Message from the Minister

I am pleased to present the 2016 Summer Company Yearbook. This has been a record year for Summer Company, with 935 students launching summer businesses through the program.

Since 2001, Summer Company has helped almost 7,000 students turn their big ideas into big businesses. The program allows entrepreneurs to become job creators, rather than job seekers. It helps young people tap into a mentor network, access capital and get the training and skills they need to run a business in this competitive world.

This yearbook showcases 28 inspiring young entrepreneurs who built businesses in a variety of fields, including landscaping, drone photography, skin care products, auto detailing and graphic design. Each one of these exciting start-ups is an opportunity to grow Ontario’s future economy and help the province gain an advantage in the highly competitive global economy.

I would like to congratulate each one of this year’s participants. I applaud your creativity, your drive and your passion to explore diverse opportunities, unlock new solutions to complex problems — and shape the economy of the future.


The Honourable Brad Duguid
Minister of Economic Development and Growth

Success stories

Brandi Sokil — Doggone Delicious


Brandi Sokil with Doggone Delicious in Belleville.

Meeting new challenges

Brandi Sokil’s goal with Summer Company was to seek out options for her future as a person living with a disability, and Doggone Delicious is helping her meet that goal.

Brandi is an 18 year-old with Down syndrome, who has just finished her fourth year in the life skills program, integrating into regular classes. Brandi’s passions are swimming and her pets. She’s been in the pool since she was a baby, and with Doggone Delicious, she’s following her other passion, with a successful business.

Brandi sells a vast selection of unique home baked dog treats in flavours including cheeseburger, peanut butter, sweet potato, salmon, and pumpkin, along with chicken, fish and liver. All treats contain only safe and healthy ingredients, and are baked and packaged in her home. Brandi also made DIY Peanut Butter dog treat kits which came with all the ingredients, an easy recipe, and two cookie cutters.

Brandi’s product displays attracted a lot of positive comments from customers, venue personnel, and other vendors. She sold her treats at a Trenton trade show, and secured a spot in the Wellington Farmers Market for the entire summer.

As Brandi’s mom Barb Sokil notes, the Summer Company program has provided her with many benefits. “It’s increased her social skills, and her life skills in many areas,” says Barb. “There’s everything from baking and cleaning up to setting up and tearing down, sitting at venues for long periods of time without a complaint, and her interaction with her favourite animals.”

Mahad Shahzad — Wrap’d


Mahad Shahzad with Wrap’d in Brampton.

Wrapping up a new market niche

Subscription box services that deliver new products every month are still growing in popularity. Specialty foods, beauty products, pet treats, wine—the list of subscription box products is long. The business is also very competitive, so finding a niche market is now the key to success.

Mahad Shahzad found that key, with a head scarf subscription service that has proven itself as a business concept in a very short time. Once he had settled on his unique concept, Mahad quickly set up his supply chain and started marketing.

Wrap’d, his Summer Company, definitely filled a need in the market, attracting 10 clients in its first month. Mahad had tight deadlines to fill orders, sometimes working until three a.m. He ships his Wrap’d Box on the last business day of each month, and subscribers receive them the next week.

Subscribers are surprised with each month’s selections. To pique their interest, he offers hints about each box on a theme page on the Wrap’d website. For example, January’s theme is “Surprise: Get Wrap’d up in this winter weather with two randomly selected high quality hijabs from our collection.”

Subscribers are asked to provide feedback to help Wrap’d select products with wide appeal. This attention to detail and customer service has helped Mahad build a strong and growing brand.

Jacob Nyyssonen — Strategic Films


Jacob Nyyssonen with Strategic Films in Brantford.

All in the family

When 18 year-old Jacob Nyyssonen heard about Summer Company from his brother Mac (who started a Summer Company business a few years ago) he was immediately hooked.

“I thought it was a great idea,” says Jacob. “I wanted to set my own work schedule this summer, and do something I really love, and Summer Company definitely gave me that opportunity.”

Jacob operates Strategic Films, providing small independent businesses in the Brantford area with short video commercials. Jacob’s commercials run 30 to 50 seconds, and are ideal for a company’s website or Facebook page.

Jacob is now attending Toronto’s Centennial College, and Summer Company allowed him to have a job related to his career path. “I’m going to film school for film making,” he says. “I wanted a summer job making movies, and this is a way I can do that.”

Jacob hopes to continue his business next summer. “I definitely would recommend this program,” he says. “Plus it’s really easy to do; you just have to put in the work.”

Thomas Kambadzi — In-Your-Home Vegan Restaurant


Thomas Kambadzi with In-Your-Home Vegan Restaurant in Brantford.

A virtual vegan restaurant

As a vegan, Thomas Kambadzi was having trouble finding high quality food options that fit his diet. His solution: start a private-chef service that specializes in vegan offerings.

“I’m trying to make healthy eating practical, but also tasty,” says Thomas. With the success of his Summer Company, In-Your-Home Vegan Restaurant, Thomas has achieved his goal.

As his company name says, Thomas gives his customers a virtual vegan restaurant in their homes. He arrives with groceries, cooking supplies, and dishes, and prepares elaborate vegetarian fare over several hours. Thomas provides a complete catering service. He serves the meal, and provides information about the menu. After dinner, he washes all the dishes and leaves the kitchen spotless.

Thomas immigrated to Brantford from Zimbabwe four years ago. He’s now back at his studies in the Bachelor of Science nursing program at Hamilton’s McMaster University. If the business continues to grow, he plans to keep it running after he graduates.

"It’s been a very fulfilling experience,” he says. “I’m getting to meet people I never would have met if I didn't have this business opportunity."

Lauren Irwin — Infused


Lauren Irwin with Infused in Cobourg.

Turning a hobby into a business

“Providing natural everyday alternatives” is the motto for Lauren Irwin’s hobby-turned-business. Her passion for essential oil-infused body products and aroma-therapy jewelry has spawned Infused, a successful Summer Company. Lauren’s unique custom products are handmade and chemical free.

Lauren grew the company by addressing her clients' unique needs. She expanded her product line from jewelry infused with essential oils to include other products, such as deodorant, lip balm, sun screen, insect repellent, bath bombs, and headache sticks.

The Infused product line can be found at farmers’ markets, local vendor festivals and events, and on Facebook and Etsy. Since starting her company, she has expanded her distribution to clients at the popular Ste. Anne’s Spa, often recognized as the top spa in Canada.

Lauren largely credits her Summer Company experience for her success. Through the program, she learned how to build a business plan, developed a client base network, and strengthened her financial management skills.

"I’ve always loved jewelry design and creating handmade body products,” she says. “But to turn my passion, my education, and talent into a dream, with the guidance and assistance from Summer Company has made me realize I am capable of anything!”

Sydney Woodhouse — Country Canning

St. Thomas

Sydney Woodhouse with Country Canning in St. Thomas.

Positive partnerships produce results

Partnerships can produce some very positive business results, as Sydney Woodhouse showed with her Summer Company, Country Canning. Sydney processes, preserves and cans local fruits and vegetables, and sells them at festivals, the Horton Street Market and KJ’s Bakery in St. Thomas.

Consumers love local food, as Country Canning proved. Sydney used locally grown produce in her products, and solidified her brand as a great example of buying and selling local. She excelled at creating partnerships with local businesses, especially her farmer/suppliers, and the results speak for themselves.

Sydney exceeded her Summer Company sales projections, and plans to continue to sell her goods through to the Christmas season. Sydney definitely had a busy summer, concurrently completing a summer co-op while running Country Canning. Her mentor notes that this was especially impressive, because she didn’t rely on anyone else to set things up. Instead, she took the initiative and got all of the relevant players involved.

Arsham Eslami — Design Camp Studios

Richmond Hill

Arsham Eslami with Design Camp Studios in Richmond Hill.

Coding for Kids

Arsham Eslami has never been one to settle for ‘it can’t be done’. His intent to push past boundaries is evident in everything he does, from studying machine learning at York University, to opening a summer camp that teaches children how to create their own video games by coding in JavaScript.

Design Camp Studios inspires young minds (ages 9 – 14) to be the best they can be, teaching them the wonders of programming and graphics design. Teaching a wide range of programming languages and instilling design processes, Arsham ensured that his students were sufficiently challenged. The program teaches programming and digital media fundamentals, while encouraging creativity and time management.

As he notes, Design Camp gives its students industry-standard knowledge, which they can use to build anything they wish. Arsham also has some advice for those who want to start their own business. “Start now. Whatever you can do today to give yourself a head start, do it.”

This action-first attitude was what propelled his company to a very successful start. This is just the beginning for Arsham, however. With his relentless work ethic and uncanny ability to think outside the box, Design Camp Studios has a bright future.

Jin Lee — Visual Ex Company


Jin Lee with Visual Ex Company in Hamilton.

Capturing the world’s beauty

Jin Lee is the owner and operator of Visual Ex Company, a design company providing photography, videography and graphic design services. Jin says that his company’s goal is to “capture our world as we don’t know it, in all its beauty and mystery.”

Summer Company gave Jin the opportunity to turn his passion for photography and creating quality designs into a viable business. Jin’s photography experience includes shooting professionally with two wedding media services, on-location portraiture, and fashion work for brands such as Bench Canada and Le Chateau.

His goal is to tell stories and capture timeless memories in photos and video, in a breathtaking way. Jin’s clients this summer were very pleased with his carefully executed media, whether it was celebrating a marriage or designing start-up company logos and graphic designs.

Over the summer, he learned there was a lot more to his business than just taking beautiful and unique pictures. Jin gained various entrepreneurial skills after participating in Summer Company. He learned the importance of time management, scheduling clients, maintaining the books, and effective networking. Jin plans to continue operating his business and capturing special moments for people in the years to come.

Samuel Cameron — Top Bunk Design


Samuel Cameron with Top Bunk Design in Nottawasaga.

Modern and affordable graphic design

Samuel Cameron started the summer wishing for a job that used more of his mind than his hands. As he says, “I wanted a summer job that used my strengths, instead of just having me mindlessly stocking shelves all day.” The Summer Company program allowed Samuel to do just that.

Samuel started Top Bunk Design, a company providing modern (and affordable) logo designs and websites. “My idea was to use a do-it-yourself website template,” he says, “to quickly and inexpensively create websites for clients who didn’t time to create one themselves.”

Starting with the business plan in the Summer Company application process, Samuel learned that there are many facets to running a business. “Self promotion was the hardest for me; I tend to be more shy when it comes to talking to people face to face,” he says.

Samuel also gradually learned how to better price his services, with help from his mentor. “He helped me understand the value of my services,” he says. “He suggested I might charge royalties for my designs, which is something I will need to consider for the future.”

Samuel says that Summer Company was a very valuable experience, since it let him explore his talents in a real-life business venture. “My final client meeting was much more confident than my first one. And it sure beats stocking shelves.”

Nayaelah Siddiqui — EIDY


Nayaelah Siddiqui with EIDY in Ottawa.

Combining two passions in a new company

Nayaelah is a student at the University of Ottawa, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Management with an option in Entrepreneurship. An aspiring entrepreneur, she decided to start a company bringing together two things that she is really passionate about: children and Islam.

Having worked with children and youth for the past few years, Nayaelah put her experience and knowledge to work and created EIDY. The company focuses on educating children about Islam, in a fun and loving way.

First, she created fun and educational gift packages that loved ones could purchase for children. Next, she expanded her business into holding workshops that teach the basic concepts of Islam. This proved useful to the parents who were looking to pass on Islamic knowledge and values to their children.

Nayaelah credits Summer Company for helping her pivot her original business model. She was able to easily find another opportunity within her target market to successfully run her business. The strong support network of Summer Company peers was also uplifting, she says.

In the upcoming year, Nayaelah plans to continue creating and selling EIDY packages and teaching workshops, with long term plans to extend the product line and workshop content to reach a larger audience.

Twitter handle: @Nayaelah


Bronwyn Berry — Cold Water Decks

Port Elgin

Bronwyn Berry with Cold Water Decks in Port Elgin.

Getting art out on the streets

Artists share their work in many ways. It is typically in the form of paintings, sculptures or murals on a wall. But Bronwyn Berry isn’t a typical artist, and sharing her artwork through a conventional medium was never part of the plan. Bronwyn wanted to get art out on the streets, literally.

Her passion sparked the creation of Cold Water Decks, offering custom hand-painted longboards and skateboards (decks).

She worked hard to find her own niche of customers that appreciated the boards on a whole new level, nestled somewhere between avid riders and art-fanatics.

“A deck design is an outlet for expression,” says Bronwyn, “and with a hand-painted original design, no two decks would look the same. I want to keep the board as unique as the rider.”

She found most of her sales through networking and connections on social media, using local markets to build interest in custom orders and increase brand awareness. Dedicated to her business, she even loaded up an extra suitcase and flew her boards to British Columbia to sell at the local market in Tofino while on vacation with her family.

 “The program is so great because throughout it all, our mentors reminded us that small businesses take time to become successful, and to stay positive,” she says.

Continuing with her business, Bronwyn plans to outfit students at the University of British Columbia with custom decks for the new school year, as she returns to her undergraduate studies in Engineering.

Teal Manners — Sarnia ROCKS!


Teal Manners with Sarnia ROCKS! in Sarnia.

Rocking the souvenir world

Lambton County is known for its many beautiful beaches, a fact that Teal Manners used as inspiration for her business, Sarnia ROCKS! Teal found stones from local beaches, and saw them as the perfect canvas for her handmade souvenirs. When she realized that Sarnia had an open market for handmade souvenirs, she began creating one-of-a-kind designs on the rocks, using paint markers. Always creative, she incorporated designs into the irregular rock shapes to create unique pieces.

Teal started out by focusing on designs like mandalas, lotus flowers, and Aztec themes. Later, she listened to the market, and is now creating designs based on local popularity. These include designs like flowers, birds, and others from nature. She has also begun creating commissioned pieces for customers looking for something specific.

Teal sold her creations at local events and farmers’ markets. Her first big event was the Canada Day event in Sarnia, where she sold almost all of her inventory. By listening to the community and offering a product that is unique, Teal found success in the souvenir market of Lambton County.

Connor Laroque — Life is Motivation Enterprises


Connor Laroque with Life is Motivation Enterprises in Sudbury.

Making a positive impact

Connor exemplifies many traits of the true entrepreneur. An energetic motivational speaker and twice- published author, Connor strives to make a positive impact on the people he encounters. Inspired by his own challenges, he says he was able to overcome obstacles that deterred him from his passion: helping others.

His company, Life is Motivation Enterprises, offers public speaking, consulting, and strategizing services. He specializes in teaching small businesses how to effectively sell to millennials, using branding, marketing, and social media. Connor’s message to his captive audiences is to withstand uncertainty and triumph over failure. A sample quotation from his website sums it up: "If you can't find a job, do some charity work! This way you'll feel great, and be helping the community. Watch, I bet someone will hire you after this."

Connor is a recent graduate student who studied Law at Laurentian University, and is now starting his Master’s degree in Business Administration. Connor has the ability to communicate his vision effectively, while exuding self-confidence to deliver his message. Often underestimated because of his youth, he’s developed the ability to be flexible and adapt, enabling him to respond to changing opinions and market conditions.

More info:

Ashley Whistle — Ashley’s Little Rabbitry

Thunder Bay

Ashley Whistle with Ashley’s Little Rabbitry in Thunder Bay.

Sales are hopping

What’s more exciting than a pen full of rabbits? According to Ashley Whistle – not much! After a successful summer for Ashley’s Little Rabbitry, her happy customers agree.

Ashley has raised and bred rabbits for a number of years. She put her experience to work last summer with a rabbit petting zoo for birthday parties, events and animal therapy. Ashley brings her own pen to events, allowing people to hold the rabbits and play with them. Ashley has up to 20 rabbits, and tries to bring enough for each individual to hold one at the party. She also uses these parties to educate people on proper rabbit and animal care.

A high school student, Ashley worked toward a co-op credit this summer by participating in the Summer Company program. Her business started to take off after a local newspaper featured her in a story about a business trade show.

Her next marketing move was attending the annual “Teddy Bears Picnic”, which proved to be the perfect venue for rabbit lovers. There was a constant line up in front of Ashley’s Little Rabbitry. An added benefit was the exposure her company received, with bookings for kids’ birthday parties multiplying like the proverbial rabbits.

Ashley has a passion for animals, and it shows in how she runs her business. She plans to continue to cater to parties part-time while she is attending school.

Shanelle Guillemette — FroGurt Xpress


Shanelle Guillemette with FroGurt Xpress in Timmins.

Frozen yogurt on the go

Shanelle came up with her business idea on a trip to North Bay, where she saw someone selling frozen treats from a camper. After a lot of research, she decided that the most efficient plan was to offer the service from a tricycle. A true self-starter, she bought a tricycle, and designed and built a custom wooden box to store her treats. Her prep work included getting approvals from the local health unit and the city, and buying liability insurance.

The next step was marketing. Shanelle created her own marketing materials, contacted local businesses to offer her services, and was a strong presence at local events. The hours were long, but Shanelle was soon motivated by all the encouragement from family and friends, positive feedback from her clients, and steady profits.

Along with some significant revenue to help fund her education, Shanelle learned a lot over the summer, including how to create a business plan, budgeting, tracking sales, and licensing requirements. She admits that her biggest challenge was to step out of her comfort zone and recruit clients. “It is not easy being in sales, and you need to push through,” she says.

It wasn’t all hard work for Shanelle. She worked with a film crew from TFO (Télévision française de l’Ontario) and sold her frozen yogurt at the first annual Timmins Bacon Fest.

Alexandra Newhook — The Beach House Goodie Shack


Alexandra Newhook with The Beach House Goodie Shack in Amherstburg.

Doubling sales projections

At just 15 years-old, Lexi Newhook was the youngest entrepreneur in the 2016 Summer Company. She was also the most successful by one measure. Her company, The Beach House Goodie Shack, produced the most revenue of any company in the program. Sales were double what she had forecast at the start of the program.

Located on historic Bois Blanc (Boblo) Island, The Beach House Goodie Shack quickly became a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The store offers a wide range of products, including island-inspired gifts, home décor, handmade skincare products, apparel, jewelry and other accessories. Lexi also developed additional revenue streams, by partnering with several businesses which sell their products from her storefront location. She has garnered widespread community support by attending numerous events in the region.

The Goodie Shack currently operates only during Boblo’s busy summer tourist season, but that is about to change. Lexi is now developing an online store to operate year round, continuing to build her brand for a future full-time venture. As Lexi says, The Beach House Goodie Shack is here to stay, and as she develops her business skills through education and experience, there’s no doubt her business will continue to grow.

Anahita Hassanpour — HarmoScent


Anahita Hassanpour with HarmoScent in Windsor.

Clean and responsible beauty products

Can environmentally responsible beauty products be made and sold at an affordable price? Anahita Hassanpour thought so, and proved it with the success of her Summer Company, HarmoScent. Anahita is a 25-year-old University of Windsor student who’s providing natural, cruelty-free and fair trade beauty and skin care products, at a competitive price. Using ingredients that occur in nature, HarmoScent helps reduce the use of cancer-causing chemical ingredients, while being environmentally conscious.

HarmoScent’s product line includes all natural-body lotions, deodorants, sugaring wax, lip balms, facemasks and face creams, with new products being developed. Continuing with its socially-responsible values, the company donates 10 percent of its revenue is donated to MAHAK charity, a children’s cancer hospital in Iran.

Anahita is using a number of creative marketing techniques to sell her products, which has proven very effective with international sales as far as Australia. She’s also active in the Windsor-Essex community, attending a large number of events to promote her business and products.

Anahita supplemented her Summer Company training by attending every Starter Company training session. Always looking ahead, she has a growth strategy in place to take her business to the next level.

Obaidullah Mahosh — Neoterix Health and Fitness


Obaidullah Mahosh with Neoterix Health and Fitness in Toronto.

Mobile training brings fitness home

What started off as a bright idea has become a reality that is changing lives. Obaidullah Mahosh observed that many people with chronic diseases have difficulty staying motivated on their training programs, simply because they have mobility issues.

To remove the mobility barrier, Obaidullah designed a specialized boot camp to not only help treat chronic diseases, but also increase the social benefits from fitness training. Using an at-home solution, Neoterix Health and Fitness supports patients with mobility issues, mental health challenges, musculoskeletal disorders, weight management problems, and physical fitness barriers.

Obaidullah says Summer Company’s wide range of mentors very helpful, especially since he could connect with them after the mentoring sessions.

“Youth Employment Services and Summer Company have given me the ability to speak to people about my business in a confident way,” says Obaidullah. “The program has connected me to events, and to a network that I could not have built on my own “

Neoterix Health and Fitness will soon be looking to expand, and hire other students to help build the business and service a wider network.

Marina Saad — Curly Crown Canada


Marina Saad with Curly Crown Canada in Toronto.

Embracing their natural hair

Marina Saad has curly hair. And like many people with curls, she struggled to find hair care products designed specifically for her. A positive thinker, Marina figured she might as well help others with the same problem, and create a business at the same time. The result was Curly Crown Canada, a company with a mission to help curly-haired men and women embrace their natural hair and learn how to care for it.

Marina chose two sales streams for her business, a monthly subscription service and an online store for curly hair products. Curly Crown Canada supports Canadian suppliers, sourcing most of their products from Canadian hair product makers.

With a solid business model in place and mentorship from Summer Company, she grew her service from no subscribers to more than 100 members, in just two months.

“The Summer Company program really helped get my business off the ground,” says Marina. ”My mentor was a great resource and guide throughout, and he made this experience fun, easy and so full of life. And the workshops and panel discussions were exactly what I needed to excel.”

Curly Crown Canada’s next goal is to continue to grow the curly community, and work towards having partnerships with major hair care brands.

More info:

Jade G Greaves — Community Arts Adventure


Jade G Greaves with Community Arts Adventure in Toronto.

Offering affordable arts programs

Arts and culture have always been a part of her life, but Jade’s local community often lacked the programming she needed to support her interests and expand her horizons. Growing up, Jade noticed that the arts got far less attention than sports. She had participated in many summer arts programs, but like most entrepreneurs, she believed that she could create better ones.

When she learned about Summer Company, Jade saw her opportunity. Her mentors note that from the moment she came in, it was easy to see that her passion was not only for the arts, but in providing creative minds with accessible programs to explore their talents.

Jade’s solution was Community Arts Adventure, a small business that provides affordable arts and adventure programs to youth in low-income areas. Jade established a strong partnership with her local library, and collaborated on the staffing and space used for programming. The results speak for themselves. She has had up 25 participants in her programming daily. She offered low (or no) fees, and local youth responded enthusiastically.

“The mentors were always in my corner,” says Jade. “The entire Summer Company program served as a catalyst to create my new love of entrepreneurship.”

Jade is now working out a deal with her local community centre to run her program year-round, so young creative minds can continue to grow their skill sets.

Ezekiel Puckerin — Zeke’s Bees


Ezekiel Puckerin with Zeke’s Bees in Sunderland.

Preserving the bee population

Bees are vital to human existence, and they are becoming increasingly endangered. With “colony collapse” and other threats, skilled beekeepers are more important than ever. The aging population of beekeepers is adding to the problem. Ezekiel Puckerin is part of a growing group of young people who are doing something to solve it.

Ezekiel has a long history of working with bees, and has been trained by industry professionals who are members of the Bee Keeper’s Association. He put his knowledge and experience to work with Zeke’s Bees, which sells local raw honey and lip balms, and helps educate the public about bees.

Zeke’s Bees is already a local success story. It is now a familiar name with products for sale at Nexus Coffee, a busy café in the heart of downtown Uxbridge. While Ezekiel had the technical training to work with bees, he needed very different skills to set up and run his own business, and that’s where Summer Company came in.

“Summer Company taught me many skills to a run a successful business,” says Ezekiel. “Networking is just one example. The mentors helped to teach me about it, and now I can proudly say I have the confidence to go up to any business owner and tell them about my products.”

Emily Dawson — Canadian Cuties Reborn Dolls


Emily Dawson with Canadian Cuties Reborn Dolls in Bowmanville.

Dolls that meet many needs

Dolls can provide a lot more than a plaything for a child or a prize for a collector. Made with only the highest quality materials, “reborn” dolls are designed to closely resemble a newborn baby, with as much realism as possible. Reborn dolls are collected in the same way as regular dolls, and are also used for therapeutic reasons.

Bowmanville’s Emily Dawson crafts reborn dolls, and sells them through her Summer Company, Canadian Cuties Reborn Dolls. Emily’s dolls not only look real, but they are made to feel real, as their soft bodies are filled with glass beads. The dolls are hand painted to meet the unique customization needs of each client.

Emily’s dolls have had an uplifting emotional effect on many of her clients. Over the summer, Emily saw many of her clients use her dolls to help them cope with issues, including infertility, miscarriages, anxiety, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Many reborn dolls are sold online, but Emily used a different business model that proved to be very effective. She identified leads working at several vendor shows over the summer. Emily’s mentors also advised her on adjusting her price point to substantially boost revenues.

By the end of the summer, Emily was busy wrapping up four custom orders. She’s also been spreading the word about the benefits of reborn dolls, working with nursing homes and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Katarina Poletto — Dolled Up Desserts


Katarina Poletto with Dolled Up Desserts in Hamilton.

Desserts just like mom used to make

Summer Company gave Katarina Poletto the opportunity to turn her love for baking into a viable business. Dolled Up Dessert’s recreates nostalgic “just-like-mom-used-to-make” homemade treats, with ingredients that align with modern nutrition standards. Inspired by Katarina’s personal experiences and love for baking, all desserts are organic, gluten free and/or vegan, and healthier than regular treats.

Katarina always wanted to sell her sweets, but never had the opportunity to explore a business venture. Her baking skills were well-established, but the world of entrepreneurship was new to Katarina. Her vision is to bake for a community where people with dietary restrictions, health concerns and allergies can feel confident eating sweet comfort foods.

Before Summer Company, Katarina had never taken a business course. The training and mentoring aspects of the program taught Katarina about the importance of bookkeeping, insurance, marketing, and networking. Katarina gained numerous entrepreneurial skills through Summer Company that helped her business grow to become an established company.

After her Summer Company success, Katarina is now selling her treats online, at McMaster University, events and festivals, and local coffee shops. Katarina plans to grow her business even further and share her ‘classic treats for the modern sweet tooth’ with a broader client base.

Erika Anderson — Black Bark Studio


Erika Anderson with Black Bark Studio in Kenora.

Art is business!

Erika Anderson didn’t let her lack of business experience stop her from setting up and running a successful Summer Company. She simply followed her passion for art and teaching, and with some help from the Summer Company program, everything fell into place.

The Lakehead University graduate (Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts) insists that that there is an artist in every child. She proved her point over the summer, by working with young artists from Kenora, through the Art of the Woods Camp.

Art of the Woods Camp was offered from June 27 to August 26 to different age groups from 5 – 13 year olds. Children participated in a wide variety of activities, with camp themes including clay week, drawing, action art, buttons and thread and outdoor creations. The kids proved Erika right, creating finger puppets, bark owls, garden stones, bird houses, stuffed creations and even self-portraits inspired by the great Pablo Picasso. Rounding out her experience, Erika also taught some adult classes. Combining her passions of business and art, she also led an afternoon art class for a group of young entrepreneurs attending the Youth Entrepreneurship Day Camp in Kenora.

Erika returned to Lakehead University this year to take ceramics classes and create a portfolio for grad school admission. After her Summer Company success, she plans to operate Art of the Woods Camp again in 2017.

Nicholas DiGiacinto — Nick D’s Lawn & Property Care


Nicholas DiGiacinto with Nick D’s Lawn & Property Care in Petawawa.

Scheduled for success

The people of Petawawa needed a versatile lawn and property maintenance service company, and Nick delivered. When he opened “Nick D’s Lawn & Property Care” as a Summer Company, Nick quickly let potential customers know that he would complete any property maintenance jobs they wanted. As the summer progressed, his customer-focused services created a growing demand. Many of his job requests created new opportunities to add more services to his company’s roster.

Scheduling is crucial to lawn and property care services, and sometimes keeping it simple is the best approach. Nick says his best capital investment was purchasing a whiteboard, which allowed him to easily track of all of his jobs and clients. Putting his work schedule on the whiteboard helped him with time management and organization. Whenever he received a customer call, a quick glance at the whiteboard let him immediately schedule the job in a quick and professional manner.

As with most small businesses, Nick found networking to be invaluable in growing his customer base. Using all of his contacts to the fullest extent enabled him to grow his business swiftly over the summer.

Nick plans to re-open his business in the summer of 2017 when he returns from his post-secondary studies.

Michael Boden — Boden Contracting


Michael Boden with Boden Contracting in Peterborough.

A starting point for a full-time business

Michael Boden chose Summer Company as the starting point for what he plans to be a full-time business in the future. He created Boden Contracting, which offers deck and dock building, as well as providing small improvements to homes and cottages. Designing and building wooden outdoor planters is another specialty, and Michael provides complete service by delivering mulch and garden supplies.

While Boden Contracting first focused on small home repairs, Michael believes the future of his company will involve more of his specialty: deck and dock building – projects that he particularly enjoys. The Summer Company funding, paired with guidance from Peterborough Economic Development, helped Michael to expand his tool inventory, ensuring that he can complete jobs efficiently and professionally.

He has already completed some complex projects. For one client, he removed the existing decking and railings, replaced and added joists, installed new decking and railing. A key feature of the deck is the new fireplace pad installed flush with the decking. Another job involved building a new front porch on a cabin.

Boden Contracting has very satisfied customers: “reliable and friendly service, finished on time and within budget” as one posted on Facebook. Michael has simple but solid advice for all young entrepreneurs: “Work very hard in whatever business you attempt.”

Mitch Sawyer — Smugglers Getaway


Mitch Sawyer with Smugglers Getaway in Kingston.

Combining luxury and location

Entrepreneurs can see opportunity where others see ruins. To Mitch Sawyer, a ramshackle riverfront cabin on his parent’s property near Thousand Islands National Park offered great potential to create a luxury rental property. With a variety of local attractions, the region is also home to Thousand Island boat cruises, Boldt and Singer castles, the Thousand Island Playhouse, and Shorelines Casino.

In Mitch’s vision, the cabin, located in the historic Smugglers Cove on the St. Lawrence River, could offer guests private, comfortable accommodations, within a stone’s throw of the Waterfront Trail. To transform it, his renovations included laminate flooring, fresh paint, bathroom upgrades, and window repairs. Mitch also invested in top-quality bed linens, towels, and toiletries, and hired a professional photographer to capture the cozy two-bedroom rental. The reservations poured in as soon he listed Smugglers Getaway on Airbnb and other vacation rental sites.

“Hosting guests at Smugglers Getaway helped me develop customer service skills for a wide variety of people,” says Mitch, an Environmental Studies student. “For example, in July I hosted 15 guests from 7 cities in 6 different countries. They had diverse expectations, preferences, and interest, and meeting those needs gave me international experience in customer service.”

Despite some unexpected start-up expenses, Smugglers Getaway was turning a profit by mid-July. Eager to grow his business, Mitch hopes to winterize the cabin, and rent it year-round.

More info:

Eric Sammut — DisTech Automation


Eric Sammut with DisTech Automation in Kingston.

Creating a successful Kickstarter campaign

Summer Company helped Queen’s University student Eric Sammut lay the groundwork for a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that spawned a new tech company.

Dis-Tech’s Prometheus System expands the capabilities of any low-cost 3D printer. Users can produce multi-colored objects made from various materials, with the simplicity of a single “hot end” or printing nozzle. Summer Company gave Eric the time and money he needed to develop the system.

 “I knew right away that Summer Company was exactly what I needed,” says Eric, who’s studying mechanical engineering. “I wanted to launch a new product at the end of the summer, and this program offered me the funding that I needed to achieve my goals.”

Eric spent the first three months of the summer prototyping the Prometheus System. He built a functional prototype, and finished his Summer Company project by developing a pre-launch marketing program.

By early September, he was ready to launch a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign to fund the first manufacturing batch of the Prometheus System. The prep he did through Summer Company paid off, big time, with deliveries of the system now set for January, 2017.

“I raised 400% of my $10,000 CAD funding goal in the first 24 hours,” says Eric. “I managed to secure a total of $76,215 by the end of the 30-day campaign.”

Alumni success stories

Diana Goodwin — AquaMobile Swim School


Summer Company 2003

Diana Goodwin with AquaMobile Swim School in Toronto.

Solid planning drives exponential growth

Summer Company participants who like to dream big can look to the amazing success of Diana Goodwin for inspiration. In 2003, Diana was a typical Summer Company student, with a $3,000 grant and a plan for her at-home swim school business. Today, AquaMobile has 1500 instructors working across Canada and in 25 U.S. states, and continues its expansion.

Effective use of technology was crucial to the company’s early success. AquaMobile customers go online, enter their swimming pool’s address, and quickly see a selection of available certified instructors who will travel to their home for lessons.

An innovator and widely respected thought-leader in “bootstrapping” (cost-effective ways to scale a business model), Diana has been profiled in numerous media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post and Techvibes. She’s pitched on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, and has won several business awards, including Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year and the $100,000 Small Business Challenge.

Diana used the $100,000 Small Business Challenge prize to help fund expansion to other areas of Canada and the U.S., and to hire a full-time recruiting manager. The company also continues to grow by increasing its presence in current markets, and is looking at new at-home instruction areas such as yoga and fitness.

Along the way, Diana also completed a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA. Her entrepreneurial talents and education have created a dynamic company that continues to grow.

Rylan Schwarze — Rynestone


Summer Company 2009

Rylan Schwarze with Rynestone in Brockville.

Practical magic

Rylan Schwarze was hooked on magic at 13, after reading an autobiography of one of magic’s most influential performers. Rynestone (his stage name) started his first business performing at birthday parties, retirement homes and community events.

Seven years after his debut, after completing a university degree in business administration, he was recognized nationally as one of the top young entrepreneurs in the country, and on the road to success.

Summer Company was an important part of the process. As Rynestone says, “I owe a lot to Summer Company. It really set me on the right path to turn my passion for magic into a career.”

Combining the art of magic with various circus skills, Rynestone wows audiences across the country. With thousands of performances to date, he is an experienced professional who has showcased his magic in all sorts of environments. From corporate events to theatre stages, college campuses to national festivals, and wedding receptions to sporting events, Rynestone has drawn thousands of people into his world of imagination.

He won the Regionals for the Enactus Cup (worldwide competition for business innovation and entrepreneurial action) in 2014, and also recently won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Leeds and Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre.

More info:

Summer Company program providers

The Ministry of Economic Development and Growth would like to thank all our program providers and mentors for your contribution to the success of the Summer Company program.

Nottawasaga Futures

Greater Barrie Business Enterprise Centre

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

Small Business Centre

Muskoka Small Business Centre

Brampton Small Business Enterprise Centre

Brantford-Brant Business Enterprise Resource Centre

Leeds and Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre

Caledon Small Business Enterprise Centre

Waterloo Region Small Business Enterprise Centre

Chatham-Kent Business Enterprise Centre

Business Advisory Centre Northumberland

South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre

Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre

Windsor-Essex Small Business Centre

Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre

Enterprise Temiskaming

Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre

Prescott-Russell Entrepreneurship Centre

Northwest Business Centre

KEDCO Small Business Development Centre

Waterloo Region Small Business Centre

Kawartha Lakes Small Business & Enterprise Centre

Small Business Centre

Markham Small Business Centre

Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre

York Small Business Enterprise Centre

Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre
Niagara Falls

The Business Centre — Nipissing Parry Sound Inc.
North Bay

Enterprise Toronto
North York

Halton Region Small Business Centre

Orangeville & Area Small Business Enterprise Centre

Invest Ottawa Entrepreneurship

Business Enterprise Centre
Owen Sound

The Business Centre — Nipissing Parry Sound Inc.
Parry Sound

Enterprise Renfrew County

Business Advisory Centre

Business Enterprise Centre Saugeen Shores
Port Elgin

Enterprise Renfrew County

Richmond Hill Small Business Enterprise Centre
Richmond Hill

Prescott-Russell Entrepreneurship Centre

Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton

Business Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie

Enterprise Toronto

YMCA of Greater Toronto

Huron Business Centre

Small Business Advisory Centre
Smith Falls

St. Catharines Enterprise Centre
St. Catharines

Elgin / St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre
St. Thomas

Stratford Perth Centre for Business

Regional Business Centre

Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre
Thunder Bay

Business Enterprise Centre

Enterprise Toronto

JVS Toronto

Ryerson University

Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC)

Youth Employment Services (Yes)

Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre

Waterloo Region Small Business Centre

Business Advisory Centre Durham

Windsor-Essex Small Business Centre

Woodstock & Area Small Business Enterprise Centre