A jack of all trades, a photographer, a painter and a crepe maker walk into a Staples.
It’s not a joke, those are four of eight entrepreneurs who were at Staples in Collingwood to showcase their new businesses, which are each backed by the South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre Summer Company program.
The program offers hands-on business training, mentorship and up to $3,000 in grant money for a student aged 15-29 starting a summer business.
According to Tim Newton, South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre manager, there were 20 applicants to the program this year.
From those applicants, eight were chosen to be part of the Summer Company program. All received $1,500 for start up costs, and if they follow through and report back to the Summer Company program at the end of the summer, they will receive another $1,500. A mentor from the Enterprise Centre will work with the students to make sure the business plan is sound, and offer feedback on things like marketing and performance indicators. After that, it’s up to the student to turn their idea into a viable summer job.
This is Newton’s third cohort of students through the program, which has been running for more than a decade.
Here are this year’s Summer Company program participants.
The Jack of All Trades
Nathanial Demerchant,17, is selling his own skills as a jack of all trades for his company Worker Monkey. The Wasaga Beach teen has started a handyman company offering services such as major home clean up, lawn cutting, maintenance, and minor repairs.
Most of his clients are seniors or persons with disabilities who find home and lawn maintenance too difficult on their own.
He said Summer Company has helped him get the word out about his business and helped him get things running smoothly.
Jake Burella has seven years experience as a painter, so he applied his skills to his Summer Company project and launched MountainWood Painting Co. He is nearly booked up for interior and exterior painting jobs this summer already. He’s hired three others to fill out his painting crew, and said that was the most important decision he made.
“You have to hire the right people to work for you,” said Burella. “Then you have to make sure you treat them well.”
Burella used the Summer Company grant to buy ladders and a spray gun. Eventually, he’s going to be a physiotherapist, but while he’s in school he wanted to try his hand at entrepreneurship. Burella is 21 and lives in Wasaga Beach.
The Innovator Bee
Nicolle Bennett saw a need and filled it with beeswax. Her brothers already have a honey and lip balm company and were approached by a tattoo artist looking for all-natural cream for tattoo care. Bennet and her brothers worked out a non-petroleum formula with all-natural ingredients and started selling it to tattoo artists. She called it Stinger Cream. The cream goes on before and after a tattoo to help the skin heal and keep the area moisturized. As a result the creme helps preserve the colour of a tattoo and reduce the amount of touch ups.
Bennett is 15 and lives in Wasaga Beach. She used the Summer Company start up grant to buy ingredients and packaging materials. She said there are already tattoo artists and shops carrying her product and she said there are several more testing it.
Rachel St. Louis, 22, created her Summer Company to fulfill the co-op component of her BA in Photography program through Sheridan College. She started Rachel St. Louis Photography. She focuses on architectural technology and is already working for custom home builders and realtors in the area. She’s also able to create websites for her clients using the photos she takes as an online portfolio.
She used the Summer Company start up grant to buy a tilt shift lens specifically useful in architectural photography. She said the mentorship she received also helped her focus her idea and develop a more specific business plan. St. Louis lives in Meaford and attends school at Sheridan College in Oakville.
Muckpaloo Ipeelie, 29, knew her French-Canadian husband’s family crepe recipe was great, so she decided more people should be able to try them. Ipeelie and her husband opened the Retro Crepe Cafe on wheels.They renovated a trailer and they bring the trailer to Collingwood and Stayner farmers’ markets on days when they do not set up in Owen Sound.
The grant money from Summer Company helped her buy a crepe machine and renovate the trailer. Ipeelie and her husband live in Ravenna, she is currently studying to be a medical lab technician through Cambrian College in Sudbury.
Andrew Blakey Lopez, 23, is looking to the future with his personal training business called Your Future Fitness, which is a mobile personal training service targeted to individual clients. Lopez is in school for kinesiology and was surprised to learn that an individual’s muscle mass and strength degrade by two to three per cent annually after the age of 50. He set out to help people become stronger and build up that muscle mass. The Collingwood native used the Summer Company funds to buy equipment and get his certification through CanFit Pro. He said he’s putting a focus on getting to know his clients and building a workout that fits their needs and is also something they can enjoy. He runs training sessions in his client’s homes as well as outdoors around Collingwood and The Blue Mountains.
Elias Anderson, 18, has invented a tracking chip for athletes that can measure things like acceleration, speed, time on the ice and create heat maps for an athlete. He aims to bring “big data” to competitive major minor sports at a fraction of the cost of similar technologies. The Meaford resident has called his company ChampTraxx Technologies. Though he’s still in the development stage, he hopes to sell his chip to organizations within the OHL and other sports at a similar level.
He designed the chip on his computer and hired a firm in Indiana to manufacture it.
“This chip isn’t only my future, it’s the future of sports analytics,” said Anderson. He said the Summer Company mentorship has been the most valuable for him and has helped him create a better business plan.
Eric Ohrling, 18, got his business idea from his grandma, who recently got an iPad and asked her grandson to help her learn it. Ohrling started a company called The Tech Tutor. He offers his services to other seniors who need help learning their devices including phones, tablets and computers. He’s reached out to local retirement communities and found the mentorship through Summer Company was helpful in teaching him how to spread the word about his service. He used his start up grant to build a website and create promotional material to deliver to local retirement communities.