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I was recently asked by Connexions to assist them mentor some students at Archbishops School, Canterbury. Connexions is a company that help young adults aged between 13 & 19 by providing them with information, advice and guidance and what they asked me to do, along with other business owners, was to spend a couple of days helping the students develop a business idea and then pitch it to us in a Dragon’s Den style.

The day starts with an introduction of business in general to the students after which, they are put into groups of four. They then play a game called ‘Idealopoly’ which is basically a storyboard where a twenty year old and his granny come across everyday problems. From this they have to come up with a business idea that will help solve one or more of the problems in the story.

These small groups then spend the rest of the day developing their business idea and, with our help as mentors, they have to produce a business pitch to put before the Dragons! Their pitch needed to include such things as:

  • A  company and product name together with a logo
  • A  complete understanding of the product or service they have produced including its features and benefits
  • A  marketing plan including identifying the target market & where is it going to be sold
  • A  financial plan with a breakdown of fixed and variable costs, manufacturing costs per unit & selling price per unit
  • A  theme board which is a visualization of the product and what it does

Once their business idea had been produced and practiced they would then pitch it in a first round knockout with the winners going through to the ‘Dragon’s Den Final’.

Well, I have just spent the last two days at the school and overall, I was extremely impressed with the effort and ability shown by these students. Most of them embraced the day and came up with some excellent concepts:

  • Easylid – a patented new type of can that can be opened by those with arthritis
  • Smart Stove – a cooker that had sensors on it which detected when food was overcooking and automatically turned it down
  • First Help – An emergency bracelet for use in care homes that called specialist carers when the wearer was in trouble
  • Remind Me – A bar code reader that went in your fridge and detected when food was going out of date or running out and sent you a text message to inform you

What I also liked about this concept was the idea of competition with one overall winner. Nowadays, schools seem to be shying away from competitiveness so it was refreshing to let these students know that business is all about beating and staying one step ahead of your competitors.

The students were all aged between 14 & 15 with no business studies under their belt. What they achieved in a short space of time was quite impressive and it was a privilege to work with them.

Steve Waller
Managing Director