Fourteen budding young entrepreneurs from Oldfield School, Bath, faced their very own ‘Dragons’ Den’ when they presented their business plans to members of the Rotary Club of Bath in a bid to win a “Top Business of the Year” award.
The young people, in four teams, had all reached the final of ‘The Big Pitch’, a Rotary Club project aimed at introducing pupils aged 13 and 14 to the challenges and enjoyment of running their own business.
The finalists were chosen after an initial Enterprise Challenge Day in the school last October, involving 230 pupils, before the Big Pitch competition, in which 65 pupils in 14 teams took part.
All the finalists created a successful mini-enterprise making and selling actual goods to friends, family, and the general public. Products produced by the mini-Lord Sugars and James Dysons included cup-cakes, magic tricks, and self-contained jars of recipe ingredients. The young people set up stalls and sold their products at various locations between November and February, including their school Christmas Fair and Green Park market in the City centre.
The Oldfied School teams gave presentations to an audience of 40 Rotary Club members, who voted for the winning team based on the success and sustainability of the business, and the quality of the presentation. Eventual winners were the “Nifty Gifts” team, who created jars containing recipes and all the ingredients required to make a delicious meal.
Big Pitch organiser Richard Bush, of the Rotary Club, said he and colleagues had been very impressed by the creativity, energy and stamina of all the pupils who formed their own companies:
“Creating a business is not easy, and it’s even harder to keep it going. The young people really embraced the challenge with verve and style, learning things like stock control, marketing, budgeting and the importance of teamwork.
“They’ve told us the experience has shown that running a business can be fun, as well as an exciting challenge, and more now feel motivated to consider Business Studies for their GCSEs.”
Oldfield School Head, Steven Mackay, said the involvement of members of the Rotary Club had made the whole project much more realistic for the young people:
“We’re very grateful to the team from the Rotary Club of Bath, who have put a huge number of hours over many weeks to support the students as they ran their businesses.
“Having the chance to chat with people with experience of actually working in and running a business has been hugely motivating, and taught the teams new skills which will help them in the future, whatever they end up doing.”