The Entrepreneurship Training Program in the School of Graduate Studies at Memorial University
By Grace Tatigian, Entrepreneurship Training Program Coordinator, MUN
Jill Hurd had caught the entrepreneurship bug long before she arrived at Memorial University, but the Entrepreneurship Training Program helped nurture it.
She completed the program while she was a PhD student in Community Heath. Her goal was to grow Rep the Rock, a side business where she makes jewellery by hand. As stunning as the pieces are, the fund associated with it is even more beautiful.
“Unfortunately a lot of pet owners don’t have pet insurance and can’t afford emergency care, so I decided to create a fund to help people who find themselves in these situations.”
In most cases, people without pet insurance are in a very difficult situation when their animal gets hurt or sick, and Jill wanted to do what she could to help. A portion of the profits from Rep the Rock goes toward the Wellywoo Fund. But she wanted to do even more and make animals part of her everyday life. Jill noticed a demand for a service that didn’t exist in Newfoundland.
“In Ontario, dog walking services are very popular, but there were no professional dog walkers in Newfoundland. In most cases, you walk your own dog, or you ask missus down the road to do it.” And so the idea for Tails and Trails was born.
Ready for her new adventure, she left her full-time job and PhD to start her dog-walking business in June 2018.
“Life’s too short to do something that you don’t want to be doing. Even though MUN was better money and had a pension and benefits, I wasn’t happy. It was hard and scary, but I knew I had to.”
Her risk paid off. Tails and Trails now keeps Jill busy full-time. So busy, in fact, that she’s hired two part-time walkers to keep up with the demand. They walk 5 to 12 dogs per day.
“I’d like to get to the point where I’ve got five walkers doing five walks a day. That way I could focus on running the business.”
She also hopes to expand her business in other ways.
“We’ve got a fair bit of land in CBS, so I’d like to have a boarding facility there. Either for a daycare or for when owners go on vacation.”
She’s got an important piece of advice for anyone looking to start a business, which she learned from her time completing the Entrepreneurship Training Program at Memorial.
“Take advantage of networking events! This is where you truly meet people in the entrepreneur world, and introducing yourself to them is the best thing you can do. People really are willing to help and are probably just as interested in meeting you as you are them . . . so do it!”
To learn more about Jill Hurd and Tails and Trails, visit www.tailsandtrailsnl.ca. You can find Rep the Rock jewellery at Twister Sisters Boutik, The Rooms gift shop, ETC Gift Shop, and online: www.reptherock.ca.
For more information on the program, or to find out how you can get involved, please contact me, Grace Tatigian, the Entrepreneurship Training Program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to discuss different ways we can work together. And if you want to learn more about the program, you can always visit www.mun.ca/etp. There you’ll find alumni profiles, resources, and application information. And finally, if you’re a grad student at MUN, please apply for the program!