Durham College FastStart leads six student entrepreneurs to Food Truck Frenzy

By Andrew Neary, first-year Journalism and Mass Media student

The Rotary Club of Whitby’s 2022 Food Truck Frenzy gathered thousands of Durham Region residents to support local charities while providing student entrepreneurs with a platform to sell products and share their brands. Often missing markets due to the expenses of purchasing table space without guaranteed sales, six Durham College (DC) student entrepreneurs were recently given the opportunity to attend, as a result of FastStartDC’s purchase of vendor spaces – and I’m grateful to have been one of them.

With more than thirty food trucks and over 20,000 visitors in attendance, I spent the preceding weeks preparing enough cold brew coffee to serve hundreds of customers. At 7 a.m., on a brisk Saturday morning, I arrived at Iroquois Park to help the Rotarian volunteers and organizers set up (and to claim the most premium location for the student market tents). In addition to paying for the students’ tent space, DC also provided the tables and tents themselves, which are additional financial barriers that can prevent students from accessing markets.

The market preparations were ready to go at 9 a.m., when FastStart students started to arrive. Vidhi, of Art Blizz, travelled from London, Ontario with luggage cases packed with resin masterpieces from as small as a bookmark up to frame-ready canvas works. Melissa, of Nature’s Beauty By Queen, shared a luxury body care products table with Esther of Made in Shade. Next to them, Nicole and Stella offered handmade dog bandanas, collars and service dog patches under Sewing with Stella. Neighbouring Vidhi, Shantel’s L’Amour Jae displayed an exquisite range of candles in unique shapes and scents. Finally, while sharing information about the FastStart experience with prospective Durham College students and the community, I sold cold brew coffee that I roasted as Kettleboy.

During the two days, we bonded over discussions about operations and business needs while supporting each other through the unexpected. If a payment terminal froze, someone was quick to share their own. If anyone grew low on change, I acted as the bank and broke bills for customers. We pushed each other to engage with customers and share our stories as curious neighbours drifted by our stations, picking up exciting foods along the way. We learned from each other’s experiences and grew as owners, just as our businesses grew in exposure and sales.

At closing time on Sunday, everyone chipped in to help pack up the generously lent Durham College gear, shared links and resources. For the community, Food Truck Frenzy was an incredible success. It raised more than $75,000 for charity and marked the return of a landmark event that, like many of its kind, was forced on hold as a result the pandemic. For us, the Frenzy reinforced our belief that DC cares about the success of its students, inspiring hope for the future and gratitude for the present.

If you are interested in starting or growing your own business, please sign up for FastStart’s free services. The FastStart team genuinely wants to support you on your journey towards building a future as an entrepreneur with the skills you are learning as a student.