The event, held at our Victoria Centre, allowed students to develop their pitching skills in a professional environment. Students were expected to dress and perform appropriately, as if speaking to a potential investor. Graded against key business skills, product selling points and plausibility, the panel of successful entrepreneurs advised how they would invest into student ideas, offering key tips on how to develop products further.
A number of pitches stood out to the panel, including a healthy, ‘free from’ snack alternative and a juice drink drawing inspiration from one student’s Ghanaian roots. With backgrounds in different sectors, the Dragons were able to offer guidance on marketing, expansion and brand identity going forward.
On the panel, Lenique Louis is the Founder of the eponymous luxury jewellery brand; Dean Jones works as Partnerships and Outreach Manager at the University of Buckingham; and Will Ferreira coaches businesses in digital marketing and brand development. The team was also joined by a Molly Swan from tax solution company Intuit and Louise Thomas MD of communications agency Break Communications.
Organiser and lead for the Victoria Entrepreneurship programme Wendy Breakell summed up, saying: “This has been a great event and we intend for this to be the start of something we can grow further involving students from across the college centres.
“Our aim to is to make the college into a centre of excellence for entrepreneurial ambitions and enable our students to see that starting their own business is a legitimate career aspiration. The Dragon’s Den event is part of a programme which will be developing the skills our students need to develop a business idea and create a model and plan to take forward to potential investors. Our new Into Enterprise Hub will be the centre of the programme and we shall be coaching and training these first students to build their business skills, confidence and mindset.”
Pitching students were part of the Business -Level 3 Extended Diploma and degree programmes in Business, Enterprise and Culinary Arts. The students found the experience very worthwhile and were able to overcome their nerves to make impressive pitches to the experts:
Business student Denisa planned to develop Femme, a self defence and confidence programme for girls. When asked about her experience, she said, “ It was a fantastic opportunity to present my idea and be able to deal with the questions they asked me. I now feel much more confident that my idea could be developed and I intend to make the most of the coaching and support that is being offered. I am only 17 so to have this on my CV I know will make me able to show an employer that I have skills in business and am prepared to talk to a room full of experts!”
Enrico and Alan, students in Business and Culinary Arts, received a great deal of interest in their cornmeal-based polenta snack. They will be working with Will Ferrira to make connections with investors and agencies who may wish to work with the brand. So watch this space: Polenties could soon be in your local deli!