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.