25 May 2017

Southland students turn business entrepreneurs

Aparima College students have won this year’s Young Enterprise Scheme Dragons’ Den challenge with their recycled dog toy idea.

The school used materials from old clothes and recycled tennis balls from the Waihopai Tennis Club to make cheap, durable dog toys.

Year 12 and 13 students from James Hargest College, Southland Girls’ High School, Aparima College and Mt Aspiring College pitched their ideas to business people at the Southern Institute of Technology on Thursday.

Stacking up to the rest of the country, Head of the Young Enterprise Scheme Colin Kennedy, from Wellington, said he saw potential in a lot of ideas pitched at the event.

There were some “brilliant ideas”, he said.

A candle with a coloured wick that changed the colour of the flame, dance studio lessons and a knit-it-yourself scarf were among those presented, he said.

The Aparima College students will represent Southland-Lakes District at the national awards in Wellington on December 6.

Chamber of Commerce Southland Young Enterprise Scheme co-ordinator Joanne O’Connor said the top presentation was Homes Fur All dog toys, and a second team at the school won a top prize for their knit-it-yourself scarves.

The judges were looking for passion, innovation, presentation skills, financial information, the strength of directors skills, and operations including production and health and safety, and marketing strategies.

Every region was different depending on size and number of teams, but in Southland, all teams had the opportunity to present to a panel of “Dragon’s” unlike bigger regions who had to get through heats.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sheree Carey, who was on the judging panel, said through the programme, students got the opportunity to set up their own company, create real products or services, compile and implement a business plan and make real profit or loss.

James Hargest College students Bailey Bishop, 16, Paige Devlin, 17, and Sarah Botting, 16, pitched their idea of a healthy cookbook after identifying a need for it in the community.

They worked on the project for about two months.

Bailey said they were nervous beforehand but the team had come so far, especially with their communication, business structure, and financial planning, from when they started out.