Local students launching businesses instead of applying for summer jobs

Lauren Carson, Founder of Penni App and Summer Company Program participant. Submitted photo.

Ten students from Kingston have made their way into the Summer Company Program, which will provide their businesses with a $3,000 grant funded by the Ontario government. 

“Having Summer Company connect me with other people in the industry has motivated me to accomplish more than I thought possible!” said Kassandra Greenhalgh, Summer Company participant, and owner of NXT Agency. She also explained what she will be doing with the grant money. “The funding will help me finance my startup costs for a computer that can run animation programs that I can’t currently run on the computer I have now”. 

Elliott McDermott, Founder CustEM Kicks, working on the design process. Submitted photo.

Out of the $3,000 grant amount, up to $1500 is designated for the startup cost, and the remaining funds will be awarded upon successful completion of the program. 

“What I enjoy most about the program is how casual the feel is. We meet weekly and get our work done when on our call but most times it feels like a group of friends sharing ideas,” said Mitchell Blasko, Founder of Show-Off Shorts.

“Summer Company has been incredibly useful in establishing systems and processes to keep me and my business organized,” said Lauren Carson, Founder of Penni.  

Claire Bouvier, Small Business Advisor at Kingston Economic Development Corporation, is managing the cohort of the Summer Company Program. She said that this year is one of the most competitive years for the program and, “it has been amazing to see ingenuity and creativity as we come out of the months in lockdown.”

“I love watching these youth entrepreneurs grow every week during our business workshops and cannot wait to see what they do in the coming month,” said Bouvier.

Participants need to implement their projects substantially according to their business plan, participate in coaching and training, meet with local business mentors as specified, provide documents related to the experience and business operations as required in the guidelines, and meet all program requirements for establishing and operating the business.

“The Summer Company Program helps new business owners develop a strong foundation, setting us up for long term success in more ways than one. I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned through the program to provide the best service possible,” said Jaz Perry, Owner of Jaz Perry Home Service. 

The program has been running successfully since 2001 and is specially designed for students aged 15 to 29 to start and run their businesses. The grant amount aims to provide mentorship and facilitation from the idea to the implementation phase of the company. 

The 10 participants and their ventures in this year’s summer business program include: 

Mitchell Blasko, Founder of Show-Off Shorts, hard at work on his designs. Submitted photo.
  • Model One by Adam Tibi: creates 3D printed objects to help with technological needs. 
  • NXT Agency by Kassandra Greenhalgh: a new marketing agency focused on helping businesses with their digital presence through websites, social media, branding, and more. 
  • CustEM Kicks by Elliott McDermott: a home shoe-painting business, turning plain white athletic shoes into masterpieces worthy of any trendsetter. 
  • Jaz Perry Home Service by Jaz Perry: specializes in three main areas — planning/approvals, maintenance/repairs, and fine woodworking/carpentry. Jaz Perry Home Services fills the gap between the everyday handyman and large-scale contractor.
  • 1000 Island Express by Lyla Hinton: a delivery service to deliver packages directly to cottages, boats, and houses in the Thousand Islands region.
  • Penni by Lauren Carson: Penni is an app designed to centralize local businesses such as artists, makers, and restaurants for easy shopping. 
  • KGA Line Painting by Lukas Kaufman: helping local businesses renovate their rundown parking lot by providing services, including sweeping, new lot layout, and re-striping existing parking lots.
  • Yasa By Liam Hough: bringing yoga sessions at home into the future through virtual instructors driven by computer vision.
  • Z-Paint by Darcy Zeng: a local business specializing in online art for computers and phones like lock screens, screensaver, etc. 
  • Show-Off Shorts by Mitchell Blasko: making stylish, unique shorts that come with an attached bottle opener on the pocket’s zipper. 

For more details about the program, visit: https://www.kingstonecdev.com/summercompany.

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