Creating a start-up company is expensive so most entrepreneurs fund their start-up businesses with their own savings or loans.
But funding can be gained in a lot of ways, and that’s what Lucas Ghosn, 22, and Iskandar Nasrallah, 22, set out to do – find money from a non-traditional source.
By creating a solid business plan, and presenting it in front of entrepreneurial and start-up Hub Invest Ottawa, they were able to receive a $5,000 grant to jump start their student-oriented firm, L&I Accounting Services.
They officially launched their business on Feb. 1, 2017.
The grant they received is given in two instalments, the first is $3,750, and the second is $1,250. They have yet to run out of the first chunk, and have just recently received the second on Feb. 21.
“We want people to know that if you have an idea you can find resources where you are or even online,” said Ghosn.
For young entrepreneurs without enough money, especially for students, looking for alternate ways to gain funding may be the only way to reach their goals.
“We are trying to expose that (funding strategies) to students who are in the same position as us,” said Nasrallah. “We still managed to raise money for what we’re doing, and create an entity that we incorporated.”
They operate out of a law firm called DNG Law Offices, located at 2378 Holly Lane in Ottawa, and offer accounting services like bookkeeping, tax preparation, and consulting and budgeting.
The failure to differentiate your business from others is a big reason why start-up firms can fail, so Ghosn and Nasrallah decided to take an eco-friendly approach. For every tax return they file, they plant a tree.
“I always watch Shark Tank (Emmy-award winning television show), and a lot of the companies incorporate social responsibility from the bottom line,” said Ghosn. “So when we started our business, we asked ourselves ‘what is a common stereotype in our industry, and how can we not be like everyone else.’”
What they realized is that the stereotype is someone sitting at a desk, surrounded by stacks of paper everywhere, and they’re always writing and printing stuff.
“We didn’t want to feed into that stereotype,” said Nasrallah. “So we partnered with a non-profit organization (One Tree Planted), after a lot of digging and research, and we set-out to offset the environmental impacts of what bookkeepers and accountants do.”
Their target audience is milennials, because they feel that the market for them often goes unnoticed. Their tax filing starts at $29.99, and they only use CRA certified software to get the job done.
Roughly 33 per cent of what they have spent has gone towards professional fees, 54 per cent has gone towards computer software and hardware, and 10 per cent towards promotion and advertising fees, and other fees like education and training and website hosting and domain make up the rest.
“We figured giving experience to students in our community was more valuable than paying someone else with money,” Nasrallah explained. “I want to establish a community amongst millennials, more specifically; students.”
“To sell to any target market, you have to understand it,” added Ghosn. “You have to know how they think, and we know exactly how millennials think. We rely on each other, and that’s what this is about.”
Their mission is to bridge the gap between education and the workforce. By hiring students to design their website, and take their professional photos, it is a way of giving students the chance to gain real-life experience. And that is how they plan to build their business for the future.