Six area students, as a result of their participation in the 2008 Summer Company competition, ran full-time businesses this summer with financial assistance from the Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services. Successful applicants included Elias Chiddicks of Wingham; Matt Clarke of Goderich; Dave Geoffrey of Exeter; Brad Keys of Exeter; Geoffrey Lamon from Lucknow; and Jasmine Mitchell of Clinton.
Elias Chiddicks, Tech Made Simple, assisted his clients with electronic related purchases, repairs and general questions. Elias believed that one of the keys to his success was the “in-home” service he offered – he traveled to their homes to assist with their electronic related issues such as buying a new computer, fixing a television, problems with a digital camera, mobile phone problems etc. (a service not always offered by the local competition).
Matt Clarke operated a lawn cutting business in Goderich, Matt’s Lawn Care. He had experience in lawn cutting and was targeting, as well as home owners, business owners that had postage stamp sized boulevards that didn’t justify the purchase of a lawn mower.
Dave Geoffrey operated South Huron Pressure Washing throughout Huron County. He offered both residential and commercial pressure washing services. Dave defined his target market as “homeowners and business owners…located within half an hour of Exeter”.
Brad Keys operated Retral Evolution, publishing and marketing 3D-capable games multi-player games that could be played in a web browser. Brad’s target market was potential gamers of any age around the world who enjoy computer games and were interested in online competitiveness and online communities. Clients were able to purchase a monthly subscription in order to use the 3D games found at www.retralevolution.com.
Geoff Lamon business, Geoff’s Repair Service, was operated out of his home in Lucknow. Although Geoff primarily repaired and sold computers, he also repaired lawnmowers. Geoff defined his target market as those living in and around the Lucknow area who needed computer/lawnmower repairs. Geoff’s computer background includes experience in a computer retail/repair store, as well as current enrolment in two computer classes at school. Having taken auto repair in school adds to his list of skills that enabled him to repair and fix lawnmowers.
Jasmine Mitchell operated Brain Freeze – an ice cream shop that was located in the downtown core area of Clinton. Jasmine offered a variety of hard ice flavours in a fun and welcoming atmosphere that featured a small seating area. Brain Freeze was open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 8 pm.
The Summer Company program aims to inspire more young people to choose entrepreneurship as a career and equip them with the tools they need to succeed. The Ministry is granting 300 Summer Company awards this year, and we’re pleased that Huron County won six of them, reported Alison Lobb, Business Consultant at the Huron Business Enterprise Centre in Seaforth. Designed for students aged 15-29 who will be going back to school, this program provides for up to $1,500 toward start-up costs and, upon successful completion of the program requirements, the student is eligible for an additional award of up to $1,500.
Each student submitted a comprehensive business plan with their application and participated in an interview process. Training and mentorship was provided during the summer by a volunteer group of Community Mentors, along with Alison Lobb, Business Consultant for the County of Huron. This year, mentors included Rob Bundy, Chris Lee, John McNeilly, Donna Taylor. These individuals met with the young entrepreneurs on a regular basis during the summer, assisting with the management side of operating a business.
The students participated in a series of business training workshops, which were also open to the public. The Business Start-up Series began with “Shoeboxes are for Shoes – Proper Record Keeping” and was followed by “The Mad Hatter’s Guide to Managing Time.”
Summer Company Awards and Certificates will be handed out at the Huron Manufacturing Association's Annual Manufacturing Awards of Excellence Dinner happening on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Goderich.