Student entrepreneurs offered funding, mentorship opportunities through Summer Company

Kingston Economic Development’s Summer Company program for student entrepreneurs is open for applications for the 2024 season as of Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2024. Photo via WOC in Tech.

Enterprising students aged 15 to 29 are being invited to “embark on their entrepreneurial journey” through Kingston Economic Development’s Summer Company program.

Applications are now open for the 2024 Summer Company program, which offers students an opportunity to jumpstart that entrepreneurial journey by starting and managing their own businesses this summer, the local economic development organization explained. Those ambitious and innovative students selected for the program will receive up to $3,000 in funding, as well as business training from local business leaders.

“Summer Company is a program that gives us the opportunity to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in our community. We identify these students who are interested in entrepreneurship, who want to explore and find out if there is a potential career opportunity for them in the future as entrepreneurs,” said Norman Musengimana, Business Development Manager for Start-ups and Entrepreneurships with Kingston Economic Development.

“This is why we love this program. And this is what drives us every day to come and work to support this next generation of founders.”

According to a press release from Kingston Economic Development, the funding and mentorship offered through the Summer Company program facilitates the “transformation” of students’ “entrepreneurial aspirations” into “tangible ventures.”

Kingston Economic Development shared the reflections of Cal Bowry, the father of a 2023 Summer Company participant.

“The Summer Company program has taught my son powerful business, life and leadership skills that are not taught in school. The program encouraged him to dream, to develop a vision, to plan it out, and to bring that vision to life. He has built a revenue-generating business from just an idea he hatched eight months ago. Through Summer Company, he has gained firsthand experience in business planning, importing, construction, zoning, insurance, digital marketing, customer service, and most importantly, investing in himself, all before reaching the age of 18,” Bowry said.

“Overwhelmingly positive customer feedback has given him a new sense of self-confidence and motivation that will continue to drive him in the future. Thanks to Summer Company and its mentors, my son can look back and point to a successful personal accomplishment. What a great way to support young entrepreneurs in our community.”

Bowry’s son, Josh Bowry, launched Red Bridge Camping last summer. Red Bridge Camping is a site “nestled between the serene towns of Tweed and Madoc,” and “offers a unique and affordable outdoor experience” for couples and young families seeking a taste of rural Ontario’s tranquil beauty.

Read more about the 2023 Summer Company participants and the ventures they founded in Kingstonist’s coverage here.

Those participating in Summer Company 2024 will “receive coaching and training from experienced business mentors, participate in meetings with local business leaders, and complete all program requirements for establishing and operating their business,” Kingston Economic Development detailed. As this happens throughout the coming summer, participants garner networking opportunities and develop connections with both well established and celebrated business owners, and fellow young entrepreneurs alike, one 2023 Summer Company participant explained.

“During the business bootcamp, I had the privilege to connect with young entrepreneurs and learn about their unique businesses. Interacting with them was valuable, as it broadened my perspective and allowed room for future collaboration,” said 2023 participant Mason Rice, Founder of Rice Photography.

“Additionally, I gained practical sales skills and marketing strategies that I plan on implementing soon. I am excited to apply my knowledge and take my photography business to the next level!”

Applications for the 2024 Summer Company program will be accepted until May 17, 2024, with early intake applications for post-secondary students due on April 1, 2024, Kingston Economic Development said. The local organization will host a virtual information session on Thursday, Mar. 21, 2024, and an in-person information session on Thursday, Apr. 11, 2024. Those information sessions are meant to “support students with the application process, as well as answer any questions they might have,” Kingston Economic Development said.

‘’Summer Company is designed to be a stepping stone to an entrepreneurial career. It provides an environment to try at entrepreneurship, with the protection of a safety net. Through my experience coordinating the program, the bonds made between the participants and their mentors last forever,” shared Simon Denford, Business Programs and Community Outreach Coordinator with Kingston Economic Development.

“With the Summer Company program, the funding is the least of what you get out of it. I wish I knew about the program when I was in high school.’’

More information on the Summer Company Program, applications, and registration for the information sessions can be found on the Kingston Economic Development Summer Company webpage.

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