City’s youngest entrepreneurs recognized at awards ceremony

The City held its 14th Annual Young Entrepreneurs Awards on October 13. Local high school, college and university students were recognized for their business ideas. The ceremony was attended by the students, their teachers, mentors, families and supporters along with representatives from three levels of government.

The awards were split into three distinct categories; the Business Plan Competition, the Summer Company Program and the Starter Company Program run by the Markham Small Business Centre. Supporting partners included the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science and the City of Markham.

Mayor Frank Scarpitti spoke enthusiastically about the future of our city and the growth in business and innovation. “The reason that I value this program so much is because with everything that we have in our community today, it’s in you that we wait for the future and the future is exciting,” he said.

“We don’t always appreciate what’s here in our own backyard, we have a sense of it, but I wanted to just put things in perspective and to indicate that in the City of Markham we have over 10,400 companies that are located within our community,” said Scarpitti.

Some of these companies include IBM, Toshiba, Johnson & Johnson, Honda Canada, GM Canada and Hyundai. Scarpitti spoke of the establishment of an innovation corner spanning from southern Ontario all the way to Ottawa and in which Markham would be a leading circuit.

“When we talk about a 10 year, 15-year plan…we’re not talking about us, we go do what we have to do but were talking about you. We’re talking about the new ideas that you have, the creativity that you have, the business sense – that strong entrepreneurial spirit,” said Scarpitti.

Jane Philpott, MP Markham-Stouffville was not able to attend the event, but sent a message about the future of our city and the impact of or youth on it. “Your investment of time and energy is a vital component of growing business and the business ecosystem here in Markham,” she wrote.

The Business Plan Competition is for students Grades 9 to 12 at any local high school and post-secondary college and university students. Competitors submitted a business plan that was assessed by a judging panel made up of corporate sponsors BD Canada LLP, Chartered Accountants and Advisors and Seneca College.

The city’s Small Business Centre coordinated the competitors who were able to work alone or in groups of three with those attending high school vying for a $600, and $200 sponsored prize along with three $300 sponsored prizes. Post-secondary college and university students competed for the Seneca First Prize of $600 and the Seneca Award of Innovation for $200.

Students aged 15-29 competed in the Summer Company Program for up to $3,000 that will go towards business costs. The Starter Company program assists 18-29 year old’s not in school, providing business training, mentorship and a $5000 grant.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Nirmala Armstrong, Regional Councillor, Alan Ho, Ward 2 Councillor, Don Hamilton, Ward 3 Councillor, Majid Jowhari, MP Richmond Hill, Peter Kent, MP Thornhill, Raymond Joon, MPP Scarborough-Rouge River and Mary Ng, MP, Markham-Thornhill.

The judging panel for the Business Plan Competition consisted of George Simpson, Partner at BDO Canada LLP, Chirs Dudley, Director HELIX and Don De Los Santos, Manager of the Markham Small Business Centre.

The Summer Company Community Mentoring Group was comprised of Cheryl Giblon of the Office of Research Services and Innovation York, Jeff Yolleck of IBM Canada, Jennifer Green of Jade Consulting, Jeremy O’krafka of Venture Service and Igo Klibanov of Fitness Solutions Plus.

The Starter Company Community Mentoring Group included Chris Collucci, General Manager of Clean4Me Inc., Nicholas Ross, Consultant at Prevail Business Consulting and Don De Los Santos, Manager of Markham Small Business Centre.

15th Annual Business Plan Competition 2017 Winners:

BBDO Award of Excellence for First Prize

Skye Mark, Markham District High School, Mosaic – Social enterprise consulting firm assisting small businesses abroad


Ramyar Abdul-Satar, Bill Crothers S.S., First Touch Football – Soccer player development training service for youth in the GTA

Priya Bablani, Markville S.S., AceBeauty – E-commerce enterprise providing curated, customized facial cosmetics

Seneca Award of Innovation

Grace Yip, Yu Mao and Mubin Qureshi of Bur Oak S.S., Affinity – Music streaming service showcasing local artists and musicians

Seneca First Prize & Award of Innovation

Senpei (Eddie) Wang, Schulich School of Business, York and Jack Chen, Seneca College, Mia Technology – Mobile platform that optimizes number of customers dining at restaurant

For a full list of Ontario Summer Company 2017 and Starter Company 2017 winners, visit:

(Photo Back Row L to R posing with some of the award recipients: Ward 3 Councillor – Don Hamilton, Regional Councillor – Nirmala Armstrong, MP Thornhill – Peter Kent, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, MP Richmond Hill – Majid Jowhari, Ward 2 Councillor – Alan Ho)

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