Head of The Class – 10 Top Young Entrepreneurs

Creating Web-wise kids (08/04)
By Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business)

Nevin Buconjic knows the challenges of growing a business from both sides of the ledger.

When the 32-year-old manager of the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Enterprise Centre isn’t counselling fledgling entrepreneurs on starting up their own businesses, he is operating his own Internet-based consulting and training company, Digital Adventures, specializing in computer camps for kids.

Now in its fourth year, he expects to draw 85 students to the campus of Algoma University College this summer. “It’s roughly grown about 20 per cent per year in revenues. To me it’s proven itself,” says the Sault Ste. Marie native who developed the idea while tutoring at a local elementary school.

After working in the mortgage and finance industry in Arizona and Toronto, Buconjic, who holds a B.Sc. in marketing and management, along with an MBA from Lake Superior State (Michigan) University, returned to his hometown to take advantage of Algoma University College’s one-year accelerated computer sciences program. He had plans on someday starting his own company.

While tutoring, Buconjic realized many kids were less than enthusiastic about their computer training and created a more fun-oriented program around Web design. “Right away I saw the kids change. They wanted to stay in at recess, lunch and after school, and they were finally getting something fun to do.”

Today, his formalized Web design program walks kids through the basics of producing their own personal Web site and progresses through to video game design, a huge university undergraduate growth area. Although the computer camps remain only a seasonal venture, this year represents a crossroads for Digital Adventures. “I’m ready to grow if I want to take the next step,” says Buconjic, who plans on spending this year evaluating an opportunity to expand the camps to other cities in Northern Ontario. “I have a proven program…and I have it down to a science.”

To keep infrastructure costs low, Buconjic is hoping to take his delivery model and partner with other post-secondary institutions similar to U.S. summer computer camps.

As a certified Internet marketing and business specialist, he is also looking to take on other future consulting work and has talked with some local Web design companies about packaging their services together in computer marketing and consulting.

In dealing with many first-time entrepreneurs, Buconjic says a common challenge is that many are not doing their research in identifying their market, as well as securing startup funding sources. “It’s very important to plan out your business. Whether its a formal business plan or not, it’s important to do some research up front to make sure it’s a good idea.

“But you have to take some chances. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about.”

Summer Camp Gives Kids a Taste of Tech

By SALEEM KHAN
FOR METRO TORONTO

TORONTO, ON – June 12, 2003 – Children and teenagers attending summer camps in Sault Ste. Marie will have the chance to learn how to design their own Web sites and program three-dimensional (3D) computer games.

Computer training company Digital Adventures of Sault Ste. Marie has teamed up with Algoma University College to offer this year’s programs, which have added courses in advanced web and 3D game design, both for children age 12-to-16. Returning this year are a general computer camp and a Web page design camp for ages 9-to-15, and a video game design camp where children aged 11-to-16 years can learn how to create two-dimensional (2D) games.

Algoma U. connection

The video game design programs are a particularly good match for Algoma University, which plans to introduce a Masters of Science in Computer Game Technology degree program in co-operation with the University of Abertay in Scotland this September. “While the computer camps are not directly linked to the M.Sc. program, the intent is certainly to have activities for youth that link up with our computer science and IT fields,” said Krista Yetman, Algoma’s director of external relations. “It is also an excellent way to demonstrate partnerships and educational options in the area of computer science and information technology.”

The camps start in July and registrations will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit the Web site www.digitaladventures.ca/camps.htm, or call (705) 257-1691. Registrations will be taken in the main office at Algoma University or by calling (705) 949-2301 ext. 236.

To view the original article in the Toronto Metro newspaper please click here

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