Written by Andrew Seale

This past winter, Adam Simonini faced a conundrum. His masters in philosophy given him a foundation for critical thinking but the labour outlook was grim.

“The realities of the workplace are changing (and my schooling) didn't seem very applicable to what most employers are looking for ” he laments. But he knew he had options. “I've always been pretty good with computers and I just wanted to start learning to code.”

Simonini had a friend who’d taught himself how to program. Plus, he’d been building WordPress sites for two years with HTML/CSS and started learning java script in February. He’s already been part of a few startups, including one which aims “to develop an app for finding restaurants based on geolocations.”

Then a friend told him about Summer Company, a joint Province of Ontario and City of Toronto’s Summer Company mentors and funding program for students looking to start their own business over the course of the summer. Since Simonini was going into his first year of Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto in the fall, he was eligible for the Summer Company program and enrolled to start his own web development business.

The funding was enticing, admits Simonini.

“I didn't have to have a full-time job over the summer” he says. “It allowed me to have a good story and piece for mind for myself that I was moving forward in the right direction –  having the company allowed me to continue learning every day and working every day.”

He used the startup money to pay for his own web hosting, hardware and marketing materials. “(Plus) I was actually able to buy some business clothing for myself.”

The program also gave him a new skill set. Through Summer Company he was able to build a proper business plan, register his company, and learn to forecast income and track expenses. It also touched down on marketing. By the end of the summer, Simonini’s Creative Designs Toronto had eight clients with a few more still “in the works.”

He credits the program to giving him the room to build out his portfolio of clients.

“It helped me stay focused and motivated and be confident that I was doing something good for myself,” he says. “I was meeting a lot of people, I was getting the training and funding and so I could just put the blinders on and stay focused on creating.”