Budding entrepreneurs Connor Minielly and Eric Ladouceur are receiving a financial boost toward their innovative eCo-op project to start the new year.
The second-year Computer Programmer Analyst students, and co-founders of Bookshop Interactive, are the proud recipients of the inaugural Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) Fellowship Fund.
“Bookshop Interactive is a web and software development studio,” said Minielly. “We plan to establish ourselves as storytellers for the internet. Far too often, we see website after website made in a generic website builder that makes everything blur together into a sea of look-a-likes and feel-a-likes. We talk to our clients to get a sense of who they are, what drives them, and what their personality is. We take that and help them tell their story online – whether it be a new website from scratch, a site face lift, new software so the company has the right tools to help achieve a better ending, or a mobile app to share their story with people on the go.”
During their eCo-op the students have been finding, networking and working with a variety of people. They’ve also attended multiple industry events to expand their network. “We’ve been meeting clients from all over, both local and international,” said Ladouceur. “As a result, we’ve sent out proposals to organizations and are currently engaged in the bidding process.”
They’ve also been honing their business management skills and completing the necessary tasks required to get their business up and running smoothly, such as getting their books and taxes in order. “There’s still much to learn about things our clients may need and how we can reach out to people we can help best,” said Minielly.
The students have big plans for Bookshop Interactive. “Ideally, we’d like to be part of the development of a meaningful tech community here in Barrie, one that meets and interacts and grows with the vibrancy of similar communities in Toronto and Waterloo,” said Minielly. “We want to be proponents for alternative and cutting-edge software/web development in the area.
This fellowship, made possible by Georgian’s Social Innovation Fund, connects students who are taking the eCo-op program with funds to support them as they transform their idea into a business. An eCo-op is an entrepreneurial co-op where a student can start and grow a business during the course of one semester,
Students accepted into an eCo-op receive support, resources and mentorship from HBEC. Two fellowships will be awarded each semester. The intention of the fund is to encourage students to take time to go through business planning, development and potentially launch their initiative while they’re still in school.
“Typically access to capital is a problem for students as they launch their ideas,” says Sara Bentham, Manager, Programs and Partnerships, HBEC. “It’s our hope this funding will encourage those who have an entrepreneurial mindset to take the leap into starting their own business.”
Students accepted into the eCo-op program can apply for the fellowship each semester. Two successful candidates are selected by a committee that includes business owners, mentors and support personnel.