As fitting as it would have been, Leah Frampton didn’t stand on the north shore of Rice Lake early Thursday evening (September 14), hands on her hips, and loudly proclaim for all to hear, “I did it!”
As one of seven local entrepreneurs sharing in $25,000 in grant dollars awarded as a result of their participation in the second intake of the Starter Company Plus program, Frampton’s enthusiasm was more restrained than that but was no less infectious.
“I’m really proud of what I was able to accomplish; I’m proud of the business plan I was able to create and I feel really confident going forward,” said Frampton, whose home-based Peterborough business Green Leaf Baby creates stylish, practical and “geek-inspired” handmade product for babies, moms, and tots.
Open to entrepreneurs over age 18, not enrolled in school and looking to either start a business or expand an existing business in operation five years or less, the Starter Company Plus program is delivered by Peterborough & tge Kawarthas Business Advisory Centre with funding from the Province of Ontario.
The program guides entrepreneurs through a series of workshops to support their creation of a formalized business plan.
At the program’s conclusion, each pitches his or her business idea to a panel of judges for the chance to secure a share of the grant dollars available.
“This program has been designed to support entrepreneurs with the resources that they need to grow,” wrote Suzanne McCrimmon, Director of Business Development with Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development in a prepared release.
“In this particular intake, we are pleased to see a theme of businesses that focus on growing healthier communities and families in the region.”
Along with Frampton, the following were introduced at Elmhirst’s Resort near Keene as grant money recipients:
- Lynn Franscio of Elixir in the Township of Douro Dummer, which provides health-conscious consumers with a source for organic, vegan, and vegetarian food products.
- Claudia Foung of iMake iMove in the City of Peterborough, which offers unique after-school services for children ages 6 to 12, blending STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum with creative and artistic flair.
- Maureen Brand of Garden of Eden in the Municipality of Trent Lakes, an eco-friendly business which supplies reusable cloth menstrual and incontinence products, baby products, and household cloth products.
- Sarah Susnar of Play Cafe in the City of Peterborough, which provides a cozy place for children and their caregivers to create, explore, play and connect with new friends, expanding their program offering.
- Jane Davidson of Best Write Communications in the City of Peterborough, a communications specialist developing and delivering online courses and coaching.
- Lisa Torres of Access Homeopathy in the City of Peterborough, a homeopathic family health care practice.
“There was really a good sense of community between all the participants; everyone helped each other out and we all pitched (our businesses) to each other and gave each other really great feedback,” says Frampton, who will use her grant money to purchase an industrial sewing machine to “create a lot more a lot faster” as well buy a packaging system that will allow her to print labels as opposed to doing them by hand.
“It (pitching her business) was terrifying. I’m not a great public speaker. I felt like I was going to barf going in but the judges were warm and friendly and very welcoming.”
For Davidson, whose business aims to coach not-for-profits and small-to medium-sized technical businesses on how to produce their own content for their respective websites and media releases, as well as “unfreeze” those frozen in the writing process, Starter Company Plus’ value laid in its forcing her to do her homework to be successful.
“Everything starts with a great idea but then you’ve got to go and prepare a business plan and do the numbers thing,” she said, adding she too came away impressed with the we-are-in-this-together spirit exhibited by all 15 entrepreneurs enrolled in the program.
“Nobody thought about the grant money during the process. It wasn’t in our heads. Because everybody was so different in terms of what they were offering, there was a generosity of spirit.
“I was panicking over my business plan and (Puppeteria owner) Shelley King rescued me. Everybody helped everybody else. They didn’t say support each other but somehow by osmosis that came through.”
While each grant recipient wore a huge smile at the gathering, Starter Company Plus program co-ordinator Madeleine Hurrell was beaming from start to finish.
“I am incredibly proud right now,” said Hurrell.
“For some of them, coming in, they were afraid to speak in front of people. To be here tonight with strangers, being able to speak confidently and concisely and eloquently about their businesses, that makes me really proud. The networking, working the room…to see them doing that is very satisfying.”
The third intake for Starter Company Plus is now open, with an application deadline of September 29th. Those interested in applying are required to attend a “Starting Point” workshop, either September 18th or 25th, 2:30 to 4 p.m., at the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce’s Board Room (175 George St. N., Peterborough).
“We’ve had great attendance at our first two workshops,” said Hurrell.
“It’s just a question of keeping the momentum going and reminding folks that the program is for entrepreneurs in the city as well as the county.”
For full details on the Starter Company Plus program, including program description, eligibility requirements, terms and conditions for the program, visit peterboroughed.ca/starter-company-plus.