For Dash Bylykbashi, it’s easy to throw himself into his work. When he’s DJing a wedding, he moves and grooves right along with the guests. “I really get into it. I’m dancing the whole time,” he says. “That’s the reason people love my services.”

In 2014 the Aurora entrepreneur—known as “DJ Dash”—launched his business, which provides music, lighting and MC services for weddings, fundraisers, corporate parties and other special events. Since then, Bylykbashi has worked for more than 120 clients.

But as his business was growing, his sound equipment was aging. “My 300-watt speakers just weren’t cutting it anymore. The ones I needed cost about $1,200 each,” he says. He also needed a screen and projector and wanted to up his “wow factor” by being able to offer clients special strobe-effect lights.

For help, he turned to the York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC) and was accepted into the Starter Company (now Starter Company Plus) program, which YSBEC administers through funding from the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth. The program provides funding, professional mentoring and other assistance to Ontario residents who want to start or expand a business in the province.

“The program was more work than I had expected, but it was totally worth it,” says Bylykbashi, who qualified for $5,000 in financial assistance. “The funding was the main reason I started the program, but having gone through it, I’ve realized how much the mentors helped me.”

One of the mentors, for instance, guided him in conducting detailed market research, which enabled him to pinpoint his target audience—women aged 20 to 35 who had “liked” a particular Canadian wedding blog. “That turned my target audience from millions to 300,000 people,” says Bylykbashi. As a result of the fine-tuning, his online advertising campaign generated significantly more leads than he had expected.

The mentor also encouraged him to add to his DJ Dash website. Bylykbashi frequently gets five-star reviews on WeddingWire—an online marketplace for engaged couples and wedding vendors—so he added links to those customer reviews to his home page. “I needed to showcase those,” he says. “I’ve also linked my Facebook and Instagram accounts to my website so people can see what I’m up to every week.” Engaged couples often book him a year in advance.

From April to October, Bylykbashi has at least four gigs most weeks. He works throughout Southern Ontario and now that he has invested in higher-quality equipment, he can play larger venues.

Looking ahead, Bylykbashi plans to share his expertise with novice DJs on his own YouTube channel, with the aim of monetizing the channel by attracting advertising. He’d also like to do more corporate gigs, like a recent one he did in downtown Toronto for a law firm, where he served as both a game show host and a DJ.

“If I can find more of those high-end clients and spend more of my time making instructional videos, that would be great!” he says.

You can learn more about DJ Dash and continue following this local York Region success story at thedjdash.com.

Sara Bedal is a marketing communications writer and editor in Aurora who helps businesses and organizations communicate more effectively. She can be reached at sbedal@rogers.com.