Humber alumni entrepreneurs keep businesses afloat during the pandemic
Raymond Costain always wanted to have his own business.
The Humber College alumnus, who graduated from Humber’s Culinary Management program in 2009, first expressed his desire of opening a restaurant on the first day of school during orientation.
“It’s been hard. It’s been a rough road,” Costain said.
He founded his food truck business Dope as Duck in 2018, and launched its takeout premises — offering intercontinental meals including tacos and mac and cheese dishes — in November 2020 at 125A 27th St. in Etobicoke.
“A lot of times my mum said to me, ‘are you sure you want to keep doing this?’ and I said I am going to keep going and keep pushing myself,” he said.
Costain said the pandemic led to changes in his business as he among the entrepreneurs whose business was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic affected the fact that we can’t do festivals. It’s not as busy as it was but it’s still consistent,” he said.
According to a study by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) published in October 2020, 87 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs are confident they would make it through the crisis.
The study presented data obtained from two surveys conducted between May to June 2020.
The first survey was conducted among 1,000 small and medium enterprise leaders in June 2020 and looked at post-lockdown business trends and priorities, and the second was conducted in May and June 2020 among 2,000 Canadian consumers.
Nearly four in 10 entrepreneurs will prioritize financial recovery after the crisis, it stated.
Costain said he serves three people at a time but previously served up to 125 people an hour.
“It’s a huge difference in the scale of the number of people that we’re allowed to serve at a time,” Costain said. “So, it slows things down a bit.”
However, the will to keep going should always be present, he said.
“I am getting a lot of notice, and a lot of people are supporting [me]. Hopefully, we can just keep moving forward and excelling from there,” he said.
Daniel Assing, a Humber College alumnus who graduated from the Culinary Arts program in 2018 and joined Herbal Life nutrition company in 2019, said knowing oneself is key to success.
“It’s more of knowing what you want and having that strong reason why you want it,” said fitness and wellness coach, Daniel Assing, adding entrepreneurs need to be goal-oriented.
He said the pandemic forced changes in his business but he had a smooth transition because he was able to meet clients and discuss goals through platforms like Zoom.
“We transitioned the workouts online and made it safer and easier for everyone,” Assing said.
Bradley Poulos, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Ryerson University, said entrepreneurs were likely more prepared to make the switch from offline to online because they deal with such changes all the time.
“They’re in a better position to adapt and cope,” he said. “You have to learn how to deal with obstacles as an entrepreneur.”
Poulos said entrepreneurship is now very popular.
“Going forward, people will have a side hustle of some kind and won’t only have jobs,” he said.
Costain agrees, saying people need to know that they won’t be starting off the top.
“You have to go through the steps no matter how great you are, to get to where you have to get to,” he said. “Stay passionate about what you are doing and do not let the hurdles scare you.”