Young business entrepreneurs and budding marketeers from West Nottinghamshire College pitched their best business ideas to industry experts in a competition inspired by television’s Dragon’s Den.
Dubbed the Future Business Leader Challenge, the day-long event was organised by BTEC Level 3 Business Diploma students Millie Hastings, 17, Kelsey Wilson, 18 and Jack Dring, 22. The trio devised the competition for fellow students to compete in and invited them to set up teams and pitch their products.
Over the course of six weeks, teams were asked to think of a product which could be sold within a supermarket and were tasked with creating a brand and design, visual merchandise, an advertisement and concept product as well as strategically think of the target audience for the product.
Five teams were shortlisted and on Thursday (10 May), the challenge, which was sponsored by Asda, reached its conclusion.
Guest judges were invited in to the grand final event which comprised of a breakfast briefing, the chance to network with local business people, and guests all viewed each team’s stands in the ‘show and tell’ section.
Judges were Jaimee Burton, curriculum manager for access and business; Louise Knott, vice-principal; Dan Wharrier; store manager of Asda Forest Town, Lee Bown; director and founder of Recart Ltd recruitment company, and Randolph Bazas; shop floor lead at Nike factory store.
Each team took to the lectern in turns at the college university centre’s lecture theatre to explain in detail their products, how they came up with the idea, where they conducted market research and explained the results of their SWOT analysis.
Each company had to identify the cost of their product, the cost to make it, what made their products different to those already on the market and the barriers to creating their products.
Bag and Go – consisting of Jack Best, Michaela Alexis and Phanumat Khrutsaha – won the best pitch category after designing a campaign for a travel bag with multiple compartments and add-on velcro pockets. This earnt the group a selection of Amazon vouchers.
This group also scooped a second award for the best Show and Tell part of the event, earning them £100 towards a business grant for the team.
Best Educational Journey went to Daily Dash’s Cameron Moore, Aleksas Stepanovas and Joshua Barker, for their snacking on-the-go concept which offers consumers two 100 calorie servings of fruit and nut snacks.
The Most Employable Student award went to one of the event creators, Millie Hastings for her honesty, talent and hard work.
One of the event organisers, Kelsey Wilson, said: “From beginning to the end, this competition has been a rollercoaster ride; however I can’t thank the business department enough for giving me this opportunity.
“From a girl who has little confidence, they had the confidence in me to allow me to grow, learn and succeed on this journey. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at Mansfield and Ashfield 2020, networked with business men and women; which a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to do.
“There have been many barriers but we’ve been able to overcome these within minutes, giving us an insight into actual business life and how quick a solution needs to be made. Eight months ago I wouldn’t have been as confident as I am today, having learnt skills that are expected for a business woman.”
Meanwhile the two work placement awards, presented by Asda’s Dan Wharrier, went to Jack Best and Isaac Fuller. Isaac and Jack will get the opportunity to work alongside the leadership team at the Forest Town store and get further retail experience.
All remaining groups were congratulated for their creativity and professionalism given to the challenge.
Chok Blok was the creation of Tahmid Kamali and Mackenzie Buckland. They developed a milk chocolate building block set which encourages children to play then are rewarded with the snack itself.
Food 2 Go was the brainchild of Nikola Greif, Imogen Whitworth and Holly Kerry. Their six snacks for the price of three was aimed at the consumer ‘on-the-go’.
Gourmet Shakes consisted of Dominic Heffernan and Robin Pearson, who had spotted a gap in the protein fitness shakes market and came up with the idea of sweeter flavours but without the calories, such as chocolate orange and lemon cheesecake flavours.
Programme area leader for business, Alex Norbury, said: “Kelsey, Jack and Millie have put on a great show, working tirelessly since October to plan this event.
“Their journey has had its ups and downs, but collectively they have gone from pitching the idea to five students (and being nervous wrecks), to over 100 business people at the Mansfield 2020 Breakfast meeting.
“They’ve all developed their employability skills along the way, particularly: resilience, problem solving, organisation and presentation skills. Not to mention the actual teams in the competition who were a credit to the college. We have some fantastic raw talent and we are delighted to be part of their entrepreneurial journey.”
Vision West Nottinghamshire College
c/o Derby Road, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG18 5BH
T: 01623 627191 

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