On April 28, nine entrepreneurs will be pitching their business plans to a panel of six local business leaders at Medicine Hat College.
The “Dragon’s Den” style event sees students from the JMH & Co. Start-up Company Program compete for grants of up to $10,000 to contribute to their start-up costs.
Now in its seventh year, the program guides Medicine Hat College students through the process of starting a business, from writing a business plan, to cutting the red ribbon.
The Start-up Company Program is an initiative of local accounting firm JMH & Co., designed to support entrepreneurship and job creation in Medicine Hat.
Established in 1916, JMH & Co.’s accountants specialize in agribusiness, financial reporting, estate planning and taxes.
While the grant money is important, the Start-up Company Program provides mentorship throughout the process, plus accounting services to the winning pitches to ensure the entrepreneurs see success.
Since 2010, 11 of 17 businesses that were cultivated in the program are still operating. The 65% success rate surpasses national statistics, which indicate that most start-ups close their doors after the first year. In the long term, 51% of start-ups survive the first five years, according to Industry Canada.
Drew Jackiw, a partner at JMH & Co., has mentored student entrepreneurs from the Start-up Company Program every year, and this will be his first year as a panelist.
“I enjoy working with the students and seeing their excitement as they work on their business plan and follow through with creating it,” said Jackiw, who knows the combination of creating a solid plan and the drive to execute it is crucial to starting a successful business.
Justine Man is one entrepreneur whose plan and passion earned a $10,000 grant towards her start-up, Little Owl Learning Centre, when she made her pitch last year. She is in the process of expanding the business and doubling her staff at the local childcare centre, which provides Reggio-inspired programming for children aged six months to five years old.
“I am extremely happy that I participated in that program and I wouldn’t be where I am without it,” said Mann.