Every three months we give away $3,000 of grants to help kick-start wannabe entrepreneurs. Vote now for your favourite of the Winter finalists! The top three at 23:59 GMT on 31st Dec will each be awarded $1,000.  For more information on the scheme, previous winners and how to apply please check out the Arbing Blog Entrepreneurship Grants. 

EDIT: Voting is over and the winners have received their grants. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time reading through and weighing each of the 87 applications we had in this round. Choosing just 15 was incredibly difficult and I really do not envy you having to choose just one favourite.

If you were not chosen as a finalist, please do not take that as any reflection on your business. There were many reasons why I didn’t choose a specific business, here are the top three:

  • The applicant wanted to spend most of the budget on paid advertising. This to me is a red flag. Chucking $1,000 at Facebook ads without any way to monetise or sticky the resultant traffic is a very easy way to spend a lot of money without getting anything to show for it.
  • The business needed a much larger cash injection and the $1,000 wouldn’t be enough money to make a big impact.
  • I thought that the business didn’t need the money. There were quite a few application with great ideas and a clearly laid out path to market, that were so achievable I thought they could do it without the grant.

Now on to the voting:

Voting Rules

  • One vote per person. This is limited by IP address and cookie. That means that if there are two people on the same internet connection they only get one vote between them.
  • Voting closes midnight on 31 December 2017 at 23:59 GMT.
  • The top three finalists with the most votes will each receive $1,000 paid via PayPal.
  • You are allowed to promote the competition and get friends/families/strangers to vote for you. You are not allowed to use bots or computer systems to try and game the competition.

EDIT: I have changed the way the poll works s. Now you can only see the results after you have voted so that the voters are not influenced by the current leaderboard.

EDIT2 21 Dec 17. There has been some cheating. Today I have methodically gone through each vote to look for ones that have been cast using an IP hiding service. So far I have found 340 suspicious votes all of which will be removed. I will be contacting the applicants who have a large proportion of those suspicious votes to ask that they and their supporters play fair. 

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 09-09-2017 10:50:52
End date 01-01-2018 00:00:01
Poll Results:
Who Should Win An Entrepreneurship Grant?

Let’s meet the finalists:

Just click on the name to expand and view their full application. Note: the order is random.

Stacy-Marina Guiock - The Proofreading Team

Website: www.theproofreadingteam.com

Firstly, I would like to thank you for the opportunity you are providing to those venturing into the business world. I don’t wish to take up all of your time with a long-drawn story about my life and business – you must have many applications to trawl through, so I will attempt to keep it as brief as possible.

A year ago, I started a proofreading business with the aim of helping students improve their English writing skills. Whilst studying at university, I noticed that many students, particularly international ones, had brilliant minds but found it difficult to communicate their ideas.

To date, we have handled approximately 100 projects. These include theses, dissertations, and assignments of all kinds. This may seem a small number, but given the resources available to me, I was proud to have found even 1 customer. Not only do I proofread assignments, I also offer my customers tailored advice to help them improve on their next project. When I started this venture, I had virtually no money, was working non-stop (7 days a week) and struggled to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Armed with an old laptop, I taught myself the basics of business, spent a month building a website and attempted to build a brand.

The Proofreading Team became more than just a venture for me, it became a full-time job. Some projects mean that I must spend around 30/48 hours working away to make sure I meet deadlines. I absolutely love the feeling of working for myself, but am starting to struggle under the pressures of handling everything on my own, and want to expand. Moreover, I have noticed a fairly sizeable gap in the market – website proofreading. Very often, I have spotted mistakes on websites, which automatically dampens my trust in their reliability. I intend to capitalise on this and reach out to businesses with my services. I assume that they are generally simply oblivious to these errors, and need someone to point them out. That is where my team and I could step in, spending time scanning through websites looking for errors, and provide suggestions on how the English could be improved.

Case in point – I absolutely do not mean to be rude or condescending, however, I did spot a minor typo on your site. I have included a screenshot so that you can fix it 😊. Yes, there are sites like Grammarly, however, even Grammarly has its limits. Its biggest weakness is that it’s a software. It does not have a mind, and struggles to take context into consideration at times. Creativity and thinking outside the box are key when it comes to writing. We are a creative team and provide suggestions and solutions that no software would be able to output based on a few algorithms.

The grant could not only help me expand my business, it could also change my life.

Most of the money I have made this past year has gone back into the business in the form of website and designer fees, equipment costs (my laptop gave up halfway through the year), and very basic advertisement. Although this has helped to obtain new customers, it was not enough to make a real difference. If I was to get the grant,

I would use it for:

– Rebranding

I used a portion of this year’s profits to design and print out posters, and well as to be recommended by various university societies. This yielded very limited results, but was a learning curve for me. After much research, I realised that building a good brand is paramount to effective advertising. This is why this time around, I would invest more into rebranding, including streamlining the company website, revamping the logo and generally refocusing the brand image.

– eBook

I am currently in the process of drafting up an eBook that I want to make available for free. This book will be based on the most common mistakes that I have found throughout my proofreading career. The grant would allow me to get this book published. I plan to distribute the first book for free, but to sell subsequent books. I have approximately 4 e-books that can follow on from this. These will be sold at an affordable price, and aim to help with writing and avoiding errors.

– Expanding the team

With a little baby boy and a growing demand for my services, I am beginning to struggle under the pressure of holding down a business on my own. I would love to employ a member of staff who has the dedicated role of analysing websites/blogs and drafting proposals to businesses. They would also scan websites, collate the number of errors found, and provide suggestions to businesses in the optic of improving their content. By proving to businesses that they need our services, and keeping our prices competitive, we would make it very difficult for them to say no.

Additional training

Training is a must in the proofreading business. Despite the fact that I have an English degree, I dream of completing an official proofreading course. Not only would this help me on a personal level, it would also lend the business further credibility and allow me to train employees in the future.

I aim to complete the aforementioned targets by the end of 2018, and want to triple the amount of business I obtained in my first year. With regards to long-term goals, I want to be able to take a step back and let the business run on its own. I want to be able to guide and mentor others with my experience, and create a reliable and trustworthy brand that works to help people and businesses around the world.

This business has offered me the opportunity to enjoy a job which is worth my time, and in which I can invest in. In the long run, I hope it can bring me independence, help me to support loved ones and perhaps most importantly, help many struggling students to find their voice

Thank you. Under the heading Amazon FBA, profitable is misspelt.

Aliz Révész - Obcupo Subscription Postcards

Website: http://obcupo.eu/

About Me:

I live in western Romania, in a nice city bordering Hungary. Although my parents were never business-oriented, I took an interest in entrepreneurship in early childhood. While having a mathematics-based education, I was always interested in arts as well. Hence, I ended up studying architecture, combining the functional with esthetics.

Business Idea:

Living in a low-income country has limited my mind to only come up with ideas which can be accomplished with small investments.  My business for this contest – Obcupo Postcards – seemed as such at first, but proved slightly wrong after having a few first [beta] clients.

Obcupo (meaning ‘surprise’ in latin) is a subscription service of art postcards, sent weekly in the client’s postal box. If you love art, receiving a surprise postcard every week feels great, especially in an era where post mail is dying.

In order to build  a collection of paintings that I could print and send to my customers, I started browsing through old (XV to XXth century) art. This proved to be like looking for a needle in a haystack, since thusands of paintings were made throughout history, many of which being too dull for this purpose (lots of landscapes, portraits of unknown people, still life compositions). After spending hundreds of hours (no exageration) of searching, I finally put up a beautiful collection of paintings which I knew people would love receiving.

In addition, I started gathering contemporary artist contact emails, asking for permission to use their artworks in exchange of a small fee, and exposure. This turned out quite unsuccesful, so I turned towards local artists, who I knew in person. Therefore, I’ve added a number of their wonderful works to the Obcupo Postcard collection too.

First Try: Problem & Solution

Last year around Christmas, I posted the website (obcupo.eu) on several forums and got myself a number of subscribers (mostly Christmas gifts by family members). I was super-excited! I made the prints at a local print shop and they turned out almost decent (a bit too dark). I told myself  I’ll improve the quality of prints in time, but the reality turned out quite the opposite.

The studio I was visiting stopped printing on thick papers, accepting only paper that was too thin for a postcard. I started looking for quality printing services all over the city, the results being always less than satisfactory.  This is when I decided to take the artworks to a typography printing house. Indeed, they can make them thick, use beautiful colors, but need to print at least 300 of each piece. I needed to print a minimum of 16 postcards (4 month subscriptions) to make it work, but was lacking the money to make the investment. In time I would expand the number of artworks, since only a batch is not enough (if two friends subscribe and get the same postcards it looks unprofessional)

So, when I’ve seen your post on Reddit, I thought ‚this is perfect for Obcupo, the budget is ideal, I could start sending postcards again’. 

What will I do with the $1000 prize?

Invest all of it in postcard printing at a professional typography.

Impact:

Besides the emotions brought up by receiving these weekly surprise postcards, Obcupo as a business has two more benefits:

  • Making use and popularizing an almost dying service – the Postal Service
  • Helping some contemporary artists financially and by spreading their work through the world
  • Popularizing long forgotten or unknown old paintings/painters

The Future:

What happens after I print the postcards?

Having the postcards means having the product, my first stock at least. I wrap the postcards in an envelope and write the name & address on it with an old typewriter machine. The variety of postcards must always be expanding, so the profit’s certain percentage will always go towards more artwork printing.

So all I need is sales from this point on. My ideas of a marketing strategy include:

  • Blogging: After going through so many paintings  (many of which nobody heard of), I became able to categorize them around certain specific theme or subject/object present in the artwork (for example, I stumbled upon a few self portraits with the painter holding a cigarette, so I started looking for other similar portraits; same happened when I found several paintings portraying women playing chess; another blogpost gathers various depictions of Adam & Eve, etc). People seem to like these collections, so I’m hoping to attract visitors (and potential clients) through these types of blogposts. The postcard subscription options will appear at the end of each blogpost.
  • Social Media: Instagram Influencers seem the best bet. I’m already building a list of influencers. Will offer them a free subscription and hope they’ll post about it to their audience.
  • Paid Ads: I believe Facebook ads are better than
Thank you for the opportunity,
Aliz Révész

Hanna & Edwina - Au Pair, Oh Paris

We are Au Pair, Oh Paris (or APOP for short). The company is now almost a year old and we’ve made a lot of progress on who we are, what we want to become and how we plan to do it. We recently created this video to explain our mission more concisely.

Interestingly, the BBC posted about au pairs today. Their piece was insightful and a major reason for why we set up APOP in the first place. Au pairs are young vulnerable people, regularly being exploited, and too afraid to return home or turn to authorities. The reason for fearing help is either due to their illegal status or fear of their host family and the complications of a language barrier. Our long game is to ease the problems of ALL au pairs by answering questions, providing a support network and developing a community. No matter the status of an au pair. However, we chose to start in Paris and niche down in a city we know well, but we have big goals and would love to expand and aid au pairs in other larger cities, if all goes well. For now, we have created a fun, informal YouTube channel which currently has 522 subscribers and a Twitter account which also has around 500 followers. In the last few months, we have thought long and hard about how to best support au pairs and achieve our goals.

  1. Firstly, we have finished writing our book. However, we intend on spending money to edit and publish this book as there is only so much we can do ourselves. This book includes a step-by-step guide for the au pair process as well as hundreds of stories.
  2. We also hope to continue growing our social media following, which requires us both to spend time in Paris, producing content to inspire future au pairs and meet current au pairs.
  3. We intend on organizing events in Paris such as yoga classes, coffee meet-ups, picnics, and brunches which allow au pairs to meet each other and create community.
  4. Our next phase is also to launch a blog which will feature funny, heart-warming and relatable stories from au pairs across the world. We’ve already collected and written up multiple stories which will be released next month.
  5. Finally, and more ambitiously, we want to create a sort of “travel agency”. During au pairs holiday breaks (every 6 weeks) and long weekends, we will lead trips around western Europe exclusively for au pairs and young people who want to travel stress-free.

Currently, we are the only company in Europe that offers help and support to au pairs. No one else caters to the au pair community like we do. Au Pair, Oh Paris has the potential to disrupt the au pair industry that is dominated by overpriced and exploitative au pair agencies. Agencies provide general information for every country, we are exclusive to Paris. Au pairs can spend up to £600 on agency fees, we are a cost effective and personable alternative. We have researched our market and, according to Au Pair World, the leader in the au pair industry, the figures show 590 host families registered for premium membership in 2016. However, this is only families who are taking the legal and traditional route, which is a smaller number than those who bring au pairs over to work illegally. In fact, Facebook groups offer an insight into our audience with the current 2017/2018 academic year au pair in Paris group having 2,477 members. We’re already helping au pairs in Paris on a daily basis through Twitter messages and emails. However, receiving your grant application money would certainly help us reach more au pairs and help keep many young vulnerable people safe. Thank you very much for considering us and also for creating the grant application process which is encouraging us to have conversations we may not have had before! ————————————————————————————————————————— If you’d like to read more, here is a link to our previous application: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DA58g6dgX1p7Abfd21EwCJOaQT394DKxyx6tfnJHKHw/edit Our Official Mission Statement: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AWZJ5dkA3vV6aIdmwWIQ0Sg6L0q37BNfYXr_XeY9wBY/edit And our Twitter and YouTube accounts: https://twitter.com/aupairohparis https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYfg95m_ndj1NjUuTNPWO4g?view_as=subscriber

David Protas - Tiny Box Music

Website: http://tinyboxmusic.net/ Good afternoon, My name is David Protas. I’m emailing you today to submit my small business, Tiny Box Music, for consideration for your $1000 grant. A few years ago, I took a job at a custom guitar company, working for a longtime friend. We built and repaired musical instruments, and eventually moved into hosting live events for nationally-touring acts. It was basically my dream job – my post-secondary education was in audio, so working around music in a DIY setting was a great situation. We expanded from a garage, to a 600 sq.ft. shop, to a 3000 sq.ft. shop, with a stage that we built ourselves. That company provided custom work for bands like New Found Glory and Suburban Legends, a band contracted to perform at Disneyland. After a falling-out with the owner which included selling our house, I stepped away from the company. The business closed less than a year later. Since then, I have been learning the necessary skills to build and repair guitars on my own, and I’m finally ready to start making and selling some custom instruments. I have four guitars in progress right now. (Photos are available on the Blog portion of my website: https://www.tinyboxmusic.net/blog/). These are either salvages from leftover parts from the now-closed shop, or lower-quality parts from China ($30 necks and $50 bodies). These parts were perfect for honing my skills on (in case I were to make a mistake), but they are a bit too unrefined to sell as part of a custom instrument. Attention to detail can only “polish a turd”, as they say, so much. $1000 would give me the opportunity to purchase quality parts and hardware for two, maybe three, custom instruments. I would also use this money on tools – specifically, equipment for professionally buffing and polishing, and a router. This would include:

  • $100 (each) for 3 Fender-style guitar necks
  • ~$75 (each) for 3 Fender-style guitar bodies
  • ~$75 (each) for 3 guitars worth of hardware and electronics
  • ~$100 for a router (power tool, not the internet device)
  • $75 for buffing and polishing supplies
  • $75 in misc. supplies (sandpaper, gloves, lint-free cloths, etc.)
Tiny Box Music also offers repairs and modifications. I’ve been using the money from this work to put toward nicer parts, but I am also still paying off some debts related to the past living situation. This $1000 would be the perfect amount of money to jumpstart Tiny Box Music into making high-quality custom guitars and bass guitars.
I appreciate your consideration. If you’d like any more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thanks.
David Protas
Tiny Box Music

Matthew Bovey - Bazaar

Website: http://www.thebazaarnetwork.com/

First things first, I think what you’ve created here is an incredible avenue to create organic traffic to your site, while helping those in need – and I thank you for that.

Additionally, regardless of my success with this grant, I would love to stay in touch about future projects of yours, or (eventually!) being able to contribute to these grants to hopefully help more people in a greater way.

Now… to the nitty gritty! My proposal is for Bazaar, a very simple Ecommerce app that essentially enters all users (partners) in to a network, that provides exclusive discounts to other partners.

Initially it will simply be for Shopify users (smaller market – only 750k stores, but very active community) and use Chrome extension (obvious reasons), but I’ll be looking to expand to other platforms as soon as possible.

The minimal value product (MVP) is simple:

  1. Users download the Bazaar app from the Shopify marketplace (free first month, $4/mo after that)
  2. Users then create a profile for their store. This will include the usual (name, URL, country, etc) as well as at least 3 discounts to offer
  3. Users then download the Chrome extension, and can browse all other stores in the network that are offering exclusive discounts to you!

Easy peasy.

Benefits, you ask? Well, try these on for size:
  • Receive and ever growing amount of ALL SORTS of discounts from any store within the Bazaar network.
  • Expose your store to more and more high quality shoppers every day
  • Network with likeminded Ecommerce professionals in a friendly community
  • Set your own discount vouchers to automatically notify your customers when browsing your store.
  • Don’t limit your store to one type of coupon – the best results happen when your customers have OPTIONS
  • Browse all other store within the network to find the exact products you’re after
The way I see it, brick and mortar stores give their employees discounts, so why should Ecommerce be any different? I believe that the Ecommerce community help each other out in so many other ways, but there’s no real network where exclusive discounts are offered. I want to change that. The best part is? The more stores that become part of the network, the more discounts EVERYONE gets – so everyone wins.

How will the grant help?

Well, as you can see attached, I have the design for the MVP pretty much sorted. Development has started, and we are expecting to launch by the end of Jan. I have spent the past year in Canada learning everything I can about Shopify, but will be returning home to Australia for the holidays, and moving back in with my parents for the near future. I’m cutting costs anywhere I can, and doing this on a shoestring. The budget for development is essentially all of my savings (yayyyyy entrepreneur optimism!)

While I have no real issues with that, it does mean that I will be doing the marketing on, well, the absolute bare minimum of a budget. Which I’m used to. I have a degree in marketing (essentially useless), and have 5 years experience working in digital marketing (useful – thank god for unpaid internships) for a range of different industries. I have embed myself in the Ecommerce (specifically Shopify) online communities over the past few months, giving out plenty of free advice for stores, making strides to improve the legitimacy of my name. However, in terms of an actual marketing campaign, a larger budget would allow me to really target different Shopify communities properly, and get my brand out there for the launch. Additionally, if there are any further development hurdles/expenses prior to launch, I won’t be forced to put everything on hold until I can figure out how to pay for it.

 

*note from Sam. There was more to the application but Matthew has asked me not to release it into the public domain.

Svetoslav Todorov - Bulgarian Audiobooks

Website: Audiobookbg.com

My name is Svetoslav Todorov, I’m 18-years-old and I’m from Bulgaria.

Around 1 year ago, I was looking for audiobooks in Bulgarian and I couldn’t find any!

That’s why I decided to start my own audiobook business – Audiobookbg.com.

It’s been really hard as the publishing houses still aren’t open to that idea, not that many people know about us, and therefore we aren’t making that much money.

What am I going to do with that $1000? I’m going to use them to cover my costs around creating one of the most popular and classic Bulgarian books and short-stories. Why? Every year less and less people read books in Bulgaria, and I want to change that. I’ve personally grown up in an environment where if you’re reading books, you’re considered a “loser”, where people don’t read and just can’t see how much better their lives could be, how they could solve most of their “problems” if they just read.

I’ll use a portion of them for advertising, so that more people are aware of them. I want to make reading and listening to audiobooks “cool”, so that more and more people can live a better life. If I hadn’t started reading books, I’d have never had the dream of becoming an entrepreneur, of creating our world a better place and especially I’d have never set out on a path to improving myself every single day. I’d like other people to see what I see.

The business is currently breaking-even, however, I’d like to bring it to the next level and those $1000 are going to help me do it. During this 1 year, I’ve grown my email list from 0 to 3000 subscribers with almost $0 in marketing and I think this is the little push that I need to make things go big.

Thank you!

Have a great day,

Svetoslav Todorov

Mark Cole - Vintage Refurbished Electronics

It was a cold morning, I drove myself to the office like a typical Wednesday. It was the middle of January 2016. I found myself in an interesting situation, I was sick of the office. Sick of trading time for money. Unlike most people I put in my two weeks’ notice a few weeks after this. This is where you would expect me to start my new business to change the world, instead I headed off to Georgia. The southern terminus of the Appalachian trail to be specific. Every day for the next four months, I would wake up and hike; having plenty of time to think about life and what my next goal would be.

After hiking 2200 miles, I decided that I couldn’t go back to work for someone else. I had plenty of ideas like most people but I had never fully committed to any of them. After integrating back into civilization after a few weeks I got to working on the project that provided me feelings unlike anything I have ever had working for someone else. Most people have sold some items online before if that be things you no longer needed or things you imported from a different country. I began working MCO Electronics and Collectibles where I sell any electronics and different collectibles I can get my hands on. Most online market places are specializing in taking products from China and selling them without ever touching the product. This could be a good model but I was more interested in getting my hands dirty and putting in real work to create value.

Coming from an electrical engineering background finding out what I wanted to deal in was pretty easy. I could fix vintage electronics and was familiar with a lot of different electronics so I decided to start out by doing what I know. If you scan craigslist or any other online source you’ll see plenty of people offering to buy your old iPhone but you aren’t going to see many offering to buy your old digital cameras, DVD players, and radios. That is where I differentiate myself. I use my expertise to both fix, restore, and flip older electronics. Not only does it have a monetary value, it is keeping these items out of landfills and getting them to customers who enjoy the products.

As I continue my business, I find am constantly increasing my knowledge and product offerings. One issue I have that drop shippers do not is that I am constantly in need of new sources for items. My business takes a decent amount of man power at its current state to generate a large profit. I have to research upcoming sales, buy at the sales, restore the products, list the products, ship out the product, and finally deal with customer service. I find most people in this business end up slowing their scaling because there is only so much one person can do.

Since I am applying for the grant, I have a detailed plan to what I would do with the influx of cash. I have bootstrapped the business to this point and wish to continue to organically grow but there are some aspects that I could greatly improve on. Currently I have minimal test equipment and am forced to buy chargers for all electronics I test. I am in the market for new testing equipment which will allow me to streamline this process at a cost of about $200. I have been focused on working within the business and need to focus energy on the business itself. In doing so I need basic logos and branding which will increase my return customer rate which will likely cost another $300. I plan to move from a sole proprietorship to an LLC in 2018 as I am beginning to reach sales volumes of over $5,000 a month. I would use the rest of the grand money to help cover some of the legal expenses.

Ultimately, I am currently still in the infancy of my business. It’s not a glamourous business like creating the next Facebook or Uber. Instead it is a tangible business that can scale to provide a comfortable lifestyle for myself and hopefully future employees. I appreciate your time for reading it and offering a grant entrepreneurs as it makes a big difference.

Sean O’Neill - Hangover Curing Gummys

Hello Sam,

My name is Sean ONeill, and I’m an entrepreneur currently in the final year of a MBA program at Babson College where I am working on launching a new product called Toast!. Toast! is a gummy dietary supplement that helps alcohol drinkers maintain a healthy liver, heart, and body, while also preventing them from having a hangover in the morning. Toast! uses all natural ingredients, all of which are FDA approved, and clinically studied with clinical evidence behind their efficacy.
I started Toast! after a health scare involving my spleen and liver. As I started to research the issue, I happened across a couple of recent studies showing that certain ingredients not only protected and kept the liver healthy, but that some had even been shown to help prevent hangovers. While not relevant to my health issue, I was intrigued. The more I researched, the more I realized there was a real opportunity here, so I began speaking with pharmaceutical companies about developing a product using those ingredients.
After a year of speaking with pharmaceutical companies, dietary supplement manufacturers, raw ingredient suppliers, and more, and testing a variety of product forms and formula variations, I was able to develop the Toast! gummy. Since that time, I have conducted multiple consumer tests, including testing prototypes of my product; I have learned that gummies are a popular product form, as the response has been very enthusiastic, and I have received consistently positive reviews of the product’s efficacy, with some even calling it a “miracle”.
Toast! is currently in a pre-launch stage. We have a website in development, have identified a manufacturer and packager, and are working on finalizing our packaging design. We have a go to market strategy (starting with a targeted digital campaign on working professionals between the ages of 25 to 34 in the Boston area, where Toast! is based), and have done copious amounts of consumer research, including on our brand, our messaging, even our pricing.
That said, before we can launch, our manufacturer needs to run a round of R&D in order to determine their processes to manufacture Toast! at scale. This R&D will cost $3,000. My business school has contributed $500 in funding, and I have been able to raise just under $1,500 more from myself, family, and friends. If funded, I would be able to commence R&D immediately. Once R&D is done, we will know the exact unit cost of our product, we will have samples we can show consumers, retailers, investors, etc., of our final product, and will be able to really move into the launch process.
I hope you consider my application, and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have about me, Toast!, or anything else!
Best,

Gbemisola Bamiduro - Kipepeo academy

My personal profile

It was a rainy day and I was sitting in an air-conditioned reception with my finely tailored suit waiting with disappointment written all over my face like a criminal waiting for a judge’s verdict.

I had just attended an interview for a pharmaceutical sales representative position in the office directly opposite to where I sat. I talked about how much I loved art and not the offered position. So I knew that was it. I wasn’t going to get the job. I felt bad, because I missed a good opportunity to gain working experience. How could I mess up my first chance after submitting many applications ever since I graduated one year before?

A few years back my life seemed to go in the perfect direction. While I was still a student at university, I had learnt how to paint. And then, at my very first exhibition I got to meet the vice president of Nigeria who congratulated me for my work. But now, I had to forget about art. I was expected to get a job.

I remember the time when I was in secondary school, when people saw my art work and said: “Oh! You are really talented! Can you draw something for me?” Of course no one considered paying me, it was just art and it had to be for fun and free. No one in Nigeria considers art as a career possibility and there was no place in Nigeria that nurtures it.

At that very moment in front of the office, I made a resolve in my heart to follow my passion for art.

Slowly but steadily I began to retrace my steps and focused my attention on making paintings, portraits and handmade cards. And to my and my parent’s surprise I was able to sell them.

The interest I felt from those who bought my pictures and cards gave me the idea to create a space where artistic creativity can be nurtured for the many unemployed and underprivileged youth in my country. From then on, I started to think and plan to make this dream come true. Luckily, I got connected to Olutosin, a kanthari graduate from 2013 who empowers women and girls who are victims of domestic violence through her project called “turn trash to treasure”.

She encouraged me to apply for kanthari, a leadership institute for social change makers from all around the world. In kanthari, my dream has matured into a vision.

My proposed Organization

My plan is to establish an art academy called kipepeo academy to offer an opportunity for unemployed/ underprivileged youths in Nigeria to develop their artistic talents into a skill. Through my academy I want to provide all the resources and support needed for them to practise and learn drawing, illustration, collage and paintings in all forms of medium. I also plan to give them the chance to practise any form of art they are interested in outside of what my organization will offer. In addition, I will incorporate entrepreneurial training by inviting experts in the field to equip them with financial and marketing skills. I will also organize exhibitions to enable them showcase and sell their art works.

Following the training I will offer mentorship to help them kick start and succeed in their endeavours. At the end of the training it is expected that they would become employable in arts based organizations with the necessary qualification and desired skill. They will also be equipped to practically pursue art professionally.

Pilot project

The first step I would take would be to offer art training in drawing, painting, and shirt customizing to 20 interested youths in the city of Abuja, Nigeria who are passionate about art but have been discouraged from pursuing it by their parents or due to societal pressures. These youngsters are also faced with day to day survival challenges because they lack jobs or/and they come from deprived backgrounds.

The objective of this training is to empower these youths to follow their passion and to practise visual art professionally after going through the training. During the course of the training the beneficiaries will also learn book keeping, budget planning and writing business proposals so that it will enable them to start a successful art career with the skills they have mastered.

This project will hold training sessions for six hours between 9.00am and 3.00pm with 1 hour break in between on five working days for 6 months starting from the 5th of March.  

The training would be offered by two trainers which are me, the founder of the organization and a hired trainer that either has a successful art career or is an expert in art education and training.

Finally, towards the end of the project in August 2018 the beneficiaries would be given an opportunity to exhibit the art works they created for 7 days. This way they gain exposure to art lovers and art buyers who could buy their artworks.  They would use the money generated from the sales as capital to start their art business. 30 percent of sales made from each art work would be giving to kipepeo as part of our sustainability mechanism.  

After these six months training the projected outcome of this pilot project is to see 20 trained unemployed/underprivileged youths starting and succeeding in their professional art career. There creative imagination and critical thinking abilities would be enhanced. Their artistic skills would have improved greatly.

What I will us this money for?

This money will help me to get started with my organization. I intend to spend the money on

  • Acquiring a website, getting a two years hosting plan
  • Marketing campaign which consist of flyers and banners for advertisement purpose to attract eligible youths to my organization.
  • Buying art supplies that will be used by the beneficiaries and the facilitators. This is very important to my organization. These consist of stationaries (different types of pencils, erasers, sharpeners, and rulers), drawing books, paints and brushes). All this will be used by my beneficiaries to aid them with learning.

Budget

Website and two years hosting plan = 200 USD

Marketing (campaign) = 40USD

Art supplies = 760 USD

Total = 1000USD

Note: I am also currently working on a fundraising plan and sending out proposals to other organizations and foundation. Through this, I hope I can fund other needs and aspects of my organizations. This 1000USD grant will go a long way in helping me start and it will go a long way in impacting the lives of some Nigerian youths.

Thanks for this opportunity. I hope that my application will be considered. I also hope to hear from you soon. Best regards to you.

Nick Bahr - Automated Cricket Dispenser

Hi. My name is Nick Bahr. I am eighteen years old and a senior at Columbia High School in Columbia, IL. Before I knew the word itself, I considered myself to be an entrepreneur. When I was eight I set up the classic childhood lemonade stand on the corner of the street; however, I was not satisfied. I developed a plan to sell lemonade, kool-aid, and baked goods on the day of the city-wide garage sale. After recruiting my brother, we built a stand and prepared for the big day. When the city flooded with people, we stood gallantly awaiting them. In our young eyes, the hundred dollars we profited seemed like millions.    

This first entrepreneurial endeavor has always stuck with me. As I have gotten older, I have gone on to start four serious businesses. These range from a lawn and landscape company to a half-staff flag lowering business. These businesses have varied in success; nevertheless, I am grateful that their profits have allowed me to avoid a fast food job like many of my high school friends.    

Recently I have been selected for the CEO program in my county which stands for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities. I attend classes every morning, learning about the business world and making connections with business leaders in my community. Using this new experience and knowledge, the time has come for me to start another business of my own. This time, I will be taking my business to a much larger scale.    

I have a unique passion for reptiles. I currently own three anoles, six geckos, and a skink. Reptiles are a specialty class of animal that needs extra consideration when cared for. While taking care of such fascinating creatures is normally not a problem, sometimes my family goes out of town for the weekend, and I often have trouble finding an individual who is willing to take care of them. I can automate their lighting and misting, but one key part of their care has remained troublesome. There is no way to automate the feeding. My reptiles eat live crickets which must be kept in a separate container and moved by hand to the lizard’s tank. This becomes troublesome when people who said they would take care of your pets are unwilling to touch the crickets. After trying to find an automatic feeder, I found many other reptiles owners had run into the same problem, with no solution. That was when I set out to solve this problem myself.   

 I have created the Automated Cricket Dispenser. The Automated Cricket Dispenser automatically feeds reptiles that eat crickets with no outside assistance. The device holds live crickets, keeps them healthy, and dispenses them into a reptile tank when needed. After a user loads the crickets and cricket nutrition, the device will be automated for seven feedings. During this time the user will not have to be present for the feedings to occur.    

The Automated Cricket Dispenser consists of one larger circular piece and one slightly smaller (both 3D models are attached below). The larger, or outer piece, contains a bottom with one section missing. The slightly smaller, or inner part, sits inside the larger and contains eight, forty five degree pie sections. There is also a smaller and shorter circle attached to this piece that is accessible from the inside.  There is also a lid and a box attached to part of the bottom, containing the electronics. All of these pieces are constructed out of plastic material. The inner piece is connected to a stepper motor that is held below. The stepper motor is connected to a stepper motor controller. Crickets are placed in seven of the eight compartments.  The eighth compartment has no bottom, the hole in the larger circular piece. Then a complete cricket diet (a separate product, sold in stores) is placed in each compartment within the smaller, shorter circle. Crickets can then access this to keep them healthy, alive, and nourished. Every twelve, twenty-four, or forty-eight hours the stepper motor turns forty five degrees, dropping the crickets from one of the compartments out the bottom. Now, they may be eaten.    

After finding some highly qualified mentors with product development experience, I have now entered the patenting process. Intellectual property will be a key and valuable asset for my business’s’ future. While things are moving along smoothly so far, financials are already starting to become an issue. As a high school student, I have fairly limited cash flow.  In addition, I will be attending college next year which will put a financial strain on my family. After the patenting process, I will have two options. I could look for a licensing deal with a large scale company already operating in the industry, or I can have it manufactured myself. While both of these have pros and cons, the decision will likely come down to the financials. I would love to manufacture and build the business myself. If I am awarded the $1,000 grant, it will be used to manufacture the first round of Automated Cricket Dispensers. Then, I will be able to use the capital I raise from selling these devices to purchase the next round. This cycle would continue until I reach financial stability. This grant would give me the initial investment I need to get my feet off the ground and my product in hand.    

Finally, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to apply for these grants. Grants like this are what allow young entrepreneurs to get off the ground. If I am awarded one of the grants, you can be assured that they will be used optimally and meticulously. I hope, at the very least, my story inspires one person to start or sustain an entrepreneurial path of their own.

Jemma Elizabeth - Let's Go Eventing

I have a small yard of 8 stables, 12 acres, 2 menages, SJ field and great hacking. I employ a full time groom and 2 riders. I have another 2 horses at Somerford Park Farm ( an amazing place!) and 1 in Hampshire.

In total I own 11 horses – crazy I know! I am very into Eventing (see here for more info on what eventing is https://www.britisheventing.com/asp-net/page.aspx?section=20&itemTitle=The+combination+of+Dressage%2c+Showjumping+%26+Cross+Country+in+one+competition )

I breed and produce event horses and ponies. One of my homebreds is currently in Hampshire with a lady who leases her from me. They are doing very well together having gone from 90 to 1* in one season. They also completed their first 3 day event which was held in Oxfordshire.

They were both graded through the BEF Futurity program and both gained first premiums in the Eventing section. (http://www.britishbreeding.org/Home.aspx)

So, on to my business idea and why I would like the grant and what I would do with it….

I have bought the domain name ‘Let’s Go Eventing’ and I would like to use the grant to pay for the website to be designed and produced because I am struggling to find the time to build it myself. I need the website so that I have an online base and a reference point for potential members to check me out and make sure that we look like a professional outfit.

I gave you a brief run down of what Let’s Go Eventing is at the match betting conference in London. But it’s basically going to work on the same business model as the race horse syndications/clubs. People pay for the experience, the privilege, the excitement of being part of something.

Eventing is a sport that the general public don’t really have much knowledge of but I would like to aim my business at the naïve folk and offer them a new experience that they will hopefully enjoy more than being part of a horse racing club.

The difference between a racing club and this eventing club would be that this is more personable. Members will be invited back to the lorry for pimms (or gin!) and a picnic, they will get to meet and stroke the horses, they will get to meet and chat to the riders, they will get to walk the XC course, they will get to watch their horse compete in both dressage, show jumping and cross country.

The horses I have that will be part of the club:

Margaux – Hampshire – 1* level

Drake – Cheshire – 5yo classes,

BYEH Lola – Cheshire – 5yo classes, FEI Event pony

Hendre – Cheshire – 8yo – Racehorse to Riding horse classes, BE90

I would like to approach some of the 4* riders to get them on board so that there are more horses in the club, which will mean more options for the members in terms of dates they are running and the location, but also the prestige of getting to meet and rub shoulders with the top riders and their horses.

So I have a viable idea and I have the horses, I just need to put it all together.

Thanks

Jemma

Ben Goddard - Dogs 4 Mental Health

https://www.facebook.com/dogs4mentalhealth/

www.dogs4mentalhealth.com (coming soon!)

My name is Ben Goddard and I’m applying for the Arbing Business Grant to fund a course to become a dog trainer, set up a dog training business and further my social enterprise idea of providing mental health assistance dogs in the future.

I would like to complete an Open College Network (OCN) accredited Level 3 in ‘Advanced Canine Behaviour’. This would give me the knowledge base and training to begin my career in dog training and start building up a client base!  My plan is to incorporate the dog training business alongside a lady called Sue, advocate for mental health dogs and eventually work either training them or for a charity providing them.

Mental health assistance dogs are not currently available in the UK. The USA provides mental health assistance dogs via the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, but there is no such equivalent in the UK. Assistance dogs have legal rights to go anywhere that their owners go and this has been life changing for people with physical disabilities. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 created a new legal responsibility for the NHS to deliver ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health by 2020, so providing service dogs for mental health sufferers seems to me, the next logical step in achieving his government aim.

My future business partner, Sue, is currently petitioning the government through MP Greg Clark and has been in contact with MP Jeremy Hunt (Health Secretary) for the provision of mental health service dogs. She is now in contact with Dogs for Good (registered charity in England & Wales:1092960) with the aim of finding a way of providing mental health service dogs. I am promoting a petition to give emotional support dogs the same legal rights as blind guide service dogs and I have established a facebook page called Dogs 4 Mental Health to promote the petition and my website blog that I’m working on.

I’ll give you some information about myself so you know why I’m so passionate about this. I am a graduate of Exeter University in International Relations with Russian and I joined KPMG as an audit assistant in September 2016. I relocated to Birmingham (I’m originally from Kent) and was doing an intensive graduate scheme where I completed 8 ACA exams in 6 months. However I was signed off sick with severe depression in March 2017. I spent a month in psychiatric hospital (Priory Hayes Grove), which opened my eyes to how many people struggle with mental health issues.

In this incredibly low stage of my life, nothing gave me any pleasure, reading, watching TV, playing the Xbox. However, my Mum would take me for walks in the park and there was one thing that could make me laugh and give me pleasure, which was watching and stroking the dogs. Shortly after leaving psychiatric hospital, my family got a dog and it has brought me so much joy and pleasure, when I struggle and feel depressed the dog always makes me laugh and enjoys cuddling on the sofa with me, physical contact is proven to help with low mood.

My vision is provide the same services for sufferers of mental health as is currently provided for sufferers of physical health conditions. it could be life changing for people, for example those suffering from anxiety and PTSD, giving them the confidence to step outside their front door. The same could be said for those with schizophrenia or other debilitating illnesses (people who will often live alone), the dog could perform similar tasks to physical disability assistance dogs, such as bringing medicines at allocated times and retrieving emergency phones in a time of crisis.

As a KPMG accountant that has completed 8 exams in accounting, advanced tax and business strategy (and more!), I am very well prepared to incorporate and handle the challenges of bookkeeping, corporate tax and end year accounts preparation. My business knowledge combined with my passion for dogs and making a difference to the lives of mental health sufferers means that I believe that I can make a difference in this sector!

My plan is to:

  • January 2018: If I am successful in receiving the Arbing grant, I will purchase the course and begin the training.
  • January 2018- August 2018: I will start volunteering to train people’s dogs, building up a client base and advertising my services. Sue and I will also be discussing what needs to be done for the provision of mental health service dogs with Dogs for Good.
  • August 2017-October 2018: I am to have finished the course within these dates and I will aim to incorporate just before I finish.
  • October 2018: Begin working!

If I am chosen to receive this grant, I will spend it on the Level 3 Advanced Canine Behaviour training course (http://naturallypets.co.uk/ocn-courses.html), which is £810 and use the remainder of the money for start-up business costs and for paying for the web hosting of a Dogs 4 Mental Health Blog, which I am currently working on.

Thank you for reading and I hope that you will consider my application for the grant

Sharon & Dani - Camp Together

Introduction

Follow the White Squirrel is a small nature tour company that we started less than a year ago. Our mission is to make it easier for anyone to explore the wilderness of Ontario, far from the concrete and closer to people and nature. We plan to build a web application that helps new campers to find camping buddies and plan a successful camping trip!

Who we are

Hi there! I am Dani de Prats. I am an economist from Barcelona, Spain, currently living in Toronto. I love entrepreneurship, swimming, hiking, and good conversations. Last year, I walked for almost 300 km on the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain – in winter! Hi I am Sharon Kennedy and I was born in Singapore and grew up in Waterloo, Ontario. I spent many summers camping and canoeing with my family. My most memorable hike was climbing “El Misti” in Peru. I love web development, design and my longboard!. Bowie is part of the group too. He was rescued from a kill shelter and has since gone on to become an important partner of the company. Woof woof!

What  do  we  do ?

We started Follow the White Squirrel in March 2017 because we love being out in nature. We have spent the past few months guiding adventurers on personalized trips to the best of Ontario’s outdoor spots. We do multi-day backcountry camping trips in Algonquin Park and day hikes on the Niagara Escarpment to visit waterfalls and wineries. You can check out what we do on our website (www.followthewhitesquirrel.ca ), our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/followthewhitesquirrel ) or in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQSb0XZ3eDk).

Our big idea

What we’ve learned from our first summer in business is that there are many barriers that stop people from camping (especially wilderness camping), especially for beginners. The big ones are:

  • Not having anyone to go camping with
  • Not having the right equipment
  • Not knowing how to plan the itinerary and what to bring
  • Not having transportation out to the park
  • Unavailability of campsites in the high season

Follow the White Squirrel can help people to cover those needs. However, we’re a tiny business and we can only accommodate 5 people per trip, and we can only do a few trips per month. So in order to grow, we need to do something new. It’s called Camp Together. Camp Together aims to be a web application to help people go on better adventures than they could do on their own. Here’s what we will offer:

  1. Group Camp Together will help people to connect with other group members that have the level of experience they’re looking for.
  2. Trip Groups can select from a curated list of recommended itineraries, sourced from our own experience and our content partners.
  3. Shared packing Our packing lists based on the type and length of the trip will make it harder to forget important equipment at home. Group members can customize the list and then mark off the items they can bring, so everyone knows who’s bringing what.
  4. Groups can coordinate carpooling, or they can search for public transportation schedules within the app.

The $1,000 grant will help to cover the costs of building this app where we connect people, equipment, and knowledge. We have already started working on it, but progress is slow because it’s a side project while we continue to work. With a bit of money, we can dedicate more time to developing the website and bringing in partners. We hope that with time, Camp Together will become the online reference camping platform where it will share their itineraries, equipment suggestions, tips and tools!

Conclusion

Over the past few months, we’ve seen first-hand how strangers become friends after a weekend in a canoe together. We’ve seen the personal transformations that individuals go through when they put themselves to the test and find that they’re more capable than they thought. We know how meaningful it is for newcomers to have an authentic Canadian experience and see the natural beauty of our country. We want to make these experiences more accessible to everyone and grow our company by launching our online platform CAMP TOGETHER.

Tyler Davis - Local Cultures

Website: www.shoplocalcultures.com

My name is Tyler Davis, and I am a 26 year old from south Lousiana. I’ve spent the last 6 years traveling and learning about myself and my place in the world. After learning from different indigenous communities, I fell in love with a group called BriBri in Costa Rica. I volunteered with a non profit there, called El Puente, which works to empower the BriBri people through education initiatives, food distribution, and micro loans among many other things. The couple that runs El Puente are in their 70s, and have been at it for 15 years.

After working with them and living with a woman named Maria and her family I realized how massive of an impact I could have on entire families of strangers just because I had access to resources that they did not. People that struggle through life everyday without access to health care, education, nutrition, or even the information needed to improve those things. This of course is on top of the normal interpersonal struggles that all humans must face. I could work full time and still feed an entire family, or better yet, provide them with the things they need to grow their own food.

I looked back to where I was from for examples of how to be of assistance. When the Cajun people were losing their language, music, and way of life to globalization, a few of them got together and started a music festival that celebrated the culture, and turned something that seemed foreign into something to be loved the world over. 30 years later, people from all over the world come here for the “authentic Cajun experience,” and encourage us to stick with our ways, instead of give them up to be like everyone else. Can this be applied to any original culture?  I had to find out.

I searched for a way to help BriBri people get paid a living wage while practicing their traditions, while also raising money for El Puente. I learned that the BriBri people hold cacao, the precursor of chocolate, as sacred. Everyone loves chocolate! I bought 40 kg (88 lb) of cacao and hauled it on my back, via airplane, back home. With the mission to sell it , I researched all I would need to do and soon realized that getting into international food import and trade as a lot more than I could handle. Getting a packaging facility, certificates, red tape, food safety, and shipping require a lot of start up capital and time, and then you have to be able to compete with cacao importers that pay slave wages. It didn’t seem like a wise investment, so I scrapped the idea.

6 months later, I was working in California on a farm, and a friend of the owner had a guest from Colombia, Juan Carlos, who wanted to live with us for a few months to see what it was like in the US.  My Spanish was pretty good and his English was pretty bad so we ended up connecting and becoming friends. When he left a month later, he offered for me to sell the jewelry he and his village make. They drink ayahuasca ceremonially and receive the patterns during the ritual. They then turn the patterns into jewelry, and use that to spread the information they learn. Instantly, it clicked! If I can pay indigenous artists a living wage to make their traditional art, and then sell it for a profit, I can still raise money for El Puente in a culturally affirming way!

I invested $2,000 into Juan Carlos, and I called up a Peruvian artist I met in Costa Rica named Chuy and told him about the idea. He said he would love to be a part of it too. I went down to Mexico and lived there for a few months, befriended a Zapotec weaver named Serafin and acquired some of his art. I went up to Costa Rica for a week for Maria’s birthday to check in with them and El Puente, and while I was there I picked up some of Chuy’s work. Local Cultures was a no longer a dream, but a reality. I returned home the weekend before Festival International de Louisiana, the nation’s largest International Music festival and another highlight of my hometown. I set up on the street and cleared $1400 in sales in a weekend, with no experience, a rag tag booth set up, and $50 overhead. I knew this was going to work.

I reinvested the money I made into more jewelry, and to date I have about $9,000 of my personal money invested into product. I am currently finishing a massage school program so I can have a secondary trade skill to provide income, so that I don’t have to pay myself from the business. When I finish in March, I will go back to El Puente for a few weeks to get footage for a kickstarter which I will start when I get back to raise money for the company and for El Puente. In April, I will return to Festival International, which will start a small festival tour of the nation, selling directly to my primary demographic. By the end of Summer, I feel confident that I will have not only flipped the investment a few times over, but gotten the Local Cultures brand into the hands of thousands of people, bringing consistent revenue from my website (https://www.shoplocalcultures.com/), and amassing a following on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/shoplocalcultures/) and instagram (https://www.instagram.com/shoplocalcultures/), creating a steady stream of revenue from the company outside of person to person sales via art markets, consignment in stores, and music festivals.

Eventually I want to expand the brand to any artists that need representation to secure fair pay for their work, so that people can more easily make a living doing what they love. With a steady revenue stream for my friends, el puente, and myself, I can devote more time on the ground in Costa Rica, helping the BriBri people become more sustainable, and have more control over the future of their people. I hope to create a model that any community can apply so that they can guarantee a future for their children.

With your grant, I will pay the upfront fees for my vending booths next year. I really appreciate the idea you have for this experiment, and the opportunity you’ve created for people like me to move forward with their dreams. Thanks for considering this, and I look forward to working with you in the future.