Entrepreneurs find sweet spot for cold treat venture
Take some sweet ice, a tweet or two, some titters, and before you know it, two young Hamilton entrepreneurs have managed to raise $2,450 out of the $4,000 they need for their business — and they still have 21 days to go until their fundraising deadline.
Meg Makins and Lindsay Churchman, both 25, launched their Sweet Ice snow cone business last summer as a bit of a lark. The pair figured it would satisfy their craving for a creative outlet and support Art Crawl, other businesses, festivals, and just be plain fun to do.
Both already have full-time day jobs — Makins at a nonprofit, and Churchman as a mortgage broker.
They make snow cones the old-fashioned way by using local produce (Bennett’s in Ancaster is a frequent stop) to make their own syrups. They’re served in a paper cup.
Makins and Churchman would show up at a wedding or event, set up the snow cone maker and bottles of syrup, and heat up the party with some ice.
Then things started to snowball.
First of all, there was the donation of a 1962 Shasta camping trailer, a piece of equipment they longed for but never thought would appear.
It needed a good $4,000 in renovations, but while the first year was a good one (they broke even) it wasn’t good enough to spend thousands on a trailer and a dream.
The two decided to try to raise capital by resorting to bloggers. They call it Operation Shasta.
About a week ago, they launched an online fundraising campaign to pay for the Shasta’s renovation and take their business on the road.
The city is still scratching its head over how to licence their kind of business model, but the pair are pretty good-natured about it, said Churchman.
“We’re working really closely with the city to get our licensing straightened out,” she said.
Meanwhile, Makins has put together a cute little video — warning content contains giggling — and started tweeting.
Three weeks to go and they’re 60 per cent toward their goal.
“We are really surprised,” she said. “We understand if people can’t support us financially, so we just asked for them to talk about it. We feel very supported.”
Their venture was nominated in the packed Rookie of the Year category at the Tourism Hamilton awards. There were 12 nominees and fellow mobile food startup Gorilla Cheese took the prize.
In addition to tweeting and Facebook posts, the pair will also be participating in this month’s Art Crawl, with an after-party event at The Baltimore House on King William Street on Friday, April 13.
“People can come and either cry with us because we’re not close to our target or we can cheer together because we made it,” said Makins.This article is for personal use only courtesy of TheSpec.com – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.
National Conference on Urban Renewal Moving to Hamilton
Hamilton, ON – April 2, 2012 – Downtown Hamilton will be a living laboratory for best practices in urban renewal when the Strategy Institute holds its fourth annual Transforming and Revitalizing Downtown Summit in Hamilton (June 6-7th, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Hamilton). This is the first time the event has ever been out of Downtown Toronto.
Click here to read the full release (PDF)
Mac students to get employment tour of the city
It’s the business version of Hamilton’s art crawl.
A first-ever employment crawl hosted by McMaster University’s Student Success Centre was inspired by the popularity of the James Street North event.
The goal of the April 25-26 event is to introduce the city and its employers to McMaster students.
“I joined a number of community committees and everyone was talking about wanting to keep Mac grads in our city,” said Gisela Oliveira, employment services co-ordinator at the Student Success Centre.
But many students see their time in Hamilton as a “pit stop. They’re here to get an education, but they see Toronto as the place to start a career,” she said.
“They don’t really know what Hamilton has to offer. When I tell students I went skating at the pier at the outdoor rink, they look at me like I’m crazy … We want to show them there is more to Hamilton than Westdale.”
So two buses each day will take final-year Mac students and recent grads to visit a series of employers in manufacturing, technology, health, social services, creative industries, government and finance.
There are still a few places open for employers interested in taking part and registration for students is ongoing.
Employers are asked to offer a tour of their facility and a presentation to their student visitors about present or future job opportunities and why Hamilton is the place they’ve chosen to do business.
Hamilton’s emergency services, police, fire and ambulance are taking part. Students will get a tour of the city’s training academy on the south Mountain and will hear about opportunities for jobs in those services.
Rosemarie Auld, manager of human resources with Hamilton Police Service, says the department hires from all educational backgrounds and is constantly recruiting for police officers as well as a wide range of civilian positions.
The service will hire 25 officers by the end of the year and is looking for clerical and human resources staff, emergency dispatchers and IT specialists.
Auld says McMaster grads are attractive to the department because of their communication skills, their diversity and their existing ties to the city.
“If we can retain students who are graduating from Mac with careers in Hamilton, it’s positive for the city,” she said.
Cobalt Connects (formerly the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts) will also host the student tour. Steph Seagram, community connector lead, says her goal is to show students how their studies at the university can link with creative industries and entrepreneurs across the city.
Seagram hopes the employment crawl will inspire students to explore the city on their own once they see what it can offer.
“I commend Mac for doing this, for getting students off the campus and connecting them with people in the city. It’s fabulous.”
Other employers confirmed to take part are: Stryker Canada, YWCA downtown Hamilton, North Hamilton Community Health Centre, City of Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre, McMaster Innovation Park and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Oliveira doesn’t know of another university doing a similar employment outreach event.
The goal is to follow this up each year, perhaps eventually offering a city orientation to first-year students, says Oliveira.
“It’s important to get them early because by their final year, their plans are made. Nothing is going to change their mind. But if we start in year one showing them what the city is about and the opportunities that are here, we can convince them to stay.”
The employment crawl also includes a two-minute video contest in which students are asked to submit what they like about Hamilton. The winner will be showcased at the closing network event at Theatre Aquarius on April 26.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
Waste hauler is Hamilton’s outstanding small business
An industrial waste hauling firm now expanding into the GTA is Hamilton’s outstanding small business for 2011.
Joseph Haulage Inc., of Binbrook, was honoured Monday at a Hamilton Chamber of Commerce evening gala at Carmen’s, which attracted more than 350 city business leaders.
The Sheraton Hotel was the winner in the large business category.
“We are all thrilled,” said Mirella Brun del Re, executive meeting specialist at the hotel, who accepted that award.
“Everyone worked so hard during the renovations.”
Owner Darko Vranich plans to upgrade the lobby within a year, following renovations to all the rooms.
Chamber judge Peter Ipema said the Sheraton stood out for its innovative and creative rewards for employees.
Joseph Haulage also focuses on employees, said president Geoffrey Joseph.
“We’ve invested a lot in safety and training and hiring. It’s the key to our success,” said Joseph.
Joseph Haulage grew revenues by $15 million between 2010 and 2011 and now operates 37 trucks, employs 30 people and more than 250 contract drivers.
The company focuses on employees, says Joseph, by promoting from within and paying tuition for staff to attend college or university.
The company has landed large contracts for Pan Am Games construction, TTC projects and the expansion of the 407, said Joseph, whose father Joseph K. Joseph founded the company in 1975.
Where there were 25 competitors 10 years ago, there are now just three, he said.
“We decided we would never win clients by price, but always by service. “
City developer Steve Kulakowsky was named the city’s young entrepreneur of 2011. He is a partner in Core Urban Inc., which is currently redeveloping a former school in the James Street North area into upscale condos called the Whitton Lofts.
“It is an honour to be included with Chris Farias,” Kulakowsky said of his fellow nominee, who founded marketing firm Kitestring.
“He does so much in the community, it’s an honour to be included in the same breath as him.”
Kulakowsky, a Hillfield Strathallan College and McMaster University graduate, attributed his success to his business partners and mentors David and Maureen Sauve.
“That’s something this community does so well, mentors its up-and-comers.”
Ipema said he was impressed by Kulakowsky’s willingness to take risks in buying properties.
“It really is fun to do this,” Ipema said of sitting on the judging committee. “Hamilton is just rife with entrepreneurship. We are so ready for growth in this city.”
ECE Software Solutions Inc., which saw its profits grow by 364 per cent, won the communication technology award. In one year revenues soared $300,000, by reaching out to domestic and foreign markets. The company now does business in more than 50 countries.
“I started off with $20 in my pocket and a dream,” chief operating officer Prahalad Ponna said after accepting the award.
“The Internet made it all possible, so I’d like to thank the Internet first and everyone else later.”
During the evening, chamber president Louise Dompierre announced that the business organization will shift its headquarters from the waterfront to the Standard Life building downtown.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina presented awards from the city’s economic development department for business retention and business attraction.
Awards went to Hamilton veterans Fox 40/ Fluke Transportation and Bermingham Foundation Solutions and to newcomers Canada Bread, and animation company Pipeline Studios.
“Thank you for getting this city to a place it’s never been before,” the mayor told those in attendance.
The night’s other awards went to:
Ironman (15 or more years in business) — Agro Zaffiro law firm
Century award: Forsythe Lubrication
Nonprofit: Victoria Park Community Homes
All the award winners will be forwarded for consideration at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce awards.
The gala capped off a daylong event, the city’s first Celebration of Business. The day included a Salute to Small Business luncheon hosted by the city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre, and the economic development department’s recognition of property excellence in the city’s business improvement areas.
Ron Buist, former marketing director of Tim Hortons and creator of the Roll Up the Rim to Win promotion, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator
City BIA businesses get nod for sparkle, looks and helping out
The city’s Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) were celebrated in an awards luncheon on Monday with recognition offered for façade improvement, the sparkle award (ongoing maintenance) and business/community partnerships.
The façade improvement is a salute to those businesses who have put a good face forward in the past year. The sparkle award is recognition for those businesses which have strong ongoing maintenance strategies. The partnership award recognizes a property or business owner for their involvement in community initiatives.
Deb Spence, with the city’s economic development department said this may be demonstrated through a business’s involvement with the BIA.
The following businesses received awards:
Hanley’s Loft – Façade Improvement
The Purple Pony Ice Cream Shop – Business/Community Partnership
Barton Village BIA
West Avenue Residences – Façade Improvement
Detour Roasters Café – Façade Improvement
Terraware Hemp & Eco Shoppe – Sparkle Award
International Village BIA
Modify Your Closet – Sparkle Award
Dodsworth & Brown Funeral Home – Façade Improvement
Locke Street BIA
Lulu & Lavigne Home Studio – Sparkle Award
Ottawa Street BIA
L.G. Wallace Funeral Home – Sparkle Award
Allsorts Gallery – Façade Improvement
Taylor’s Plumbing – Façade Improvement
Turtle Jacks – Façade Improvement
Westdale Village BIA
The Villager Gentlemen’s Clothier – Sparkle Award
Global Village Market – Business/Community Partnership
Stoney Creek BIA
The Building at 28 King Street East – Façade Improvement
Downtown Hamilton BIA
Allegra Hamilton – Business/Community Partnership
Grant Thornton – Façade Improvement
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
McMaster gets $3.5m jolt for electric car battery research
Burlington Conservative MP Mike Wallace made the announcement Tuesday at the A.M. Bourns Science building on the university campus.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) provided $2.3 million, with the remainder coming in cash and in-kind donations from General Motors, Heka Electronics and Bruker Ltd.
Dr. Gillian Goward, an associate professor of chemistry at McMaster, said the funding will help her team explore a new avenue of research.
“It’s a new angle for us,” she said. “It’s about why batteries degrade and what processes lead to cell death.”
Goward said researchers have struggled to find ways to increase the overall efficiency of lithium batteries.
Now the team at McMaster will use magnetic resonance technology to examine how the lithium batteries operate while in use.
“Until now most research has focused on examining the batteries after they’ve degraded, this will allow us to differentiate the local environment … on a pristine battery,” she said.
Nick Markettos, assistant vice-president of research partnerships at McMaster, said the new project is an exciting complement to the rapidly growing body of research in the auto sector.
“Material (science) is traditionally an area of research at McMaster — steel, plastics and polymers — but we’ve also been moving very rapidly in auto powertrain technology,” he said.
That expansion of research is manifested in the current construction of the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), expected to be complete by the January 2013 at a total cost of $26 million.
The centre will be housed in 88,000 square feet of space at the Careport centre at McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Road.
Markettos said Goward’s research could not be housed at the Innovation Park site due to the sensitivity of the instruments she uses.
Like Tuesday’s announcement, auto sector research will bring together academic and industry scientists to develop new technologies.
Justin Gammage, chief scientist at GM Canada, said ultimately the auto company hopes Goward’s team will help them quickly evaluate the potential for new lithium batteries with a goal of creating a more efficient, long-lasting and less expensive model.
“We are looking for tools that more rapidly determine whether a battery is viable or not,” he said.
Markettos said research into such a critical problem in the development of electric cars is not just important to McMaster’s scientists but to the province.
“We are working very hard to make sure the car companies in Ontario have the research and development they need to remain competitive. We’re not just focused on the jobs on Longwood Road, but the thousands of jobs in Ontario tied to the auto sector.”
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
LIUNA investing $3m in another CN station ballroom
Work has started on a multi-million dollar expansion of the LIUNA Station banquet centre.
The popular Hamilton site, in the former CN Rail station on James Street North, is getting a new ballroom in the area where passenger trains used to disgorge travellers. More recently the space housed the offices of the now-defunct Settlement and Immigration Services Organization – SISO.
In a video, LIUNA Station general manager Vico Rosatone said the new King George Ball Room should be finished by the end of May and is already booked through the rest of the year.
“We started getting bookings for this space even before we put a shovel in the ground,” he said.
Rosatone said the project will cost $2-$3 million “once it’s all furnished. We’re not going to cut any corners here.”
The project is another investment in Hamilton by the Labourers International Union of North America, which also operates a banquet centre and trades school in Stoney Creek, a seniors’ residence downtown and was the force behind the renovation of the Lister Block in the city’s core.
“LIUNA has always been committed to Hamilton,” Rosatone said. “For us it’s not a question of will we invest in Hamilton, it’s only when and how can we do it.”
Women get down to business at entrepreneurial showcase
Sarah Powell envisions a day when harried parents can drop by her shop to pick up a bag lunch for their child on the way to school.
She’s launched The Healthy Lunch Bag, which cooks and packages healthy meals for corporate meetings, special events and daycares.
Powell was one of the featured businesses at a sold-out entrepreneurial showcase Thursday aimed at women dubbed Success in the City. The feminine touch was everywhere, from the tagline on the poster (Pastels beat a power tie), to the babies bouncing on knees to the take-home cupcakes for each attendee.
The inaugural event, organized by the city’s economic development department, was aimed to coincide with International Women’s Day. It featured a range of speakers, plenty of advice and attracted a mix of people, from university students to business veterans to those pondering a move to entrepreneurship.
“This is long overdue,” said Kristin Huigenbos, co-ordinator of the city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre.
“We needed to take the opportunity to connect our women entrepreneurs and identify their needs, challenges and struggles.”
Powell said the experience of other women shared at the event convinced her that she can’t do everything by herself.
“I need to get help with my business plan. Actually, I don’t even have a business plan that’s written down.”
She also learned that it’s normal to doubt yourself and your idea early on.
“That’s what happens when you try to do it all.”
Powell provides three- and four-piece lunches for $10 and $13. All the food comes from local farmers’ markets. After leasing a commercial kitchen, Powell is turning her attention to marketing her business. Her goal is a storefront location and a presence in local schools.
Powell, who has a diploma in holistic nutrition, got the idea for a business while staying at home with her young daughter.
“I figured there had to be market for lunch time corporate catering that’s not pizza or unhealthy stuff.”
One of the success stories of the day was Momstown, an 18-chapter nationwide organization that connects mothers of children under five. Momstown hosts an online community for moms but also organizes events, play groups and programming in the arts, math, fitness, nutrition, play and literacy.
“Some of our moms are new to Hamilton but a lot are career women who had a social network but are now on maternity leave and craving that social construct,” said Andrea Kovacs, owner of the Hamilton chapter of Momstown.
The company makes money through linking advertisers with the lucrative and powerful mommy demographic who will be loyal to companies which serve their needs, says Kovacs. Moms then share that information with each other.
“We call it the word of mom,” says Kovacs.
Jennifer Blakeley, founder of Alphabet Photography was the keynote speaker. She shared her tales of leveraging celebrity endorsements and innovative marketing stunts, along with her mistakes and stumbles in building her Niagara photography company.
Her advice included: get a good lawyer to look over every deal; think bigger than yourself; risk rejection in seeking partnerships; and embrace social media.
“When people feel like they know you, they feel they can trust you and they will spend their money with you.”
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator. Photo credit: Barry Gray, Hamilton Spectator.
Michael Marini with CHML – March 6, 2012
Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic Development joined CHML’s Scott Thompson to chat about recent Hamilton investment stories.
Click here to listen.
Where local eats meet
Papa Leo’s cooks up fresh new partnerships.
Leo Santos brings another dimension to the term “eat local.”
Not only does his Hamilton restaurant serve locally raised food whenever possible, it also focuses on other homegrown businesses as suppliers.
Santos opened Papa Leo’s, on Concession Street just a block west of Juravinski Hospital, some 18 months ago with the idea that he would have it reflect the city and its agriculture.
“It came from me being here and wanting to open a place based on what is available locally,” Santos says.
That means he does his own sourcing and shopping — no wholesalers, thank you — and his menu offers “what I can get locally when I can get it.” So the coffee is a special roast from Red Hill Coffee Trade on Lancing Drive on the east Mountain, the bacon is cured by Super Sausage on Stone Church Road, the baked goods are fresh from the ovens of Cake & Loaf on Dundurn Street, the custom-made chourico sausage arrives from Alves Meats on MacNab Street North and every drop of dairy hails from Hewitt’s in Hagersville. All that local food is cooked by Chanta Hack, a graduate of Hamilton’s Liaison College. Even the décor of Papa Leo’s shouts Hamilton, thanks to local multimedia artist Amanda McIntyre.
“Once the local farmers’ markets open, I’m there,” Santos says, adding he frequents the ones where he deals directly with the farmers themselves, especially the Hamilton Mountain Farmers’ Market across the street on Viewpoint Avenue.
Papa Leo’s is open only for breakfast and lunch, although dinner is in Santos’s business plan for this year. He also does private catering.
The reception to the concept has been very positive, Santos says. “People are ecstatic. This is what people are looking for in my community here on Concession and elsewhere in Hamilton.”
Friendship has a lot to do with how Santos developed his business. He worked as a waiter at the Ancaster Mill along with McIntyre before they pursued their own career paths.
McIntyre’s most visible presence is at Papa Leo’s, where the walls are adorned with four large close-up photos of fruits and vegetables she took at markets in Dundas, Ancaster and on . “Leo has been fantastic. He knew I was an emerging artist and needed exposure,” McIntyre says.
Jason Hofing, who owns Red Hill Coffee Trade, visited Papa Leo’s shortly after it opened to pitch his product and the fit was right. The bonus was that two young Hamilton entrepreneurs were able to team up and support each other.
Hofing and his wife, Rachel, started roasting coffee three years ago, concentrating entirely on fair trade and organic beans. They buy raw beans from all over the world, then roast them fresh in small batches for customers. “Leo gets the freshest possible. I roast his coffee on Wednesday and he gets it Thursday morning,” Hofing says.
Papa Leo’s Restaurant
638 Concession St.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Red Hill Coffee Trade
75 Lancing Dr.
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, noon to 6.30 p.m.
RHCT also has a coffee bar at the downtown Hamilton Farmers’ Market, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
1151 Stone Church Rd. E.
Hours: Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cake & Loaf Bakery
321 Dundurn St. S.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday, Monday
157 MacNab St. N.
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hewitt’s Dairy Bar
4210 Highway 6, Hagersville
Hours: Daily, 9.30 a.m. to 11 p.m.