News – Innovation and Enterprise Centre

The latest information from the St. FX Extension Department’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

El Gordo Tacos

El Gordo Tacos is a taco food trailer started by Elin Cunningham, a 2018 Summer Launch participant. Elin recently visited Mexico and fell in love with the Mexican cuisine. She thought it would be great to bring this type of food into Antigonish, as the majority of options currently consist of pizza and burgers. When deciding on a name for her business, Elin knew that she needed it to be short and memorable, with a connection to Mexico. El Gordo roughly translates to fat in Spanish, so she thought it would be a unique name for a food truck, along with a personal connection: Elin’s father’s name is Gord.

El Gordo is located on a grass lot on Braemore Avenue in front of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional high school in Antigonish. Their hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 11:30AM to 7PM and Sunday, 1:30 to 6PM. Elin’s plan is to be open during the summer months for now, with the potential to open up during weekends throughout the fall if the demand is present.

The menu consists of three types of tacos (chicken, pork, and refried beans) as well as Mexican rice, Mexican brownies, ice cream, and freezies. For drinks, they offer water, pop, and Gatorade. El Gordo also offers a platter called the ‘El Gordo Plate’ which consists of two tacos of your choice and a scoop of Mexican rice.

Check out their Facebook page for up to date hours, changes in menu, and more!


Canvas Clothing Company

Canvas Clothing Company is a local business started by two grade twelve students, Michael Putnam and Sam Silver. Michael and Sam began their partnership through Summer Launch, a program developed and led by the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre. Canvas Clothing is a company working with local artists and organizations to create unique pieces of clothing. The pair started this business to bring exposure to local art and to learn how to run a business, all while having some fun!

When asked how they came up with their idea, the boys said that they have both thought about creating and designing clothes in the past and that it is something that they are both passionate about.  They pointed out the fact that a lot of clothing brands collaborate with other brands so they thought that it would be great if their brand collaborated with local artists and organizations. Michael and Sam say that this will be a great way to support local and bring exposure to this area.

This is what led them to collaborate with the art department within the L’Arche community, Hearts and Hands. 20 percent of their profits made from the shirt sales will go back to Hearts and Hands. They currently have three designs (see picture below); one heather navy featuring Anthony Burns’ art, a gold design with Tommy Landry’s flower art, and last but not least, Kelly Farrell’s harbour piece on a white shirt. The shirts come in sizes extra small to triple extra-large. They will be available for sale at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, August 1st from 4:00-7:00 PM, located at 30 James Street.

The Summer Launch program finishes up at the end of August but Michael and Sam will continue working on their business throughout the year. They hope to release more collections in the future. For more information and to stay up to date on where they will be selling their product, follow them on Instagram (@canvas.clothingco) or email them at Michael and Sam are very excited to be supporting the L’Arche community during the Special Olympics and are wishing the best of luck to all of the athletes!

Summer Launch Celebration 2018

On Wednesday, July 25th another workshop was held for the Summer Launch participants at the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre. Facilitated by Summer Launch coordinator, Kelsey Bowman, the workshop was centered upon delivering an effective pitch for your business, idea, or project. This included step by step instructions on how to develop a pitch, tips for non-verbal communication, and how to effectively express your pitch in a clear and concise manner. After learning about pitches, everyone took time to create their own pitch for their business venture. They each presented their pitch to the group with a two minute time maximum and received feedback from the group.


Summer Launch participants Jake Breen (left) and Hilus Keay (right).


A roundtable discussion took place next. Each participant presented an issue or struggle that they are currently facing within their business. This was an opportunity to bounce their ideas off of the other Summer Launch students. Possible solutions to each problem were also suggested at this time. Throughout the workshop, potential collaboration points and ways that they may be able to help each other with their ventures were established. This included sharing contacts and discussing ways to promote each other’s products such as setting up in the same area and collaborating with a promotional strategy.

A final check out was held to receive feedback on how students are enjoying the program so far. Questions were asked such as “what have you learned and how has the Summer Launch program helped you this far”. This information will be used to shape the program in the following years. Some of the highlights from the feedback were that they found the bi-weekly logs to be extremely helpful when it comes to staying on track. The logs also resulted in a reflection of the previous two weeks as it requires them to answer questions that they may not have asked if they did not have to take the time to write these bi-weekly pieces. Another highlight noted was that the business model activity at the introductory workshop really allowed them to break down their business ideas and solidify a plan for the future as they move forward with their ventures. Participants said they have been learning lots throughout the program, but two main points included better time management skills and becoming more open to criticism and feedback.

The Summer Launch program will continue throughout the month of August, with their final reflection paper deadline set at August 20th.

G.I.V.E. 2018

Back (Left to Right): Kelsey Bowman, Ellen Brophy, Flora Murphy, Krista Beaton, Emma Logan

Front: Hayley Fougere, Ruby Brophy, Myree Landry

On July 3rd, the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre’s first GIVE Camp began. GIVE stands for Girls in Venture and Entrepreneurship and is a two-day camp focusing on teaching young girls about entrepreneurship and giving them the opportunity to receive hands on experience as entrepreneurs themselves. The first day of the camp involved learning about entrepreneurs, including a trip to the local Peace by Chocolate store. Everyone was welcomed into the store to taste some samples, hear their incredible story, and take some pictures.

Back (Left to Right): Alaa Hadhad, Ellen Brophy, Myree Landry, Krista Beaton, Kelsey Bowman

Front: Ruby Brophy, Hayley Fougere, Flora Murphy

The remainder of the first day was spent assembling and packaging products including candy kabobs, s’more kits, and surprise bags. The girls learned that not all money made in sales, is money you get to keep – costs must be covered, a float must be removed, etc. This was an eye opener for many of them!

The second day of the camp consisted of the girls setting up as vendors at Stroll the Main, Antigonish’s annual street fair. They displayed the products that they prepared and packaged the previous day and customers were very pleased! Within the first few hours, they sold out of candy kabobs and surprise bags, which was very exciting for them as it was evident that their hard work was paying off! The talented Marie and Meaghan Wright from Mirror Image Media stopped by the table to take some footage of the girls selling their products and talking about entrepreneurship. This footage will be used for a short promotional video for GIVE. Wallace Family Intern, Emma Logan, assisted the girls throughout the day as they waited on customers, handled money, and ensured that everyone had a fun and safe experience at the Street Fair!

At the end of the day, the girls counted the money with help from coordinator Kelsey Bowman, and determined their profit which will be donated to a local cause. GIVE is currently a pilot project, but we are hopeful that based on this year’s success, we will be able to offer the program again to more girls.


Click here for more information on the GIVE Camp.

Summer Launch 2018

Left to right: Hilus Keay, Liam Statchook, Gregory Kelly, Michael Putnam, Leah MacDonald, Sam Silver, Makayla Clifton, Jake Breen, Elin Cunningham, Kelsey Bowman, Emma Logan

On May 26, the Summer Launch workshop was held for this year’s participants. There are 10 participants this year, all of them keen entrepreneurs offering a wide range of business ideas including both products and services. Michael Putnam and Sam Silver will be starting a partnership as they launch a clothing company that incorporates local art into their products. Leah MacDonald has already begun her venture, selling bags of compost from her family’s farm. Hilus Keay has several customers already for his lawn care business and is looking forward to expanding his client base as he moves forward throughout the program this summer. Also in the lawn care business is Liam Statchook, who is hoping to expand his business outside of the typical season to also offer snow removal services in the winter. Jake Breen is a well-known face at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market, selling delicious homemade baked goods. He will be taking advantage of the great resources offered by the Summer Launch program, such as learning ways to advertise and market  his company and products. Makayla Clifton will be starting her crafty company called “T-Bags”, by turning used t-shirts into bags that will be both stylish and practical. Cameron Bell will be creating, packaging, and selling “Fun Jars” which will include kits to make crafts, cookies, and more! Gregory Kelly will be working hard this summer on his business selling kindling, the perfect addition to every summer bonfire. Elin Cunningham’s company El Gordo is in the initial stages of opening a food truck where she hopes to sell homemade tacos to Antigonish locals and tourists passing through.

The first hour of the workshop was spent learning about each other’s business ideas, going over the expectations of the Summer Launch program, and learning more about entrepreneurship. Next, students were shown the lean canvas business model and received a breakdown of each segment, including the unique value proposition and cost structure. They then had the opportunity to work on their own business model with the help of the facilitators, as well as their peers. Based on feedback forms filled out by each student at the end of the workshop, the opportunity to work on their own business model was found to be one of the most helpful aspects of the workshop as it allowed them to break down their idea into components that they may not have yet considered. Emma Logan, one of this year’s Wallace Family Interns, was a guest speaker and talked to the group about her experience with generating a business idea, ensuring you are passionate about your idea, and stressed the importance of networking. The participants asked her many insightful questions and sought her opinion on what their next steps should be for some of their individual businesses.

In the afternoon, students learned about marketing techniques with an emphasis on social media. To get everyone up and moving, as well as laughing, a mini pitch competition was held in which participants were divided into groups of two or three, picked a random office item out of a bag (such as a stapler, marker, sticky notes, etc.) and worked for ten minutes to come up with a pitch to try and sell their particular product to the other groups. In the end, it was Hilus, Jake and Gregory’s group who won the competition with their comical and educational pitch for a scented marker. They sold this item to the group with an energetic pitch, informing potential customers of its ability to increase your focus at school and work, and therefore enhancing your productivity levels. This mini competition was another participant favorite. Along with another team building activity, the rest of the workshop was spent learning a bit about advertising.

These 10 students will be pursuing their business ventures throughout the summer with the help of a startup grant, as well as resources from the Innovation and Enterprise Centre, which include mentors, workshops, and the Summer Launch facilitators.

More information on the Summer Launch program can be found here.