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.”