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History of Summer Company in Waterloo Region

History of Summer Company in Waterloo Region


In 2001 the Province of Ontario introduced the Summer Company program. The goal of this program was to give students (age 15 – 29) the chance to experience running a business over the summer. In the first year 198 students participated across the province: six from Waterloo Region.


The program has grown. In 2015 there were 33 participants in Waterloo Region and 865 province-wide. Over the 15 years that Waterloo Region Small Business Centre has administered the Summer Company program, a total of 286 students successfully complete the program.


Since taking on the role of Program Coordinator in 2002, I have personally seen over 250 students successfully complete the program.  Some students have tremendous success with their business and continue running it; eventually evolving it into a full time career. Others enjoy financial success and use the money to help pay for school or fulfil other dreams. There have been participants that have used the experience gathered in the program to enter other business accelerator program—eventually taking their dreams to the next level. Some students get bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and go on to start other businesses. There are also some who realize that entrepreneurship is not for them but use the tools and lessons learned to enhance their lives and resumes.



Past Participants


Ian Lochbihler, of Waterloo Networks, started Waterloo Networks in his dorm room in 2002 and has continued running the business full time since. Ian continues to participate in the program in a mentor role.


Michael Litt used his experience of operating Redwoods Media in 2010 to then apply to Y-Combinator (a business accelerator program in California). Michael and his co-founder would eventually Vidyard – which now employs over 80 people and is the world’s leading video marketing platform.


High school student Matthew Jessop earned over $20,000 in revenue with his summer property maintenance business The Lawn Ranger in 2015! Currently at his first year of university, Matthew intends to expand operations this summer.


Roxanne Rabalais ran web design company, Purple Pony Productions in 2007 with mixed results. After university the lessons learned that summer allowed her to open Roxanne Rabalais Design & Branding and in 2013 Roxanne launched clothing company Spiced Equestrian!


James Hobson made and sold handmade items made out of chainmail as The Chainmail Kid in the summer of 2005. James credits his Summer Company experience to opening his eyes to the possibilities of entrepreneurship and has since gone on to create Hacksmith Industries! James is current garnering world-wide attention for his development of this exoskeleton!



Join the Program


Participants in the program receive funding (up to $3,000), training and mentoring. They first have to come up with a business idea that they can run over the summer. After the business idea is created, students must submit a business plan outlining how the business will operate over the summer –this is the basis of being accepted into the program.


Once the online application is finalized, students are interviewed and coached prior to launching their businesses. Once 

accepted into the program, all participants will operate their businesses over their summer break on a full time basis. To guide them along the way, students attend bi-weekly mentoring sessions and are given training opportunities.


The deadline for applications is May 6th, 2016 but submissions can be approved upon submission.



If you meet the program criteria, or know someone who does, visit us at www.waterlooregionsmallbusiness.ca/summercompany or contact me direct rob.clement@kitchener.ca or 519-741-2200 ext. 7986

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