Devon’s brightest teenage entrepreneurs have been given an offer which could set them up for life.
Thanks to businessman Chris Dawson, of the successful home, garden and leisure retail chain The Range, the winners of the Young Enterprise Devon Final will be able to pitch to his top buyers.
The event, being held today at the Plymouth School of Creative Arts (Saturday, May 5th) will see some 80 students from all over Devon hoping to receive the ‘Best Overall Company’ award. Representing six different companies, the students will be presenting their trade stands, pitching their companies and being interviewed by a panel of judges, as part of the competition-style Company Programme.
The exciting news will be announced to the winning team for the first time today when Range senior buyer Mike Edwards presents the top award.
Mike, who has grown into his current role since joining The Range 13 years ago, said: “The best part of my job is developing products. I appreciate what effort goes into bringing a product to market from initial concept to a finished product; from developing exclusive products with brands or our own label products. So what these youngsters have achieved at their age is absolutely amazing”.
The Range said it is very proud to be supporting the Young Enterprise competition again this year as it does an ‘amazing job of nurturing talent and giving students the opportunity to gain valuable business experience’.
Chris Dawson, the owner and founder of The Range added: “I like the way The Young Enterprise competition promotes entrepreneurial spirit in Plymouth. Congratulations to the winners and we hope you are all able to build on this success in your careers.”
Since September last year, 19 participating teams elected a board of directors, formed a company, designed a brand, raised capital, marketed and sold their product. They are supported by teachers, volunteer business advisers and YE board members.
Companies from Plymouth include Endeavour representing Tor Bridge High, Eclipse from Devonport High School for Girls and Link from Devonport High School for Boys. Other Devon teams are Novel Ideas from Honiton Community College, Save Our World from Ilfracombe Academy and Off to the Stars from Petroc, Tiverton.
Their products range from a dementia-friendly diary, a children’s bereavement kit, a safe to drink travel mug with a temperature gauge, a Devon Cookbook featuring recipes donated by establishments throughout Devon, a tooth-brushing pack for children and a set of three books for children aged 3-8 years which teach about the effects of plastic pollution on wildlife and the environment.
Devon final organiser Stephanie Anderson, YE Plymouth & West Devon Area Manager, said: “These students are absolutely inspiring. They have worked so hard to produce such great quality and appealing products whilst having the added pressure of studying for exams. We are all extremely proud of them.”
Judges include Steve Gerry, Secretary of the Plymouth Manufacturing Group, Nathian Carnall, Site Director of the Sitel Group, Kevin Connor, Bishop Fleming Senior Manager and Michael Stewart, Business Consultant and former Plymouth & West Devon YE Board Chair.
Master of Ceremonies will be BBC Radio Devon’s David Fitzgerald who will introduce the teams, along with guest speaker Louise Pasterfield, Managing Director of Sponge UK. Louise will talk to the youngsters about her passion of making learning absorbing so staff can apply what they have learned immediately into the workplace.
“We are very grateful to the many local businesses who have supported us during the year, either by providing advisers, facilities and/or a financial contribution and would encourage anyone interested in what we are doing to get in touch,” added Marian Weston, YE Area Manager for Exeter, North and South Devon.
The winning team will go through to the South West Regional Finals to be held at The Met Office, Exeter, on Wednesday, 13th June.