In early October we took all the AS and GCSE Business Studies students to the popular EntrepreneurLIVE! Conference in Fulham, hosted by tutor2u who create materials and offer regular conferences directly targeted at these groups. Carefully selected young entrepreneurs introduce their businesses, telling the stories behind them, reporting on progress so far and then answering questions. This year’s entrepreneurs included:
Matt Roberts, inventor and co-founder of Bean2Bed, a company selling a unique, award-winning bean bag that transforms into a bed. The Bean2Bed is sold internationally and has featured on BBC’s Something for the Weekend, in the Financial Times and Bloomberg. Celebrity customers include Geri Halliwell.
Simon Lyons, who formed the design studio Version 22 while studying Product Design Engineering at Loughborough University. His first product Geco Hub, a new kind of grab-and-go storage for the busy lifestyle, raised over £25,000 through crowdfunding on Kickstarter, was featured in The Economist and was demonstrated at Number 10.
Ed Hardy, founder of Edge Mobile, an action-sports analytics firm. Edge’s pioneering product, Edge Ski, has tracked over a million kilometres of skiing in 600 resorts globally. For the winter season 2014/15, Edge Ski was Apple’s number-one featured skiing app and was described by T3 Magazine as a ‘must download’.
Lily Rice, entrepreneur behind Lexiesport, one of the hottest women's sportswear brands on the market and worn by Olympic athletes as well as supermodels. A winner on BBC3's Be Your Own Boss programme, Lily gained Richard Reed – founder of Innocent smoothies – as an investor when the brand was still just a concept.
Students were impressed by what they heard, commenting on the way that the day’s events showed that setting up your own business was an achievable goal, provided you have a good enough idea and are dedicated. They were also interested in the role played by websites, social media and crowdfunding in the start-up process of many companies.
The students also enjoyed the competitions and the business challenge, The Great British Snack Off, which continued throughout the day: several groups from MPW came up with excellent ideas, including one that was similar to the final winner. MPW did not come back with the top prize but one of our students did win £10 in cash – not to mention some cachet, simply for being brave enough to take a risk and volunteer for the first task in front of 1,000 people.