Tag Archives: JA Canada

Media Marvels: London entrepreneurs turn high school passions into profits

As young entrepreneurs, David Aideyan, Ayush Vaidya and Nick Lavery of London, Ontario march to their own beat.

For Aideyan and Vaidya, both 20, that’s their business. They own Everest Media Group, which markets media services and a catalogue of rap, hip hop and R&B beats to musicians. As teenagers, Vaidya produced instrumentals and Aideyan rapped over them for fun. Eventually their high school passion evolved into a money-making venture.
David Aideyan

In high school, Lavery was into a different medium – videos. He shot everything from family road trips to basketball games. His friends thought they were good, and word spread. Some athletes in his high school asked Lavery to make videos of them in action. Based on that, Lavery received an Ontario government grant for summer companies for his business idea to produce highlight reels of high school football and basketball players. These athletes ultimately used them to draw interest from university teams. (Pictured: David Aideyan)

Once in university himself, Lavery, 22, transformed the business from sports videos to corporate videos. His company, Take5 Digital, has produced videos for clients ranging from the London Knights junior hockey team to a local law firm.

The three entrepreneurs have something in common beyond their youth, creativity and media-focused businesses. They are JA London and District alumni who participated in Company Program. All three credit the program with providing the foundation – the skills, experience and encouragement – for business success.

“I gained the confidence that business is a viable career option,” says Lavery.

Finding the rhythm of business
After high school, Vaidya took two years of medical sciences in university, while Aideyan studied economics. Now both attend the Ivey Business School at Western University, and pay much of their way with the revenue from Everest.

They manage 10 producers who’ve made beats available for Everest to license to some 1,500 clients. In addition, Everest provides services from graphic and web design to music production, to fully support musicians in building a professional image.

Ayush Vaidya

 “We handle the business, so people can focus on making their music,” says Vaidya.

Before Everest, their formative business experience was JA. One lesson stood out: Build on your uniqueness. “You have to identify what’s really valuable,” says Aideyan. He also learned from handling different personalities. “When you have diversity in your business, you come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise. JA helped us with that,” he says. (Pictured: Ayush Vaidya)

Vaidya credits his JA company (selling “memory” trees for a park) with teaching him about knowing where to target customers (a London farmer’s market). “Now, we tailor our marketing to Instagram and a site called SoundClick, to focus on a few platforms and be the best at those streams for selling instrumentals,” says Vaidya.

Business dreams become a realityNick Lavery(Nick Lavery)

Like the Everest partners, Lavery credits JA for making his business dreams feel achievable. “A lot of my friends probably wouldn’t consider what I’m doing, having a business now as a source of income,” says Lavery. “JA was quite an influence in making this decision.”

At King’s University College in London, where he studied business, Lavery earned an assignment shooting video for the Western football team. One job led to another – filming training camp and games for the London Beefeaters Football Club, documenting a season of Guelph Gryphons football, and shooting a 50th anniversary video for the Knights.

And it continued when a Knights sponsor had Lavery shoot promos to play on the video board during games. His corporate portfolio now includes videos for U. S. Steel Canada, the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board, a health club, and a London restaurant.

Lavery took a break from university this past year to grow his business. He’s now figuring out how to juggle work and ongoing studies.

Bev Robinson, President of JA London and District, says Achievers carry key lessons from JA into their post-secondary lives. Besides the fundamental entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills, JA gives them the chance to fail in a low-risk environment, learning more about business and resilience.

In an ultra-competitive work world, JA students get the early opportunity to walk into a room and present ideas, lead a real company, brand something, and make a case. “Power,” says Robinson, “is the ability to sell yourself confidently.”

Lavery agrees. “Reading a textbook only gets you so far. You have to go out there and do it, and have the opportunity to put the skills into action.”

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You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

Practicing Financial Literacy at JA Canada

Ed sweater[Ed Zdyb (left) and Andre Gallant, JA Canada’s National Program Manager, showing off their (questionable) fashion choices.]

There are people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to enable JA Canada to carry out its mission every day. Although these individuals rarely see the spotlight, their work is significant in keeping JA Canada moving forward. One of these people is Ed Zdyb, JA Canada’s Director of Finance. He oversees and manages the overall budget, and keeps in check the organization’s revenue and expenses. To shine a light on the importance of Ed’s work and offer insights into the financial workings at JA Canada, he’s written a short blog post about his role, the challenges & opportunities of managing the budget at a charity, the importance of financial reporting & transparency, and the process of establishing a budget each year.

I’ve been at JA Canada for some six months now helping to maintain and improve financial reporting to both internal (i.e. management, committee, Board) as well as external stakeholders (i.e. donors, government, JA Worldwide).  With over 40 years of experience, primarily with not-for-profits and charities, I’ve pretty much come across all sorts of reporting challenges.  In the case of JA Canada, it needs to keep track of its revenue and expenses in a way that ensures accuracy as well as fiscal responsibility.  To do this we use “fund” accounting, which entails separating “buckets” where we track activities according to conditions established by the Board of Directors as well as the donors.

There are accounting rules to be followed – set up by accounting standard-setting bodies like the Chartered Professional Accounting Association – so that there is consistency in financial reporting across all not-for-profits, charities, and associations. This way a stakeholder can have a level of confidence when trying to assess the financial strength of an organization when they are thinking of partnering with or supporting via multi-year contribution agreement.  When it comes to organizations like JA Canada, the key element for any accounting department is to be able to use numbers and dollars to report in a way that’s understandable and transparent to all stakeholders…let’s call it “Cents-ible Storytelling”.

The “storytelling” comes into play when working on a budget – be it for a project or for JA Canada as a whole – and then being able to report on whether the project has met its original goals. In most cases, these results are more than just financial.  What is usually more important to a stakeholder is whether their donation was used responsibly and that the agreed upon goals were achieved. Such expectations require active involvement of all key JA Canada departments.  An effective budget – for a project or otherwise – should be based on a narrative that explains what – and why – undertakings are required (need), what specific activities are required to address the need, who needs to be part of the process (which staff, departments, etc.), how proposed actions will be managed, the estimated costs to achieve desired outcomes, and how results will be measured and reported (beyond simply listing expenses compared to budget).

These storytelling elements exist in the private sector, but the outcomes are usually easier to identify, namely the degree to which a company hit expected profit or profit margins.  It’s usually not that simple in the not-for-profit world, as “profit” needs to be measured in terms of expected social benefits. For example, did JA Canada increase youth participation rate in its programs?  Was JA Canada able to benefit from increased volunteer support?  Is there increased awareness of the JA brand in Canada?  Where and how did JA Canada spend its resources (in terms of donations, contributions, as well as its staff resources)?  While dollars are important, it’s usually the “Cents-ible Storytelling” that proves to be more valuable.

Ed Zdyb
Director of Finance, JA Canada
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Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

A Parent’s Perspective on JA

Together copy(Mairi and Ian McKinnon at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala)

Ian McKinnon is the proud father of Mairi McKinnon (a winner of JA’s Deloitte Inspiration Award). He watched his daughter become involved with JA Company Program – first as a participant and then president – through the Halifax Grammar School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the video blog (or “vlog”) below, Ian shares the impact JA has had on Mairi and also has a message for prospective parents. Ian McKinnon is Founder and President of GroundSwell Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Team Selfie: JA Canada, JA Americas, JA Worldwide joint meeting.

JA – View to the Future

Last week, I along with the JA Canada team, JA Canada Board, JA Canada Charter Chairs and JA CEOs from across the country had the opportunity to meet with Asheesh Advani, President & CEO of JA Worldwide and Leo Martellotto, President of JA Americas. I left the meetings feeling inspired and very fortunate to work for an organization in which our global leaders are truly committed to addressing the global challenge of youth unemployment.

In order to address this challenge, JA Worldwide is actively working to ensure that the entire JA network continues to be well positioned to deliver on our mission to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in the global economy and do so as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. In a recent podcast, Asheesh talked to Kevin Daum about how he is changing the JA organization to foster innovation and his approach to leadership. A recurring theme of the podcast is that to succeed as a leader the ability to communicate and the ability to truly listen and empathize are essential.

Tina Kaichis
Vice President, Integrated Brand Marketing, JA Canada