to commit to this intensive program prior to submitting the full application.

Our team

A program of this sort is only as good as its coaches. Luckily, we have amassed an extremely experienced and diverse team to assist our BtG entrepreneurs. Arguably the best part of this team is that the vast majority have owned and operated their own small businesses–thus fully understanding the mountains and valleys of starting and operating a small business.

Lead Coach – George Pitsakis

George Pitsakis is a Philly area native and proud South Philly homeowner. His professional roots lie in small business–having worked as a nonprofit small business lender, controller for a growing wholesale bakery, and now as an owner and operator of his own business–Juniper Muay Thai Gym. 

George comes from three generations of Philly small business owners–his grandparents immigrating from Greece and opening a diner in Kensington, his father owning and operating a plumbing company in Oak Lane, and his own opening of a martial arts gym in South Philadelphia. His experience working on and in small business – across multiple facets – provides a unique and real-world skill set. 

Advisory Committee and Pro Bono Coaches

  • Tobi Abegunde, TMF Wharton Board Fellow
  • Lenin Agudo, Director, Widener SBDC
  • Allie Gerber, Owner, Gerber Accounting
  • Brian James Kirk, Cofounder and former Chief Creative Officer,
  • Rich Matosky, Chief Operating Officer, Your Outsourced CFO
  • Shawn Nesbit, Owner, The Good Karma Cafe and TMF Board Member
  • George Pitsakis, Beyond the Grant Program Lead, Business Consultant and Small Business Owner
  • Dafan Zhang, Esq., Attorney; Assistant Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship, Lincoln University, Cofounder and Chief Strategist, OPB Media


Interested in learning more about the program? Complete our Inquiry Form to learn more and register for a required informational session. Deadline is November 30th. For additional questions, please contact The Merchants Fund at 215.399.1339 or email George at