Funding students to run their own businesses

By Michael Marini

“When I was 14 my parents drove me to a car show so I could take some photos of all the cars.  Little did I know, my career was already beginning to take shape.”

Lucas Scarfone

For some, a career comes from years of soul searching, experimentation at various jobs and hours upon hours of researching. For Lucas Scarfone, it all happened in a flash — the flash from his camera.

For over 10 years, Lucas has been a professional photographer, capturing some of the world’s most exclusive vehicles, homes, private jets, and their owners- some of Canada’s wealthiest individuals.  How did he accomplish all this? He received a very simple government grant from the Province of Ontario’s Summer Company program.

The Summer Company program aims to encourage and foster youth entrepreneurship in Ontario, with Hamilton having one of the busiest branches in the entire province.  Each year, students aged 15-29 who are returning to school in a full-time capacity (following the summer) are eligible to receive up to $3,000 in government grants to start and run a government business. Lucas was a former participant of this program, and is now one of the ambassadors.

Young Lucas

“I really enjoyed the program because I was exposed to some fantastic mentors who really gave me insight on the ins and outs of running a business,” said Lucas.  “Being so young and running a business for the first time was a little daunting. I was still learning the mechanics of photography while at the same time trying to master an invoicing system, figuring out marketing and HST and ensuring that I chose the right lawyer to set up my incorporation papers.  It was a lot, but the Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre was there to help me through the entire process.”

After establishing his photography business, Lucas started to build his clientele and portfolio by attending several local track days, cruises and special events. A chance meeting with Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank star, Robert Herjavec, gave Lucas the credibility and exposure to help grow the business and put his talents in front of some five star clientele.

Lucas with Ferrari Scuderia 16M

“I saw Rob’s Lamborghini parked in the Toronto Star booth at the Auto Show and took about 100 photos of it. I found his email address and sent him all the photos that I spent countless hours editing and perfecting. Little did I know, it would turn into shooting several corporate and personal events including all three of his book launches,” added Lucas. “Rob has been so supportive since we met, with both my photography business and my magazine (Autostrada Forum Magazine) – graciously agreeing to be on the cover of our very first issue which gave us credibility with potential advertisers and readers.”

Most of Lucas’ clients are very private so he can’t use any specific names, but a fair amount of them are listed on the Top 100 Wealthy Canadians list.

As he moves from small business to big, Lucas has words of wisdom to aspiring Hamilton entrepreneurs and young professionals.

“Have a plan and clear goals, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone to move your business up a gear or two, and always be proud to represent this great city of Hamilton!”