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Hamilton-based company looks to revolutionize how we shop for paint

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Hamilton-based company looks to revolutionize how we shop for paint

Remember when you needed paint and paint supplies and had to go to a local hardware store to buy it? That was so 2019.

In 2020, Ontarians can purchase their painting needs from the comforts of their own home and have it delivered — all thanks to Digby Paints.

The “proudly Hamilton-located” business offers a curated palette of 60 colours of high-quality, Made-in-Canada paints — plus online tools Digby says will help make painting a fun and convenient experience.

Jill Torrance and Emily Kinread co-founded Digby Paints looking to capitalize on an untapped market.

“With people changing the way they shop so quickly these days, it made sense for us to develop a complete online paint store,” Jill Torrance told InTheHammer.com.

Jill studied interior design in school and worked in the paint industry for nearly a decade before launching Digby Paints with Emily, who has a background in marketing.

“I actually started my career working at the Howard Johnson hotel chain,” said Emily Kinread, who remembers the shift to online travel booking and sees parallels with her online paint shop.

“Changing that educational level and that comfort of buying paint online is very similar to the learnings that I had back at Howard Johnson — trying to get people to feel confident booking those hotel rooms online because customer habits are hard to change.”

Digby Paints doesn’t want customers to lose the personal touch of a brick and mortar store so online shoppers can access a live chat and receive recommendations. The system will also offer suggestions on accent colours and customers can order sticky-tab swatches to test the colours out on their walls.

“You actually really never have to leave your home,” continued Jill. “We’ve been called the ‘meal kit’ of paint.”

Digby also has a Pro program, designed for contractors, decorators, and design professionals. 

Digby Paints had its soft-launch in January of 2020 — unaware that a pandemic would forever change the shopping habits of many people.

Jill and Emily say working with Innovation Factory inside McMaster Innovation Park was huge.

“I mean, we worked with other companies there, the mentors there… even if it was just a one-off conversation; those things really can help you move to the next level,” added Emily.

“I think being part of the Hamilton community — everyone’s so supportive in Hamilton.”

Emily worked at Innovation Factory and says the “innovation ecosystem” was hugely beneficial for building Digby Paints in Hamilton.

McMaster Innovation Factory is an innovation and research facility located on Longwood Rd that focuses on supporting startups, business, and research.

For a limited time, Digby Paints is offering a 20 per cent discount. Customers can use the code: LIONSLAIR2020 at digbypaints.com.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, McMaster Innovation Factory’s LiONS LAIR event showcased the region’s innovative start-up community, giving up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of Hamilton’s top business experts and potential investors.

The competition runner-up was BData Solutions, developers of an artificial intelligence and machine learning system for manufacturing. The People’s Choice Award, a $2,500 cash prize, went to ImaginAble Solutions, whose Guided Hands™ device enables people with limited fine motor skills to write, draw and paint as well as type and scroll on a computer or tablet.

Social distancing and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 prompted LiONS LAIR organizers to develop a new format for this year’s event, which in normal circumstances, would have culminated in a 500-person gala. Over the summer, all the training, networking, and coaching support for the 2020 LiONS LAIR cohort was delivered virtually.

The actual competition took place as a virtual bracket-style tournament that saw 16 finalists face off in pitch ‘match-ups’ until there was a final winner.

“Every year, we’re impressed by the talent and creativity of the entrepreneurs who compete in the LiONS LAIR. This year was no different, in spite of the obstacles presented by the pandemic,” said Dave Carter, Executive Director of Innovation Factory.

“These are the people who drive innovation and sustain prosperity in our region, and we are proud to connect them with the people and resources that they need to succeed at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey.”

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